There are a number of reasons that I enjoy writing this little blog about river restoration. First, it helps me organize my thoughts... and leave a trail of bread crumbs over the path we've come. But no less important is the fact that people stumble across this blog from time to time, and either contribute or take away ideas... or simply share memories about how they've enjoyed the outdoors, or why river stewardship is important to them. Here's an example, which I received not long ago from Brian Finstad of Minneapolis:
I discovered your blog doing some Google searches to find out more about the Mississippi in Minneapolis. I have lived in Minneapolis four years now, and it seems that Minneapolis has a love affair with its water, but usually the focus is on the lakes. Although I love rivers, for some reason, I have had very little "connection" with the Mississippi in MPLS until this year. I myself grew up in Gordon, Wisconsin near the headwaters of the St. Croix. In my early memories, I remember my father pointing at the river in front of our house and telling me that water went "ALLLL THE WAY TO THE MISSISSIPPI" which in a child's mind was a place very distant and exotic. (LOL!)
Since I moved to MPLS, about once a year I would walk the Stone Arch Bridge. Then I spent an afternoon transfixed on the river from the Endless Bridge at the Guthrie. That made me "read up" on the fascinating history of St. Anthony Falls. From that point the river came more and more into my consciousness and I began to explore. Lakes are pretty, but rivers have movement and have more ties with history and travel - the imagination. Next I started walking up the river past the Post Office, under the Hennepin Bridge, and along the Rice Parkway. All very beautiful.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that there was so much nice area along the river front - but what I love more than anything is an underdog. I love the idea of taking something that is completely neglected, forgotten, or broken down, and turning it into something wonderful. What really excited me was when I discovered the area of river above Plymouth Avenue. Beautiful views of downtown. Some good stuff obviously happening there, but yet still an "undiscovered" treasure. I figured there must have been some planning process in place for the recent improvements that have taken place there. Some "Googling" brought me to the "Above the Falls" Master Plan. I fell in love. Transforming the neglected, abused, industrial river front somehow just sparks my imagination. And providing North Minneapolis, as equally neglected and abused as the River, with a water front to embrace, recreate, and enjoy. I think of the population that lives in a very short radius of this stretch of river and think of all of the human capacity to build a momentum behind this plan. And yet, it feels as if the "Above the Falls" plan, and that part of the river in general, is just for some reason outside of the consciousness of most Minneapolitans.
I know I am making a short story long, but other Google searches led me to read about your clean-up of this stretch of the river. I just wanted to thank you for being a force of good for this stretch of the Mississippi. It has captured my heart and I hope to make a regular practice of doing some clean up there myself. I took my nephew there tonight for a starter. Thank you for inspiring me!
Editor's note: I am reminded that conservation begins with appreciation. Those with an emotional or recreational attachment to a waterway... are the most likely to be her caretaker. Thanks for the kind words, Brian.