Resolved: Increase National Awareness of Mississippi River For More Engagement

New Year imageAccording to “Statistic Brain” an on-line statistics nonprofit, 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions and 38 percent absolutely never make them. This year I’ll be one of the 45 percent and I hope I’m one of the eight percent who achieve their resolutions.

My resolution: Increase national awareness of the Mississippi River so more engagement for the whole River takes place.

There’s no doubt public concern about the Mississippi River is on the upswing. If “Statistic Brain” took a measure of that concern though, it would be place-based and specific to either a location or an issue.  Concern for the Mississippi River as America’s great waterway is still dispersed, diminutive and disorganized.  Usually it peaks in calamity and wanes as the water recedes, only to rise again as the River’s banks overflow.

Other countries have a much greater sense of their rivers and their importance. In arid countries this is due to scarcity. In countries like the Netherlands with an abundance of water, there’s a history of public management out of necessity. America may be unique among developed nations in its national public ignorance of the importance of its great river resources.

So our New Year’s Resolution is to reduce that ignorance and engage the American public in more discussions about its great River. We’re not the only ones of course. The Mississippi Valley Traveler publishes books and blogs about great places to visit on the Mississippi River and the Great River Road has resources to drive alongside America’s Waterway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers publishes Our Mississippi and a teacher curriculum guide called “Our Mississippi: Educational Activities about the Upper Mississippi”.

But the role of the Mississippi as a national water resource is often overlooked. Its role of providing water and habitat for humans, fish and wildlife is often not well recognized and its transportation prowess, its economic development potential throughout the Midwest and its cultural richness linking both events and the human spirit of the heartland go unacknowledged.

So make your New Year’s resolution to join with us, America’s Waterway, in reducing that ignorance by learning more about the whole Mississippi River and its national impact. Then engage more with others all along the Mississippi River and reclaim it as America’s great waterway. Become one of the 45 percent. Better yet, increase the eight percent to 10 or 12 percent and achieve that goal, too. Start here:

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