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A National Dialogue for the Future of America's Waterway

River Currents Newsletter - May 2009


At the National River Rally in Baltimore, Maryland, America's Waterway and America Speaks will hold an open dialogue about efforts to engage River residents to build unified approaches to the character, condition and future of the Mississippi River.
WHO: America's Waterway & AmericaSpeaks
WHAT: The Potential of Civic Engagement for the Mississippi River
WHERE: Hyatt Regency Baltimore
300 Light St. Baltimore, MD 21202
Room to be posted.
WHEN: 5:00 pm, Saturday, May 30 at the River Rally
Is the Mississippi "Too Big to Fail" or is it in danger, too?

This seems to be the year of "too big to fail." First it was old and highly regarded investment firms. Then it was insurance companies and banks. Now we are focused on big American car companies.

There are more than enough lessons being learned in this life-changing economic crisis. But one of the important lessons is the one about institutions that were thought too big to fail, who are, after all, vulnerable. A second lesson is that stakeholders and their political clout count for a lot.

America's Waterway seeks to engender a sense of stakeholder significance for the Mississippi River. Here we have the second longest river in the U.S., with the third largest drainage basin in the world that's the source of the nation's most productive agricultural and industrial regions. Yet the public perception of its significance to the nation is miniscule in relation to its actual size and importance. If the Mississippi River was a financial institution, it would be deemed "too big to fail". As a natural resource, it appears to be forgotten, at best, and snubbed at worst.

Part of the reason for this is its sheer geographic spread. Because of its size, single agencies in a pre-information-age couldn't be organized to address all its aspects. This resulted in its resources being addressed by divisions of agencies, splintered by states and its water quality left to the work of an assortment of jurisdictions and authorities. Because the nature of organizations is to keep operating the same way until challenged, the Mississippi River has been a victim of geographic perceptual differences and organizational territories.

Now is the time for the challenge. It's time to tap Internet resources and social networking applications to build a unified Mississippi River community. In these days of Twitter and advocacy software, it's possible to envision that the whole Mississippi River could indeed have a motivated and politically active constituency on its behalf. Its also possible to envision comprehensive whole-River approaches to more than just water quality at one location, or community development in one city at a time.

America's Waterway is seeking partners and funders who agree that tapping the Internet and other forms of electronic technology is the way to build these unified approaches. For starters, we'd like to post your name or logo on our Web site and connect our two Web Sites. We'd love to hear from you.

Hydrokinetic Power on the Mississippi
Free Flow Power is testing hydrokinetic power generation at several locations on the Mississippi River. To find out more about the process and the locations of the tests, click on the logo. A questionnaire for Mississippi River stakeholders can be found by clicking here.

America's Waterway to Exhibit at Great River Gathering in St. Paul
If you're planning to attend the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation's annual celebration of the Mississippi River on May 14 at the St. Paul River Centre, stop by our table. We'll be exhibiting from 4:30 to 6:30, prior to the dinner, in the RiverWork Exhibit. We'd love to tell you all about America's Waterway.
For more information please email:

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