|America's Waterway has a goal to create a constituency and shared understanding for the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is the iconic and monumental U.S. river, not only in its size, but also in its association with the country's cultural heritage and economic development. Its unique position should be a catalyst for cohesive approaches to its future. Instead, its size and length, less-densely populated regions, and multiple oversight jurisdictions have lead to disparate and disjointed approaches. |
Currently, attitudes about the Mississippi River are framed based on only one aspect of the River. For some, this is the part of the river in their community. For the people who work on the River, it's barge traffic that defines the River. For many in the general public, it is the fiction of Mark Twain. For the multiple layers of regulatory agencies that govern water quality, water levels, and use and habitat, it's the section over which they have jurisdiction. This results in disjointed policy regarding the River and fractionalized public opinion around the Mississippi's value and role to the nation.
Today this geographic barrier to cohesiveness can be overcome through the Internet and the many software applications that link and join people all over the world. Today's use of the Internet has turned toward the creation of on-line communities and advocacy for movements. It is time to tap the Internet on behalf of the Mississippi River.
Through the Internet and A National Dialogue for the Future of America's Waterway, it is possible to restore, protect and enhance the River using whole-River approaches to its condition, character and future.
America's Waterway is a nonprofit organization, incorporated and based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. We're being started because a Web site representing the River must be dedicated to the River in order to effectively serve a Mississippi River constituency. Our plan to build content relies on input directly from representative communities and stakeholders rather than committees and organizations. We plan to use the National Dialogue to capture common attitudes and goals, sort priorities and agree upon common objectives. Finally, we will provide on-going site management to enable and facilitate the community's need for information, linkage and on-going community building functions.
Web sites allow for the level of complexity that is the Mississippi River. To build a shared understanding and sense of importance, we must capture all aspects of the River, from culture to commerce, and from ecology to tourism. A shared understanding has to appeal to the senses as much as it appeals to the intellect. It is our goal to build this Mississippi River community in such a way that facts on a wide array of issues can be shared and still inspire new Web site visitors with the beauty and majesty of one of the world's mightiest rivers.