Mississippi River Stories


Mississippi River

Mississippi River looking north from the Ford Parkway bridge.

Translating research into artwork

Students in ENVR 212 translated their experiences of the Mississippi River (L) and their analysis of people's experiences of the river (R) into illustrations with SCP Artist-in-Resident Sarah Nelson.

Elm Tree Story Booth

ENVR 212 students also collected data through the Elm Tree Story Booth, which traveled around to different locations across the Twin Cities, including the University of St. Thomas, for this project.

Students in Society and Sustainability (ENVR 212) in Fall 2019 collaborated with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) and the Natural Heritage Project (NHP) to explore people's experiences of the Mississippi River.  Students conducted both an online survey and research through NHP’s Elm Tree Story Booth, which traveled to different locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul to collect stories from diverse voices.  Students' research will inform the MWMO's public outreach efforts and will be the basis for an interactive exhibit at the MWMO's Stormwater Learning Center.

Mississippi River Stories will open Fall 2021 at the MWMO's Stormwater Learning Center.

Mississippi River Stories invites viewers to explore the diverse experiences of people with the Mississippi River and to reflect on their own river stories.  

On display:

  • Visual artwork from local artists paired with a community member's river story, collected through NHP's Elm Tree Story Booth.

  • Visual artwork by SCP Artist-in-Residence, Sarah Nelson, in collaboration with ENVR 212 students.  Students collaborated with Sarah Nelson during class to translate their research findings into artwork.

 by Sarah Nelson with BNVR 212 Dahmus and MWMO; online survey analysis translation

This drawing communicates students' analysis of an on-line survey that asked respondents to describe their experiences of the Mississippi River.  The layered perspectives of this drawing convey respondents' multiple perspectives and experiences of the Mississippi River.  The three primary perspectives were a distant perspective as an onlooker from afar, a closer connection walking or biking along the river trails, or a tangible and immediate experience exploring the shores or waters of the river.   The more closely respondents experienced the river, the more salient the tension of pollution, trash, and beauty was in their experience.  The accentuated bluffs represent descriptions of the geology of the area and awe of the Mississippi River. Respondents also shared stories of the Dakota people and their sacred connection to the river.  (Drawing by Sarah Nelson in collaboration with ENVR 212 students.)