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Lower Mississippi

River Dispatch

Vol 10 No 2, Monday, February 3, 2014

RIP Pete Seeger: 1919-2014

Father of Folk -- Hudson Riverkeeper

Sunflower River in downtown Clarksdale

February is Friends of the Sunflower River Month

“The River with a

Bad Case of the Blues” - Version 2.jpg

We need more Friends!

The Sunflower is important to Civil Rights History in the Mississippi Delta

Calendar February 2014

Feb 4 -- photographer Ron Haviv at the Cutrer Mansion, 5:30pm

Feb 7 -- deadline for Poetry Slam entries (National Civil Rights Museum)

Feb 8 -- Sunflower River Cleanup 1pm meet Quapaw Canoe Company

Feb 9 -- Explore the Hushpuckena River below Rena Lara

Feb 14 -- Full Valentine’s Day Moon (now taking reservations for full moon trip on the Mississippi River in the big canoe, meet 1pm; end 9pm)

Feb 15 -- Annual General Membership Meeting of the Friends of the Sunflower River (12noon potluck behind Quapaw Canoe Company. $25 annual dues)

Feb 15 -- Sunflower River Cleanup 1pm meet Quapaw Canoe Company

Feb 22 -- Sunflower River Cleanup 1pm meet Quapaw Canoe Company

Feb 23 -- Explore the Hushpuckena River around Duncan

Mark River on Sunflower River with Griot Arts Youth

The Mark River Blog:

Sunflower River Days

It was the twentieth day of January - weeks removed from the Polar Vortex that descended upon our universe by surprise as I sit underneath the railroad bridge. The Sunflower River looks to flow backwards as the prevalent South wind blows warm springlike air from the Gulf of Mexico. The Polar Vortex, which was slightly predicted by The Farmer's Almanac, has seemed to speed up the seasons by forecasting an early spring through the activity of the wildlife along the Sunflower River.

I start my day out reporting to 9 am meeting with the Mighty Quapaw's to discuss the days challenges only to be reminded by Driftwood Johnnie,

"River, it's MLK day brother!"

Instead I'm blessed with a impromptu ballad performance by our favorite ballerina 6-year old Emma Lou featuring the music of Joni Mitchell, while sipping on homemade ginger tea sweetened by local honey.

I take the opportunity to retreat to my sacred spot along the Sunflower River. Flocks of birds are bathing while others forage for seeds along the banks of the river. I'm amazed by the bright red and orange Cardinals. The water had recently receded from the heavy rainfall and snowfall run-off from the northeast and the warm wind has caused patches of grass to germinate. The grass show evidence where common and grass carp have picked clean, taking advantage of the rare winter rise. The other spots look like fresh winter wheat the first week in March. This river is full of carp. I witnessed the numbers one day this summer as I stood on the bridge waiting on the sunset. The mowers had worked the small buffer zone along the river projecting clippings into the channel. The channels where full of clippings as I watched hundreds of carp rising just underneath the surface inhaling microorganisms by filtering the soup through their mouths. A lone great blue heron stalks the shallows, while a female red tailed hawk patrols the trees attracted by the playful young squirrels practicing their acrobatics. The larger squirrels cling on to the weak branches trying to reach a small yellow pod at the ends of the tree limbs. It looked like the first day of spring.

This place, my favorite place, along the Sunflower River is where I've processed tons of information from our adventures on the lower Mississippi River. It's where I can find a natural place right on the edges of downtown Clarksdale and experience the wonders of the natural world. I recall the day I witnessed a grey fox scavenging for turtle eggs. It appeared to be foraging with his head down looking for a meal, but immediately stopped in it's tracks and started to dig with intention, occasionally stopping to sniff as my scent occupied the air. It would look in every direction -but up. I curiously watch wondering what the prize would be. Then suddenly, it buried it's head so far in the ground and pulled out a small egg. I sat on that bridge for over a hour watching the fox feast on turtle eggs. I counted thirteen total. This observation let me know that the turtles were laying eggs on the muddy banks of the Sunflower River nightly. The next morning I took pictures of the turtle eggs and shared them with the Griot kids.

I jump on my mountain bike and head downstream along the Sunflower River. I pass Red's Juke Joint, while Red's sitting outside his place.

"Where you headed River?"

"I'm going to check out the weir."

His response, "backed by the River, fronted by the grave!"

The weir is the reason why the Sunflower River upstream is booming with wildlife. The deep pools it creates upstream holds large amounts of fish, which is a major food supply for many predators. It attracts birds of prey as well as scavengers. It makes the downtown channel of the River more spectacular. As you head downstream from the weir, you encounter beautiful braided channels with islands and peninsulas around every bend. Cypress trees bask in the sun along it's meandering channel. Large flocks of mallards and wood ducks frequent this area. The shallow water attracts large populations of herons and egrets as well as huge herds of whitetail deer as you get closer to Hopson Plantation. When the water is high, my favorite trip is Quapaw Canoe Company to Hopson Plantation. It's a nice scenic paddle.

It's hard to imagine that this small beautiful river flows through Clarksdale meandering it's way 250 miles to Vicksburg where it meets the Mississippi River. Whatever we do to this beautiful river effects the overall health of the Mississippi River. It creates a flourishing environment and habitat for many species of wildlife. It's an important tributary to Mississippi River and should be treated as such. It's perfect for canoeing, kayaking , and paddle boarding running right through our city. With this month being "Friends of the Sunflower River" month, we should take the time to enjoy and appreciate our little piece of tranquility and preserve and protect it for generations to come. Get to know your River!

-Mark River

Ron Haviv:


Cutrer Mansion (Clarksdale)

February 4, 2014, TUESDAY 5:30pm



Over the course of the last 24 years, Ron Haviv has been witness to the historical events that have defined our times. In the course of Haviv’s presentation, the audience will look at work of conflict and it’s impact from Central America to the Balkans to the Arab Spring. Throughout Ron Haviv’s work, his focus has been on raising awareness of the issue of human rights. During his career he has documented the acts and impact of three genocides. In the lecture Haviv will discuss the role of the photographer, the observer and the participants.

The presentation is made up of a series of short films interspersed with commentary and observations by Ron Haviv. Presented by Barefoot Workshops/Coahome County Higher Education Center.


Cutrer Mansion

109 Clark Street

Clarksdale, MS 38614

RSVP: Jen Waller


Black History Month Poetry Slam (National Civil Rights Museum)

Who is eligible to enter?
Contestants must be between the ages of 15 and 25 on or by February 3, 2014.

How can I enter the Poetry Slam?
All contestants must use our online entry form. Videos must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and provide the link in the entry form. Each entry form must be full and complete. Incomplete forms will be disqualified.

How long should my poem be?
Performance of your poem should not exceed two (2) minutes.

How will my poem be judged?
Videos will be judged based on creativity and interpretation of the theme “My Freedom Is.” All entries must be original work.

When will I know if I have been selected as a finalist?
Finalists for each age category will be notified by email no later than February 14, 2014.
Finalists will be selected in an online voting platform on February 15, 2014. Viewer’s choice finalists will be notified on February 16, 2014.

Will the National Civil Rights Museum make travel arrangements for me if I am selected to perform in Memphis, Tennessee?
No. All finalists selected to perform in Memphis are responsible for their own travel accommodations.

What are the prizes?
There will be first, second and third place winners for each age category. First place prize is $1,000. Second place prize is $750. Third place prize is $500. Winning contestants will be featured at the National Civil Rights Museum’s Grand Reopening festival on March 1, 2014.

Are there language restrictions?
No. Creativity is welcome. However, contestants are encouraged to be mindful of harsh or offensive language in your video.

How is the viewer’s choice finalist selected?
Ten (10) entries (five per age division) will be entered into an online poll from February 11-14, where online viewers will vote for their favorite poet from each age division. The video from each age division with the most votes will be one of the finalists to perform in Memphis, Tennessee on February 22, 2014.

How many times can I enter?
Only one (1) entry per contestant will be considered. Contestants with multiple entries will be disqualified.

For more information please visit:

Great Mississippi River Cleanup 2014

To: Lower Mississippi River Citizens

From: Nora Coyne-Logan
Program Coordinator, Cleanups & Special Events

Living Lands & Waters

We are expanding our Great Mississippi River Cleanup program. We are trying to find local site coordinators who would be willing to organize cleanups on the lower half of the Mississippi in towns where we haven’t worked before (or at least not a lot).

We are doing a new format for the Great Mississippi River Cleanup this year. We are going to open it up to the entire length of the Mississippi River- from the St. Paul, MO to New Orleans, LA. We want to try and get as much participation as possible and we also want to make it easier for all of the local site coordinators and allow you to choose when you would like the cleanup to take place in your town. Having said that, LL&W will not be physically present during the cleanups, however we will still manage all of the registration via our website and provide all of you with the basic supplies needed ( gloves, trash bags, t-shirts, reusable water bottles, and waivers – which will be EXTREMELY important that all participants fill out and sign a liability release now more than ever!!) These releases will need to be mailed to LL&W post river cleanup event for our records.

Once you choose a date for your town, please let us know and we can get it listed on our website and open registration ASAP. We will still contact the volunteers via email with all relevant information. The biggest change is that you will get to choose when you want the cleanup to take place, and that a LL&W staff member will not be present. This means that you will be responsible for scouting out the river prior to the event and making sure you have enough boats to participate on the day of the cleanup. It will also be EXTREMELY important that there will be enough life jackets for all volunteers present.

We will definitely need assistance with getting more people on board for the lower half of the Mississippi as this will be our first time hosting this event along this stretch of the river! If you know of any potential site coordinators that might be interested in hosting a cleanup in their town, please share this email with them or let us know. J

We will also help with the promotion of each site location as much as possible. We will provide you with posters that you can display around your town, as well as promote via the LL&W website and the GMRC and LL&W Facebook pages.

Our friends at Missouri River Relief have a wonderful and informative “How To – River Cleanup Manual” if you are needing some helpful tips or more information on how to coordinate your event

We are really excited about this new change and working with A LOT more towns along the entire length of the river!!

Please, let myself or Justine know if you have any questions and once you want to get a date confirmed on the calendar! 530.227.7889

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Nora Coyne-Logan
Program Coordinator, Cleanups & Special Events

Living Lands & Waters

17624 Route 84 North

East Moline, IL 61244

Cell: 309.236.0728

Fax: 309.496.1012

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

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