Close Window

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 368

Momma Don’t ‘Low

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In this issue:

-Why We Shut Down Last Week

-Tonight: Book Talks: Delta Rainbow (5-7pm at Cutrer Higher Ed Center)

-Tennessee Rivers series (amazing photo gallery from the Mississippi, Hatchie, Tennessee, and others...)

Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Nashville Tennessean:

-Canoe Carving Workshop: every week between now and New Years at QCC Clarksdale!

-Sat Nov 19th: Recycled Mississippi: National Recycling Day Celebration

-Threat to Memphis Sands Aquifer (see below, please sign petition)

Momma Don't 'Low

Why We Shut Down Last Week

Last week we shut down and took three days off as days of mourning — mourning for our country, our mother earth, ourselves. We closed doors Wednesday after the election and used the remainder of the week for recovery. Reflection, praying, all in river time. The super moon helped me recover my balance. I was physically sickened by the whole campaign experience and had to get away for quiet reflection. I found myself foundering for ways to shield my 9 year-old daughter from the atrocious rhetoric and images being flung around. We found peace on the river by the light of the biggest & brightest moon since 1948. But then we had to return to shore. And that’s where the difficulty always seems to begin. (Sounds like Huck & Jim, doesn’t it?) What an awful campaign season. Traditional American folk songs like Momma Don't ‘Low no Mean Talking Around Here and This Train Don’t Carry No Liars, This Train are still playing in my head. I know my own mother wouldn’t have allowed any of that mess in her household.

Amongst many other feelings, here’s what I was left with that might be worth sharing: why was enviro-economics left out of the conversation during the presidential campaign? Global warming could be the greatest single threat to our long erm well-being (our health, our safety & security, our agriculture, our industry). This year we started to relocate communities hit by rising oceans (Grand Isle, LA). New Orleans, Miami, New York, DC, Houston, San Fransisco, and millions of people in other towns & cities along our coastlines are gravely in danger. And yet it was not seriously considered by either major party candidate. Our president-elect has said that he will dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, the Paris Climate Change Agreement (which commits more than 190 countries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide), and the Waters of the United States Rule intended to protect our waterways and wetlands. Oh yeah, and global warming is a fraud invented by China. A lot to be alarmed and ashamed of from the 2016 presidential campaign. But for us the most disheartening aspect of the entire campaign season was the blindness toward mother earth — the rivers, the mountains, the oceans, the forests, our fellow creatures. We all depend on each other. Each part is as important as each other for the healthy functioning of all.

My blues mentor Johnnie Billington “Mr. Johnnie” repeatedly told his apprentices: "you gotta take a step backwards before you can forward again." Mr. Johnnie was a sage of sorts. He saw a lot of things in his long life. He used to tell me that things were bad… and they're gonna get worse. But he also said that sometimes you got to go low before you can rise again. Mr. Johnnie was born in 1935. He was on the front lines of some very difficult times in our country: the civil rights era, integration, the great black migration. But he outlived it all, and died peacefully in 2013, before things seemed to slide backwards again, as they have in this election season.

Now we have to carry Mr. Johnnie’s philosophy forward with the hope that things will eventually turn around for our earth. He named his last place of residence, his pecan orchard in Lambert, “the Health & Happiness Ranch.” (or the H&H Ranch for short). And that’s what we strive for ultimately in everything we do on the Lower Mississippi. H&H. Health & Happiness. Experience on the river makes both of those come to life. Our health depends on the health of the river. Our happiness depends on the happiness of mother earth. “It’s all about love,” Mr. Johnnie said. And when it comes down to it, that’s what we’re about also. Love of the river. Love of our community. Love of our nation. Love of the earth. It’s all about love.

To paraphrase something Pope Francis recently said: “it is the little acts of kindness that are the stitches in the big tapestry that bind us all together.” This week would be a good time to start practicing those little acts of kindness in the healing of ourselves, our nation, our earth.

Threat to Memphis Aquifer:

The below received from friends in Memphis:

The TVA proposal to use the Memphis Sands water is lazy and short sighted. Yes it will cost a tad bit more to use grey water (water from the layer below the Mississippi river). But the cost is minor, the long term benefits to future generations are obvious. It seems silly to use the finite resource of the Memphis sands for this industrial purpose.

I just signed the petition "Stop the Tennessee Valley Authority From Harming Shelby County's Drinking Water!." Here is the link if you are inclined to join me

After you've signed the petition, please take a moment to share it with others.

if you want more info, here is a link to the Facebook group:

Thank you!

(PS: I drink Memphis water. I enjoy Memphis-based beers. Many of our readers are Memphis based. The river connects us all.)

Upcoming Events:

Tonight! Tuesday, Nov 15th: Delta Rainbow: The Irrepressible Betty Bobo Pearson. Presentation and book signing by author Sally Palmer Thomason. Book Talks Communty Lecture Series. 5-7pm at the Cutrer Higher Education Center, 109 Clark Street in Clarksdale. Call 662-624-4461 for more info.

Sat Nov 19th: Recycled Mississippi: National Recycling Day Celebration 3rd & Sunflower at Quapaw Canoe Company in downtown Clarksdale, featuring IOCO the Recycled Mississippi raft! Come Celebrate Recycle Day Saturday, November 19th from 10 AM to 4 Quapaw Canoe Company. Bring your plastic 1s and 2s bottles and cans for the recycling bin. Tour IOCO: Recycled Mississippi raft made out of 798 bottles that successfully journeyed down the Mississippi this summer! Our goal is to “798: Match the Raft!” We want to collect 798 bottles on the day of the event, the same number found in IOCO: Recycled Mississippi. In addition, pick up some cool recycling swag. Bring your kids. Family friendly. Bring your friends. You and your friends and family will learn more about recycling and keeping our rivers clean. For more information contact Marc Taylor/Recycling Manager 503-998-3476; Quapaw secretary Lena von Machui 662-313-6220; or 1 Mississippi leader Mark River 662-902-1885.

Sat Dec 17th: Quapaw Canoe Company “We Survived the Flood” and annual Winter Solstice Celebration! Celebrating the shortest day of the year — and also celebrating our successful recovery from the 2016 Sunflower River Flood. A big thank you to all who pitched in and helped out! We would have been able to recover without your support! Open House with tours of the renovation. Live music, bonfire, food and drink. Starts at sunset (approx 5pm) and lasts until.

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

is brought to you courtesy of

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation

Our Projects:

Rivergator: 1Million words describing the Lower Mississippi River:

Wild Miles: 71% of the Lower Miss is wild according to river rats. Will it stay that way?

Our Friends:

Quapaw Canoe Company: custom-guided wilderness expeditions on the biggest and wildest river in North America, in our hand crafted cypress strip voyageur canoes. Now with outposts in Memphis, Vicksburg, Helena and Natchez. Home base: Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Big Muddy Adventures: custom-guided adventures on the Missouri, Mississippi, Meramec and Illinois -- covering the Grand Central Station of America's rivers from home base St. Louis.