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LMRD 760 — Tuesday Jan 21st — New Year’s 2020
The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Mississippi River"

Alternating Patterns
A slight change in course redraws the lines
New Years seems to open the landscape of life
for new patterns and a new pathways:

In observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
we are sharing some new ways of looking at the ripples of life

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition
was not the strident clamor of the bad people,
but the appalling silence of the good people."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate...Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ? Martin Luther King Jr.

Not quite satisfied with the spiral patterns in your life? Looking for a new groove to get on?
New Years seems to shed light on the old rhythms and bring out the new...

See below for 4 opportunities we know about. First is foremost our own offering, the search for a Quapaw Canoe Company business partner. Also, you'll see new positions open from Mississippi River Network, Leave No Trace, and the Delta Foods Initiative:

Help Wanted:
Business Partner for the Quapaw Canoe Company

This is an opportunity for anyone who both loves the water and has dreamed of running or partnering in their own business.

Purchase or partnership in well-established and successful system of operations. Great opportunity to take it & run, but also for coaching, mentoring, logistical support, and camaraderie of the Quapaw Canoe network of river rats on the biggest and baddest river in North America!

Description: Quapaw Canoe Company is now offering a partnership opportunity for someone with a strong passion for rivers, outdoor recreation, and is ready to dive into a challenging but rewarding business based in Clarksdale, Miss, (with outposts in Vicksburg and Helena, Arkansas). Thriving visionary operations with big range: the Mighty Mississippi River from St. Louis to Gulf of Mexico; 1200 miles of free-flowing river. Quapaw Canoe Company is a small, mission-driven, dynamic business with many types of service including guiding & outfitting, outdoor education, and canoe construction. Applicant must be willing to tackle challenges and learn new skills. We will train as needed. All QCC staff share in all aspects of the work to be done. For more information about QCC, please visit

Requirements: Must be friendly and people-oriented. Must be good with kids as well as adults. Must have good communication skills, and be able to speak comfortably with individuals as well as groups. Must be a capable writer and typist. Must be computer savvy (both Microsoft and Apple systems). Knowledge of Quickbooks a plus. Ability with Social Media a plus. Must be willing to tackle challenges and learn new skills. We will train as needed. Must be a good team member, but also must able to work independently. Must be passionate about the outdoors and the American wilderness ethic. Must be physically capable of outdoor tasks (such as canoeing and kayaking) and moving heavy equipment in preparation and/or cleanup of expeditions. Must be honest, earnest and hard-working. We are all worker bees in this company; the river is the queen.

To Apply: Please send 1) current resume, 2) an essay describing your interest, 3) Three letters of reference, and 4) personal letter to: John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company, 291 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614, or by email to Feel free to write at length. Feel free to send any other supporting materials to help us understand who you are and where your passion for the river comes from. Please contact above for more information. Serious inquiries only.


From Our Partner LNT, Leave No Trace

State Advocate Positions Available:
The Center is looking for an enthusiastic individual to lead the Leave No Trace movement in MS.

Volunteer State Advocates are the driving force of the Leave No Trace movement in their state. Advocates work to bring Leave No Trace to their communities through training, educational outreach, action-oriented events and volunteer engagement. They are the first line of contact for anyone looking for local Leave No Trace training or programming in their state.

Click here to learn more about the requirements of the position.


From the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative - Good Food Revolution Project in Bolivar County MS

Job Description - Sustainable Ag Director – Full Time Contractual for 12 months

Supervisor: Executive Director

Major Responsibilities:

  1. Provide technical assistance, support, and training with farmers who are providing or committed to providing local produce to Delta Fresh Foods for distribution and sales.
  2. Provide technical assistance, support, training, and coordination of and with youth engaged in local food production at the Youth Farm of Delta Fresh Foods, including 30’ x 72’ high tunnel food production.
  3. Provide assistance with and to the Mobile Market operated by Delta Fresh Foods.


  1. Previous farming experience and a degree or enrolled in a degree program in sustainable food production.
  2. Experience in providing technical assistance to farmers including high tunnel production.
  3. Commitment to small farming and sustainable agricultural practices.
  4. Ability and commitment to working with youth and coordinating youth farming program, experience and learning.
  5. Dedication to working under adverse weather conditions (cold, heat, humidity, rain, pollen) at times.
  6. Commitment to teamwork and building a caring community.
  7. Capacity to work effectively and successfully with diverse populations and across the boundaries of race, income, age, religion, and political persuasion.
  8. Valid Driver’s License and reliable mode of transportation.

Position: Contractual to begin ASAP in 2020. This opportunity is based in Bolivar County MS. Contingent on satisfactory background check and good driving record of successful candidate.

Rate: $50,000 for full-time 12 month contract.

Hours: Mutually-agreeable days and times established with Executive Director –

daytime with some evening and weekend responsibilities.

Filing Deadline: Open Search until filled. Interested applicants apply as soon as possible.

Application Instructions: Send Completed Application and Resume via email to:

Judy Belue, Executive Director


From Our Partner the Mississippi River Network:

We are hiring for a Policy Manager to join the Mississippi River Network Team. The job description is below and attached to this email. Please share with folks in your network or any individuals you think would be a great fit for this position, I would greatly appreciate it.

Policy Manager
Position Description
The Mississippi River Network: Headwaters to Gulf (MRN) is seeking applicants for full-time salaried position to work on the coalition's policy agenda. The MRN is a coalition of 55 organizations who have joined together to protect and restore the Mississippi River. The MRN has several initiatives: 1) a public communications program 2) improved and amended state and federal policies that restore and protect the River and 3) promoting communication and collaboration among the MRN members and partner organizations.

The Policy Manager will provide key analysis and proactive policy development in issues relating to water quality, restoration, and conservation of the Mississippi River, analyze proposed legislative or administrative changes to federal and state policies, appropriations and laws related to the River, educate members of MRN, the public, and the media on such policies and proposals, and cultivate support for those policies and proposals among policymakers and other stakeholder organizations. The Policy Manager will accomplish this by, among other means, coordinating policy work among the MRN members, educating MRN members, the public and decision-makers, and planning and attending briefings and meetings locally along the Mississippi River and in Washington, DC. The Policy Manager will work with the MRN Director and Engagement Manager on engaging interested members of the public (River Citizens) and building capacity of MRN members. With guidance and direction from the MRN Policy Committee, the Policy Manager determines what policy information and advocacy opportunities are relevant and appropriate for MRN Members and the public.

The successful candidate will be a self-starter with a solid understanding of environmental policy and have experience working with coalitions and in grassroots organizing. We are searching for someone with at least three years of professional work experience in the environmental policy arena and demonstrated organizational, communications, research, and writing skills. The ability to work well with diverse interest groups and within a team is a must. An understanding of and experience with Capitol Hill and the federal policy process is highly desirable. She, he, or they will be supervised by MRN Director

This position can be located in one of the ten mainstem states the Mississippi River flows through, close to a large airport, as travel to and from Chicago (where the MRN Director is located), Washington, DC, and the ten main-stem Mississippi River states is expected. Depending on location, this is a remote working position.

Salary will be based upon candidate’s experience, but will range from $45,000 - $50,000 per year. Benefits include health insurance, dental and vision insurance, paid time off, 403 (b) plan.

To Apply
Please send cover letter and resume to the MRN Director, Kelly McGinnis at Applications are due by January 31, 2020. No phone calls please.

Paddles up to our good friend Dave Cornthwaite who became the first person of this new decade to receive a Points of Light Award from the British Prime Minister, which honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK!

In addition to Dave and Emma Cornthwaite's Magic on the Big Muddy Expeditions, in 2020 we will be offering 2 additional trips with this dynamic duo:

*Oct 4-12, SUP ADVENTURE MASTERCLASS with SUP expert Dave Cornthwaite

*Oct 27 - Nov 8 Mississippi River CREATIVE RETREAT with nature artist John Ruskey

*Also, new in 2020: we will be partnering with yogi Erin Mulligan for a long-weekend Yoga Retreat:

Oct 1-4, Mississippi River Yoga Retreat with Erin Mulligan

Quapaw Canoe Company in popular media 2019:

Hector USA in Mississippi -- A gritty and unapologetic look at Mississippi -- the good, the conflicted, the redeemed -- and the powerful & beautiful Mississippi River -- through Irish eyes. Hector is popular travel host on Irish TV channel TG4 (which is like our PBS, but in Gaelic). The Mississippi episode features Super Chikan, and a canoe trip on a flooding Lower Miss River with the Mighty Quapaws!

PBS Rivers of Life: Created by the same people who brought us Planet Earth, the BBC Great Rivers series might be the best one-hour film ever made about our beloved Mississippi. The entire series is now available on PBS. Filming for our portion was done on the big river in the vicinity of Shreve's Bar, (near Angola, the Old River Control Structure, entrance to the Atchafalaya), and in the cypress/tupelo gum wetlands of St. Catherine Creek Nat'l Wildlife Refuge.

Lastly, I forgot to mention, in 2019 Quapaw Canoe Company owner, John Ruskey, was awarded the Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters: “For his writing, his music, his watercolors, his environmental efforts, his work with young Mississippians, and his knowledge of Mississippi’s great river.” Pictured above with wife Sarah and daughter Emma.

~~~Our Mighty Quapaw Predictions for 2020... and Beyond:~~~

Due to popular response, we are running this again with a few more predictions added on:

The following is a mixture of predictions based on 35 years experience paddling the Lower Mississippi River, and as such is part educated guess, part wizened observation, and part river rat fancy, you decide which is which:

In 2020...

*More Mississippi and Arkansas youth will experience the thrill of the big river than ever before.

*2020 will be another historic flood year. 2019 was the 2nd wettest recorded year ever in the Mississippi Drainage (everything in between the Rockies and Appalachia). 2020 will continue the trend, maybe as the wettest, or maybe the 3rd wettest. Disclaimer: this was written 2 weeks ago, before all the big storms swept up the valley from the Gulf. Today the river is above flood stage at Cairo (48.1 today, rising to 50 by the end of the week. Flood stage at Cairo is 40.)

*An ocean-going cruise ship will take advantage of the deep waters of the flood year, and set sail up the Mississippi River, only to get stuck in the notoriously shifty shoals found at Victoria Bend, mile 595. Four thousand passengers off-loaded onto nearby Big Island will be forced to take refuge with squirrels and black bears in the tall oaks, cypress and sweetgums, the only dry place found in the flooded forests.

*Giant blue log 20 feet in diameter and 200 feet tall is washed out of a muddy layer during high water and comes to rest on Island 62. Biologists revise upwards the maximum size of trees from the ancient forests of the Miss Delta.

*Lidar radar mapping reveals ancient civilization along Lower Miss — of mound-building mosquitoes.

*The Delta Triangle will flex its mysterious magnetic muscle and cause hundreds of unplanned cosmic and/or religious events for travelers and residents alike. This was recently played out by a friend of mine who experienced a near lightning strike on a cloudless day at Silver Cloud Lining church on Bog Dog Road near Friars Point.

*The New Madrid Earthquake Zone will speak more loudly, following up on a series of tremors felt in 2019 along the Chickasaw Bluffs above the river in NW Tennessee.

*The Bonnet Carre Spillway is re-opened in high waters. Bottlenose Dolphins flip upstream and stage protests across midwestern cornfield country and in major city water treatment plants (Memphis, St. Louis and Baton Rouge) in response to foul water conditions being sluiced into their homes and nurseries found in the Mississippi Sound and Breton Sound. Presidential Candidates get confused and proclaim “Dolphins for Iowa!”

*Mark Twain’s 1883 prediction that continuous cutoffs and engineering will shorten the river to “a mile and three-quarters long” is played out when Cairo, IL, washes downstream and makes landing at Audubon Park in New Orleans.

*An adventurer will seek to better the James B. Eads legend by attempting to walk the bottom of the Mississippi River in a diving bell. Last heard from knocking his metallic head against massive gates at the Melvin Price Lock & Dam #26 near Alton, IL. Big Muddy Mike and his faithful Dolly conduct rescue off Duck Island near mouth of the Missouri.

*Jim and Huck will be seen rafting out into the Gulf of Mexico, still searching for their freedom.

In the next 10 years...

*Mark River's dream comes true: 100 voyageur style canoes are seen plying the river at the same time, each paddled by around 10 people, for a total of one thousand voyageurs.

*Record numbers of Delta youth will paddle the Lower Mississippi River as parents and schools recognize the great rewards to be gained in a powerful, wild, outdoor landscape for their kids, and the life-lessons to be learned in the challenges of nature.

*Snow Geese will take advantage of warming trends and begin migrating over the North Pole to reach new winter grounds in the northern steppes of Russia.

*Monarch Butterflies will evolve the ability to consume all toxic fluids, not just milkweed toxins, and as result flourish across Chemical Corridor (and the Louisiana/Texas coastline), causing major plant shut-downs and disruption of product flow. They prove to be immune to pesticides as result, and all efforts to remove are stymied. Chemical Corridor becomes known as Butterfly Corridor. Cancer Alley becomes Butterfly Alley.

*Yazoo Pumps Fail. 250,000 acres of Issaquena and Sharkey Counties, MS, is permanently flooded by continuous high water, and are declared to be a new inland sea by geographers. Some locals become the new generation of river rats when they anchor houseboats to intact forests standing tall in the waters over their homeland, and start charging tourists for swamp tours, duck hunts and fishing excursions.

*River shrimp explode in population along the Lower Miss; Gulf Coast shrimpers explore new fishing grounds in fresh water; river shrimp are added to menu on American Queen and other riverboats, as they were during the the steamboat era.

In the next 100 years...

*The Mississippi River will find a new and shorter route to the Gulf of Mexico when it jumps channels into the Atchafalaya River basin. Morgan City becomes the new port of call for ocean going traffic.

*North America contribution of oxygen and carbon sequestration spikes as the alluvial floodplain is abandoned by permanent inhabitants, and 25 million acres of bottomland forests and swamps reclaim the region.

*A giant new lake will be formed, blue mud will be ejected upwards, and the Mississippi River will flow backwards for a day, after a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault line.

*The residents of Vicksburg will seek shelter in hand-dug, muddy backyard caves, not from Union shelling this time, but from summertime heat.

*Long term flooding of the Arkansas inspires the Quapaw people to build canoes and recreate the Odyssey of the Downstream People, this time down the flooding red-orange waters of the Arkansas River. They re-settle their ancient homeland in high ground near Arkansas Post, and take over Quapaw Canoe Company as a training program for their youth.

*The Gulf of Mexico advances northward into the Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama Piney Hills; previous “dry” counties become wet and vote in gambling; Bolton MS becomes beach front property and changes its name to New Ocean Springs.


Quapaw Canoe Company, new in 2020:

Note: Coming in Fall 2020: In addition to Dave and Emma Cornthwaite's Magic on the Big Muddy Expeditions, we will be offering 2 additional trips with this dynamic duo: 1) a week-long Paddleboard Adventure Master Class, and 2) a week-long Creative Retreat for any and all creative types.

Highlights from 2019 — all to be repeated in 2020:

click on island63 dispatch for the full read from each:

*Week-Long Artist’s Retreat on Horn Island, March 23-28th with nature artists Robin Whitfield and John Ruskey





*Summer Camp for Delta Youth on the Mississippi River III

*Magic on the Big Muddy Expedition with Dave & Emma Cornthwaite

May the River be With You:
Episode #5 "River Music," featuring artists
Lucious Spiller and Meghan Maike!

Tune in on Stitcher -- Or on Apple Podcasts

Jump on board the big muddy with your guide Mark "River" Peoples and feel the powerful, storied currents of the Mighty Mississippi River pull at your feet and open your imagination. "May The River Be With You" focuses on how the largest river in North America influences and impacts our culture, from arts and education to ecology and commerce. In each episode, we discuss how the river affects us all in unexpected ways while also featuring music, poetry, tales and myths inspired by the river itself.

Quapaw Canoe Company in popular media 2019:

Hector USA in Mississippi -- A gritty and unapologetic look at Mississippi - the good, the conflicted, the redeemed, and the powerful & beautiful Mississippi River — through Irish eyes. Hector is popular travel host on Irish TV channel TG4 (which is like our PBS, but in Gaelic). Features Super Chikan, and a canoe trip on a flooding Lower Miss River with the Mighty Quapaws!

PBS Rivers of Life: Created by the same people who brought us Planet Earth, the BBC Great Rivers series might be the best one-hour film ever made about our beloved Mississippi. The entire series is now available on PBS. Filming for our portion was done on the big river in the vicinity of Shreve's Bar, (near Angola, the Old River Control Structure, entrance to the Atchafalaya), and in the cypress/tupelo gum wetlands of St. Catherine Creek Nat'l Wildlife Refuge.

Canoe trip on Mississippi offers nature stop on Arkansas' Buck Island

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct 27, 2019

By Pamela Selbert, photos by Guy Selbert

Big Muddy Connection

Mississippi Outdoors, Oct 22, 2019

Mississippi Dept of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

by Sherry Lucas

Redemption River

Mississippi Outdoors TV, Oct 4, 2019

by Scooter whatley

SACRED PLACE: Paddling to Walter Inglis Anderson’s Horn Island

The Oxford American, ISSUE 106, FALL 2019

By Julian Rankin | September 3, 2019

Upcoming Paddling Events in 2020:

*February is for Friends of the Sunflower River, cleanups and community paddling events

*Thurs, Fri, Sat, Feb 7-9 Full Snow Moon canoe trips -- Clarksdale, Helena, Memphis

*Sat, Feb 15, General Annual Membership Meeting, potluck, Sunflower River Cleanup

*March 13-15, Canoecopia, World's Largest Paddling EXPO! Madison, WS. Quapaw Canoe Company will be sharing a table with the MRN 1Mississippi Program.

*March 23-28th, Week-Long Artist’s Retreat on Horn Island, with nature artists Robin Whitfield and John Ruskey

*April 18, Bluz Cruz 22-mile Paddling Race on the Mississippi River at Vicksburg. Go to for registration and more info.

*June 7-13, Summer Camp for Delta Youth on the Mississippi River III

*Sept 20-27, Magic on the Big Muddy MISSISSIPPI ADVENTURE WEEK

*Oct 1-4, Mississippi River Yoga Retreat with Erin Mulligan

*Oct 4-12, SUP ADVENTURE MASTERCLASS with Dave and Emma Cornthwaite

*Oct 18-25 , Magic on the Big Muddy MISSISSIPPI ADVENTURE WEEK II

*Oct 27 - Nov 8 Mississippi River CREATIVE RETREAT with nature artist John Ruskey


Driftwood Johnnie New Years Report:

Happy Ca-New Year Everyone! In this most sacred of seasons we hope your dreams are blossoming between the cracks in the calendar of time.

We are deeply troubled by the burning of Eastern Australia, and the inflamed passions of the warlords at home and abroad. There are too many fires in too many places, and mother earth and all her creatures are suffering as result. The cold winter weather is a blessing. Embrace the cold, as you would a friend you may not be seeing too much of if we keep on our present path into the future. Coldness is becoming a precious experience of increasing rarity. Ice, snow, sleet, cold rain -- these might all be sensations we know only as stories we share with our children and grand-children -- if we don't turn things around, and do it soon. What is happening in the southern hemisphere’s summer will be our experience in 6 months. We need more coolness, not less; more cool woods, not more wood pellet plants for foreign export; more cool waters, not dried-out wetlands, more cool heads, not hot-heads ignoring the pleas of our planet. Slow down and enjoy the sweet beauty of our common mother. Burn less fuel. Listen to the earth; she is speaking. If you are having trouble hearing, step outside and spend some time on her riverbanks, or in her woods, her deserts, on the edges of her fields and plains. Join us in one of our many trips planned for Winter/Spring 2020. The Mississippi eloquently speaks for the earth!

-"Driftwood Johnnie" John Ruskey


I Can Hear Their Calling

Mark River Blog

After a very short Fall, Winter has settled upon us with hope and dreams for the coming year. The River is holding steady above its normal level, causing anxiety and uncertainty for the coming Spring. The fleet of Quapaw canoes are resting side by side hibernating anticipating the taste of the fresh snowmelt and discharge of aquifers coming soon. We wonder why we get these epic high water events. Is it because of the natural order of life or the continuous stress that human activity has forced upon her? Warm winters in places that usually have frigid temperatures. Invasive serpents finding themselves migrating further and further north disrupting the natural order. The rise in depression, anxiety, and allergies in humans. We must come together, putting our bottom lines aside, and realize that the Creator put us here not to master, deplete, and decimate our natural world, but to serve and sustain it.

When I'm in the wilderness these days, I can hear the animals call to me. They feel my compassion and grief, as I reach out to them for understanding. They feel my soul, showing themselves to me, to show me that we are one. If they suffer, we suffer. We are so caught up in prosperity and infinite growth, that we are leaving our natural community to struggle and fight to keep the balance for all of us. They need us. I respect the trees that produce priceless oxygen, while depleting the carbon dioxide in the air. I watch the birds migrate from the South spreading seed, producing invaluable flora and fauna that feed us. I hear the buzz of the insects pollinating the plants bearing fruits of life, while their larvae feed the fish. I witness the beaver managing the forest, dropping trees in the River creating valuable fish habitat. I see the raptors soaring high taking only what they need, controlling the balance. I honor the hunter who selectively harvest animals to feed their families, but show respect for their taking, and leave nothing to waste.

I recently watched a young environmentalist plead to the world for mercy. I could feel her desperate call to world leaders that we are not doing all we can. As tears run down my face, it reminded me of my youth. Elders lying and deceiving their offspring and the anger and pain you feel when you realize the deception. I've spent time with my nephew, a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering with an emphasis on Sustainable Energy, gearing up for the fight of a lifetime to correct the problems developed by past generations, and it makes me optimistic for the future. The natural world and our kids are feeling the stress. We must own up to our shortcomings and set an example for the next generations because they will mature and wonder what we were thinking. Let's be humble and restore the balance.

Mark River Peoples



The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to and click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.


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Our Projects:

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


Our Friends:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation is dedicated to promoting stewardship of the Lower and Middle Mississippi River through deep engagement.


1Mississippi River Citizen Program: River Citizens are people who want to clean up and protect America’s greatest River. Whether in armchairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River by speaking up on its behalf and caring for it in simple ways that make a big difference. Together, we can protect the River for future generations. Take the first step today and sign up for free as a River Citizen at 1Mississippi, can the River count on you?"


The Walter Anderson Museum of Art inspires discovery, imagination, and community-building on the Gulf Coast and beyond through programs, exhibitions, and outreach; and embodies Walter Anderson’s vision for societies in harmony with their environments. "Our mission is to empower lifelong curiosity and connection to the natural world through the art of Walter Anderson and kindred artists."


LEAN: the Louisiana Environmental Action Network: Before LEAN was founded in 1986, polluters ran roughshod over Louisiana’s unique environment and way of life. Since then LEAN has fought to safeguard not just Louisiana’s scenic beauty, wildlife and culture but more importantly those underserved citizens that don’t have a voice. Help LEAN serve the needs of Louisiana's communities.


The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The Center accomplishes this mission by delivering cutting-edge education and research to millions of people every year. Enjoy your world. Leave No Trace.


Coahoma Collective catalyzes arts-driven, community-inclusive revitalization in downtown Clarksdale


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