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Santa Monica Pier by Omar Prestwich.

Introduction to Issue Nineteen

The articles for this issue started to come together in the midst of the global pandemic, as our usual practices were upended, our concerns reprioritized, our social lives reorganized and often curtailed, our lives—both private and public—in a tumult. Even now, as we’ve moved past the initial phases of crisis and more of us have moved back into shared workspaces and participated in social gatherings, many uncertainties remain. As I read the early drafts of these thoughtful articles, I found them pulling me into a space for reflection…

Daniela Daniele took this picture to show that her research interests began with the canal that flows behind her apartment. This semester she’s defending her master’s thesis on the historical ecology of the Miami River. Image courtesy of Daniela Daniele.

Reflections on Negotiating the Science-Society Relationship Together

At the Tropical Rivers Lab at Florida International University, rivers have convened us to think deeply about how to best understand them and apply that understanding towards their conservation and sustainable management. We explore different aspects of south Florida ecosystems, Amazonian riverscapes, and East African waters, with collaborations across the tropics. When we decide “how” to best understand rivers, it is not just about the scientific questions we ask, but also about where those questions come from, how we relate to them, and ultimately, how these questions mediate our role with society…

A student researcher on the Juneau Icefield navigates between crevasses on the Llewellyn Glacier in northern British Columbia, Canada. Lingít Aaní, Tlingit traditional lands is a large but sparsely populated nation in this part of Alaska. Icefields are expanses of glacial ice flowing in multiple directions. Image by Allen Pope, NSIDC (CC BY 2.0).

Future Rivers of the Anthropocene

One meaning of the word Tlingit is “people of the tides.” Immediately, this identification with tides introduces a palpable experience of the aquatic as well as a keen sense of place. It is a universal truth that the human animal has co-evolved over millennia with water or the lack of it, developing nuanced, sophisticated and intimate water knowledges. However, there is little in the anthropological or geographical record that showcases contemporary Indigenous societies upholding customary laws concerning their relationship with water, and more precisely how this dictates their philosophy of place…

Jean Bonneville and Joanne Richardson at the Old River Control Auxiliary Structure in spring 1992. Image courtesy of John and Alta Fossum.

Meeting the Atchafalaya

The Mississippi River flows mostly south from its most northern reaches in Minnesota through the heartland of the United States down to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, collecting and distributing commerce and culture with a multitude of tributaries and distributaries. The river itself is dynamic and changeable, flooding, avulsing, and remodeling its banks and channels continuously. Tentatively held in place with levees, dams, and floodways, this dynamic river is held somewhat in check, allowing towns and farms to reach right to the river’s edge, and providing some continuity and control for navigation of the famous river barges that carry a wealth of commodities up and down the river…

A sensor station overlooking the Hackensack River. Image courtesy of Evelyn Dsouza.

A Place in Flux: Memory and Futurity in the Hackensack Meadowlands

From the middle of the Hackensack River, sweltering in the heat of an early summer day, I peered up at the New Jersey Turnpike from my seat on the pontoon boat. I usually see this place from the view of my own car—or occasionally, the train, from which an expansive view of the estuary is even easier to take in: billowing stands of common reed (Phragmites), glistening mudflats at certain times of the day, and looming cityscapes on the horizon. I’d never before found myself in the landscape quite like this, from the view of the water…

Image by Amy Humphries on Unsplash.

On Water, Equity, and Justice

This fall, I asked these fellows to contribute to this In Review column for Open Rivers by sharing what they are currently reading and why it matters to them. Their responses, like our meetings, offer a robust and varied collection of resources that will, I hope, enrich your own reading lists. Enjoy…

"Returning the River" by Molly Van Avery, Dameun Strange, and Michael Hoyt. Image courtesy of Michael Hoyt.

Review of Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

As the water quality coordinator for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) for nine years, I organized and hosted the Mississippi River Forum. A monthly informational and networking series, the River Forum was one of my more visible tasks. A fundamental organizing principle of this ongoing series was to bring together a disciplinarily diverse group of water resource practitioners and decision-makers for conversations with people beyond their typical working relationships…

St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minnesota, autumn 2020. Image courtesy of Angie Hong.

Water? I’ve Got a Story About That

The first time someone suggested that I write a weekly newspaper column about water, I smiled, nodded, and mentally filed the suggestion away in the corner of my mind where I store mindless chatter and bad ideas. How much could there possibly be to say about water, and who would want to read about such a mundane topic?…