Over the past two decades, river management has added a new approach to the “toolbox” of efforts to undo some of the damage caused by earlier generations of river interventions. Humans have intervened in river flows for millennia, damming water courses and creating levees to shape river flows, all in the name of providing expanded benefits from managed river flows. But things have changed recently.
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The images here show three configurations of Minneapolis’ Upper Harbor Terminal landscape across a century. Together, these images demonstrate the temporal layering of a physical and social landscape, highlighting changes over time; my analysis aims to illuminate how these changes emerge at the intersection of humans and nonhumans, and point us toward an alternative perception and ethic of co-creating the world.
For as long as people have been living with rivers, we have been changing them. Put up a levee to keep water away from where we don’t want it. Build a canal to move water to where we do want it. Put up a dam to stop floods or generate water power. Over millennia, the possibilities have been endless.
A major piece of Twin Cities news in summer 2015 was the closure of the St. Anthony Falls Lock on the Upper Mississippi. This garnered a lot of attention, and raised many questions from the community. At the time, I was taking a full-time summer course load, and was more worried about drowning in my chemistry and philosophy homework than about local river news.
The 2013 Hispanic Issues On Line volume, Troubled Waters: Rivers in Latin American Imagination, is a collection of essays that underscores an intellectual turn in Hispanic and Lusophone Studies toward the environment, and more specifically, the material, metaphysical, and literary “nature” emblematic of rivers that flow south of the Río Grande.