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Poster for UPRIVER: A Watershed Film. Image courtesy of Freshwaters Illustrated.

Reflections on UPRIVER: A Watershed Film

By Chris O’Brien. As part of the longstanding Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources, Freshwater and the UMN College of Biological Sciences presented a screening of UPRIVER: A Watershed Film, on December 5, 2023, at The Main Cinema in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The sold-out event featured a post-show panel discussion with Carrie Jennings (Research and Policy Director, Freshwater), Jacques Finlay (Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota), John Whitehead (Filmmaker, Fretless Films), and Patrick Moore (Emerging Systems Consulting).

This hour-long documentary, produced by Freshwaters Illustrated and directed by Jeremy Monroe and David Herasimtschuk, is an inspiring look at the successful conservation efforts underway on Oregon’s Willamette River system. Freshwaters Illustrated is a nonprofit organization based in Corvallis, Oregon, dedicated to raising awareness of freshwater biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation.

This sunset view of the Sonoran Desert shows the distinctive form of saguaro cacti. Image courtesy of Isaac Esposto.

A Small but Ultimate Presence

This year the heat of the desert grew, and the absence of water only became more stark against that rapidly rising contrast. Tucson, my home, set a new record of 11 consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 111 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of July, 2023. In other areas of the state where I travel, such as the community of Ajo, we have experienced even hotter temperatures with multiple days’ highs hitting 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the saguaro/Ha:sañ, forever existing in this place, began to curl in on themselves in a concave dehydrated bow.[1] In Southern Arizona, where we write of the dry river beds and the wall corralling (some in, some out), it might appear paradoxical to highlight water—this small but ultimate presence—as the center of things.

Wild rice growing in northern Minnesota. Image via Superior National Forest, (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

Data Science in Indian Country

At the end of July 2022, some 150 individuals from across the country gathered at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for “Data Science in Indian Country,” the Fifth Geoscience Alliance Conference since 2010. Founded by Dr. Nievita Bueno Watts of  California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt (Cal Poly Humboldt), Prof. Anthony Berthelote of Salish Kootenai College, and Dr. Diana Dalbotten of the University of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, the Geoscience Alliance (GA) is a coalition of students, educators and staff, Indigenous community members, and others committed to broadening the participation of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and people of Native Hawai’ian ancestry in the geosciences…

In Bangladesh, Rohingya women in refugee camps share stories of loss and hopes of recovery. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) UN Women/Allison Joyce.

Water as Weapon: Gender and WASH

The association between WASH services and gendered vulnerability to violence in rural locales and urban slums in developing countries has received the most study, but women everywhere are vulnerable when they lack access to, or are accessing, WASH services. All of which leaves one asking why global leaders focus on the possibility of future water-related conflict rather than respond to the very real crisis conditions in which women and girls exist now?

"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…

Climate Land Leaders are learning that soil health is needed for healthy waters. Image courtesy of Sharing Our Roots.

Creating Our Water Futures

This issue of Open Rivers invites us all to envision the kind of future we hope to have with water. It encourages us to see the possibilities. By imagining the relationships we want with water, imagining the water conditions we want to see in our future, we begin to see both the challenges and potentials in our present and the steps necessary to move us to these desired and desirable water conditions…