No. 9: A River Connected: stories about river, race, home, and climate

12 Noon, Thursday, October 20, 2022

Lauren Moore, Kathy Vance, Dinah Bradford, John Bradford

Gathering and Welcome

Introduction: Who are you, where are you, and what is the river to you?

River—Climate: Kristal Pitzer

Community advocate, young mother of six, wife of a policeman, Kristal Pitzer says she’ll die in Louisiana, Missouri. It is her home.

Q&A: How does the river shape your sense of home?

Climate—Home: Craig Koch

Multi-generational farmer who’s lived and farmed through four floods in the Elsberry, Missouri bottomland. After the flooding of 2019, he’s rebuilding again.

Q&A: Why do we make our homes in threatened environments?

Home—Race: Councilman Ronald Grace

Longtime resident of the Sunshine, Carville, St. Gabrielle area, Ronald Grace feels it’s important to give a voice to his community—a community that has come a long way from his childhood days of gravel roads and a segregated society.

Q&A: How do stories of racial injustice impact us today?

Cairo, Illinois native who has seen the city through its ups and downs, Alda senses a divide in the community but doesn’t believe it represents an inherent problem.

Q&A: How do we break out of cultural and racial divisions?

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For a small group it was a lively discussion. Top issues in today’s stories were the flood of 2019 and how that compares to the low water the River is facing today. The changes in climate are obviously affecting these extreme conditions in our environment, but it seems challenging for the people on the ground to connect with the larger call to action to affect change. They are just trying to get dry or get their goods to market or get their lives back to normal. Their stories, however, can play a part in that larger call to all people to make changes in their lives—big and small—to take better care of our River and the landscape it shapes.

Another issue dominating the story block was segregation—one story of lived experience being told to go to the back entrance because the front was for whites. Another voice from the same time but a different point of view, feeling as though everyone had what they needed, just in separate places. These were both challenging narratives to hear and reconcile, but through dialogue with the group we each looked at our own experiences as well as the systemic issues we face to come to terms. Still a conversation to continue.

We hope you will enjoy this recording and find time to join us next month for the full experience and discussion. We are not perfect, just working on grappling with these real human stories. We need your voices in on the process.

Join us next month for A River Connected, Episode 10! Sign up here, and tune in on October 20th at Noon!