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January 11, 2002


LA CROSSE, Wis.— Join the former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, an author who canoed the Mississippi River alone, a folk singer/songwriter, and many more in exploring the history and cultural impact of one of our greatest natural resources—the Mississippi River.

"Gathering of Waters: The Life of the River and its People," held Feb. 4-7 on the Viterbo University campus, is a look at the life of the upper Mississippi River region. It's also an attempt to address environmental and political questions about its use and to look at ways to protect this vital resource.

All events in this week-long series are free and open to the public. Highlights include:

Monday, Feb. 4:
"Mississippi Solo," 3-4:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Mississippi Solo author Eddy Harris shares an account of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River.

"The Mississippi River: a Humanities Perspective," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. John Anfinson, the historian for the National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, talks about the future of the upper Mississippi River, which pits navigation interests that want to increase the capability of the lock and dams against environmentalists who see the river in ecological crisis.

Tuesday, Feb. 5
"Views on the Mississippi: Images of a Changing River," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Mark Neuzil, author of Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse, will present a lecture and slide show on Bosse's work. Bosse was a photographer of the Upper Mississippi River between 1883-93.

"River Poems and Tunes," 8:45 p.m., Fine Arts Center Lobby. Having grown up on the Mississippi River, Viterbo's Bill Stobb, English, developed a solid appreciation of the relationship between landscape, language, and consciousness of the river as is evidenced by his original poetry. Earl Madary, religious studies, also is connected to the river way of life and will debut an original song influenced by the river.

Wednesday, Feb. 6
"Songs of the River," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.  Founder of the Mississippi River Revival, a campaign to clean-up the river, Larry Long organized communities from Lake Itasca to Dubuque, Iowa with his voice and guitar. He will share songs about life on the river.

Thursday, Feb. 7
"Past, Present, Future—Action!" 3-6 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Lobby. Facilitated by Susen Fagrelius, this river community discussion features local panelists that include: Gretchen Benjamin, Mississippi River planner, Wisconsin DNR; Noel Jordan, president/CEO of Skipperliner; Reggie McLeod, editor of Big River; Kent Pehler, vice president of operations, Brennan Marine; and John Wetzel, wildlife manager, Wisconsin DNR (retired).

River Community Dinner, A free, informal soup supper, 6-7 p.m., Fine Arts Center Lobby

"The 10 Big Conservation Issues for a New Century," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Michael Dombeck is the former chief of the United States Forest Service (1997-2001) and a current professor of global environmental management with the UW-Stevens Point.

In addition, throughout the symposium, various speakers will visit Viterbo classrooms.

All events are free and open to the public. If you have questions about "Gathering of Waters: The Life of the River and its People," please contact Mary Hassinger, dean, School of Letters and Sciences, at 608-796-3393 or by email at

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