I want to dedicate this time to thank all of the River Citizens I have the pleasure of talking with here in the Tennessee region. I cannot adequately express my gratitude or the pleasure it is for me to meet each of you. You welcome me into your lives and share your experiences and I am forever changed and eternally grateful.


thumbs up  - MRCTN - cropped

I learned River Citizens come in all kinds,
ranging from master gardeners, poets, avid recyclers to photographers, home schooling parents, bicyclists and the “average Joe or Josephina”.


I can remember stopping one of you to talk about 1 Mississippi and before I can get the words out many of you said, “What’s a River Citizen?” or my favorite, “If it has anything to do with water, nature, or being outdoors, SIGN ME UP!”.

Naturally, I am a community organizer at heart. So when I have had the chance to meet with River Citizens from all over, it is a simple joy to see how we are all diversely affected by the mystical nature of the Mississippi River.

You have allowed me to share my personal stories of the great Chad Pregracke, of Living Land and Waters, and discuss how his cleanup and recycling efforts portrayed in his book “From the Bottom Up” has forever changed my life in regards to taking a STAND for the Mississippi.  After reading his book or meeting Chad, you will all want to do your part, even if it were just to pick a piece of Styrofoam up out of the river or a storm drain. Check out their inspiring photos on Facebook too!


Chad n barge Photo by Greg Boll

Chad Pregracke in front of the garbage barge.
Photo by Greg Boll


I will always remember one River Citizen that was an inspired recycler.  I told her how Chad’s story motivated me to keep the faith to someday have a trash-free river including its tributaries; and she shared her story of how she was inspired by the St. Louis City Museum which was built with recycled items. We spent a timeless moment discussing the wonders of re-purposed architectural and industrial objects and how she vowed to create something fabulous, creative and sustainable in her own home. Upon taking on that challenge she managed to save over $10,000 dollars refurbishing her kitchen utilizing second hand/cast off items.   So with that said, I challenge all of you to find a pet project of your own.

Investigate that spirit of yours and challenge your own ideas
and creativity in more sustainable ways.

Lastly, I can’t forget the romantics.  More than anything I love to go to the River and see the “love birds.”  It makes my heart leap when I see you hand in hand against the back drop of the Mississippi.  All I would be missing is the taste of mint julep and the rhythmic sounds of BB King’s guitar, Lucille. When I learn about your passion for the River it reminds me of how BB King loves his Lucille.

memphis couple


Thank you for this experience.  I hope you are enjoying being kept informed about one of our greatest and most prized natural resources—The Mighty Mississippi; as I deliver the message. With that said, I encourage you to share your stories with a friend, co-worker, or loved one as you have them shared with me, and encourage them to join your new family of River Citizens.

The More the Merrier!



Karen Thornton - TN


Karen Thornton

1 Mississippi Team Leader Tennessee

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