On the Mississippi with Living Lands and Waters

A couple weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Living Lands and Waters on the Mississippi River via Memphis, TN.  Three KEEN folks – David from the SAP team, Lorraine from Finance, and myself – stepped aboard the Living Lands and Waters barge to see this 2014 KEEN Effect Grantee in action.  It was great to see the effects of a KEEN Effect grant and feel firsthand the impacts and impressions the crew leaves in their wake.

We slept on the barge, ate with the crew, and cleaned up 3500 pounds of trash with 45 college alternative spring breakers.  After a couple days we jetted north to Portland, tired yet humbled by the river heroes we’d met.  All three of us were completely blown away by the LLW team’s seamless operation, endless energy, and dedication towards healthy rivers and educated communities.  Twelve crew members spend every day for 9+ months living on and cleaning America’s largest rivers, all while educating college kids, high schoolers, and community members about consumption, river conservation, and how reusable water bottles can change the world!  Each one of the crew members glowed, were passionate about their work, and exude endless energy and enthusiasm.  This team is tireless, passionately delivering their (sometimes dirty) message to communities they float past.

A big shout out to AJ Meeker, our friend and local photographer, who joined us on the trip and captured the essence, grit, and honesty of the LLW crew.  The stories we heard and the personalities we met are evident in photography below.

Chad Pregracke, LLW’s Fearless Leader. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

Coach. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

Kate. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

Nelson. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

Coach gets is motivational dancing in check. (Photo: AJ Meeker).

Shore to Barge Transportation. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

Just some friendly trash talking… (Photo: AJ Meeker).

The Trash. Photo: AJ Meeker.

The Transport. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

The Throwing (Photo: AJ Meeker).

Coach gives David a lesson in trash sorting. (Photo: AJ Meeker)

Lorraine, KEEN Finance.

Kirsten, KEEN Giving and Marketing.

David. KEEN SAP. (Photo: AJ Meeker).

The whole Alternative Spring Break Crew 2015.(Photo: AJ Meeker)