River Voices: Matt Gladue

I moved to Minneapolis 20 years ago, and I've never lived more than a couple of miles from the Mississippi River. As someone who grew up in Colorado, where I saw mountains every day for 18 years, I love living near one of the greatest rivers on the planet. I like to run on the paths along West River Parkway. My family and I hike the bluffs, always amazed at how quickly and easily we can get someplace where we can reconnect with nature. My dad lives on the west coast of Florida, and sometimes, when I'm near the river, I whisper a greeting to him, hoping it floats down to him through the Gulf of Mexico.

I didn't realize until I came to work at The Nature Conservancy, that the water I drink comes from the river. So does the water my neighbors drink. I also didn't realize that the river faced increasing threats upstream. As I learned more, my relationship with the Mississippi changed. It isn't just a nice backdrop for morning runs. It isn't just an amenity for outdoor recreation.  The river gives my family and my neighbors' life. It sustains us. It is a fundamental pillar of our healthy community.

Matt smiling by the Mississippi River

There is a new story to write about the Mississippi River. It's a story about people like you and me, coming together to secure the river's future in a way that ensures a sustainable future for everybody.

As a community organizer by trade, I learned something early on: we are the ones we have been waiting for. If I want access to clean, affordable drinking water for my family and my neighbors, I can't leave it to someone else. If I want natural lands to be protected to ensure the health of an iconic river for my daughter and the generations that follow her, I can't leave it to someone else. If I want to see nature play a powerful role in storing carbon to protect the planet, I can't leave it to someone else.

None of us can do big things alone. There is a new story to write about the Mississippi River. It's a story about people like you and me, coming together to secure the river's future in a way that ensures a sustainable future for everybody. It's a story I want to tell, and that I want our children and their children and their children to tell, as they walk the banks of the river, as they go to their tap for a glass of water, as they go about the day to day work of building healthy lives and healthy communities. How about you?

Two people chatting at the headwaters of the Mississippi River
Two people chatting at the headwaters of the Mississippi River

Got a Story to Tell?

Share your clean water story with the Our Mississippi Our Future campaign team!

How has your connection to water shaped your life path? Do you have a favorite Minnesota lake or river? How are you sharing your love of Minnesota waters with others? Whatever motivates you to take action for Our Mississippi, we want to hear about it!