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First Anniversary!

It has been one year since I made this blog! It was my first attempt at blogging. I had attended the 2017 Mississippi Water Security Institute and wanted to share some of my thoughts about how Mississippi could take better care of its resources.

The blog has grown more than I thought it would and I really appreciate all the people I have connected with through this platform. Surprisingly it isn’t only my mom who reads my blog (she doesn’t even read it)!

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I just finished up the 2018 Mississippi Water Security Institute, which has allowed me to return to what I believe is important. This year at the Water Security Institute we focused on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

 

Here is what we learned that really stuck with me:

Living Lands and Waters

Chad Pregracke was our keynote speaker and he was truly amazing! Chad decided that if no one else was going to clean up the Mississippi River, he would. At the age of 23, Chad founded Living Lands & Waters, a nonprofit that began cleaning the river. Today, the organization has grown to include a full staff and fleet of equipment and has expanded to include Student Educational Workshops, The MillionTrees Project, Adopt-a-River Mile, and Invasive Species Removal, as well as The Great Mississippi River Cleanup.

During the two week program my friends started calling me Chad Jr. Apparently I also pick up a lot of trash.

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pick pick pick up trash!

Round Island

As sea levels are rising more than two inches per year, islands just off the coast of Mississippi are disappearing under water. This is a big problem because barrier islands protect us from hurricanes and storms as well as maintain our brackish water at a very specific salinity. The salinity is perfect for oysters, shrimp, and other seafood that dominate our blue economy.

While this is happening, industries are moving into coastal towns. This leads to dredging out areas so that their ships can get to where they need to go. The excess material tends to be placed out into the Gulf of Mexico. To save money, they could place the excess material where it is needed on top of barrier islands to bring them back above surface. Not only does this save money, but it preserves our coast both physically and economically.

Round Island has been sort of a pilot project for this idea. We went out there and were able to see all of the migratory birds that have claimed it as their temporary home. It is still bare, but that will be finished up soon. I hope all of the coastal states continue this trend.

Beach Outfalls Challenge

Another big problem that contributes to a decrease in our blue economy are the storm water drains. They pump storm water from all over our coast into the Mississippi Sound (the water between the barrier islands and the mainland). The water is full of garbage, sediment, and nutrient runoff. This causes plenty of problems alone, but on top of this, the pipes look very similar to what I would imagine sewage pumping into the Sound would look like. This is not good for our tourism industry at all.

 

another pipe

Example of a storm water drainage pipe.

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Not aesthetically pleasing or safe for people to walk on.

The Beach Outfalls Challenge is a public prize challenge sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and is funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (NFWF GEBF). We want to enhance Mississippi’s ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity by providing measurable improvements to water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation, which will of course provide improvements in the aesthetic appeal of the beaches and therefore help tourism as well.

For the challenge, teams were able to send in plans for addressing the problem and the top three teams would be able to bring their designs to life. From there, water quality could be tested, locals surveyed, as well as other measures of performance to determine how to continue.

I believe this idea is brilliant because there are so many problems being faced by the Mississippi Gulf Coast with one thing after another from Hurricane Katrina of 2005 to the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill on 2010. Can’t wait to see how it all is coming along in the months to come.

 


Germany!

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Today is also a big day because it’s the start of a big adventure. Today I’m leaving my hometown in Mississippi and tomorrow I’m landing in Germany! I’ll be there for about a year!

I’m planning on studying and exploring, but mostly exploring! I’ll definitely be updating you guys on my German adventure (you can see more about it at my school’s study abroad blog)! 🙂


The 2018 Mississippi Water Security Institute has inspired me to work on quite a few projects that will be coming to you guys in the coming months while I’m in Germany!

Peace out,

Kris

Books Worth Reading – Early 2018

These are the books I’ve read and enjoyed in the first three months of 2018. The majority of these books were for my American History or German Literature course, but they were enjoyable enough to share with you all!

I’ve been involved in classes, student organizations, activism, tutoring, and research so I haven’t been able to read as much as I would like to! Hoping to have a longer list for the next few months.

 

Nonfiction

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

simone bilesI was a gymnast for the majority of my life. It taught me so much from dedication to flexibility.

Simone Biles covers that and so much more. Her background is just as interesting as her experience in the Olympic Village!

Simone’s entrance into the gymnastics world started on a daycare field trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but no one could’ve known that 19 medals were in store for her. In this book, Simone takes you through the events, challenges, and trials that carried her from an early childhood in foster care to a coveted spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Her attitude along the way really inspired me to let negative comments roll off my back and put my dreams into action!

Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck

steinbeckReading this really humanized the people on all sides of WWII. War is not something I understand as I am nonviolent in nature, but through reading this book, I’ve come to understand how people can be swept up in war.

This book is a collection of articles written by John Steinbeck while he was a special war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune from June to December 1943. Steinbeck’s articles include descriptions of life on a troop transporter, a description of how homesick US soldiers tried and failed to grow their native vegetables in the English gardens, and so many other narratives that would have been lost without Steinbeck.

Despite being nonfiction, this book reveals Steinbeck’s way of storytelling. He did not focus on individuals, but I still felt connected to the characters people. This is one of his less well-known works, but not for good reason! I definitely recommend reading this!

Semicolon Project: Your Story Isn’t Over

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Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them (you can see mine in the photo!).

Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages and all backgrounds talking about what they have survived. This book represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who are affected by mental illness. The stories in the book break stereotypes while also not excluding those who fit into the stereotypes, which is unusual for a campaign to be able to combine those two aspects.

Learn more about the project at projectsemicolon.com!

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown’s classic  account of the systematic destruction of the Native American during the second half of the nineteenth century. As pointed out in the book, it is rare to hear the other side of the story that did not make it into the history books of my childhood. The information comes from council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions. The point of view is not limited to one tribe, but instead covers quite a few in depth and dozens are mentioned in the book.

Just as with Once There Was a War and Project Semicolon, this book shines light on narratives that would otherwise be lost.

I was very glad this was required reading in my American history course this year and think anyone learning about or interested in the western frontier in American history should read this.

 

Fiction

I have been slacking on my fiction reading recently. Nonfiction is definitely what I am drawn to more, but I love fiction too!

The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt

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The Physicists tells of the world’s greatest physicist, Johann Wilhelm Möbius, in a madhouse, haunted by recurring visions of King Solomon. He is kept company by two other equally deluded scientists: one who thinks he is Einstein, the other who believes he is Newton. The hunchbacked Doctor Mathilde von Zahnd is there psychiatrist, but she might be just as crazy as (if not more than) the rest of them.

This is one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, but it did effectively show me not to trust anything I read or hear. (Not that the current American government has not taught me that already.)

When you think you know what is about to happen, you don’t.


Did some reading over spring break with my friend Marissa as seen in the picture at the top! Check out her blog!


Let me know if you read or have read these books and what you think! Let me know if you guys have any books I should check out!