I love living near the Mississippi River. This river shapes our landscape, in some places creating beautiful bluffs and also bringing rich soil to places where it floods. Each spring and fall, I greet the birds that follow the river as their migration route.  The river designs our life.  It is a reminder of the universe’s perfect design.

What is even more awesome is that we, too, are creators, and have the ability to reflect and enhance the beauty of the universe.  We are designers.  We may design our websites, buildings, or clothes.  We may design our families, our meals, and how we use our time.

What patterns guide us?  How do we fall into a bigger design?  Every culture has found a way to answer this question with its dance and music.  Today we are surrounded by many reminders that consumerism is defining our culture and music.  But I’m also inspired by cultural activists who are digging into tradition and creating something new.

Three of these dance groups will be coming together to highlight how the design of our communities reflect our cultural values in the project Weathering a Storm on Sunday September 15.

Sometimes our cities are packed as tightly as our overstuffed schedules.  When rain falls, there is nowhere for it to go and it floods the streets and our basements.  But we are also starting to design our cities to include permeability and resilience.  There is a new five-mile long integrated tree trench system lining University Avenue.  Rain water will be directed to the roots of these 1,000 trees rather than flooding the stormwater system and polluting the Mississippi River.

The dance groups participating in Weathering a Storm will be celebrating these improvements to how we are designing our community.  But more importantly, I want to celebrate the cultural traditions that point to rhythms, patterns, and designs that sustain life.  Thank you to the ancestors who speak to us through the dance, activating every cell of our bodies with their wisdom.  Thank you for how the dances teach us to move in harmony with each other and to participate deeply in the cycles of life.

Weathering a Storm

A three stop dance tour covering one block and three new types of green infrastructure.

2:00 p.m. Voice of Culture Dance & Drum
Rain garden at the SW corner of University and Syndicate

2:30 p.m. Living Wisdom: Dances from the Balkans and Asia Minor
Stormwater planter at the NW corner of University and Griggs

3:00 p.m. Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc
Integrated tree trench system at SE corner of University and Griggs
(Gordon Parks High School front plaza)