Meghan Holmes is a riverwoman. During hot Alabama summers, she makes almost daily trips to the various creeks and rivers outside of Birmingham. She finds a suitable rock, she sits, and she does little else but let the cooling waters rush around her. Holmes, a writer and musician from Arab, Alabama, recently receieved her Master’s degree from the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Her research focused on how invasive species can teach us about the way we create our own identities.
As summer approached after her first year in the program, Meghan began dreaming up a trip down the Mississippi River. Using her newly aquired research methods, the planning took her to youtube. Youtube took her to videos like this, and her fascination with the “Asian Carp” was born.
The Asian carp, as we all know, has become a cultural phenomenon on the Mississippi River. When else has a fish made such a big splash (!) in every realm of the river: from the paddling world to the US Army Corps of Engineers? Millions of dollars have been spent and several congressional hearings have been heard. Concerned citizens are sounding alarms and electrifying waterways as if they are being invaded. Great Lakes fishermen are pushing for an entire river near Chicago to be filled in and closed.
Meghan used the outcry as an opportunity to study a person’s connection with place. Our identities are often built around towns, regions, states, rivers, and environments that we hold dear. Humans will often go to great lengths to protect certain ideals of these environments. As we’ve seen with the Silver Carp, this interplay between man and nature can be astounding.
Her film is probably the most up to date and informative of the Silver Carp documentaries available right now. It takes the viewer to a Corps of Engineers lab in Vicksburg, an island fish fry in Helena, a fish hot dog factory in Illinois, an electric fence in Chicago, and an ice fishing pond in Minnesota. Voices include Chinese poet and professor Wang Ping, Mississippi Levee Board Representative Hank Burdine, riverman John Ruskey, National Park Superintendant Paul Labovitz, and many more.