Writing. Musicking. Sauntering. Driftless aficionado. MA. PhD.

Driftless Place Names

Detail of a 1959 USGS map featuring the Zumbro River’s main branch.

The Zumbro River — River of Obstructions, Place Where the Pines Grow. This 1,422 square-mile watershed hosts a dendritic network of forks and branches draining undulating uplands through marshy bottoms to a channeled confluence with the Mississippi River. …

Driftless Minnesota Place Names

Root River at Rushford (G.G. Grossfield, undated). Courtesy of MN Historical Society.

Meanings about places emerge through the stories we tell. These stories may involve formative experiences or unique happenings, landmarks for direction, or points of inspiration and awe. Over time, places and their stories change. Names change. Even at the foundational scale of geology, change is always…

Driftless Minnesota — Winona County

Place names are signs and signifiers. Names to navigate and remember. Names to obscure and erase.

It is intuitive to point and name. Toddlers do it. Older people, too. Pointing and naming situates locations and contexts of direction. At the watershed scale, biotic life exists within watershed systems and geological…

John Dewey provided “America’s chief contribution to the age-old theories of beauty and creation” in 1934.

Dewey (1859–1952) published Art as Experience in 1934 based on his Harvard lectures on esthetics. In 1932, Dewey was the first William James Lecturer at Harvard and among the early developers of philosophical pragmatism…

Sharing art connects community across time and space.

Music infuses everyday life with modes of connection. Through the congested rhythms of city life to the openness of the countryside, sounds of life itself are sometimes dischordant, sometimes symphonic, but always present.

Whether “natural” or orchestrated, music affords us an anchor…

Songs and Songwriting for Creative Sustainability.

Songwriting is a conjuring. Bird on your shoulder. Rabbit from a hat. Demons at your doorstep. Unraveling a ball of yarn that is the phenomenal world while knitting some cozy metaphorical sweaters, hats, mittens. Productive unraveling and reweaving refines the stories we have heard into stories we want to tell…

James Travis Spartz

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