News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 30, 2012

EDITORIAL: ‘Year of the River’ brings focus to our Wabash bond

2013 celebration a special initiative of possibilities

The Tribune-Star

---- — New Year’s Day always brings a sense of expectation, reflection and anxiety. We wonder what lies ahead, how the past year has changed those possibilities and what we might change to improve our lives.

Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley has a unique opportunity as Jan. 1 nears. The upcoming year has been donned “2013: The Year of the River” by a coalition of arts organizations, led by Art Spaces — Wabash Valley Outdoor Sculpture Collection Inc., Arts Illiana and Rose-Hulman. Its intent is to inspire a renewed appreciation for the famed waterway in the community, and to educate folks on its potential uses and history. The project already is tightening bonds in the area, as groups that have functioned parallel for years tap into each other’s talents and resources to plan river-oriented events.

One strong example of the possibilities the Valley possesses has been illuminated by the new musical album, “The Wabash.” Its creation involved 13 musical acts and dozens of musicians, as well as photographers, graphic artists, local college students and staffers, studio technicians, local shops and restaurants. All of their contributions, and the proceeds, go to the establishment of a riverside sculpture commemorating 19th-century Terre Haute composer Paul Dresser and his Indiana state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.”

The result of their collaboration, with performers — all with Wabash Valley ties — stretching from Minnesota to Nashville, Tenn., is a heartfelt, fun, inspiring slice of the rich heritage of this place. The 13 songs on the album include a smorgasbord of genres, from jazz to bluegrass, blues, alternative rock, folk, Americana country, pop country, straight-up rock, and barbershop.

That diversity reflects the populace here, where universities coexist with blue-collar workers, business people, retirees, youngsters, singles, families and different races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.

The river represents one of the many things we all share, that we all have in common.

Dozens of activities, from January through December, are planned around 2013: The Year of the River, giving the community the chance to gather — with all of our differences — to celebrate through music concerts, arts events, educational forums and recreational opportunities. We have the chance to take a closer look at not only the value of the Wabash to this region emotionally and economically, but also to re-examine our collective power.

The determination to work together toward common goals could be the primary New Year’s resolution for the community.

Terre Haute and the surrounding towns and neighborhoods are not devoid of talent and resources. As “The Wabash” album proved on the brink of the yearlong celebration, this is home to creative, hard-working people. Good things are possible here. With initiative, ideas bloom.

With that in mind, we welcome 2013. Happy New Year, indeed.