What's in a story?

By Jill Erickson



Flowing 42 miles north from Kansas to Missouri, through rural land, parks, neighborhoods and industrial areas, the Blue River and the creeks and streams that feed it touches more lives than most. Photo by Pat Whalen.


For thousands of years, stories have universally connected humans to one another, guided our development and helped us make sense of our place. The Blue River Story Project launched earlier this year to collect stories from across the watershed to inspire us to get to know the Blue River and our community more deeply.


As the Project winds down, you will have a unique opportunity to see an exhibit of many of the stories at this year’s 8th Annual Partnership Summit on Tuesday, October 5 from 4:30-7:30 pm at the Swope Park Bandstand. The event is free but registration is required.


“The Blue River is invisible,” shares Connie Chapman, HCA co-founder in the Blue River Documentary.


The lack of awareness of our streams, creeks and rivers was the catalyst for the Documentary and the Story Project. The Blue River documentary premiered in January 2020 on KCPTV and won a Midwest Regional Emmy in 2021. The film features oral histories and the ecological and cultural history of the river.


“Nature is peaceful and beautiful and we’ve got to protect it," shares Evan Smalley in the Documentary.


It is difficult to protect and care for something until you know it. The Documentary brings to light many perspectives and personal stories about connections to the river.


“Over the years, so many people have shared with me their love of the Blue River through their stories,” said Jill Erickson, Executive Director. “We set out to capture those stories before they are lost.”


Stories are bigger than us. They offer a bigger picture of humanity and reassure us we are not alone. Stories of the Blue River are vital to it’s future. The Blue River Story Project is building a stronger community by including more perspectives, more experiences and more support for the hard work to heal the Blue River.


“We hope to see all of our partners - old and new - for an evening of Blue River stories, food, drinks and friends,” said Meghan Freeman, Program Director. “The Partnership Work Group members have been meeting and working on the event planning all year. It is really going to be a special night.”


About the 8th Annual Partnership Summit

Come explore the river and celebrate rivers in our city. You will be inspired by people whose lives are touched by the river on Tuesday, October 5 from 4:30-7:30 pm at KC Swope Parks Bandstand. RSVP today to save your spot!


Attendees will receive two tickets good for any of the food trucks. Local food trucks on site will provide food and beverages. Identification will be required to purchase alcoholic beverages. Food trucks will accept cash and credit.


Dress is casual. Parking is free in designated lot near Grand Bandstand. Restrooms facilities are portable.


Donations are encouraged and will help support the efforts to save the Heartland Overlook Preserve – AKA the HOP. Donors will receive a Humans Need Nature t-shirt, while supplies last.


We promise you will be inspired to get to know the river more – you too will fall in love with the Blue River.

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