Today at the Phillips Center in Gainesville Dr. James Jawitz, Professor and Associate Chair of Environmental Hydrology at UF moderated a panel discussion with panelists Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Mina Girgis, CEO and co-founder of the Nile Project.
The Nile Project is an organization that uses music, education and innovation programs to inspire, inform, and empower citizens to collaboratively foster the sustainability of the Nile River’s ecosystem. The project is now on tour in the U.S. where they perform concerts and deliver workshops at universities.
The Nile River is a commonality among 11 nations of Africa, 9 of which are among the world’s most impoverished. Language, culture, politics and religion vary greatly among these nations, but music and the water of the river draw them together. One goal is to create a platform which will enable everyone to be heard and to express oneself equally among all, and in which the music will attempt to mimic the ecosystem from which it emanates.
Girgis has the dream of humanizing the ecosystem so that the inhabitants can identify and connect with it on a personal and emotional level. His method utilizes music, but asks the question as to what role the water might have in that.
President Malwitz-Jipson described the role of OSFR in emphasizing the river theme in art, which includes the river oriented exhibitions at OSFR headquarters at Rum 138, music, as seen in the original river-based songs written for the song contest, and the education programs of the local schools, where information on the springs and aquifer is freely dispersed to the students. She mentioned the latest project of collecting and archiving early photos of the Santa Fe River, which has been a magnet to draw people from all social levels and walks of life.
Those who were lucky enough to attend this free discussion were presented with a new and different aspect of how the river, be it the mighty Nile or our beloved Santa Fe, can function as a powerful draw to the people living near it and how it can be a positive influence in their lives.
The community thanks Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Mina Girgis, Dr. James Jawitz, and the University of Florida for presenting and hosting this informative and inspiring program.