Catfish Connection: Linking Community to the River in Greenville, Mississippi
Currently, many cities are struggling with inner-urban blight and disjointed, divided communities due to high unemployment and lack of economic opportunity. Towns along the Mississippi River are prime examples of such distressed urban spaces, due to a combination of declining industry, lateral physical expansion away from the center and into suburbs, shifts in American revenue generators and today’s generally poor economic climate. The banks of the river are vacant with many Main Street storefronts unoccupied. Cities offer little to no waterfront commerce, entertainment or gathering – for locals and tourists alike – besides steamboat casinos. In addition, treatment of the Mississippi River is especially conservative, cautious and careful due to its strategic international importance and flood plain sensitivity; leading to the acceptance of early 20th century river control methods, with little room to engage or experience the waters. Visual and physical access to the river is denied due to levees and flood walls. However, the river embodies great potential for revitalization due to its quality resources; various fishery groups have stressed the value of aquaculture, especially for catfish cultivation, as a strong source of employment and revenue across the state of Mississippi. This thesis project seeks to investigate a sustainable model for large-scale redevelopment of decaying downtown spaces that respectfully links landscape and design while addressing problems tied to the current decline of American cities and towns. Mississippi River communities, especially in the state of Mississippi, require redevelopment with the three-fold intent of highlighting regional history, establishing an economy and providing space for the community to gather. The proposed means of re-urbanization – an urban catfish aquaculture and fishery center – prescribes an ecological, economic and productive cultural infrastructure that highlights the river and layers historical and social spaces to reinvigorate the relationship between city and its place on the water.