Relay Basics

Relay of Voices: The Great River Run is a work of social choreography and community building enacted by 104 towns and cities along the Mississippi River in collaboration with arts collaborative A House Unbuilt. Together we are creating a connection with the river, and the rootedness of the life along it, through collective participation in a series of activities and events focused on storytelling and movement. Six artist-athletes will be running a relay, inviting local residents to join, and engaging each community to gather and share 624 unique stories of individuals who reflect the human dimension of life on the water.


By making this work an effort not only of community and culture, but also of physicality and athleticism, the Relay Team hopes to to signal to the broader social sphere who might be listening that time and endurance, person to person contact, and connection with land, water, and natural resources—these things can build a fuller story and truer picture of the lives of this cross section of America. We will use daily accumulation, over one hundred days of running and community engagement, to create a living breathing performance experience, to document and archive a living history for the future to access, and to build relationships and momentum that have the potential to speak with the authenticity of an individual voice.

The project aims to:

  • use physical activity to amplify health and wellness effects on the whole body, with researchers and residents running downriver, traveling a collective 2,300 miles on foot,

  • build a culture of listening around the communites along the Mississippi River, the cultural ecological thread that runs through the country,

  • use new methods in the field of dance that take on art as an applied methodology for use in real life situations, deepening the understanding of the environment around the river and its human dimension, &

  • bring this research data into conversation with fieldwork from applied research fields such as anthropology, ecology and social geography that are currently at work along the River



You can be involved in Relay!
Work with our local Community Collaborators to:

  • Offer time to meet and have a conversation
  • Participate in brainstorming, helping us shape Relay to respond and adapt to your community
  • Offer a platform to help build engagement—some ideas: Direct Contacts, Social Media, Collaborative Programming, etc.
  • Offer practical and logistical support, for example…
  • Shape and strengthen our research—connect us with specific, individual citizens whose voices can connect us with the River
  • Help us locate/secure space to launch our morning movement before we run to the next town
  • Share local rules, permits, and policies for public events and arts/social programming
  • Connect us with groups and individuals who might be interested in developing run/bike events in conjunction with our land and launch into/from your community.



A Day in the Life of Relay...
Our vision for Relay is contingent on your invitation:

  • Welcome us to your community around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Join us for the last leg of the run, or a mile out of town we can slow down and walk in with more folks from your community... or just wave us in at the landing spot we've defined together.
  • Connect us with specific, individual residents in your community whose voices can connect us to the community as home and the river or natural resources surrounding it. We are looking to spend about three hours with them, pairing off and going along through their day with them, getting to know them through questions and answers as well as observations of how they move through their environment, interact with others, express themselves, and so forth. This helps us place the interview in a context, in your specific location, and gives us a fuller sense of who the person is.
  • Send us off to our next destination with a collective energy. In the morning, around 7 o’clock, we invite you to join us as we process the stories gathered the day before from your own community. We need your help to shape the meaning and provide insight into the layers of each story told. We are only gatherers and carriers, collaborating with your voice in this effort to share the stories further... Then at 8am push us on toward our next location—feel free to wave us goodbye or even join us as we walk, jog, and run further downriver.
  • Invite us for an extended stay, or perhaps a late night, and we’ll collaborate with artists from your own community or create a workshop structure for residents and youth.