By: Chad Pregracke
320 pages, 20 black and white photos
Chad Pregracke was a high school student and part-time mussel diver in East Moline, IL when he first glimpsed the trash that littered the beds where he and his brother fished. Chad spent four unsuccessful years seeking state help before he got the idea to seek out corporate sponsorship while watching a NASCAR race. Chad began a naive but persistent fund-raising campaign, and ALCOA took a chance and wrote a check for $8,400.
Ten years later the project has evolved into an operation with a $500,000 budget and sponsorship from more than 60 major corporations and foundations including the National Geographic Society, but the grassroots, can-do spirit of Chad's initiative still persists. Today his 9-man crew lives on a 135-foot barge that serves as a houseboat, base of operations, and floating classroom.
Chad travels the country leading river cleanups and speaking about his work. The Mississippi courses through the industrial heritage of the United States. In nearly a decade of exploring the bottom of the Mississippi, Chad has a host of stories to relate: a near-death experience, a chance wandering into a haunted swamp, and the personalities of the people he has encountered along the river.
Chad's story touches every city, town and hamlet on the Mississippi from Minneapolis to the confluence with the Ohio River. He has encountered characters around every bend - from the drunk and dangerous to the generous and wise. "From the Bottom Up" is an engaging personal and environmental success story set against America's most scenic and historic river.
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