By ALYSSA SCHNUGG
OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI (The Oxford Eagle)
Spending the last 20 years overseas in Africa and Asia, citizen journalist and creative activist Neal Moore has returned to his native country to get reacquainted with its natural beauty and its people, and to share their stories with the rest of the world via CNN’s iReport series and his own Web site.
Moore has been traveling down the Mississippi River in a canoe since July 10. His goal is to travel the entire length of the mighty Mississippi – 2,320 miles, from its source in Lake Itasca in Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico – by December.
Along the way, Moore stops at neighboring cities and towns and reports on local community projects, highlighting what makes each area special.
“This trip is really to take myself out of my comfort zone,” Moore told The EAGLE Tuesday. “When you do that, incredible things can happen. It’s really exciting to be surrounded by the wilderness. It makes you feel wild as well.”
Telling ‘real’ stories
Born and raised in Los Angeles, the 38-year-old says he always loved to travel. Twenty years ago, he moved to Africa. From there, he moved to Taipei, Taiwan, but returns often to Africa and on occasion the United States.
His trip is being documented as part of CNN’s iReports, which allows non-professional journalists to “report” stories from around the world. He hopes his stories will show those living in other countries what America is really like.
“I want them to see it from the inside,” he said. “Real towns, real people with real stories, through the lens of my camera. Having the opportunity to share those stories with the world via CNN is a very exciting prospect.”
So far, Moore has visited Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. In Mississippi, he’s been to Clarksdale and Tupelo where he featured Mississippi’s blues history.
In Oxford, he’s doing two reports — one on Alzheimer’s and the other on literacy.
“I will be featuring a young mother of two who wants to break the cycle of illiteracy in her family,” Moore said.
Moore admits his canoeing skills were on the weak side when he first began his journey.
“I’m an Eagle Scout, so I did learn basic canoe skills, but I haven’t been in one since I was 12 years old,” he said. “When I tell these towns what I’m doing, they think I’m nuts. The Mississippi River can have a strong current in some spots and can have real dangers. But it’s a beautiful river and, if done safely, it can be a life-changing experience.”
To follow Moore on his trip, visit his Web site at http://www.flashriversafari.com.