Today: Jay Gustafson, who over two seasons paddled all of Minnesota’s 34 state water trails to draw attention to water quality. Gustafson, aka Waterway Jay, completed his Paddle for Progress, covering more than 4,500 miles, in 2018.


I geek out on foreign policy and military affairs. I’m a sucker for the national security section in the Washington Post and Defense One by Atlantic Media. I find the response of the State Department and Pentagon to rapid and constant technological changes fascinating. I also enjoy reading P.W. Singer, who writes extensively on this topic with books such as “Ghost Fleet” and “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.” As with water, technology has become essential to everyday life and brings with it a whole host of challenges and threats.

And because I work at Northstar Canoes and have spent the last three years paddling full time, I am continuing my journey through the book, “Canoes: A Natural History in North America” that I received as a Christmas present this year.


I tweet very little, but heavily leverage Twitter for the trove of water-related content that exists. I really enjoy following @WaterBar_Mpls and @thewatermain. They both focus on the culture of water, your interaction with it, how it impacts you. It’s a really great way for people to think of water as more than something that is there every time you turn on the faucet. It’s an opportunity to have constant reminders about the importance that water plays in our lives. As we continue to learn more about the negative and often unintended consequences our personal and collective actions, I find that seeing water portrayed in multiple ways can be motivating and refreshing.


I’ve been splitting my time between “The Americans,” “The Office” and old “David Letterman” shows on YouTube. Seems a 2:1 ratio of hilarity to skulduggery is the right balance for me.


I just finished the second season of “Slow Burn,” and enjoyed filling in a lot of gaps to a story that dominated my childhood. The podcast “Last Seen” also was a lot of fun. The amount of unanswered questions and complete lack of leads to the biggest art heist in history is astounding. You’re left scratching your head and wondering how this can be real.


I’m continuing to try and get the message of water quality awareness out there to good people across the state. We have a crisis occurring before our eyes in Minnesota with nearly half our water contaminated. Through opportunities I’ve had to present to engaged outdoor groups and individual citizens, my desire is to see everybody consider their daily interactions with water. My challenge is for people to find one thing they can do to affect positive change for water quality.

I have also had the pleasure of attending a handful of showings for the film “Waterway Jay” that I was able to collaborate on with AdventureMN Films. Here, too, is an opportunity for people to see the beauty and connection that they have to water in Minnesota. It is part of the fabric of our state and how we identify ourselves. If we don’t demonstrate to ourselves and our representatives that we care about this resource and demand its protection, I fear we will soon face choosing the least bad options on how to deliver safe and clean drinking water to our communities.

Bob Timmons