THE HEADWATERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER are located in rural Minnesota, a sparsely populated landscape dotted with forests and small lakes. As you might imagine, the water quality on the river here is fairly pristine. One hundred miles later—when it intersects with the Crow River—everything falls apart.
What happens on Minnesota’s Crow River is a story that mixes good intentions, unsound practices, and benign neglect in equal measure, yet it isn’t that unique. In fact, the story repeats itself on every tributary feeding into the Mississippi River, from its headwaters down to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.
By starting at the place where the Mississippi River’s troubles begin, learning how the Crow became polluted, and what people are now doing about it, we can inspire others to recognize that we all live in a watershed, and that our actions not only impact water quality, the lives of people, and ecosystem health where we live, but places miles away, and in the case of the Crow, as far off as the Gulf of Mexico.
To tell the Crow’s story, we’ve embarked on a two-year journey set on the river. Our team is creating short films, podcasts, illustrations, and information artworks that focus on seven key themes. Each depicts a key aspect of life on the river, creates awareness of problems faced by the watershed and shows potential solutions that might transform specific destructive activities into regenerative practices that benefit both people and the environment.
When taken together, these stories present an integrative approach to addressing future water challenges in a single dramatic arc, one that depicts the vital role waterways play and our responsibility in stewarding these valuable resources.
Our process begins by identifying agents of change, then capturing their practices and principles with information artworks that use their own words to show who and what change looks like.
GROWING ORGANIC IS A SHORT FILM SERIES produced by the Lexicon of Sustainability, with guidance and support from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
By illuminating the core principles that define sustainable agriculture, the series helps farmers adapt more sustainable practices and shows consumers how they can support a food system in line with their own values. Along the way, they learn to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America. Additional films in the Growing organic series include:
KNOW YOUR FOOD is an award’winning short film series which introduces viewers to the terms and principles that enable them to be more responsible, sustainably-minded consumers. For this series, we’ve worked closely with hundreds of thought leaders from every aspect of our food system to explain the real cost of cheap food, we’ve explored concepts like GMO and Organic, and we have discovered solutions to such challenges as food waste and seafood fraud. By learning these key principles, consumers can do their part to fix our food system.
Filmmakers Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton have turned their pioneering method of mixing hand-written text with photo collage into a stunning collection of short films that mix animation by Pier Giorgio Provenzano with live action interviews with food producers from across the country. Watch them below.
AN ANIMATED SERIES WITH INDUSTRY EXPERTS on subjects ranging from water footprints to clean drinking water, with funding provided by a variety of foundations and public institutions.
THE LEXICON’S TEAM OF FILMMAKERS blend hand-drawn animation, photographic stills, video interviews, and drone videography to help explain sustainable solutions to the world’s most complex (and hard to explain) challenges. They bring their work to a larger audience through frequent collaborations with television networks, university researchers, foundations, NGOs, like-minded companies and other storytellers. Propose new projects to The Lexicon, go here.
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