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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Who can enter and how selections are made.
A Greener Blue is a global call to action that is open to individuals and teams from all over the world. Below is a non-exhaustive list of subjects the initiative targets.
To apply, prospective participants will need to fill out the form on the website, by filling out each part of it. Applications left incomplete or containing information that is not complete enough will receive a low score and have less chance of being admitted to the storytelling lab.
Nonprofit organizations, communities of fishers and fish farmers and companies that are seeking a closer partnership or special support can also apply by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and interacting with the members of our team.
Special attention will be given to the section of the form regarding the stories that the applicants want to tell and the reasons for participating. All proposals for stories regarding small-scale or artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, communities of artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, and workers in different steps of the seafood value chain will be considered.
Stories should show the important role that these figures play in building a more sustainable seafood system. To help with this narrative, the initiative has identified 10 principles that define a more sustainable seafood system. These can be viewed on the initiative’s website and they state:
Seafood is sustainable when:
Proposed stories should show one or more of these principles in practice.
Applications are open from the 28th of June to the 15th of August 2022. There will be 50 selected applicants who will be granted access to The Lexicon’s Total Storytelling Lab. These 50 applicants will be asked to accept and sign a learning agreement and acceptance of participation document with which they agree to respect The Lexicon’s code of conduct.
The first part of the lab will take place online between August the 22nd and August the 26th and focus on training participants on the foundation of storytelling, supporting them to create a production plan, and aligning all of them around a shared vision.
Based on their motivation, quality of the story, geography, and participation in the online Lab, a selected group of participants will be gifted a GoPro camera offered to the program by GoPro For A Change. Participants who are selected to receive the GoPro camera will need to sign an acceptance and usage agreement.
The second part of the Storytelling Lab will consist of a production period in which each participant will be supported in the production of their own story. This period goes from August 26th to October 13th. Each participant will have the opportunity to access special mentorship from an international network of storytellers and seafood experts who will help them build their story. The Lexicon also provides editors, animators, and graphic designers to support participants with more technical skills.
The final deadline to submit the stories is the 14th of October. Participants will be able to both submit complete edited stories, or footage accompanied by a storyboard to be assembled by The Lexicon’s team.
All applicants who will exhibit conduct and behavior that is contrary to The Lexicon’s code of conduct will be automatically disqualified. This includes applicants proposing stories that openly discriminate against a social or ethnic group, advocate for a political group, incite violence against any group, or incite to commit crimes of any kind.
All submissions must be the entrant’s original work. Submissions must not infringe upon the trademark, copyright, moral rights, intellectual rights, or rights of privacy of any entity or person.
Participants will retain the copyrights to their work while also granting access to The Lexicon and the other partners of the initiative to share their contributions as part of A Greener Blue Global Storytelling Initiative.
If a potential selected applicant cannot be reached by the team of the Initiative within three (3) working days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the communication is returned as undeliverable, that potential participant shall forfeit.
Selected applicants will be granted access to an advanced Storytelling Lab taught and facilitated by Douglas Gayeton, award-winning storyteller and information architect, co-founder of The Lexicon. In this course, participants will learn new techniques that will improve their storytelling skills and be able to better communicate their work with a global audience. This skill includes (but is not limited to) how to build a production plan for a documentary, how to find and interact with subjects, and how to shoot a short documentary.
The Lexicon provides video editors, graphic designers, and animators to support the participants to complete their stories.
The submitted stories will be showcased during international and local events, starting from the closing event of the International Year of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 in Rome, in January 2023. The authors of the stories will be credited and may be invited to join.
Storytelling lab participation:
Applicants that will be granted access to the storytelling Lab will be evaluated based on the entries they provided in the online form, and in particular:
Applications will be evaluated by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
When selecting applications, the call promoters may request additional documentation or interviews both for the purpose of verifying compliance with eligibility requirements and to facilitate proposal evaluation.
Participants to the Storytelling Lab who will be given a GoPro camera will be selected based on:
The evaluation will be carried out by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed in these Official Rules but which may be associated with the acceptance, receipt and use of the Storytelling Lab and the camera are solely the responsibility of the respective participants and are not covered by The Lexicon or any of the A Greener Blue partners.
All participants who receive a Camera are required to sign an agreement allowing GoPro for a Cause, The Lexicon and GSSI to utilize the films for A Greener Blue and their promotional purposes. All participants will be required to an agreement to upload their footage into the shared drive of The Lexicon and make the stories, films and images available for The Lexicon and the promoting partners of A Greener Blue.