America ReFramed

Reversing the Mississippi

Season 04  Episode 11

When filmmaker Ian Midgley turned 25, he started traveling across the country looking for people who were creating their own realities and leading a purposeful life. Through word-of-mouth, Midgley learns about Marcin Jakubowski, the Open Source Ecology founder who became dissatisfied with the consumer lifestyle and turned to the earth to become a farmer and social innovator. Through his Global Village Construction Set, free and replicable blueprints are available to fabricate everything needed for a self-sustaining village. While his ideas attract interns and volunteers from across the U.S. to his “Factor e Farm” in Missouri, they ultimately feel under-appreciated and uninspired as they toil day and night in meager conditions.

Midgley also travels to New Orleans, where he spends a few life-changing weeks with former NYC schoolteacher Nat Turner. Turner, who dreamed of healing the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina, gained national attention for transforming an abandoned grocery store into a community youth education center called Our School at Blair Grocery. Turner teaches kids to sell vegetables and how to work the land, and infuses a contagious love of learning. However, he does not have many resources. The educator laments as he thinks deeply about all the work he and the teens still have to do, “The work that we are doing is like trying to reverse the flow of the Mississippi River."

If these two men meet might they be able to make real change? When Jakubowski meets the charismatic educator, he finally encounters a mentor who can inspire and challenge him to become a stronger and better leader. REVERSING THE MISSISSIPPI depicts both men and their dreams, along with their shortcomings and strengths, and hopes that “viewers will be able to relate to the universal qualities that bind people in relationship to community, to the earth and to each other.”