St. Louis River Video

The St. Louis River Video Proposal

Project Summary

Sweetwater Alliance and Blue Forest Films will create a documentary video about the evolution of the St. Louis River from historical pollution to current restoration of the Area of Concern.

The St. Louis River has a long history of industrial pollution and ecological damage.   Designated as an Area of Concern in the Great Lakes by the International Joint Commission, the River has undergone extensive research to identify the impaired uses and appropriate remediation strategies. Federal and state funding has allowed remediation plans to be created for clean up and restoration. Clean up activities of the lower St Louis River is currently ongoing.

Decades of research and work have been conducted since the Area of Concern designation and millions of dollars are being spent to bring the River back to a healthy ecological state. Simply stated, there should be documentation in the form of a video that will educate students and the community about the legacy of pollution and the process of remediating the St. Louis River.

The film will tell of the complex story of industrial development of this region, the resulting pollution of the St. Louis River, through to the International Joint Commission’s innovative designation of 43 Areas of Concern (highly contaminated) on the Great Lakes, and will highlight the numerous agencies, citizens, and nonprofit organizations who are active in restoration of the St. Louis River.

Engaging, serious, and hopeful documentary video has proven to be an innovative and effective environmental education tool that reaches a broad audience of students and adults. We will pursue broadcast on public television and we will make the video available on DVD format for distribution to public schools and libraries in communities within the Area of Concern.

Project Narrative

This project will complement what is known about the St. Louis River by filling an outreach and education gap. While there is a plethora of scientific journal articles, there is no one document that chronicles the history of the St. Louis River from the early days of pollution through to policies that catapulted the study of the health of the river, and then on to clean up and restoration.  There is currently no way to pass on this information to current or future generations or to offer history about the River. Other than newspaper articles, the public has not been integrated into an outreach and education program focused on the restoration of the St. Louis River. This project will bridge that gap. Without funding, this gap will continue and a timely opportunity will be lost.

Project Results

This project will provide information about the St. Louis River’s historical contamination, the unique bi-national process put into place to identify and remediate pollution, and the coming together of multiple federal, tribal, state, and local units of government, as well as nonprofit organizations and citizen engagement.

A sense of place and local voice will be pervasive throughout the video as citizens speak to the history and their hope for the St. Louis River. The video will capture the voices of people who remember a time when the St. Louis River was used as a sewer and will identify specific issues (paper, steel, lack of sewer systems) and describe fish kills and other ecological disasters. We will talk with River neighbors, people who have direct involvement with the River, and past students who were involved with the St. Louis River Watch.

The video will also focus on the policies that were created by the International Joint Commission and handed down to the Environmental Protection Agency and then onto various state agencies. An emphasis will be placed on the novelty of this clean up process that encouraged the use of Citizen Advisory Committees and work groups.

The culmination will focus on recent remediation activities, how cleanup benefits the ecological and human communities found in and along the river, and the City of Duluth’s development plans for the St. Louis River corridor.

Videos will be distributed to all public schools in the Duluth to Cloquet portion of the watershed (the Area of Concern boundaries) along with a curriculum guide for teacher use. We will approach WDSE Public Television and PAC (public access TV) to get the video on air. We will also host a public screening at a local venue (Zeitgeist or the remodeled NorShore Theater). Media outlets will be utilized as a mechanism to get the word out about the video and public airings.


Jill Jacoby, PhD

Dr. Jacoby received her PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Her dissertation focused on collaborative leadership in water resources. Jill learned about the pollution problems of the St. Louis River while working for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as the St. Louis River Watch program manager. She has a Masters degree in water resources from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from the Vermont Law School. Jill founded Sweetwater Alliance in 2002 as a nonprofit organization that bridges the gap between art and water sciences. A collaborative effort with Animal Allies on Pet Responsibility brought her together with David Cowardin through the creation of the Pick up the Poop public service announcement.

David Cowardin

David is an author and filmmaker in Duluth where he serves as a video producer at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. After receiving his B.A. in English and Writing Studies, David worked as a photojournalist at WDIO-TV and formed a production company, Lola Visuals, with which he produced documentary video projects and marketing content for nonprofit organizations. His work included a documentary about animal rescue in the Deep South (Roots of Rescue) and a documentary series on mental illness stigma (Call Me Mental). In 2015, David published his first book, Down South Justice, and was named a Duluth News Tribune 20 Under 40 recipient for his work in the community. David has since rebranded his production company as Blue Forest Films and is focusing on outdoor oriented films. His latest film, South is Local, took top honors at the 2017 Minnesota Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing Film Showcase. 


Pre-Production  - content planning and location scouting                        $ 1,000
Production – Director of photography and producer, 80 hours  each for interviews and audio                                                   $10,000
Drone Video                                   $  2,000
Post-Production – Editing 240 hours                                                                               $12,000
Narration                                         $  3,000
Music Licensing                            $  1,000

TOTAL                                                $29,000


  • Joel Carter
    • $200 
    • 54 mos
  • Teri McNamara
    • $40 
    • 58 mos
  • Corrinne Farner
    • $500 
    • 59 mos
    • $100 
    • 59 mos
  • Anna Scattoloni
    • $1,000 
    • 59 mos

Organizer and beneficiary

Anna Scattoloni
Truth or Consequences, NM
Jill Jacoby

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.