New Orleans Film ‘Reversing the Mississippi’ Premieres on ‘America Reframed’

by Gretchen Erickson on April 5, 2016

Filmmaker Ian Midgley documents the work of New Orleans resident Nat Turner who teaches youth how to grow and sell vegetables at Our School in Blair Grocery in the lower 9th ward.  The film with air on the Emmy-nominated documentary series, America Reframed Tuesday April 12, 2016.

Check out Our School in Blair Grocery here.




Ian Midgley’s documentary Reversing the Mississippi will have its U.S. television premiere Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 8 p.m. on WORLD Channel (check local listings), as part of the fourth season of America Reframed, public media’s newest documentary series hosted by Natasha Del Toro. The film will be available for free streaming on starting April 13, 2016.
When filmmaker Ian Midgley turned 25, he put all his belongings in storage, bought a camera and started traveling across the country looking for people who were creating their own realities and leading a purposeful life. Optimistic and believing in the possibility of change, he takes himself on an American road trip to meet people choosing to live by their own strongly-held values.

Through word-of-mouth, Midgley learns about farmer and social innovator Marcin Jakubowski, a Ph.D. in fusion physics who became dissatisfied with the consumer lifestyle and turned to the earth to become a farmer and social innovator.

As the founder of Open Source Ecology, Jakubowski is the creator of the Global Village Construction Set through which he offers free and replicable blueprints to fabricate everything needed for a self-sustaining village. At Jakubowski’s “Factor e Farm” in rural Missouri, he puts those ideas to the test.

While his ideas attract interns and volunteers from across the U.S., they ultimately feel under-appreciated and uninspired as they toil day and night in meager conditions.

Midgley’s travels also take him to New Orleans, where he spends a few life-changing weeks with former NYC schoolteacher Nat Turner. Turner drove a school bus to New Orleans with a dream of healing the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina and gained national attention for transforming an abandoned grocery store into a community youth education center called Our School Blair Grocery.

Turner teaches kids to sell vegetables and how to work the land. He also infuses a contagious love of learning—getting students excited about English, science, math and social studies because it’s not just a classroom; it’s a learning sanctuary. However, Turner does not have many resources and works with small and broken farm equipment. 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.”

The filmmaker then asks: if these two men meet might they be able to make real change? Jakubowski, the visionary inventor could help change the world vis-à-vis his technology, but if he can’t motivate people, can he accomplish his goals? And Turner desperately needs affordable, easy-to-fix equipment. When Jakubowski meets the charismatic educator, he finally encounters a mentor who can inspire and challenge him to become a stronger and better leader.

Midgley 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.”

Film Credits
Director/Producer: Ian Midgley
Executive Producer: Christina Heller
Producers: D.J. Turner, Siku Thompson, Drew Barnett-Hamilton


Read the original press release here.

“Midgley’s new film… tells the story of two men—scientist-inventor Marcin Jakubowski and teacher Nat Turner—united by a passion for expanding access to economic opportunity.”

– Anna Bergren Miller, Shareable