The Power of Documentary Film to Value, to Preserve, and to Celebrate the Driftless Region

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Over the course of the last two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to serve on the Board of Directors of Sustainable Driftless, Inc. Our mission?  In short, “Sustainable Driftless, Inc. is dedicated to inspiring resource conservation, vibrant communities, and sustainable growth in the Driftless Region.” From this mission came Decoding the Driftless (2018), an adventure documentary film about the Region presented by Untamed Science and Sustainable Driftless, Inc.

Since the premiere of the film last fall in La Crosse, Wisconsin, it has been officially selected by festivals ranging from the IndieFEST Film Awards in La Jolla, California to the Frozen River Film Festival in Winona, Minnesota. Along the way, the 60-minute film has screened in communities across the Driftless.

On Tuesday, November 5, Decoding the Driftless returns to Decorah for a screening, along with a Q&A with George Howe, the producer of the film. The screening takes place from 7:00-815 p.m. in Olin 102 and is open to the public with no charge for admission.

With this film, we as viewers are along for the ride as Jonas Stenstrom and Rob Nelson of Untamed Science, and George Howe and Tim Jacobson of Sustainable Driftless, Inc., traverse the Region. Along the way, the film represents spaces and places we recognize such as the Upper Iowa River and Effigy Mounds National Monument. Additionally, it champions the archaeological, paleontological, geological, and biological significance of the Driftless. In the end, we are called to actionto value, to preserve, and to celebrate our water, our land, and our air.

At a basic level, I hope this film reveals all that is unique and wonderous about our Region. But, my greater want is that their call to action provokes us, the viewers, to construct and enact our own missions to conserve, and to sustain, the natural resources of our Driftless Region.

Thomas C. Johnson, associate professor of Communication Studies, has taught critical media studies and media production courses at Luther since 2011.  Along with teaching, his research interests include pedagogy, sport media, television studies, gender studies, and documentary film.  


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