The first award

We are excited to announce that Changing Currents: Protecting North America's Rivers is now an award-winning documentary! 

Changing Currents has received a total of six awards from the Accolade Global Film Competition of Southern California:

  • Award of Merit: Documentary Short 

  • Award of Merit Special Mention: Nature / Environment / Wildlife  

  • Award of Merit: Use of Film / Video for Social Change 

  • Award of Merit: Original Score 

  • Award of Merit: Editing 

  • Award of Merit: Title / Credit Design

Please visit their website for all award winners:

Read our news release here

Stay tuned, as we submit to more film festivals and competitions!

Changing Currents Documentary Premiere

There was an estimated 200 people at the Changing Currents Documentary Premiere on Saturday. A HUGE thank you to everyone in attendance! 

And thanks to our guest panelists, Chris McMeen, Margo Pellegrino, John Rumpler, ZoAnn Morten, Michael Garrity, Louise Towell, and Stephen Bruyneel for their insightful comments during the Q&A Discussion panel. 

And a special thanks to everyone in PLU MediaLab for helping make the event a success! 

The Final Export

After months of hard work, we exported the final cut of our film late last night! 

We are now less than 24 hours until the premiere event. 

We'd like to thank all of the people and organizations that welcomed us into their lives for this documentary. We are so grateful for the amazing stories we get to share with the community. We'd also like to thank our friends, family, mentors, and sponsors for supporting this project.

Thank you! And we hope to see you there!

- The Changing Currents team



Five days to go!

Only five days left until the premiere of Changing Currents: Protecting North America's Rivers!

Please join us on November 12th at 4 p.m for the first public viewing of the documentary. The event will be held in the Theatre on the Square at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. 

The documentary will run for approximately 30 minutes. Following the film, there will be a discussion Q&A with the following panelists:

  • Chris McMeen, Deputy Superintendent, Tacoma Water
  • Margo Pellegrino, Kayaker and Activist, Meadow Park, N.J.
  • John Rumpler, Clean Water Program Director & Senior Attorney, Environment America
  • ZoAnn Morten, Executive Director, Pacific Streamkeepers Federation
  • Michael Garrity, Columbia Basin Mitigation Manager, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • Louise Towell, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Stream of Dreams
  • Stephen Bruyneel, Executive Director, Fraser River Discovery Centre 

We are so excited to share this film with the community. We hope to see you there!

Changing Currents Trailer #2

In honor of World River Day, a celebration that encourages public awareness and increased stewardship of all rivers around the world, please enjoy the second trailer for Changing Currents! 

An RSVP page has now been set up for the documentary premiere. Click here to RSVP. 

We look forward to seeing you on Nov. 12th!

New Westminster, B.C.

Running 1375 kilometers long, the Fraser River is the largest river in British Columbia, Canada. Home to all five kinds of salmon, the Fraser is one of the greatest salmon producing rivers in the world. And similar to the St. Lawrence River on the eastern side of Canada, the Fraser is a major industrial seaway for products coming in from other countries across the globe.

Friday afternoon, we made the 165 mile drive north from PLU to New Westminster, British Columbia – a city located right on the Fraser River. Waking up to a rainy Saturday, we were ready for a full day of learning about the mighty river. The perfect place to start was at the Fraser River Discovery Centre – located right on the Fraser River.

The Discovery Centre seeks to connect communities up and down the river to provide a place to discuss, debate, and showcase the living, working Fraser River. The centre houses rotating exhibits and hands-on programs about the life, history, and future of British Columbia and its people.


We spoke with Stephen Bruyneel, the Interim Executive Director at the Centre. Bruyneel informed us about the environmental, sociocultural, and economic benefits that the Fraser River provides.

Environmentally, Bruyneel explained that the river, surrounded by an incredible amount of forest, is home to many different species, including salmon and birds that nest in the river’s delta. Socially, the First Nations have lived along the river for thousands of years and have used the river to develop their culture. Economically, the Fraser is a critical transportation asset to industries.

With all of the uses of the Fraser, threats continue to emerge.

“Because the river is used for so many different things,” Bruyneel said, “How do you find and maintain that balance between the economics, the environment, and the socio-cultural? That’s the ongoing challenge with the river.”

To achieve that balance, Bruyneel says that the community has to be aware of the Fraser’s needs.

“People have come to understand that a sustainable river has to have all three things going on for it to function... to continue to find that balance,” Bruyneel exclaimed.

After speaking with Stephen and getting a tour of the Discovery Centre, we ventured steps away to a Streams of Dreams salmon mural along the river. There, we met with Louise Towell and ZoAnn Morten.

Towell, the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, told us about her organization’s eco-education program that educates communities about their local watershed and encourages behavioral change to conserve and protect water with the blending of art and science. Towell has helped create murals with over 180,000 participants since the year 2000. Their murals stretch across British Columbia, and even into the states.

We’re bringing salmon to kids, and we’re talking to students about what’s in their neighborhood,” Towell said. “We’re bringing awareness.”

This awareness is described as being a “watershed steward.”

“Everyone can be one,” Towell exclaimed. “If you’re aware about what’s going on in your watershed, you’re a watershed steward.”

Next, we interviewed Towell’s friend and fellow watershed steward, ZoAnn Morten, the executive director of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. The Federation is a non-profit society committed to community groups involved in Streamkeeper activities throughout B.C. and the Yukon.

Streamkeepers around the area are taking active steps to improve the watershed, by doing research on the Fraser. As Louise said that anyone can be a watershed steward, ZoAnn says that anyone can help maintain the river, whether that’s taking out invasive plants on the banks, or taking water quality samples.

“There’s only so much fresh water around, and only so much fresh water that’s clean,” Morten said. “If we stop caring about our rivers, I think we would basically stop caring about ourselves. I think this is a reflection of how we are as well. It’s like a mirror. If it looks good--we look good.”

To see photos of our time in New Westminster, please visit our Fraser River gallery page.

Portland, Oregon

Beginning approximately 195 miles from our home base in Parkland Wash., the Willamette River runs through some of Oregon’s most populated areas including Portland and Eugene.

The Willamette River serves as an important economic and cultural resource for the Portland community. Our team wanted to make sure to include this perspective in Changing Currents. We gathered together on a Friday evening and made our way down to Portland to continue our tour of the Pacific Northwest, arriving late that evening.

The next morning and seeking to make efficient use of time, the team split into two groups. Chris, Kelly, and Rachel met up with Kaola Swanson, Associate Conservation Director, and Tim Wigington, Associate Managing Director and Staff Attorney, of the Portland based conservation group, The Freshwater Trust, to discuss solutions to issues affecting the Willamette River.

“The questions that we face are more complex than they used to be,” Swanson said, “to really address water issues, we really need to think of it as a social and economic question as much as an ecological question.”


In order to address each of these areas, the Freshwater Trust applies an approach known as Quantified Conservation.

“The more data we have, the more tools that we have, the better off we’ll be,” said Swanson, “It’ll allow us to solve problems in a much more holistic way.”

Tim Wigington further explained, “by taking measurements, counting the benefits, and setting goals you can then figure out which of the best restoration opportunities will help achieve those goals.”

The Freshwater Trust has been applying the Quantified Conservation approach for over 30 years with positive results. Over that time The Freshwater Trust has grown to become the largest restoration focused organization in the Pacific Northwest.

In response to what he thinks makes The Freshwater Trust unique, Wigington remarked, “I think it’s the fact that we get to be innovative and solutions focused.”

Meanwhile, 10 minutes downstream, John and Josh met up with members of another Portland based restoration group, The Willamette Partnership, to discuss ways in which people could get involved in river protection efforts.

“For anyone living near a river, take any action you can!” said Bobby Cochran, the Executive Director of the Willamette Partnership. “Be aware of policy decisions that are going on. At home, be conscious of where your water is coming from, take a tour of your wastewater treatment plant.”

Cochran then discussed the components that make up a river body and why it’s so important to address every part.

“To me a river is a system. It’s impossible to disconnect the parts of a river from each other, Cochran explained. “You’ve got the land that’s next to the river, then you’ve got the water that starts on that land and comes through. Once you start collecting the water down into the river itself, you have all of the components that make it supportive for fish, people, and the economy. When you think about the important components of a river you really have to think of it as a whole.”

The Willamette Partnership was started as a coalition in 2004 to develop innovative, market-based tools to deliver broad conservation benefits. These developments were so successful that in 2009, The Willamette Partnership expanded operations to include additional sites in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington State.

For Bobby Cochran, however, the connection to the Willamette River runs deep.

“The river is restorative to me,” Cochran said, “it really is the lifeblood for me, my kids, and of the rest of the community. Portland would not be here if it wasn’t for the Willamette River.”

After wrapping up our conversations with The Freshwater Trust and the Willamette Partnership, our team then re-grouped and got a chance to explore Portland for a time. Soon after, we all hopped into our rental car and made our way back to Parkland to sort through footage and prepare for the next leg of our Northwest adventure.

For photos of our time in Portland, please visit our Willamette River gallery page.

Ravensdale, Washington

The Green River, or the Duwamish River, flows through the Cascade mountains into Auburn, Wash. over the course of 90 miles. Since the 1800s, the Green-Duwamish river has seen rapid development in industry and commerce along its banks, the Duwamish Basin becoming the core of Seattle’s economic hub.  

Last Friday, the Changing Currents team set out for the Cascades. In true Northwest September fashion, the early morning weather was misty and sprinkled with rain showers; not heavy enough to deter this crew, however. We arrived at the Green River Headworks in Ravensdale, Wash. to interview Tacoma Water’s Deputy Superintendent Chris McMeen. 

Tacoma Water provides drinking water, and other water utilities, to 320,000 people in the Tacoma area. In terms of size, there are 400 large water systems in the US, and Tacoma’s ranks #100 on that list. The Green-Duwamish River has been Tacoma’s source of water since 1913.

McMeen told us about the significant economic and social impacts the Green-Duwamish river has on the Tacoma community.  “100 years ago, Tacoma decision makers chose the Green River for [their] water source. Rivers are generally the only sources that can feed the demands of a large and growing community…[it’s the] lifeblood of ecosystems…Rivers have multiple uses, needs, and pressures,” McMeen said.

McMeen explained that these growing communities have left an impact on the river and its ecosystems in a way that weren’t really understood 40-50 years ago.  

Particularly here in the Northwest, salmon are an iconic and integral part of the river. However, today they are faced with threats, like diseases, that are caused by urban pollution. In order to facilitate growing numbers and successful seasons, Tacoma Water actively helps monitor what fish are passing through and managing their inland travels through relocation. Fortunately, salmon are protected through regulation, but outside sources of pollution and habitat loss pose real threats to these fish.

“Salmon capture people’s imaginations,” McMeen claimed.

There is something about fish that stirs a connection in people. When it comes to conservation, engaging people with these animals and allowing them to feel that connection is what inspires community involvement.

When asked what would happen should the community abandon the idea of protecting and conserving our rivers, McMeen stressed the importance of the river as infrastructure.

“People would leave and it would erode the structure of the community. If infrastructure fails, people leave because they have to.”  

Our waterways provide basic needs that often times we don’t think about until the charge on a bill is higher than expected.

“People don’t realize that we’re connected to supplies that are right under our feet. What people do in their yards can have an effect on water sources directly,” McMeen said.  

It is the simple habits and choices that can really make a difference.

“Don’t run water when brushing [your] teeth, be smart about irrigation, use water effectively as possible,” McMeen suggested.  

Be engaged – there’s nothing bad about being an informed citizen.

McMeen explained, “Citizen engagement only improves outcomes.”

While the situation may seem bleak, McMeen stated that there has been a steady increase in improvements – people are becoming more aware of their water consumption.  

“Over the last 30 years, really in the last 10, water consumption and awareness have changed drastically in a positive way.”  

By performing simple tasks that really add up, everyone can be an advocate for the river.

For photos of our time in Ravensdale, please visit our Green River gallery page.