New FMR documentary packs the Guthrie, to air on TPT May 1, 8 & 15

Over 620 friends and supporters packed the Guthrie Thursday, April 7, to help celebrate the premiere of FMR's new documentary, "Rebirth: Our Mississippi River National Park." The momentous occasion featured the inspiring film, rich discussion, great camaraderie, and, of course, the Mighty Mississippi flowing by. (If you were unable to attend, we hope you'll be able to enjoy 'Rebirth' on TPT, airing Sunday, May 1, 8 and 15.)   

Produced for FMR by award-winning local filmmaker John Kaul and narrated by MPR's Steve Seel, the 30-minute documentary tells the story of how one man’s vision — combined with smart citizen advocacy and effective political leadership — created the Mississippi River's first and only national park right here in the Twin Cities. This designation, championed at the federal level by Sen. David Durenberger and Rep. Bruce Vento, sparked the local river renaissance we enjoy today — a river that is thriving with fish and bald eagles, a river increasingly connected to our communities via parks and trails, a river seen as an asset instead of a convenient dumping ground. As we face new challenges like agricultural pollution, development pressure and habitat degradation, this story also reminds us of the powerful, long-term impact citizen-based stewardship and advocacy can have on the natural wonders we love.

It was a great honor to have several park founders in attendance, including Dave Durenberger and his family, Peter Gove (also the founder of FMR) and the friends and family of Bruce Vento and the family of Tom Kelley — the "one man" who saw what others could not in our local stretch of the Mississippi River and spearheaded its transformation into a national park. 

After the film, emcee Steve Seel moderated a panel featuring Sen. Durenberger; Rep. Betty McCollum; Dr. John Anfinson, the superintendent of our local Mississippi River national park; Tom Reiter, the film’s co-producer, researcher and director ofphotography; co-producer, screenwriter and editor John Kaul; and Whitney Clark, FMR executive director. Audience questions and topics varied from what each of us can do to help the river, whether in our own backyard, as a volunteer or advocate, to how today's intensely partisan political climate creates barriers to conservation. 

The evening was also part of the celebration for the National Park Service Centennial with our local Mississippi National River & Recreation Area (MNRRA) national park unit. In fact, the film was created in part to help spread the word about the fact that our metro stretch of the Mighty Mississippi is indeed a national park. Many in attendance mentioned that while they had spent a great deal of time along the river, they were unaware of its national park status, or the incredible story behind its creation.

With upcoming air dates on TPT and subsequent online release, we look forward to 'Rebirth' continuing to raise the profile of the Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River, a national treasure in our midst. (We'd be happy to email you about future screenings, DVDs or online viewing opportunities as they become available.)

An inspiring evening at the Guthrie

View the complete set in FMR's flickr album, all photos by A. Botz Photography.  

Whitney Clark and Former Vice President Ted Mondale at the Guthrie premiere of Rebirth FMR Executive Director Whitney Clark (left, front) and Former Vice President Ted Mondale (to Clark's right).

Dave Durenberger with Chad Dayton Park-founder Dave Durenberger (left) with Chad Dayton, FMR board member and executive director of Wilderness Inquiry (right).

Left to right, Congresswoman Betsy McCollumm, FMR board member and one of the 'Rebirth' originators, Deanna Wiener, with Whitney Clark.

Peter Gove (left), FMR board member and one of the park's founders, and his family.

 Left to right, FMR board member Marcia Avner, Wy Spano, and Sue Vento — FMR board member, wife of park-founder Bruce Vento, and one of the 'Rebirth' originators, with friends and family of those featured in the film.

Many participants learned about the river as a national park, then checked out FMR's volunteer opportunities to help protect and restore it.

Emcee and 'Rebirth' narrator Steve Seel of Minnesota Public Radio.

An informal reception helped everyone toast the evening. (Sharon Miyamoto, an FMR supporter and wife of co-producer Tom Reiter, on right.)

Premiere event planners, FMR Stewardship Events Coordinator Adam Flett and Volunteer Coordinator Amy Kilgore.

A hearty round of applause...

... for filmmakers Tom Reiter and John Kaul (left and second to left)! 


Thank you funders!

Major funding provided by: 
The Bruce F. Vento Science Educator Scholarship Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation
The Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation
The Thomas J. Reiter & Sharon K. Miyamoto Charitable Trust

Additional funding provided by:
Ruth & John Huss
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, National Park Service
Friends of Bruce Vento
National Parks Conservation Association
Susan Vento
Wendy Bennett & Ken Powell
Rick Pool / Custom Sound & Video
Bill & Judy Walter
Nancy Jacobson & Brad Bruette
Mississippi Park Connection

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
New date: Saturday, August 10, 2024 at 5 p.m.
Hidden Falls Regional Park, St. Paul
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area, Inver Grove Heights