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Newest MediaLab film warns of troubled waters

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A native of Gig Harbor and the daughter of a commercial fisherman, Rachel Lovrovich has spent much of her life in, on and around water.
But like many, Lovrovich, a junior at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), says not until she began seriously researching water and related issues did she discover that many major water sources in North America and around the world are in serious trouble.
“More than half of our rivers and important waterways in the United States are highly polluted,” says Lovrovich, “and in most instances, it’s people that have caused these problems. We need to start taking responsibility for our actions.”
This realization is what prompted Lovrovich and four other PLU students to produce a new documentary film titled “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers,” set to premiere at on Saturday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m. at Theatre on the Square in downtown Tacoma.
“Changing Currents” marks the 13th documentary film produced by MediaLab, PLU’s applied research and media production program, which is celebrating its 10th year of existence this fall.
Among many startling facts about waterways in Northwest and elsewhere, “Changing Currents” finds that more than half of the 250,000 rivers in the U.S. are too polluted for swimming, fishing or drinking. Many rivers suffer from decreased flows caused by climate change, as well as a host of other problems such as: invasive species, industrial waste, sewage overflows, and storm-water runoff from roads and highways, which introduces oil, gasoline and other chemicals into the water.
Rivers considered threatened or endangered include the Mississippi River, the St. Lawrence River, the Ohio River, the Columbia River, and here in Western Washington, the Green River, from which many of us who live and work in the South Puget Sound Region receive our water.
“Changing Currents” also explores some compelling restoration efforts occurring in communities across the continent.
The film was shot over 14 months in and around Tacoma, as well as on location in Portland, Washington, D.C., upstate New York, Ontario, Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, and Vancouver, B.C., just to name a few.
In addition to Lovrovich, who served as the film’s creative director and is also the 2016-2017 MediaLab general manager, the “Changing Currents” research and production team consists of: senior business major John Struzenberg, director of photography and chief editor; senior communication major Chris Boettcher, social media associate; junior art and graphic design major Kelly Lavelle, publicity designer and photographer; and senior communication major Joshua Wiersma, assistant editor.
Lavelle, who shot still photos and helped with the film’s branding, explains that individuals can help prevent pollution through simple tasks such as picking up trash, being careful about the products they buy, and getting more involved in community activities.
“The film aims to raise awareness about ecological issues that face our waterways,” Lavelle explains. “We can all help solve the problems.”
The “Changing Currents” premiere event is free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged to ensure seating. For more information about the film, or to RSVP, please visit

Michelle McGrath is a senior communication major at PLU and a member of MediaLab.

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