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Divide In Concord

Jean Hill, a fiery octogenarian, is deeply concerned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world's largest landfill. Since 2010, she has spearheaded a grassroots campaign to ban the sale of single-serve plastic bottled water in her hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. She spends her golden years attending city council meetings and cold calling residents. So far, her attempts to pass a municipal bylaw have failed.

As she prepares for one last town meeting, Jean faces the strongest opposition yet, from local merchants and the International Bottled Water Association. But her fiercest challenge comes from Adriana Cohen, mother, model and celebrity publicist-turned-pundit, who insists the bill is an attack on freedom.

When Adriana thrusts Jean's crusade into the national spotlight, it's silver-haired senior versus silver-tongued pro. In the same town that incited the American Revolution and inspired Thoreau's environmental movement, can one senior citizen make history? A tense nail-biter of a vote will decide.

'Divide in Concord is a remarkable, beautifully filmed and presented story of the second great battle of Concord, Massachusetts: the battle to ban small single-serve plastic bottles of water. Watch true community democracy in action as a small group of determined citizens fire another shot heard 'round the world in the name of protecting the global environment and awakening the rest of us to the threat of unsustainable commercial products flooding our stores.' Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder, Pacific Institute, Author, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind our Obsession with Bottled Water

'The hero is Jean Hill, not a scientist, not a lifelong environmental firebrand 'tree hugger,' but an 80+ year old grandmother, her sturdy sense of American citizenship moving her to carry on a multi-year struggle to ban the bottle. The story of Jean Hill and the fight to ban the sale of bottled water in Concord is an outstanding case study of the kinds of local, grassroots environmental conflicts one sees throughout contemporary American society.' Andrew Szasz, Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz, Author, Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves

'Would be particularly appropriate for a high school setting since young people are shown voting and playing key roles in the campaign.' Laura Williamson Doyle, Science Books and Films

'Divide in Concord highlights how small groups of committed activists can create real change in their communities. Integrating discussions of history, environmentalism, and community-making, the film touches on issues of sustainability, democracy, and individual choice that are central to conversations in our current moment. By weaving together the story of a small Massachusetts town and the lives of some of its local leaders, the film makes these important issues accessible to students and viewers.' Alissa Cordner, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Whitman College, Co-author, The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life

'An excellent choice to spur classroom discussion of the tensions that arise when environmental issues, civil liberties, and corporate interests converge. The film is appropriate for use in secondary schools, as well as for undergraduate courses in environmental studies, political science, or sociology...A welcome addition for public library collections.' Kathleen Spring, Educational Media Reviews Online

'Showing the complexity of the issue from various angles including conservation, public policy, business, community organizing, media, art, and education, this film would be an excellent one to show to high school or college classes. One could generate exciting in-class discussions and debates, and the film could supply an interesting writing prompt for persuasive essays. Community groups interested in attempting a similar project would learn much from watching the experience of Hill and Appel as they navigate their town's political system.' Cherice Bock, Whole Terrain Journal

'It's entirely fitting that a noteworthy battle over banning the sale of bottled water sales took place in the town known for Thoreau and the start of the Revolutionary War. Divide In Concord presents a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at this conflict, fairly presenting both sides of the issue through interviews with the main participants. This documentary is perfectly suited for classroom use and discussion. The conflict highlighted between environmental protection and individual liberty will surely stay with us for many years to come.' James Salzman, Professor of Law and Environmental Policy, Duke University, Author, Drinking Water: A History

'This is a film after my own heart about sustainability, democracy and the right to know and appreciate the truth about our health in regard to bottled water. One woman's moving plight sets an example of how to take on the bottled water industry one town at a time. Jean Hill's passion and fight will inspire and she will tug at your heartstrings.' Michelle Zurawski, Assistant Professor of Biology, Sustainability Coordinator of Teaching and Learning, Moraine Valley Community College

'Divide in Concord drops the viewer into the middle of a citizen-instigated environmental battle. This most local of efforts provokes a corporate response and nuanced reflections of partisans on sustainability, seemingly small consumer actions and global environmental repercussions, and different conceptions of freedom, choice, and responsibility. The movie offers a deft portrait of local citizen activism, environmentalism, and democracy in action.' William Buzbee, Professor of Law, Georgetown University

'An intimate view of how a few citizens, concerned about the horrific global impact of local habits - buying water in plastic bottles - educated their community to make a change. At the center of the movement is an 84 year old widow and the environmental lessons she learned from her grandson in high school. The film is a tribute to her conviction, bravery, and willingness to persevere in a protracted and exhausting struggle.' Martha Saxton, Professor of History and Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, Amherst College

'A perfect blend of harsh realism and inspiring idealism, Divide in Concord has mass appeal and a stirring story.' Anthony Marcusa, Scene Creek

'A close examination of both sides of the conflict...Recommended for high school and public library DVD shelves.' Midwest Book Review


Main credits

Kaczor, Kris (film director)
Regos, David (film producer)
Luke, Jaedra (film producer)

Other credits

Edited by Steve Nemsick, Matthew Prinzing, Kris Kaczor; musical score by Gigantic Hand; cinematography, Kris Kaczor.

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

American Democracy
American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Global Issues
Marketing and Advertising
Political Science
Women's Studies


octogenarian activist, grassroots campaign, ban sale of single-serve bottled water, bottle ban, Concord, MA, Jean Hill, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, city council meetings, municipal bylaw, town meeting, local merchants opposed, International Bottled Water Association, Adriana Cohen, American Revolution, Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond, revolutionary reenactors, citizen petition, bottled water industry, micro plastics, high school environmental activism, town warrant, Board of Selectiment, Earth Day, CBS radio, Jill Appel, Eric Van Loon, Tom Blanding, Jim Crosby; "Divide In Concord"; Bullfrog Films