Marion Stoddart: The Work of 1000 Documentary

In the 1960s, the Nashua River in New Hampshire and central Massachusetts was one of the 10 most polluted in the country, clogged with multicolored, toxic sludge from nearby paper mills.

Around that time, housewife Marion Stoddart moved to the area with her family, so close to the river they could smell its noxious fumes. At a low point in her life, she decided to fight her own emptiness by taking on the biggest challenge she could find - cleaning up the Nashua.

Her dramatic success in mobilizing the community showed people that change was possible, even though they'd lost hope. Marion's efforts helped get the Massachusetts Clean Rivers Act passed so that companies weren't allowed to pollute rivers like the Nashua anymore. In the process, she won a United Nations award, was profiled in National Geographic, and had a widely-read children's book written about her. Her secret? An ordinary person can do extraordinary things when they refuse to give up.

Thanks to Marion, children in the Nashua River Watershed and around the world have come to understand that one person can make a difference, even when the odds seem impossible.

This documentary screening is available from May 25 through June 1, thanks to a special arrangement between New Hampshire Humanities and Documentary Educational Resources. After registering, you'll receive a link to watch the film anytime from May 25 - June 1.


“A grassroots crusader for the Nashua River, Marion Stoddart serves alongside Rachel Carson as a powerful example of an individual's capacity to muster vast environmental change even in the face of industrial and political inertia. Edwards' film captures Stoddart's determination and single-mindedness with nuance and perspective, offering not only the story of her victories, but the personal and family risks she took to achieve them.” 

— Caitlin Boyle, Founder, Film Sprout

“Individuals like Marion Stoddart—who are able, against great odds, to effect significant environmental change within their lifetimes—are one of our best teaching tools and opportunities to inspire.” 

— Professor Ninian Stein, San Jose State University

“Work of 1000 is more than just a documentary detailing the success of environmental activism in changing things for the greater good; It is the story behind the success - that a person, a housewife in the 1960s - can do the work of a thousand and make a difference in the world. It's a powerful message; one we can all learn from.” 

— Daniel Edmonds, Vox Magazine