Jan Hagerman, Manager at ReStore in New Brighton, was surprised when she received a request to be in a docuseries about environmental changemakers in the Twin Cities. "Who, me?" she remembers thinking. "I'm just doing what I do." But that's exactly the kind of person Project Drawdown was looking for, so Jan accepted the invitation.
Project Drawdown's Neighborhood: Twin Cities is "an episodic climate solutions short documentary series about passing the mic to changemakers who often go unheard." Matt Scott from Project Drawdown interviewed Jan and eight other individuals about their work in the community. The result? A nine-episode docuseries highlighting everyday people from diverse backgrounds making a difference in their community.
Jan (bottom center) and the other individuals featured in the docuseries
Jan, who is regularly on WCCO's DIY Friday and ReStore's Facebook Live, approached this opportunity with her trademark optimism. She describes her interview with Matt as an interesting, educational conversation for both interviewer and interviewee. Her segment focuses on her work at ReStore, where donors, shoppers, and volunteers keep nearly four million pounds of materials from landfills each year.
On January 29, 2023, the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis hosted a premiere as part of the Great Northern Festival. At the event, about 250 people heard from changemakers and saw a preview of the series before its global premiere. Jan and her family attended, and she got to meet other changemakers and attendees. "That was amazing. Everyone who was there truly wanted to be there," she describes. "I met people who were also doing their thing. That's the point of this series: in our own ways, we can each make a difference. We all just want the world to be a better place."
Jan (third from left) with other changemakers and Matt Scott at the premiere event
"Ever since then, I keep thinking about the ripple effect that we all can have in our day-to-day lives—and each and every one of us can have this kind of effect," says Jan.
For Jan, knowing that she is making a difference is more important than knowing exactly what that difference is. She trusts that some way, somehow, she makes a positive impact. Whether it's letting a stranger merge in traffic, smiling at another shopper in the grocery store, or helping the environment by using reusable containers, small choices can be significant.
"It may not seem like a big deal, but something little you do can be huge for someone else," she comments. "If you think, 'Well, I'm just one person…' Yes, you are! And you can make a difference only you can make." When problems seem overwhelming or if you don't know where to start, Jan's advice is to take one small step toward making the world a better place. That ripple may reach someone else who makes their own ripple, causing a chain reaction.
"I'm honored to be part of this project. I'm just doing what I do, but I'm an optimist. The ripples have ripples. There is hope."
Whether 10 or 10,000 people see her episode of Neighborhood: Twin Cities, Jan hopes her story is just one ripple in a wave of change.