Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FLOW, a gutsy new documentary

FLOW (For Love of Water) is an incisive and humanitarian examination of what experts are calling a global water crisis – a crisis that some suggest could lead to the next major extinction of life on planet earth after the dinosaurs. Weaving alarming, often enraging, stories of pollution and privatization (in both developing countries and the U.S.), agile director Irena Salina makes it quickly apparent that these experts are right.

Referred to by many in the film as "blue gold," water is a $400 billion industry, number three after electricity and oil. As industrialized agriculture and other globalized fiends like dams and bottled water rapidly contaminate and disrupt the earth's natural water supply, water has become a commodity of rising worth; and like many commodities, one that is needed by many (1 billion lack clean drinking water to be exact) and controlled by few.

Who are the corporate bad guys FLOW exposes? The most recognizable names among them are Nestle, Coca-Cola, and World Bank, whose actions are perhaps the scariest of the bunch as the World Bank is not "accountable to civil society or to the communities that are negatively impacted by its projects." And as FLOW asserts, those projects with negative impacts are many.

Like 11th Hour, FLOW is part of a new era of environmental activism. Its highly qualified interviewees tell us in very plain, scientific terms that our future is in grave danger; we cannot afford to isolate environmental issues as things that happen to nature. Scratch the surface and they're connected to every system – economic, political and social – that humans inhabit. Scratch deeper and you find that what's truly at stake is the fundamental belief system of those in power: that the earth is our rightful property to exploit in a destructive quest for profit.

As we ride out the tumultuous end of the most damaging federal administration in American history and face one of the most important elections of our era; as we watch major financial institutions fall and Wall Street panic; and as we worry about the security of our jobs and retirement plans and the very real threat of a credit drought; now is the perfect time for Americans to go see FLOW. It not only puts the struggle for survival in a new light, it leads by some very inspiring examples that change is possible, and only possible, if people get smart and get involved.

Here are ways you can take action...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Real-Life Laduree!

Treehugger reports that William Yuan, a 12-year-old from Beaverton, OR, has invented a solar cell that absorbs 500 times the light of existing cells. Read more...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Future Weather at Greenfest

On Sunday, Kristin, Meg and I, along with a crew of volunteers, spent the day at Greenfest Philly, where we curated the Eco-Film Forum. Here are some of our pics:

Our tent next to Headhouse Square. You can see the I.M. Pei towers in the background.

Our banner, made from recycled plastic bottles and donated by Dream Green Banners.

Our eye-catching display, made by Holly Maher of Metropolitan Moms.

The selection of videos we curated.

Our fundraising swag: socially-responsible dolls donated by the Untours Foundation, seed packs and plantable butterfly necklaces.

Bag Monster & me. His costume is made from 500 plastic bags - the number the average American consumes in one year.

At 4pm, I presented the Future Weather fundraising trailers. They garnered a controversial response from one audience member who called them "dystopian," "negative" and "irksome". He seemed to feel that a family drama with environmental themes should be more cheerful. While I didn't agree with his assessment, it did spark a very good conversation about the function of narratives.

The day was jam-packed, so unfortunately, I didn't get to see as many of the other tables as I would have liked. But I did experience the free water-filling stations. The idea was to bring your own bottle and refill as needed. It may be a good option for providing water on-set, so I'll report more soon.

We finished the day off with a fantastic line-up of local filmmakers and environmental organizations including Marisa Miller of Kind Green Planet and Philly's own Big Tea Party and David Kessler. Thanks to our volunteers Holly Maher, Joyce Wright, Carolyn Richardson, Amy Coleman and everyone who came out and supported us!