On Tour: Reading, PA

7 Nov

November 4, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Reading, PA

“She shared that she misses having time to play at school – her school administrators eliminated recess – and asked us how she can convince them to bring it back.”

My OSIP journey started with flying from Miami (where I was visiting my 81 year-old mother) to Philly and then driving to Reading, PA. With my brain still on overdrive from the myriad of travel details – airports, shuttles, GPS directions, etc. – I was instantly lured by the multitude of fall colors that bathed the landscape on my trip to the hotel. I said to myself, “Girl, keep your eyes on the road! Fall colors will be here tomorrow.”

And sure enough, the next day after doing the “tech test” at Miller Center for the Arts and before the screening, I had time to kill, so I went exploring the land and discovered a gloriously-fall-colored hiking path alongside Schuylkill river – home to squirrels and playful geese taking their last dips of the day. Ahhh, I started feeling right at home.

miller-art-ctr-building

Back at Miller Center, the host, Cathleen Stephen, came to find me during the pre-screening reception for a warm welcome. “Love Thy Nature” screened beautifully thanks to Brett Buckwalter (production manager) and great projection equipment. Audience members and panelists offered delightful feedback on the film, alluding to its cinematic beauty and timely themes. Credit goes to so many talented and generous people; it took a “village” to make this film!

Cathy had a great choice of panelists for the post screening discussion: Sean Gaston, a high school film teacher, who talked about documentaries as a powerful awareness/building tool, and Sudha Allitt, an ashram leader, who discussed mindfulness in nature as a way to promote joy, well being, and play.

After the panel discussion, eleven-year-old Lili was the first audience member to raise her hand. She shared that she misses having time to play at school – her school administrators eliminated recess – and asked us how she can convince them to bring it back.  Wow!  How can schools take play away from childhood?

While we encouraged Lili to mobilize with her peers and turn discontent into action, we also discussed the deeper underlying issue: how our educational system today is locking children into a standardized system, killing their creativity, play, and joy. It’s no wonder that the TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson, who makes the case for an educational system that unleashes kids’ creativity, is the most watched TED ever with nearly 42 million views!

Another audience member brought up the need for schools to integrate nature in their curriculum by teaching natural sciences where they belong (in nature), planting edible schoolyards to replace junk food lunch with organic meals, and encouraging more play outdoors.

We closed the evening with an invitation to all audience members (adults and children) to schedule time in nature and allow themselves to experience peace, wonder and awe— emotions that only the natural world can so masterfully evoke.

As John Muir said, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings… nature’s peace will flow into you, while cares will fall like autumn leaves.”

Wishing you nature, Sylvie.

Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker, Sylvie Rokab

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