Tag Archives: environment

On Tour: Philadelphia, PA

24 Oct

October 10, 2017 | Oil & Water | Philadelphia, PA

Oil & Water — On the Road Again

As I arrived at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia last week for the first screening on our new Mid Atlantic Arts tour, I checked the newsfeed on my phone to discover the latest threat to the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency had just announced plans to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s been three years since we released Oil & Water to the world. The film, about two boys coming of age as they fight for environmental justice in the Amazon, has never been more relevant, and not for reasons we could have expected. Environmental protections in our own country are increasingly under attack. Who could have predicted that the EPA would be run by Scott Pruitt, a man who had previously sued the EPA 14 times, or that we would have a president who campaigned on the promise of dismantling the very institution itself?

Oil & Water came about in part because there was no EPA in Ecuador, and the oil industry behaved in whatever ways they could get away with. Hugo Lucitante, one of the film’s main characters, and his tribe, the Cofan people, are still dealing with the crushing effects of oil pollution, and trying to protect the land they have left against the threats of oil companies and other outsiders. They’ve been pushed to the edge of their territory, and every day that passes brings them closer to future with a diminishing likelihood of survival.

After the screening, audience members wanted to know, “How can we help?” For those moved to help in Ecuador, there are a variety of non-profits that are working on the ground, including the organizations featured in the film, The Cofan Survival Fund (www.cofan.org) and Equitable Origin (www.equitableorigin.org). But one also need look no further than one’s own backyard, because these problems are everywhere.

In Pennsylvania where I’m touring the film, controversy swirls around fracking and new natural gas infrastructure projects like the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, that when completed, will carry natural gas through 10 counties. Despite opposition from farmers and other land owners, industry is seizing private land through eminent domain. Many are protesting out of fear for the safety of their drinking water.

As a filmmaker, I’m feeling especially grateful to the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and all our screening hosts for the opportunity to get out and talk about the work of Oil & Water’s extraordinary young stars, Hugo Lucitante and David Poritz. And especially for the opportunity to listen to the stories of the people I’m meeting in audiences and university classroom visits along the way. Energy issues and the care of our environment affect us all. As I like to say, we’re all in this together. Let’s figure it out.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Francine Strickwerda

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On Tour: Lancaster, PA

28 Nov

November 21, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Lancaster, PA

“No pessimist has ever discovered the secrets of the stars, sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a doorway to the human spirit.”

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The last stretch of my OSIP journey took me back to PA, this time to Lancaster, for events and classroom visits at Millersville University. Even before I arrived in town, the host, Barry Kornhauser, had already offered several fun events providing the community with nature-connecting experiences even before the screening of Love Thy Nature!

Professor Aaron Haines, Ph.D. guided a bird watching walk, curator Christopher Hardy, Ph.D. offered a tour of the James C. Parks Herbarium, naturalist Carol Welsh led a nature journaling activity, and Lydia Martin, the Director of Education for the Lancaster County Conservancy, invited volunteers who planted 75 trees along a stream. Barry also organized a pre-screening panel discussion with Prof Aaron, Lydia, myself, plus the chair of the sustainability committee Nadine Garner, Ed.D., and Douglas Smith, the City of Lancaster Sustainability Planner.

While several screenings of Love Thy Nature over the last few months have been “watch and do” events, this is the first time we had so many diverse activities connected to a single screening.  Much gratitude goes to Barry and all these amazing sustainability professionals for this nature-loving feast! And thanks to this outstanding level of engagement (plus our own film team outreach effort), the Ware Center was packed with over 300 attendees for Love Thy Nature screening and Q&A. Wow. For an artist/activist like myself who has deep hunger for the highest possible impact at any given event, connecting with this large a crowd (especially for a small town) was pure bliss!

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Discussions ranged from the local applications of Biomimicry (Douglas explained how they’re intentionally emulating nature in the City of Lancaster’s water management systems) and the psychological benefits of nature connection for both adults and children, to whether we can have any hope about the future of our planet.

While no doubt we live in critical times – nature’s destruction is so severe that some scientists believe we have passed the “tipping point” of climate change – we can’t afford to be pessimistic or cynical. As Helen Adams Kellert, the first deaf blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, once stated, “No pessimist has ever discovered the secrets of the stars, sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a doorway to the human spirit.”

It’s by opening that doorway that we can transform our relationship to nature. Finding this community of people this vibrant and engaged with city officials committed to biomimetic ingenuity and a university committed to igniting young minds with new sustainable possibilities, I can’t help but to feel optimistic about what our future holds. All we need to do is to keep sharing our individual gifts while walking this path of connection with nature, each other, and ourselves.

I admit that this On Screen/In Person end-of-journey is bittersweet. On one hand, I really didn’t want it to end. But its ending with Millersville University couldn’t have been any sweeter, having connected with an engaged community of educators, scientists, change makers, students, and audience members.  To Barry (a so very effective, dedicated, and kind host) and Millersville University faculty members, bravo and thank you!

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m so very grateful to the On Screen/In Person team – Kimberly and Chevaun at the Mid Atlantic Foundation – who have supported me for the last many months with the myriad of logistical details. Special thanks also go to all the other hosts of our 10 screenings not only for choosing Love Thy Nature, but also for their professional and kind support of my own journey and mission to inspire their communities to explore what it means to be human in this oh so very precious and fragile planet of ours.

Wishing you a beautiful, nature-filled Thanksgiving weekend,

Sylvie

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Sylvie Rokab

On Tour: Waynesboro, VA

28 Nov

November 15, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Waynesboro, VA

“No matter how long one does the work of nature protection, we all need to be re-inspired, re-energized, and reminded of the power nature plays in our own lives.”

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When I got to Waynesboro, VA, my hosts Tracy and Karen offered me a few treats. Besides a delicious dinner, they took me to The Wildlife Center of Virginia whose founder, Ed Clark, gave us a tour of this extraordinary wildlife-saving organization.

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Not only does the Center care for any and all local wildlife in need of care – from deer to eagles, owls and bears – but also Ed travels around the world from South America to Africa on a mission to catch poachers and bring them to justice, as part of International Coalition of Wildlife Protection.

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It’s worth noting that I’m travelling with On Screen/In Person and I don’t always know what groups my hosts might introduce me to, if any. So to find a wildlife rescue group in its 34th year of operation, having treated 70,000 animals and trained a corps of wildlife medicine practitioners around the world, was a magnificent surprise!

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Needless to say, I was delighted to have Ed, his team, and 2 of his “patients” join us at the Wayne Theater for the screening of Love Thy Nature.  It was a dynamic, wildlife-centered conversation and I was glad to hear Ed share how the film came as a needed reminder to nature protectors and environmentalists of why they do this work in the first place. No matter how long one does the work of nature protection, we all need to be re-inspired, re-energized, and reminded of the power nature plays in our own lives.

With joy, purpose, and gratitude.

Wishing you nature.

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

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