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First screening of Sustainable Film Series on Tuesday

The Walking Mountains Science Center celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Sustainable Film Series this year

The Sustainable Film Series will hold a film screening on the first Tuesday of every month now through April at the Riverwalk Theater in Edwards.
Walking Mountains Science Center/Courtesy Photo

The Walking Mountains Science Center is showing the first film of its free annual Sustainable Film Series from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Riverwalk Theater in Edwards.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sustainable Film Series, which was officially founded in 2012 under the direction of Melissa Kirr, the current senior programs director of sustainability at Walking Mountains.

The series will feature eight independent films, four feature-length and two shorts that each touch on a different topic related to environmental sustainability and are designed to provoke conversation and action among residents who attend. Showings will happen the first Tuesday of every month from now through April.



The series started as a small screening at Loaded Joe’s in Avon, which over the last 10 years has grown into a beloved community forum that invites people from across the valley to engage in new ideas and share dialogue about the issues and solutions with their neighbors.

“It’s a really big milestone for us,” Kirr said. “I love films. I love using them to share knowledge and various topics with the community, and I think it’s a great conversation piece to use when educating the public.”



Inspiring action

One of the unique aspects of the Sustainable Film Series is that each screening includes a Next Steps document with tangible actions that a viewer can take to further their education on the topic and be a part of the solution.

“The Ants and the Grasshopper” will be the first film to be screened at the 10th anniversary Sustainable Film Series.
The Ants and the Grasshopper/Courtesy Photo

Kirr said that the idea for including the Next Steps came from a Walking Mountains intern who wrote up a potential action list after viewing one of the films. Kirr had heard from people who said watching the films could be depressing due to the seriousness of the topics and the size of the environmental issues that it addresses; so she decided to include action steps to help people contribute to the solution, even if it’s in a small way.

“We are showing some of these many times depressing films that seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, and everything’s cloudy, and we want to give some blue sky,” Kirr said. “We’re looking at what’s happening in our community that they can participate in and act on, and then are steps that they can take even further on a national or global level. This could be as easy as shopping at farmer’s markets, but it can go up to writing letters or calling your representatives. We really look at what can a person do on an individual level that can help create some action.”

In the years the series has been running, Kirr has seen the films change the behavior of community members who remember the larger picture that they were shown in the theater and then translate that knowledge into small daily actions that can compound to make a real difference.

Sparking conversation

Each Sustainable Film screening is followed by a community conversation that Kirr leads in the theater after the movie ends. The open forum invites the viewers to ask questions about what they watched, discuss the implications and impact of the film and share their existing knowledge on the topic to enhance the overall educational experience of the showing.

There are few times when Kirr has brought in one of the filmmakers or a guest speaker to join the conversation, but generally it is designed to be an open floor where community members can absorb the film and share their ideas with each other in a casual and relaxed environment.

“Beyond Zero”, screening on Jan. 4, follows the CEO of a global public company on a quest to eliminate all negative environmental impacts by 2020.
Beyond Zero/Courtesy Photo

“We keep it very low-key,” Kirr said. “We have a lot of events in the valley, and they’re all amazing, that are set up in that speaker series format where you have people speaking to the audience about a specific topic. We just listen to the film. That is the speaker, and after that we just have a conversation that’s open and relaxed — that doesn’t make anyone feel worried about asking silly questions — and I think that’s why it’s grown so much in popularity.”

The forum also gives viewers the opportunity to draw on the abundance of specialized knowledge that many of our community members have to share.

“I try to encourage and remind them that we are all community members, we’re all neighbors, and we’re here to have a conversation, so don’t be shy,” Kirr said. “Share your thoughts and ask questions, because if I don’t know the answer there may be someone in the room that has that knowledge. It’s amazing how many awesome people we have in this community, and their knowledge and experience and how they’re willing to share.”

Sustainable communities

The eight films in this year’s Sustainable Film Series transport viewers to locations around the world and follow stories that bring the environmental challenges of our time into stark relief. The variety of subjects encompassed in the film lineup reflect how intersectional sustainability is, touching on politics, economics, scientific innovation and more while remaining tied to personal narratives that give the big ideas a human face.

When selecting the films for the series this year, Kirr placed extra focus on selecting films that demonstrate sustainable communities.

“A Journey Upstream”, screening on Feb. 1, follows the Braker brothers’ love for their home watershed: the Chesapeake Bay.
A Journey Upstream/Courtesy Photo

“I look for films that deal with the waste sector or the energy sector, water and sustainable agriculture, and I feel like I’ve started to be drawn more towards sustainable communities,” Kirr said. “Four of these films touch on that, and they are showing a community that is being impacted and how do they come together to be resilient or adapt to what’s happening in their community. You’re seeing a lot of action, and it is inspiring to watch.”

The first film of the series, “The Ants and the Grasshopper,” is being shown at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Riverwalk Theater in Edwards. Tickets are free, but attendees are encouraged to register online to reserve a seat and sign up for additional resources that accompany the films.

IF YOU GO:

What: Sustainable Film Series’ screening of “The Ants and the Grasshopper”

When: 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Riverwalk Theater in Edwards

Price: Free, but registration is recommended at WalkingMountains.org

Upcoming Films

The Ants and the Grasshopper: Nov. 2

Anita Chitaya has a gift; she can help bring abundant food from dead soil, she can make men fight for gender equality, and she can end child hunger in her village. Now, to save her home from extreme weather, she faces her greatest challenge: persuading Americans that climate change is real. Traveling from Malawi to California to the White House, she meets climate skeptics and despairing farmers. Her journey takes her across all the divisions shaping the US, from the rural-urban divide, to schisms of race, class and gender, to the thinking that allows Americans to believe they live on a different planet from everyone else. It will take all her skill and experience to help Americans recognize, and free themselves from, a logic that is already destroying the Earth.

Understory – A Journey Into The Tongass: Dec. 7

A Journey Into the Tongass is a story about a young fisherman who grew up in a salty fishing village in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. When Elsa Sebastian learns that millions of acres of her rainforest home will be stripped of protections and opened to clearcut logging, she’s driven to action; first fixing up an old sailboat, and then setting sail on a 350-mile voyage to explore the last stands of ancient forest in the Tongass. Elsa’s joined on this expedition by two friends: a biologist, Dr. Natalie Dawson, and a botanical illustrator, Mara Menahan. Together, the three women document the wild beauty of the coastal temperate rainforest and bear witness to the destructive impacts of clearcut logging.

Beyond Zero: Jan. 4

After a life-changing epiphany, the CEO of a global public company embarks on a high-stakes quest to eliminate all negative environmental impacts by 2020. To succeed, they must overcome deep skepticism, abandon the status quo, and ignite a new industrial revolution. Beyond Zero offers an inspirational roadmap for how business can reverse climate change.

A Journey Upstream & Brave Blue World: Feb. 1

A Journey Upstream is a short film that shares a personal overview and reflection of the Braker brothers’ love for their home watershed— the Chesapeake Bay. It’s a view into how things have changed over time and how two pivotal species can distinguish the health of this massive ecosystem.

Brave Blue World explores the technologies and innovations that have the potential to solve the world’s water crisis. The film highlights scientific and technological advancements that have been taking place to ensure the world’s population has access to clean water and safe sanitation services and the environment is protected.

Current Revolution & Other Side of the Hill: Mar. 1

These month we will show two short films. Nation in Transition explores the coal-to-renewables transition on the Navajo Nation and across northern Arizona through the stories of workers, their families and communities, business and tribal leaders, utility executives, policymakers and environmental activists. The film offers a roadmap for accelerating and navigating just energy transitions for workers and communities everywhere. Other Side of the Hill explores the impacts of a changing climate in rural Eastern Oregon – as seen through the eyes of local leaders on the ground. From innovative timber operations in Wallowa County to large-scale solar in Lakeview, we amplify the voices of rural communities often left unheard. In a time of unprecedented cultural divide between rural and urban Oregon, we find common ground in an urgency to address a changing landscape.

“Current Revolution” will be one of two short films shown on Tuesday, March 1.
Current Revolution/Courtesy Photo

Inhabitants – An Indigenous Perspective: Apr. 5

Inhabitants follows five Native American Tribes across deserts, coastlines, forests, and prairies as they restore their traditional land management practices. For millennia Native Americans successfully stewarded and shaped their landscapes, but centuries of colonization have disrupted their ability to maintain traditional land management practices. From deserts, coastlines, forests, mountains, and prairies, Native communities are restoring their ancient relationships with the land. As the climate crisis escalates these time-tested practices of North America’s original inhabitants are becoming increasingly essential in a rapidly changing world.


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