Walking Mountains’ Sustainable Film Series starts with ‘The End of Snow’ | VailDaily.com

Walking Mountains’ Sustainable Film Series starts with ‘The End of Snow’

In "The End of Snow" — the first film in the Walking Mountains Sustainable Film Series — the documentary travels 4 miles to a ghost town to talk with Billy Barr, known as the Snow Guardian.
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Sustainable Film Series lineup

Nov. 7 and Nov. 21: “The End of Snow” and “Minimalism”

Dec. 5 and Dec. 19: “Poverty, Inc.”

Jan. 2 and Jan. 16: “One Big Home”

Feb. 6 and Feb. 20: “RiverBlue”

March 6 and March 20: “Gringo Trails”

April 3 and April 17: “SUSTAINABLE”

May 1 and May 15: “Time to Choose”

Where: The first showing is on the first Tuesday of each month at Loaded Joes in Avon; the second showing is on the third Tuesday of each month at The Dusty Boot in Eagle.

When: Shows start at 6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit http://www.WalkingMountains.org.

It’s a terrifying thing to think about, the end of snow.

For a community in a state in a region where snow has overtaken gold as the most valuable resource, the winter’s snowpack is critical to summer’s water resources — not to mention the culture.

Kicking off the Sustainable Film Series presented by Walking Mountains Science Center is “The End of Snow,” a documentary taking viewers on a personal adventure to three people that represent the past, present and future of snow.

The seven-month film series features two showings each month — the first Tuesday of every month at Loaded Joe’s in Avon and the third Tuesday at The Dusty Boot in Eagle.

No reservations are required, the shows are free and designed to inspire conversation afterward.

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“We don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and sometimes these types of films can make people feel uncomfortable,” said Melissa Kirr, sustainable programs director at Walking Mountains. “This program is designed to be an inviting one, where people can come and be with a group of people just watching a film together.”

‘The End of Snow’

Living in Colorado, we’ve got a front-row seat to changing snowpack, said Morgan Heim, director of “The End of Snow.”

Heim lived in Colorado for 12 years before recently moving to Oregon. Her passion for snow really came to fruition during her time in Boulder. Within months of moving to Boulder from a warmer weather climate, a huge snowstorm hit and Heim thought it was her first snow day — no school, no work.

“Everyone just swept off their sidewalk and kept about business as usual,” she said. “So you develop a whole different relationship with snow. I know how important it is, both environmentally and culturally. It’s part of what defines life out here in the West.”

Seeing a change in snowpack, Heim’s concerns grew and grew to the point where she wanted to make a regional film focused on actual people instead of a broad, overarching research paper about climate change.

Heim’s Colorado friend Jane Velikova, a climate scientologist, serves as the main character in “The End of Snow,” going on a journey to visit three people thought of as the past, present and future of snow.

Bryan Shuman, known as “The Oracle,” shows why it’s important to look into the past to see the future.

Billy Barr, the “Snow Guardian,” has been tracking changes in snow for 40 years and Velikova — and Heim — traveled to a ghost town to talk to him.

“He’s really a character,” Heim said.

Last is Freddie Botur, a rancher living in Wyoming who uses very simple ranching practices to weather the loss of snowpack without losing his cattle. When the snow doesn’t fall, he’s prepared with soil and wetland restoration.

“We don’t want to leave people feeling down about changing snow because a lot of the story is really about the fact that it is happening. It’s not something you’re just going to put the brakes on,” Heim said. “It’s really about acceptance and adaptability — and in doing that you lessen your impact and do help slow it down.”

Fun fact: Heim doesn’t ski. “I tried to learn how to ski for this,” she said. “I rented cross-country skis because I knew we were going to have to ski 4 miles out to see Billy, and I got the wrong skis. I spent most of my time just falling down and crashing into things. I pretty much just wanted to burn the skis by the end of it, but I do love snow.”

Most showing in the Sustainable Film Series will have some sort of Q-and-A session with someone from the film, but Heim will not be able to attend the showings at Loaded Joe’s and The Dusty Boot.

Her message, though:

“Even though we’re representing this alarming issue, this is a story about hope and finding that self-reliance on the differences that we as individuals can make that can help with our situations we’re facing. That’s the challenge I offer out to everyone who comes to see the film is when they leave to think about one thing they can do that can help protect snow where they live.”


The Sustainable Film Series, now in its sixth year, is designed to connect communities with films related to an overarching theme of climate change.

The topic is relevant locally, as the Eagle County Commissioners and local towns this year adopted the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County community. On a bigger scale, the United Nations named 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

“All of the films connect to the work our community is doing locally and also to the goals set globally by the United Nations,” Kirr said.

Films this year vary from “The End of Snow” to “Poverty, Inc.” and “RiverBlue,” and all are handpicked for their thought-provoking nature.

“We have a community dialogue period after each film and we encourage people to share their thoughts and opinions on the film and also any knowledge they may have on the topic,” Kirr said. “I have always wanted the film nights to be very relaxed and welcoming.”

Other films — such as “Poverty, Inc.” — also question the pervasive messages of culture. “Poverty, Inc.” will be shown in Avon at Loaded Joe’s on Dec. 5 and at The Dusty Boot in Eagle on Dec. 19, and it investigates the poverty industrial complex and the hidden side of good intentions.

In “One Big Home,” showing in Avon on Jan. 2 and in Eagle on Jan. 16, filmmakers have followed the trend toward building giant houses on Martha’s Vineyard.

Other films relate to topics such as social equity, disasters and aid, scientific trends and purchasing power, all tied to climate change and connections.

Through the years of directing the series, Kirr has become better acquainted with members of the community, many who have returned to the series showings season after season to watch films together.

Some of these community members describe how “Plastic Ocean,” a film showed in a past year, incited them to begin picking up pieces of trash with a fervor. Others changed eating habits in response to “Cowspiracy.” Though those are wonderful outcomes, Kirr said, what she hopes for is for watchers to enjoy their time and learn about their community and world.

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