“American collapse is 'hypercollapse,' made of bots and ‘fake news’ and hacked elections, not just demagogues and speeches, which are radicalizing people already left ignorant by failing education institutions and civic norms” (1)A group of concerned climate scientists said in a recent wide-ranging peer-reviewed article: “In our view, the evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute” (2) . Despite this, the deep, decades-old, and frequently voiced concerns of the scientific community have been generally ignored (3-7). The warnings recently have been accompanied by the confusion and unnecessary deaths in the covid pandemic, the increases in authoritarian rule threatening democracy in the United States and other countries, and the refusal of world leaders to deal with escalating climate disruption or with the presence of vast nuclear arsenals. The latter is now highlighted by Putin’s possibly civilization-ending invasion of Ukraine for which he threatens to trigger a holocaust. All these events show something in common. They have jointly made crystal clear the utter failure of the educational system in the United States and most other rich countries to prepare people for the existential environmental threats that are consequences of the great acceleration – the recent surge in growth and technological capacity of the global human enterprise (8). As a single current example, how many “educated” people understand that the United States has been sinking vast amounts of money into “modernizing” its “nuclear triad” – its weaponry for fighting a nuclear war – thus increasing the odds of such a war, which would cause a terminal environmental collapse (9)?A half century ago, when Joan Diamond was studying education, one of the core questions in the graduate curriculum was whether educational institutions should be designed to reflect the current society or should be vehicles for social change. In the face of ecological overshoot, increasing inequity, threats to democracy and civil rights (as evidenced by the Supreme Court ending Roe v Wade) and signs, we believe, of having lost our moral compass, it seems clear that in too many leading universities the former looks to be what is prevalent now.It appears that most people don’t believe that a principal role of education should be to encourage social evolution to meet changing circumstances. To move schooling into that role there first needs to be discourse to determine what a healthy, sustainable society really needs, discourse that today is rare at best and that needs to be coupled with a clear vision of a compelling future, given the realities of the current human predicament.Culture gapOne main reason for the lack of that discourse may be that the culture gap – the chasm between what each individual knows and the collective information possessed by society as a whole (10-12) – has never been larger and never more dangerous. In the forager societies that were characteristic of the vast majority of human history, almost all adults understood how nearly everything “worked.” When PRE lived with the Inuit in 1952, every adult Inuit knew how komatiks (sleds) and igloos were constructed and seals were hunted, as well as the rest of their culture. Today in western culture none of us come remotely close to straddling the gap. Could you describe the electronics that make a cellphone work or how an automobile is constructed from raw materials? Could most educated people even briefly describe crucial elements whose knowledge might put them on the survival side of the gap? Could they at least have some grasp of ecosystem services, the second law of thermodynamics, exponential growth, how the Nazis took over Germany, nuclear weapons and nuclear winter, or (in the U.S.) how the South “won” the Civil War? Would they be familiar with the biology of race and gender or the debates between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists? Does any aspect of today’s educational system have the goal of seeing that everyone ends up learning about and pursuing throughout life the aspects of culture that would make them understand the foundations of sustainability?It’s important to remember that public education was originally established as an agent of change. It was part of the institutionalization of western societies along with population growth, industrialization, urbanization, and separation of home from workplace. Public education was designed to provide the wage laborers the capitalist system demanded, workers who would be punctual and who could read and calculate for the increasingly industrialized world. It still fills that need. “Schools too often are carefully designed to prepare people for adult work roles, by socializing people to function well (and without complaint) in the hierarchical structure of the modern corporation or public office” (13). Public schooling was not designed originally to produce “educated” people per se (14, 15) or as a way of somewhat reducing the already growing culture gap. It was a benefit for the rich rentier capitalists who employed wage earners, whose own children were educated privately, often in religious schools. That pattern of education-for-employment has changed too little today (16), as documented by even most of the wealthy. Flagship institutionsA major reason for that is that flagship educational institutions, colleges and universities pay relatively little attention to newly critical educational needs created by the acceleration. They don’t focus a major part of their efforts or influence on pre-college learning on what adults need to know to function positively in an increasingly complex endangered civilization. This failure is reflected down the school apparatus, which mostly does not begin to prepare children to deal even with those two changing systems in our society of prime personal interest: the legal and medical systems. Nor are most Americans given enough information to understand the nature and impacts of the hierarchical and inequitable structures of modern society and the current trend of steepening the hierarchy (17-20). It is difficult to learn in school how possibly to soften the impacts of inequity in the face of a storm of disinformation concerning those impacts, some both quite subtle and persistent such as the myth that different human groups possess importantly different genetic capabilities (21). The task is made more difficult in some American jurisdictions in 36 states where there are government-imposed legal barriers to passing on pertinent information about race and racism to children (https://bit.ly/3xyo8RN).The process of education itself has become a silo in western civilizations, within which curriculum design and implementation appear to be more important to specialists than content (22, 23). The content element in that silo generally reflects an Aristotelian approach to learning, which originally focused on the teaching of subjects that were thought to improve the intellectual and moral development of individuals (and, with industrialization, prepare them to be obedient wage slaves). It divides what is to be learned into separate “subjects” and at the college level into separate “departments” through which funds, faculty promotions and perks flow.Following AristotleStudents at all pre-college levels are generally expected to be educated, again following Aristotle, in age groups, apparently on the implicit assumption that all 10-year-olds have similar interests and capacities. That can be seen implicitly in education today, which lacking a clear involvement in the social dangers of the great acceleration, diverges from Aristotle and tends to view learning as something that ends with a certification at a certain age: high school diploma, bachelor’s or master’s degree, doctorate, or perhaps some post-doctoral training. A doctorate in biology earned in 1957 (as Paul Ehrlich's was) would be close to useless to society today unless continually updated with learning. Most of today’s biological knowledge would be incomprehensible to Aristotle, should he suddenly reappear. Formal retraining throughout a career does occur in some areas (for instance, aviation, partially in medicine) but currency in a rapidly evolving world depends largely on individual initiative, ability to depart from past topics, and well-developed bullshit detectors (24).The dramatic increase in the potential sources of education in the great acceleration – movies, radio, TV, the web, have been recognized by educators, as has been the need for passing on more kinds of “literacy” (25, 26). Leave it to the flexible Finns to recognize the serious consequences of the rigid “learn your subjects” approach to teaching. Finland is formalizing a new system of teaching: “In Phenomenon Based Learning" (PhenoBL) and teaching, holistic real-world phenomena provide the starting point for learning. The phenomena are studied as complete entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects” (27, 28). There have been forays into this style of curriculum in the United States, but, none, to our knowledge, that have been adopted by school districts and states as the formal curriculum. There is observational evidence that we have moved in the opposite direction—one designed for standardized testing.Learning falls behindStarting with the need for literacy and numeracy for industrialization, the environmental demand for specific kinds of education has paralleled the great acceleration. But despite heroic efforts in a few areas such as the development of textbooks by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (29, 30), and a long interest in education in mathematics and its history (31) learning has fallen far behind need. There are small colleges and departments that directly tackle these issues but they are not mainstream and are often marginalized. Just think, for instance, of the clear widespread ignorance of simple exponential growth illustrated by discussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and of demography in general.Basic questions like what is education, what should be its purpose, and how should it be supported, should be major topics of concern, in colleges and universities as well as elementary and high schools.But we can only touch on the basics here because of the immediate need for help from educational institutions both to close critical parts of the culture gap and to help mobilize civil society to deal with immediate existential threats to civilization. Educators need to provide leadership in explaining those threats in general, and right now because of Vladimir Putin, specifically to educate people to the world-ending possibilities of nuclear war. Indeed one of the most critical parts of the culture gap is the large number of people who, since 1945, remain ignorant of the potential impact of such a war and believe that wars fought with nuclear weapons are “winnable.” This ignorance is partly explicable because of a general failure of schools and public education to inform citizens of the risks leaders have taken, the near misses that civilization has lived through by pure luck, and the now increasing odds of total disaster. But can we attribute the absence today, in the face of much more serious consequences, of the protests and teach-ins that rocked universities during the Vietnam war to that failure of education, or purely to the lack of a draft?Able Archer 83It’s sometimes said that considering nuclear wars is thinking about the unthinkable, but many specialists have spent lots of time doing just that. For instance, military planning for a “protracted” nuclear war in which the U.S. “prevailed” and for which the American nuclear triad should be upgraded was much discussed during the Reagan administration (32, 33) and as a result of the “Able Archer 83” incident.Able Archer 83 was what some consider to have been a “near miss” in 1983 when Russians suspecting the regular NATO Able Archer maneuvers were a cover up for a sneak “first strike” nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Soviet forces began readying for a nuclear response, but the issue never reached Leonid Brezhnev before the Russians determined there was no coming attack. He, like many in the American military hierarchy and unlike some of his subordinates, persisted in the view that a nuclear war would be insane – and impossible to win. If nothing else the Able Archer 83 incident underlines now how the fate of civilization rests precariously on personalities, ideologies, intelligence accuracy, misunderstandings, and many other features of human behavior and human cultures that make the very existence of weapons of mass destruction, nation states, and war itself increasingly problematic (11, 34, 35). But whether a “limited” nuclear war is possible is still discussed, even after the “Proud Prophet” war games long ago showed how unlikely it was to avoid escalation from use of “battlefield” weapons to complete strategic disaster (36-38).After a period of relative quiet on the issue, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine has rekindled the debate, with at least on the political side, apparent great ignorance of the issues. The latest Pentagon budget, in which huge amounts of money are transferred to corporate oligarchs for that modernization of the useless and dangerous U.S. triad (9) suggests that such attitudes are alive and well at the higher levels of government in the United States. Vladimir Putin’s statements make it clear they are thriving among some in the Russian leadership as well.Existential threatsEducation systems around the world should be pressing to get people to understand what’s at stake with the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons, and not just because Putin threatens to use them. For example it seems certain that even today there are powerful people in the governments of India and Pakistan who believe nuclear weapon use is at least riskable and perhaps winnable (39), Should India and Pakistan have a nuclear exchange, it also seems likely civilization would perish (40). And behind the now immediate nuclear threat is an array of other existential threats (41), including other weapons of mass destruction, knowledge of which lies on the far side of the culture gap and are not explained even to everyone enrolled in research universities.One can learn important things from the state of those universities. Many of them, for instance, have business schools “places that teach people how to get money out of the pockets of ordinary people and keep it for themselves” (42). Money issues control virtually everything at universities as they do in most “modern” societies. Stanford University’s academic senate gave a great lesson in the need to change the financing of higher education by refusing to divest from the fossil fuel industry because some senators were getting research support from them. The best short summary of what’s wrong with universities we have seen is that they are “too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going.” More or less the same is said here in a more amusing form.There are of course many efforts out there to transform education—especially the work of pioneering individual faculty who would like to change the world even if their institutions remain mired in the 19th century. Stanford led there by establishing its Human Biology Program in 1971 and the Center for Conservation Biology in the Biology Department in 1984. There have been established other well-meaning programs to foster “social transformation” (including efforts to develop “social innovation curricula” in business schools), and some initiatives designed to deal with the fundamentals of the existential threats. But a glance at the literature (e.g., (43-45) suggests changes in higher education even in rich countries are unlikely to be spearheaded by academics. Too many teachers themselves have little grasp of the nature or magnitude of the problems of growth mania, revealed by our species’ history (11). They don’t recognize how short is the time available to have a reasonable chance of solving the problems, or how early in school and public education dramatic changes to teach about them would be necessary. This is unsurprising since the teachers are, obviously, products of the broken system.Prominent buzzwordsMeanwhile mainstream higher education persists in making things worse. Stanford ironically recently created an example of how not to catch up with Finnish middle schools educationally. Recognizing that climate disruption was a major concern and that “sustainability” was becoming a prominent buzzword, a move developed, especially among engineers and geologists, to establish a new School of Sustainability –originally labelled the School of Sustainability and Climate. The idea was, of course, basically to raise money. Academically it was silly from the start, simply because it retained or added more departmental and other anti-intellectual organization to the university, rather than re-examining the institution’s entire structure, its role in a dissolving civilization, and the consequences of its means of support. It’s worth a glimpse at the new school’s current structure which shows both its siloing and the near absence of understanding of the basic issues of sustainability.For instance, the sine qua non of sustainability is humanely and equitably reducing the scale of the human enterprise, both the numbers of people and the average consumption per capita (46-48). As you can see there is not a hint of this in the new school’s structure and there are many hints of ignorance in its announcement. For instance the announcement says the school will “address the planet’s sustainability,” but Earth’s sustainability has never been thought to be even slightly in jeopardy (at least for the next few billion years). The social sciences division of the school will “discover the causes of sustainability challenges, innovate new solutions to these challenges.” Of course the causes are already extremely well known – maybe the school could “innovate an old solution” and get the business school closed down (or at least it could hire writers who know English.) We could go on about things like how much more important humanities (absent from the school) are to sustainability than geophysics, but we’ll spare you. The Doerr school is a monument to what’s wrong with universities as civilization circles the drain, and analyzing its structure would be a valuable learning experience for freshmen wishing to understand how close we are to going down that drain.Civil societyOn the other hand, obviously many non-pedants in civil society are deeply concerned and understand the need to shrink the scale of the human enterprise. Many couples globally are choosing to stop at one child or go childless, steps in rich countries that are are major personal contributions to sustainability (49). And there are many organizations in civil society that “get it” – from ZPG in the old days to Growthbusters, the Post-Carbon Institute, Population Media Center, Global Conservation, and the Global Footprint Network today. And of course there’s the MAHB that probably does more than those other fine NGOs to engage broad civil society. It doesn’t just serve those who already understand the existential threats, but also those who wish to understand them better and develop ways to counter them. The challenge is that scaling up these efforts, understanding the barriers, and converting their message into policy in the face of near boundless ignorance and organized denial, is not easy. But there is a lot of good stuff happening. Not at necessary scale. Too quiet. Sometimes too afraid. But sometimes not.Despite the manifest flaws in education that will need to be corrected if there ever is to be a Civilization 2.0, there are things universities could do now if they ever are awakened from their slumber. Where is the modern day equivalent of the teach-ins of the 70s —now needed on nuclear weapons history and potential impacts of other doomsday weapons, on climate disruption, on the scale of the human enterprise and population imperatives, on the genetic disinformation on race and gender, on the need to modernize the constitution, on extinction and and loss of ecosystem services, on the demographic and biodiversity elements of pandemics, on the financialization of value and the requirement for wealth redistribution, on the ethics of borders and sharing the burdens of refugees, on the roots of human dominance in the evolution of empathy, and on dozens of other topics about which most “educated” Americans are clueless? Where are the classes being canceled or suspended to make time for the development of new education attuned to the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced? Where are the university presidents to give intellectual leadership in the worst time of human history, a time when the potential ultimate war is being fought in Europe and for the first time a global civilization is teetering on the brink of collapse? Why are universities not loudly criticizing the media’s “news” focus on political maneuvering, crime, celebrity doings, sporting events, gasoline prices (without mentioning the need to get them higher), and keeping the economic cancer growing while virtually ignoring the existential threats? Where are the students demonstrating as their futures are being mortgaged further each day by unsustainable population growth and over-consumption (48)? How many economics students organize protests over departments not teaching the obvious – that economists who think that population growth can continue indefinitely along with escalating universal wealth and consumption are daydream believers? One answer according to famed anthropologist Marshall Sahlins is that the overall cultural background in which the universities are embedded is inimical to leadership actions (50). In 2009 Sahlins suggested a part of the problem was the popularity of business courses. Could part of today’s more desperate problem be the overwhelming popularity of computer science?Our current education system –right up to the university—is trapped in reflecting society and missing the imperative to change human culture. As such it drives rather than solves the problems facing us, especially as it is so largely financed by politicians, and worse yet corporations and rentier capitalists, and their own sadly mis-educated products (think again economics departments and business schools and add in law schools). And as you can see, this system of support is loaded with pitfalls and contradictions. But we think universities should still speak from the lens of progressive human values and ecological well-being—to try to create the educational base for a strong, sustainable society with more equity, laws that evolve with the acceleration and do not overweight originalism), and near-universal well-being as goals. It is clear to us that getting key parts of the culture gap closed is an essential task for civil society if it aspires to those goals, and thus for a modernized educational apparatus led by universities and perhaps a vastly scaled up MAHB-type civil society to nurture it..References1. Haque U (2018) (Why) American collapse is extraordinary: Or, why America’s melting down faster than anyone believed. Eudaimonia.2. Lenton TM, et al. (2019) Climate tipping points—too risky to bet against. (Nature Publishing Group).3. Union of Concerned Scientists (1993) World Scientists' Warning to Humanity (Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, MA).4. 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Stevenson B (2019) Just Mercy (Movie Tie-In Edition): A Story of Justice and Redemption (One World).19. Eberhardt JL (2020) Biased: Uncovering the hidden prejudice that shapes what we see, think, and do (Penguin Books).20. Snyder T (2021) On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (Random House).21. Feldman M & Riskin J (2022) Why biology is not destiny. New York Review.22. Prideaux D (2003) Curriculum design. Bmj 326(7383):268-270.23. Jacobs HH (1989) Interdisciplinary curriculum: Design and implementation (ERIC).24. Kluger B (2020) The Medical Bullshit Detector Part I: Untrustworthy Products and Unbelievable Ideas.25. Anstey M & Bull G (2004) The Literacy Labyrinth second edition. Frenchs Forest. New South Wales: Pearson Education Australia.26. Kulju P, et al. (2018) A review of multiliteracies pedagogy in primary classrooms. Language and Literacy 20(2):80-101.27. Silander P (2015) Phenomenon based learning. Retrieved August 1:2018.28. Symeonidis V & Schwarz JF (2016) Phenomenon-based teaching and learning through the pedagogical lenses of phenomenology: The recent curriculum reform in Finland. Forum Oświatowe, (University of Lower Silesia), pp 31–47-31–47.29. Glass B (1962) Renascent biology: A report on the AIBS biological sciences curriculum study. The School Review 70(1):16-43.30. Grobman AB (1984) AIBS News. BioScience:551-557.31. Kilpatrick J (2020) History of research in mathematics education. Encyclopedia of mathematics education:349-354.32. Rogers CR (1982) A psychologist looks at nuclear war: Its threat, its possible prevention. Journal of Humanistic Psychology 22(4):9-20.33. Halloran R (2008) Protracted Nuclear War. Air Force Magazine 91(3):57.34. Mastny V (2009) How Able Was “Able Archer”?: Nuclear Trigger and Intelligence in Perspective. Journal of Cold War Studies 11(1):108-123.35. Scott L (2013) Intelligence and the risk of nuclear war: Able Archer-83 revisited. Intelligence in the Cold War: What Difference did it Make?, (Routledge), pp 15-33.36. Pauly RB (2018) Would US Leaders Push the Button? Wargames and the Sources of Nuclear Restraint. International Security 43(2):151-192.37. Bracken P (2012) The second nuclear age: Strategy, danger, and the new power politics (Macmillan).38. Davis PK & Bennett BW (2022) Nuclear-Use Cases For Contemplating Crisis And Conflict On The Korean Peninsula. Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament:1-26.39. Jayaprakash N (2002) Winnable Nuclear War? Rhetoric and Reality. Economic and Political Weekly:196-198.40. Toon OB, et al. (2019) Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe. Science Advances 5(10):eaay5478.41. Bradshaw CJ, et al. (2021) Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future. Frontiers in Conservation Science 1:61549:9.42. Parker M (2018) Shut Down the Business School (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL).43. Kumari R, Kwon K-S, Lee B-H, & Choi K (2019) Co-creation for social innovation in the ecosystem context: The role of higher educational institutions. Sustainability 12(1):307.44. Solís-Espallargas C, Ruiz-Morales J, Limón-Domínguez D, & Valderrama-Hernández R (2019) Sustainability in the university: A study of its presence in curricula, teachers and students of education. Sustainability 11(23):6620.45. Galego D, Soto W, Carrasco G, Amorim M, & Ferreira Dias M (2018) Embedding Social Innovation in Latin America Academic Curriculum. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Higher Education Advances, Valencia, Spain, pp 20-22.46. Ehrlich PR & Ehrlich AH (2013) Can a collapse of civilization be avoided? Proceeding of the Royal Society B.47. Rees W (2020) The fractal biology of plague and the future of civilization. The Journal of Population and Sustainability Online 9 December.48. Dasgupta P, Dasgupta A, & Barrett S (2021) Population, Ecological Footprint and the Sustainable Development Goals. Environmental and Resource Economics:1-17.49. Wynes S & Nicholas KA (2017) The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environ Res Lett 12(7):074024.50. Sahlins M (2009) The Teach‐ins: Anti‐war protest in the Old Stoned Age. Anthropology Today 25(1):3-5.Paul Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies Emeritus and president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.Joan Diamond is the Executive Director of Stanford University’s Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB) and of the Crans Foresight Analysis Nexus (FAN).Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.
“It’s like a returning of the souls of our culture back to our people,” Chhea said. “We’re very grateful.”
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Is the transition from industrial to artisan production reaching critical mass? With the public discussion around “quiet quitting” – doing just enough to meet your job’s position description – taken as a sign of resistance to the nine to five, and the foregrounding of anti-corporate and pro-environmental sentiments, one US-based cultural anthropologist believes it has.
Seen from above, it’s not the undulating rows of square houses that make American suburbia so recognizable. It’s the wide rivers of lush, almost neon-green grass that cut through the landscape. And on long, hot summer days, the lawn is where suburban living reaches its idyllic peak.But while the lawn may be a powerful symbol of American postwar prosperity, it’s also an ecological dead zone that’s sucking the nation’s aquifers dry.In this video essay we argue that it’s time to kill your lawn, not just to save the planet, but for your own health and sanity too. And while the idea of euthanizing such a beloved member of the family might seem harsh, we show the alternatives that could make the loss more bearable.
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Dr. Annie Belcourt joins the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to discuss using psychology to address the unique mental health challenges and issues in U.S. Indigenous communities.Belcourt is an American Indian Professor in the College of Health at the University of Montana’s Pharmacy Practice and School of Public and Community Health Sciences Departments (enrolled tribal member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, Mandan, Hidatsa, Blackfeet, and Chippewa descent). She also discusses cultural contamination, and how to foster meaningful, respectful partnerships between Indigenous communities and researchers.The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows, as well as others in the field. You can see all of the past episodes here.Listen below to our discussion with Belcourt, and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.Agents of Change in Environmental Justice · Annie Belcourt on Indigenous health and healingTranscriptBrian BienkowskiToday's guest is Dr. Anie Belcourt, American Indian Assistant Professor in the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Montana's Pharmacy Practice and School of Public and Community Health Sciences Department –Man, what a mouthful some of these departments' names are! She is an enrolled tribal member of the three Affiliated Tribes Blackfeet, Chippewa, Mandan-Hidatsa. Belcourt talks about growing up on the Blackfeet reservation, cultural contamination and using psychology to address the unique mental health challenges and issues in US Indigenous communities. Enjoy. All right, I am very excited to be joined by Annie Belcourt. Annie, how are you doing today?Annie Belcourt I'm doing well. Excited to be here with you.Brian Bienkowski And where are you today?Annie Belcourt So I am in Montana, which is the traditional indigenous lands to the Salish and to many other tribal communities here in Montana. And I myself am Blackfeet, Chippewa, Mandan and Hidatsa. And so, and my Indian name I often share with people is Otter Woman in our Blackfeet language so.Brian Bienkowski So you, that's a good place to start. So you grew up on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana. Tell me about that place and how you think it may have shaped you.Annie Belcourt Oh, yeah. So I, excuse me, I grew up on the Blackfeet reservation just outside of Glacier National Park. And so our closest neighbor was a mile away. So you can imagine it was incredible as a child to grow up, you know, surrounded by, you know, in, you know, an environment that was so beautiful. And also, such a part of our family. I grew up in between home Glenridge and Red Blanket, we call it Hill, but it was very, very large buttes. So we, you know, we had wild animals, we had grizzly bears, elk, moose, you know, you name it, all throughout our land. And so growing up in that, in that environment, was very special to me, it's a very spiritual place, and so allowing me and my family, to be a part of that community, which is really how the Blackfeet view other plants and other animals, as our relatives, and so we call them as such, so it was a real privilege to have that. And then I went to school at a small combined classroom school. And, you know, it, you know, I will say all the health disparities that, you know, we learn about and we unfortunately, teach about in our classes, are very much true for where I grew up, and how all the lives of the people who I know, were touched by, in some way or another, some of the struggles that American Indian people face as well. So it's within that reality that I sort of had, you know, wanted to develop an education and a pathway in academia ultimately. But that foundation is always with me of being, you know, a Blackfeet person.Brian Bienkowski And that educational path, you've definitely done that. So, you know, a lot of people I talked to on here, they shift majors, they shift areas of focus, you know, it's a time in your life when you're figuring things out. For myself, I didn't even start journalism until my late 20s. So, but you have a bachelor's, a masters and a PhD in psychology. So it seems like something grabbed you pretty early on, and I'm wondering what that was about the field?Annie Belcourt Yeah. So I also had an undergraduate minor before they had a major available in Native American studies. So you know, and there was no degree offered at the Masters or PhD level in Native American Studies at our university. So I... psychology really was an area that I felt very passionately about being able to help my communities and and to, you know, be curious about, you know, how people function how people make the decisions that they do, when problems happen, what does that look like? And how can we help people, you know, cope with many different barriers, including mental health aspects of their lives. So, for me, it was a really, incredibly hopeful field, because it looked at really difficult problems and things that people are afraid of – such as mental illness, people have a lot of fear around that – and really provides ways based on empirical science to help people improve. And for me, you know, there was a such a quiet, if not silenced voice for Native people within the academic field of psychology. And so for me, it was really a great opportunity to learn about all of the wonderful ways that we can help people through psychotherapy and other intervention formats, but also be able to understand how American Indians and their reality is different in some ways, and how some of that is shaped by, you know, numerous factors, but one of those factors being the environment and our relationship with the natural world as well. So, so there's many things that have led to that, but I've been very happy about that.Brian Bienkowski Yeah, and I want to get into some of those unique aspects in dealing with Indigenous communities. But but I've been asking everybody this question, and it's a big, unwieldy one. And that is, what is the defining moment or event that shaped your identity? This could be professional, personal.Annie Belcourt Yeah. I mean, I read this, and I had to really think about it, because there's been so many. I've been really blessed with, you know, incredible children, a family that was loving, and sober and kind, and all of the things that you want to see in a family, and, you know, all of those things of course shaped who I am in the most important ways, you know – build me as a compassionate human being who values intelligence than thought and all sorts of good things. But I do have to say, you know, my first encounter with like severe close loss was also very important in terms of my formation as a person and my academic career. And part of that was the loss of my sister, she died in 2001. And she was, she and a friend were out, and randomly ran into people who one of them killed her and ended her life. And so, when that happened, I was a, I think, a second-year graduate student in clinical psychology. And so as you can imagine, it was really, very difficult for me to over, you know, for me just to exist, actually, it was very, very painful. But I was able to do that because of my family, and because of my children and unable to complete a doctorate degree, and continue to do psychotherapy with people. And a lot of it is just, you know, of course, I would want my sister back, but I, it has made me, as an individual, challenge fears I have, and to lean into things like compassion and kindness in the work that I do. And that, to me, is her legacy. And that's really important to me that she has a legacy that is hopeful, and that is showing that you know, people can overcome loss because of the people that they love.Brian Bienkowski Welch, thank you so much for sharing that. And I'm incredibly sorry for your loss. And I believe you're the first person on that question to talk about loss in that way. And I think it's a really beautiful way to look at a defining moment, we all deal with loss. I mean, it's a constant in our life, especially as we get older, so it's really powerful to turn that into something that's something beautiful and positive. So before we get into the nitty gritty of your work, I kind of wanted to set the foundation a little bit. Because we haven't had, you know, on this podcast, we haven't had a ton of Indigenous scientist on here. And I know Indigenous science and kind of traditional knowledge – I know at some point, it's called traditional ecological knowledge, I don't know if that's still a cool term or not – But these perspectives have historically been left out of western science or incorporated in ways that were haphazard, at best and disrespectful at worst. So I'm wondering, in your mind, in your research, you know, what does meaningful, respectful partnerships between indigenous communities and research look like to you and are you seeing progress on this front?Annie Belcourt Yeah. It's a great question. I mean, it's a complex question, because, you know, a lot of what we're seeing historically, is some of the things that you've talked about like that are more extractive science and people coming in, getting their information, writing their paper, getting their degree getting money, and it not really benefiting the community. So that is a process that has been gotten to be challenged by tribal communities. And I am happy to say that I've been a part of that journey. And I serve as a volunteer reviewer for a Blackfeet Nation IRB. And one of the first questions is how does this impact the community in positive ways? How does this benefit the community? And that doesn't seem like it should be a wild question. But, you know, a lot of applications that we see do struggle to answer that question in ways that are appropriate and adequate, frankly. A lot of times the old model has been this extractive –we come in, maybe tell you what's wrong, you know, and go away–, as opposed to having the community drive the research and have it be applied and having ways described that could help improve not only community health, but individuals health as well. So, you know, a lot of what we're seeing now is that, as we think about even the concept of human subjects research, that, you know, Native people have a more expansive definition of that that includes, you know, blood samples, it includes our relatives who have passed on, we have the National Graves Repatriation Act, you know, we, as reviewers of IRB proposals have to think about too, and this is also cultural knowledge that is protected. And it's protected for many reasons, including some of the past practices that have misapplied or misconstrued or misrepresented native culture and, and to have that be presented as something that we try to do. So, you know, as we think about traditional ecological knowledge, and how that applies to our behavior, it is also a nuanced discussion, because, you know, there's many wonderful examples of how native and Indigenous knowledge of knowledge has advanced science and, and continues to do so. And we have to think about how those advancements can be shared with Indigenous communities as well in effective ways. So, so those are some of the things I think that we're beginning to see be required. And it's taken a long time to have that happen. But people are more aware of the need to respect tribal sovereignty in these domains.Brian Bienkowski I think a lot of people when they think of psychology, they think of a person lying on the couch than another person writing on a pad and asking them about their mother or something. There's a trope that's in all the movies. So, you know, when I looked at your work, it looks like it's obviously much, much more than that. So just what does it look like to work in a clinical psychology setting with a with a community? I assume there's still probably some one on one interaction, but as a community, clinical psychologist, what does that look like?Annie Belcourt Yeah, thank you. I mean, I did actually just get a couch in fairness this week. Because I did actually just recently renew my office, but it's a small one, it's not... So I was trained as a scientist practitioner, and in clinical psychology. And so you know, always kind of doing clinical work or experience to help really inform the work that I do scientifically, and the research that I do. The work that I've done has been diverse in many ways. Because I had done a postdoc where we did a lot of psychiatric epidemiology, where we looked at things, we sliced up what problems are and how they're associated with things. And it was a wonderful opportunity. And I, you know, really cherish my time in Colorado. However, I also was like, had a growing impatience on how do we actually help communities and a lot of that was because I was a clinician, so I was trained to help people and communities. And so I shifted quickly into things that were not just dissemination, that were truly bringing the community in and hearing their voices and having that be documented and shared. So some of the things that we've done has been digital storytelling workshops, where we teach people the basics of video making, we've just started to do looking at creating podcasts and ways to increase our, as a native people, access to information and especially Indigenous kind of centered information as well. So those are some things that have kind of gone on over the time. There's a ton of things though. I mean, I've been involved with like RO1, which is like kind of like high, multi-level, year science projects, but I've incorporated video within that. I've incorporated traditional knowledge within that. We created an environmental exposure measure, specifically for Indigenous communities. And looking at traditional practices, and how that basically interacts with things like climate change, and for tribal communities, how people are coping with extreme weather events. And so that's a paper that's coming out and that we're very excited about, you know, being able to share information. And this was like, you know, gathered before the pandemic, right before. And so to be able to kind of have a snapshot of how things were there. And then, you know, future research, we can take a look at how things are going now. But a lot of my work is also mentorship, and I mentor, I have a doctoral student who's finishing and will be graduating next week. And he is looking at substance use and traditional cultural knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. And so D'Shane Barnett is you know, the next generation, you know, of people who are going to move this work forward, and he's also our county health director here in Missoula. So a lot of us are very proud of him as a native man, to be able to enter these spaces and to provide an Indigenous voice to, you know, spaces that often were not. So, you know, my research has really evolved over time, I am now I am a Hollywood producer, believe it or notBrian Bienkowski Wow!Annie Belcourt I know, it's wild! So my daughter is a filmmaker and a writer. And so we produced a short film, have a poster over here, called Dog with the summer. And it was completely shot on the Blackfeet reservation, with a Blackfeet crew, with Native cast. And it was looking at, you know, difficult topics around... We hear a lot about missing and murdered Indigenous women. And, in fact, tomorrow [May 5th] is the National Day of Remembrance for MMIW. And, you know, this film kind of looked at, what are some of the upstream variables? How was domestic violence, you know, within our homes and our communities impacting Native women? and how our Native women, you know, responded to, or more importantly, not responded to, by criminal justice systems? And so those are hard questions. And they're questions I didn't necessarily think I'd be doing when I was learning how to do psychotherapy or what have you. But all of those things have really converged into a place of inquiry, that I feel as a scholar is exciting. And as we move into, you know, hopefully beyond this past pandemic, that we can start to have post traumatic growth happen, and that there's ways that we can heal not only as individuals, but as communities. And psychology, and native scholars have real place within that.Brian Bienkowski So you mentioned earlier, some of the unique aspects of working with tribes. And part of this I remember as a reporter, when I wrote about environmental pollution on tribal land and how it not only contaminates bodies, but contaminates culture, you know. So, for example, I remember being in upstate New York with the Mohawk. And if you can't eat fish out of the St. Lawrence River, not only are you losing a fish, you're losing the opportunity for language to be passed on for the teaching how to get that fish, a whole, a whole cascade of effects. I recall visiting out your way visiting the Crow Reservation and chief Plenty Coups spring which was a sacred spring use for Sundance's and for drinking after fast and they couldn't do that because it was contaminated. So it put these traditions on hold. So I'm wondering, can you talk about some of these cultural impacts of pollution and environmental insults that you've seen in your work and why that's such a kind of a unique aspect and working with tribal communities?Annie Belcourt Yeah, you know, it is, in fact, a very significant topic for all Indigenous communities in one way or another. Here in Montana, we see, like you said, water pollution being an issue; climate change is increasing temperatures quite rapidly and we're seeing things like, you know, more zooonotical you know, like Giardia in the water. And so, in fact, even though we're I grew up is seen as a very pristine, it's actually not safe to drink water from the river, you have to boil it or treat it in some way. And also, the droughts have really impacted our traditional foods. And we've had, you know, times where we haven't been able to gather the foods that we need for ceremony, let alone sustenance on a sustained basis. And, as we know, many Native people live in poverty. And some of the foods that are, you know, best for us to eat our traditional foods, yet are very expensive. And not only if you're able to gather, then you have to pay for transportation to get there and get, you know, permits and things at some places. And so those are just examples of here in Montana. I have a friend who is, her name is Stephanie Moore. She's a researcher for NOAA on the Pacific Coast near Seattle. And she's done a number of different really important pieces of science, but some of them have been with our tribal communities partners. And one of the stories that really stood out to me was, you know, the – well, there's many – but they have a high level of domoic acid and some of the shellfish. And so it'll cause widespread closures of beaches, because it's toxic to humans, it's a neuro-toxin. And it can cause acute amnesia. And so there's studies looking at the low-level exposures within our Native communities and how it may or may not impact people. So, but a story was shared by an elder from the community – and his name is Larry Campbell – And he, he shared with us that you know, the importance of spiritual foods and how, you know, he saw a woman, you know, taking a Benadryl, which is like an allergy medication, right. And they were in a communal fishing kind of feast and, and he asked her, "Well, why are you taking this Benadryl? Are you okay?" And she said, "Well, I'm allergic to shellfish." And, you know, and we don't know if, again, if that's because of how shellfish are treated, once they're out of the water, or what have you. But the point is, is he was like, "Well, why would you eat it, you can't eat," she said, "My Spirit needs to eat the food, it's not that I need to eat the food. And, and so I'll take this, because I need this to kind of have spiritual nourishment, and to continue on." And not everybody understands that about Native people. You know, where I grew up, we've literally, you know, the landscape was named for our ancestors, because that's where we have always been, and that's our belief system. And, you know, and so the relationships we have with our environment is so critical. So those are some of the things that we have to think about, as we we, you know, think about the environmental impact of climate change, of pollution, of inequality, of planned eco-toxic areas that are exposed to all of these different challenges and having it not be always, you know, more likely that people of color experience the after-effects of that. And unfortunately, that's too often true across the country, with tribal communities I have worked with, you know, throughout the nation that there has been consistently discussions of how the environmental changes that we're seeing are impacting them very directly. You know, that not as some thought, it's like, you know, every dayBrian Bienkowski so one of your papers that stuck out to me when I was doing some research is, you pointed out the very health health disparities in Indigenous communities that you just mentioned, and how I believe you said, it was a moral imperative that the U.S. makes up for this lack of research and find strategies to address this. And this is, of course, against the backdrop of historical backdrop of genocide, forced removal, environmental contamination, a lot of the really ugly history of that relationship. So what do you see as a path forward, to do better in researching and reaching out to these communities and improving and eliminating these health disparities?Annie Belcourt Well, it's a wonderful question, because I don't know that I have the entirety of the answers. But I do know, a lot of it really relies upon, you know, including communities at the center of any work and having and that sounds so simple, and, like obvious. But frequently, it's not the case. Usually, what happens is, a researcher comes in, has a particular expertise, and then wants to do research to confirm that expertise, essentially – I mean, that's a little crass, I apologize – but still, like, you know, basically, like it's a very sort of linear process, right, or a plus b, and then let's find out if a plus b works again, in this community, or what have you. And, you know, and there's a growing impatience for that sort of slow incremental science. There's a place for that, of course, right? But there's also a place for dynamic ways of engaging communities in discussions. And those are some things that are really hopeful. How do we find people who are within the community to be agents of change, to really look at advocating within many different spheres, including policy, legislation, funding, research, healthcare? all those different kinds of ways that we can help to improve health of a given community. And unfortunately, we've had too few leaders We have stepped up to that. And that's, you know, it's challenging. You know, here, in Montana, we've had a really challenging few years, of course, like everybody, but also politically, we've had laws passed here to actually decrease gun restrictions on our campus, and to increase, open carry on our, our campuses, which is really, you know, just profound to me that that would, and, you know, when we know, suicide is the biggest killer of our Native people in our state, and we have the highest rates of suicide. And you know, you know, why on earth would we not want to invest in ways to help people live hopeful lives, and longer lives, right? Why, you know, what are the things that we can do to unpack that inequality in ways that is empowering to communities, and that's what's really needed, we need to have people, you know, at the helm, deciding what is helpful, and telling their stories, and that's why I've kind of really gotten into storytelling and film and applied public health. It's, it's not, I was just told the other day, it was just dissemination way too. And I really bristled at that, because, you know, I have done the classic like churn-and-burn paper market, you know, like writing and writing, and getting grants and different things like that. But some of the most meaningful things I've ever done in my life has been to listen to tribal people, and, and to learn about ways that they try to bring healing and peace to others in a very selfless way. And it's a beautiful thing to know that we have communities who have ways of healing, you know, not only each other, but communities and a lot of our ceremonies are about healing our relationship with the planet and other other worlds that we have. And I think that that's a really powerful thing, I think that we can, we can learn from that. And those are ways that we can teach others about some of these things, so that there's less fear, that there's less hatred that is directed towards American Indian people. Showing that when, when our people go missing, it matters, and that we find them, and we hold those who hurt them accountable. Those are all examples of ways that we can kind of show that Native American lives do in fact, matter. And that we, as a people, and as communities are important in this world. And, and that, you know, it's a really, it could be a win-win, right? To learn about the richness of our cultures is not, you know, an onerous thing. And we've from day one had to learn about other cultures, right? And, and, you know, yet we're trying to, you know, play catch up when we think about, you know, Native communities. And so, that time is here, you know, I don't think we need to wait anymore. I think the time is right for us to invest in ways to promote even arts, our language, our culture, our stories, our scholars in in ways that will be, you know, ultimately helpful to everyone, including science.Brian Bienkowski And that's there's such a breadth and richness to this nation's tribes. I mean, there's all there's not a monolith when it comes to Native people here. And it seems as if you've gotten to work with a lot of different communities, both your own and outside outside of that. So I kind of two questions, one, if you could talk about some of the rewarding and positive aspects of your work, and also, how much goes into understanding of community maybe you're not familiar with, because I know tribes, even if they are near in geography can have very different history and culture.Annie Belcourt Oh, yeah, completely. I mean, I myself am in four different tribal nations, right. So I grew up on the Blackfeet. So I know more about Blackfeet culture and history. But I'm also Chippewa on my dad's side, my grandfather was, that's where the Belcourt name comes from – he was Chippewa and but he lost his parents in the Spanish flu, and so ended up in an orphanage. And so you know, and then on my mom's side, there Mandan Hidatsa. And so just for me as an individual, learning our personal history or family tree, looking at even things like the Garrison dam was built, you know, when it was built, it flooded the best agricultural area for an agrarian or farming tribe, multiple, and the place where my mother was born is underwater, because she was born in that valley in a place called elbow woods that's now underwater. And these these systematic decisions to marginalize us and to commit that genocide, really, upon native people has really required that we really be strong and not just in some sort of stoic trope – like a really dynamic way of thinking About our communities and how we share our culture in ways that are responsible, as well as hopeful, because that's at the heart of it is hope, you know, we want our children to have a better place than what we were born into. And so that's the reason why so many of us are passionate about, you know, telling our stories as well as like the hard parts as well as the joyful parts. And I have such admiration for storytellers, who are out there, creating in a time of chaos in some ways, and that there is reasons to have difficulties hoping and, and that that's, you know, I'm reminded in our work with Blackfeet, this, they were doing culture classes, and one of the elders is from Canada – because we have tribes that are in Canada that are part of our Blackfeet Confederacy –, and he was talking about this story about a ceremony and some of the songs and he described the different animals. So the different animals have different songs, and one of them was the dog. And, and it was a story of this dog that was by the lodge, and he was, this dog was a mom dog, Mother dog, and was singing the song. And she was encouraging her baby puppies to like live hopeful lives, so that they could continue to live with the Blackfeet, their relatives. And it was just like, the beauty of that connection, and the power and how amazing is that to be from a community that has always loved each other. And, and that's, that's the thing that I've learned, the, you know, come, you know, time again, is that, you know, for for my own tribal communities, the strength of our love, and our compassion for each other, is stronger than the things that tear us apart. And that is a lesson that I've also seen in other tribal communities that I have worked with facing very similar challenges, having very different ways –you know, culture, language, everything, you know, very, very different. But some of the commonalities are what bring us together as people, and allow us to think about how do we solve some of these problems in ways that are more effective, that provide true solutions? And how is that something that we can share with other tribal communities? and that generosity, like you mentioned, is so apparent, with Native people, we want truly everyone to win. And there's times where people get kind of jealous or whatever, things like that, but at the end of the day, I just want people to do better and to feel better, and to do a life that feels good and whole and livable to them. And to share that with her children in hopeful and happy ways. You know, so not radical thing is in many ways, but, but yeah, working with with different tribes is just I've been struck by how incredibly rich our communities and cultures are, and how much more we can share.Brian Bienkowski So you spend a lot of time thinking about other people's mental health. How do you perform your work and still maintain your own?Annie Belcourt Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. Um, so I do, you know, I am a psychologist, so thank God for that, right, because I know what to do. But doesn't mean I always do it completely. But you know, with me, I love spending time with my family, I love,I've done many of the pandemic, things of like learning how to make sourdough bread, I just grew mushrooms. But getting into like, my culture has been really a joyful part of the last few years, and, you know, learning our language a little more, I'm really bad at it. But it doesn't keep me from trying, you know, because it just like I mentioned, with a story with the shellfish, like, you know, it feeds my spirit to learn more about, you know, the language of my ancestors, the practices that keep us whole, and how, how beautiful, you know, our culture and communities are truly and that that is really, those are things that really feed, you know, and nourish my spirit and, and help me wanting to keep writing and doing things that will help others and, and it's hard. There are days I will say that, you know, it becomes really discouraging, you know, especially here in Montana, we see, you know, you're in I live in Missoula and native people can't afford to live here. They can't afford to move here. We don't have housing, we have people who are moving and forcing up all the prices and we're not paying people enough to live here. And, and we're followed in stores and we have all of these realities on a daily basis. So you have to find ways to take care of yourself and your family. For some that ceremony and culture for others. It's just a daily you know, I'm smudging, like many ceremonies and things of that nature, but, but the big picture is, is that you're building towards something better. And that always gives me a lot of hope. But yeah, there's smaller things to, you know, but, you know, we're learning more about radical acceptance, you know, in our family and how some of the suffering that we experience, part of our culture is that you offer it to creator when you have experienced suffering, and you do so on behalf of others, so that you can heal for them, and you can be strong for them. And that's a lot of what we, as a family tried to do is we try to help each other, and we try to help other people live more hopeful lives. And, and that's, that's something for me, that's really, you know, an honor to be a part of, as part of my family and my friends and things. And, and then, you know, like you said, I just laugh, sometimes inappropriately.Brian Bienkowski Awesome. Well, Amy, this has been so much fun learning about you, learning about your work. Thank you so much for doing this.Annie Belcourt Thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.Brian Bienkowski All right. That's all for this week, folks. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Annie.
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Story of an award winning woman athlete who was charged with rape and accused of being a male. A brief glimpse into the political machinations that are hurting Indian sports in the present day. Past Presentation
Parody in the style of black-and-white film noir that uses clips from old films to reveal a mystery involving the global economy: An insane flux of food export and import. A hidden crime is revealed by classic actors and a classic film noir score. Past Presentation
Life wants to live. It is not a thing, it is a process. In this film, which is constructed as a journey, we discover men and women who make a living out of death and have chosen to work in the funeral world, in Belgium, the Netherlands and Great Britain. Past Presentation
Pierre Dulaine, four-time ballroom dancing world champion, is fulfilling a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance and compete together. The film explores the complex stories of three children, all of whom are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation, and racial prejudice as they dance with their enemy. Past Presentation
Explores how and why we, as a Western society, can and should reconnect with our environment. How does a connection with our natural environment strengthen our spiritual, physical, creative, economic, and intellectual pursuits? How can the cultivation of a spiritual practice support a healthy and balanced natural environment? Dancing with Thoreau weaves film and photography together with commentary from renowned teachers, naturalists, farmers, scientists, and spiritual leaders to explore these questions. Past Presentation
Yann Arthus Bertrand brings us film footage of over fifty countries, as seen from the air, to inspire wonder and concern for our home, this planet. Past Presentation
Local water activists explore Gainesville’s fresh waterways and how they have been integrated into the city – even crawling beneath behemoth stores to follow the waters. Past Presentation
The Shimuras, mother Fukumi and daughter Yoko, devote their daily lives in a lifelong pursuit to understanding and preserving Japanese textiles that are a national treasure. Past Presentation
Spoken word poetry short film, written from the Earth's perspective from the beginning of time to present pandemic. Now Playing
Patagonia ambassador Liz Clark sails the world on a quest to live a simple life fueled by the wind and the desire to surf. Past Presentation
Journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, this film explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion. Past Presentation
A sister fights all odds to take care of her younger brother, until things fall apart and she is left with no option but to sell her dignity to save him. Past Presentation
Mountain Man is a social issue documentary that chronicles, in verite style, Joel's struggle to find a balance between an obligatory fast paced Orange County lifestyle and the natural beauty in Orange County and the greater Southern California area that goes seemingly unnoticed. This short documentary follows the ebbs and flows of Joel's work in Naturalist for You. He struggles to attract participants but also experiences the triumphs of fostering inspiration. He struggles to support his family, while also maintaining a constant dedication to his organization. Past Presentation
The first feature-length documentary film to capture the vitality and diversity of today’s religious-environmental activists. From within their Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim traditions, Americans are becoming caretakers of the Earth. With great courage, these women, men and children are re-examining what it means to be human and how we live on this planet. Their stories of combating global warming and the devastation of mountaintop removal, of promoting food security, environmental justice, recycling, land preservation, and of teaching love and respect for life on Earth are the heart of renewal. Past Presentation
Created in an anti-drug PSA format, Maui students address our modern addiction to plastic. Past Presentation
A group of Arabian spoken asylum seekers arrive at an English spoken country border and can't keep going. They conflict with border soldiers everyday till a deaf-mute baby becomes a catalyst for better communication between two groups. Past Presentation
A 12-day expedition is the first of five arctic ski expeditions the director hopes will inspire the next generation of environmental advocates. The film asks how do we connect to earth and instill hope in our communities and children. Past Presentation
A short documentary about the 2009-2010 Miss South Pacific Pageant in Suva, Fiji that tackles climate change, rising sea levels, and a beauty pageant. Contestants from all the major Pacific Island Nations implore audiences to reduce global carbon emission lest their island homes will be lost to rising seas. Past Presentation
Beyond Fordlandia (USA, 82 min) Directed by Marcos Colón. An account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience 90 years after its failure. The story begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Co. attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a tributary of the Amazon. The indigenous peoples successfully transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export. Past Presentation
12 people. In the woods. Telling their stories... I hiked out into the forests of the Southeast to listen. What I found in the power of story and in our connections to the forests is more important now than ever. Forests hold our stories. Our history. Our dreams. Our strength. Our future. Humanity happens in forests. Stories happen in forests. Past Presentation
Set over one summer in the shadows of Disney World. Precocious 6-year-old Moonee courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother. A striking picture of modern American poverty, but Mary Kaye Schilling (Newsweek) notes it pulses with “joy, life, and natural beauty.” Past Presentation
Set amidst the stunning red desert landscapes of Utah, this surreal journey explores the worlds we create for ourselves, the absurdity of our fears, and what lies on the other side of them. Past Presentation
The vegan food market was pegged as a $27 billion industry last year, a figure that’s expected to more than double within a decade. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the major food and beverage incumbents such as Nestlé, which launched a plant-based dairy line under the Wunda brand last year, while rival Unilever has been […]
Exploring the beauty, rigor, and impact of socially engaged art, these short vignettes were made possible by A Blade of Glass (ABOG), which provides resources for artists reaching beyond boundaries and into communities to contribute creatively to social change. ABOG supports this work through a national fellowship program and related programs such as short documentary films. Past Presentation
The Colorado River has carved a deep imprint both on the physical landscape and on the people who live near its waters. Confluence follows an up-and-coming indie folk band as they traverse this endangered river system and document the people who rely on it through original music. Past Presentation
Selva Rica follows the story of a young Bora-Huitoto painter, Brus, as he discovers a unique path to helping his community resist the encroaching Petrol Company that threatens the future of their ancestral lands as well as their culture in the Madre de Dios rainforest of Peru. Past Presentation
Earthlings is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, Earthlings is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs. Past Presentation
Thirst – Daaham (India-subtitled, 4 min). Water Award Directed by Siva Nageswara Rao – Water is a precious resource which humanity should use responsibly. Our relationship with Nature should always be guided by reciprocity. Nature protects us all and we in turn should protect natural resources and be sympathetic to the needs of fellow human beings. Now Playing
The people of Vanuatu, once dubbed the happiest place on earth, are struggling to maintain culture and tradition despite climate change. This film explores its impacts on Malekula Island as told through conversations villagers have with each other as they go about their daily lives attempting to grow traditional crops. Past Presentation
Inspired by the decline of monarch butterflies in the Midwestern prairie, a gardener, educator, and pastor transform a rural church’s backyard into a sanctuary for pollinating animals, an educational garden for the community, and a sacred space for spiritual contemplation. Now Playing
ETHYL PART TWO takes us on a journey to Santa Fe Community College to see how Ethyl is educating surrounding communities to bring awareness to the impacts of plastic use and solutions for a sustainable future. Past Presentation
Six young people in rural India set out on a journey to find out who is poisoning their sacred river, the Yamuna, causing people and animals to die en masse. When they arrive at the foothills of the Himalayas, a shocking reality unfolds: their river has been “stolen”–replaced by an open flow of sewage, causing a major ecological disaster affecting tens of millions–to which, unknowingly, the whole world contributes. Can they save the river, people’s lives, and their holy land, the very heart of ancient Indian culture? Past Presentation
CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST: A feature length documentary film. A unique look at eco-history from one who was there for 40 years: Peter Jay Brown, and a humorous examination of the word “eco-terrorist” in today’s reality. Now Playing
Yogi, Buddhist teacher and activist Michael Stone arrives on a pilgrimage to Japan, in the wake of the tsunami and Fukushima meltdown. Reactor is a short film project that aims to uncover how and why we can let go of our old stories, and move towards personal and social awakening. Past Presentation
A journey from the civilized chaos into the deep rivers of the Amazon jungle, to a small community called Esperanza, where life is still in harmony with nature, and a father and his son are waiting for the fish to bite. Fishing in Esperanza is a poetic short film about hope. In different levels the film tells the story about a filmmaker, a fisherman, a community and a society that are all waiting for a basic incident to take place. Past Presentation
For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of “Earthship Biotecture” by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century. Past Presentation
Juskatla weaves together perspectives of the people who live on the islands of Haida Gwaii—an archipelago on Canada’s Northwest coast, and the ancestral territories of the Haida Nation. From industrial loggers who harvest trees from ancient forests, to Sphenia Jones, a Haida matriarch who bears an intimate knowledge of her People’s territories, Juskatla meditates on the divergent ways of being that shape the islands and its people. Now Playing
Psychiatrist and musician Clark advocates for natural burial – and plans his own – while battling lymphoma. Capturing the genesis of a revolutionary social and environmental movement, this film is a life-affirming portrait of people coming to terms with mortality by embracing our connection to death and nature. Past Presentation
Philip Wollen makes an impactful case against animals on your menus in front of an audience at the St. James Ethics Centre and the Wheeler Centre. Wollen then passes the debate onto a six-person panel, with three members supporting his case and three making an argument to continue to keep animals on the menu. Past Presentation
What happens to people when their mining town is forced to shut down because of environmental concerns? What if they don't want to leave? Do they still receive water, heat and ambulance service? Death of an American Town follows one man as he tries to answer these questions and reconnect with his roots before his hometown is closed forever. Past Presentation
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