May 19, 2009

Date:  19 May

Community and Sustainability

 Tonight’s program focuses on community and sustainability. We talk with documentary filmmaker Gerard Ungerman. His new film is called Belonging, and it’s described as a “scientific and spiritual journey into humanity’s footprint on the Earth.”  In the first half of the program, we talk with Gerard about the making of that film and about how a filmmaker perceives his world and presents his observations through the medium of film. And in the second part, we discuss his newest project, which is based in Chico and the Northstate and will explore the concepts of community and sustainability as they are emerging in our part of the world.

 Our Questions for Gerard Ungerman

 Part One

·         Your  film is called “Belonging,” and it is being screened in the Northstate area, including a scheduled showing next Saturday night on Cable Channel 11 as part of the Chico Peace and Justice Film Program.  Please tell us about the title and contents of the film.

·         Belonging is part of your larger filmmaking project, which  includes The Oil Factor, Hidden Wars, and Plan Columbia. Please tell us about that sequence.

·         In a recent screening and discussion at Chico State, you were talking about documentary filmmaking as a learning process. What was that process for Becoming? What was the original concept for the film?  How did that evolve as you began the project?

·         In particular, you told the Chico State audience that as you studied the Inuit people of North America, you came to see how the petroleum culture had shaped their lives. What were your observations, and how did they play out in the rest of the film?

·         How do you make a film anyway?  Do you gather the visual images first and then work on the text?  When and where do you seek out interviews? How do you weave in the narrator (in this case Dustin Hoffman—how did you get Hoffman involved in the project?)? 

·         What do you hope the impact of your film can be?  Who should see it? How will it get around? 

·         As we mentioned, Belonging will be shown as part of the Chico Peace and Justice Film Program on Cable Channel 11, Saturday, 8 pm.  What other screenings are in the works?

·         How can people get their own copy of Belonging?  And your other films?


Part Two

You’re interested in sustainability both globally and locally.  As a relative newcomer to Chico and the Northstate, please tell us about your new project, which we understand will be centered on our town and its people.

·         In speaking at Chico State, you said you thought that this area has the potential to be a model for a sustainable community.  Please explain that.

·         In the first half of the program, we asked you about the process for making Becoming. Let’s talk about how you are proceeding with this project (does it have a working title)?   Do you just point your camera in lots of directions and then edit out the parts you don’t want?  Or do you have a deliberate plan of gathering footage?  Do you have a “thesis” already, or might that emerge as you shoot?

·         What aspects of community in the Northstate have most impressed you? What needs to happen for Our Town to move toward a smaller ecological footprint?

·         More broadly: your work impresses us because you are an activist as well as a filmmaker—you’re obviously not just making movies to earn the big bucks.  As an activist, what do you see as the major problems confronting us (in Chico, in the world) as we move toward sustainability?

·         What would a sustainable world look like? (Can we ever become truly sustainable?  Entropy—which you mentioned at CSU—tells us that basically everything is winding down anyway.)

·         Globally, many governments, including the U.S., have made moves toward sustainability through green building requirements, automobile innovation and restriction, wind and solar, waste and recycling, etc.  Is this a government concern?  Can governments do enough?

·         Our guest last week, David Paxson, saw population as the overwhelming global sustainability problem.  He said that the success of all other causes depends on population control of some sort.  You have noted that the petroculture actually encourages unsustainability—e.g., the Inuit—by allowing people to essentially live beyond their energy means. How does population control fit into your picture of the world?

·         After you finish your film based in the Northstate, where will you point your camera next?

Coming Event

We want to tell you of a special Eco Event taking place tomorrow evening, May 20, when environmentalist, water conservationist, and slide guitar player Jim Brobeck will be performing at Café Flo.  One of his lyrics, “Shoemaker,” reads this way:

 Feet were sore, so we learned to make shoes,
Belly empty, we learned to grow food,
Weather inclement, we learned to make roofs.
So I’m kinda disappointed at the way we have goofed.

We’ve got the brains,
We’ve got the fingers.
God knows we get in
All kinds of mischief.

 You love Jesus, your prince of peace.
We honor Gandhi and Dr. King.
40 years of singing “Give peace a chance”
So I’m kinda disappointed at our circumstance.

 We’ve got the brains,
We’ve got the spirit.
Come on people,Bring peace to the planet

 We’ve got the internet to spread the light,
We’ve got buses, legs, feet and bikes.
Solar panels and power from wind.
So I’m kinda disappointed at the mess we’re in.

 We’ve got the brains.
We’ve got the information.
Come on people,
Let’s clean up the nation.

Playlist for Ecotopia #33: Community and Sustainability

 1. Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)            5:11    Neil Young    Ragged Glory           Rock              
2. BELONGING        1:54    Sound Clip               
3. North Sea Oil (2004 Digital Remaster)            3:12    Jethro Tull     Stormwatch  
4. Home         3:46    Michael Bublé  Home                    
5. Glorious     5:19    MaMuse                     All The Way 
6. Weave Me the Sunshine           4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary            The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary   Folk               
7. Powerhouse         2:56    Don Byron       Bug Music