January 2013

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #218 The State and the Stork

Posted by on 16 Jan 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: 15 January 2013

This week on Ecotopia we’ll be returning to a topic that is of deep concern to environmentalists and activists everywhere, but we’ll be focusing on it from the perspective of U.S. history. Our guest will be Derek Hoff, professor of history at Kansas State University, who has written THE STATE AND THE STORK, which looks at population debates and public policy from colonial times to the present.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Derek Hoff

You are listening to Ecotopia on KZFR, exploring ecosystems: environmental, social, technological. Tonight our topic is the intriguing one of “The State and the Stork,” taken from the title of our guest’s new book that explores “the population debate and policy making in US history.” On the phone with is Derek Hoff, who is a political and economic historian at Kansas State University.

–In the introduction to your book, you say that “a surprisingly large and varied number of Americans have perceived population trends as snakes in the garden.” Please explain that statement and how it lead to the focus of your book. which garden? which snakes? [Let’s emphasize in the discussion that you are focusing on American history, though we’ll no doubt talk about global issues along the way.]

–You also note early in the book that attitudes toward population—social, economic, and political—have fluctuated over the times. What are some of the major theories of population that you’ve discovered? [limiting growth, quality of life, people as a cash crop]

–In this first part of the interview, we thought we’d focus on more distant U.S. history. What, for example, were the attitudes of the founders toward population? How did views evolve in early Republic, especially after Thomas Malthus’s essay on population came out?

–How did population issues intersect with the slavery debate? [the demographics of slavery, the question of slavery, westward expansion, Reconstruction, voting rights].

–You write about agrarian America and the effects on the U.S. of Europe’s industrial revolution. With population growth and the development of the U.S. came cities, in some ways validating the Malthusian thesis … hotbeds of disease and poverty and crime. How did the growth of the cities fit affect population policy? How did immigration and cheap labor fit in?

–You trace “the birth of the modern population debate” to the late 19th century and the pre-WW II period. How did it come to be framed in the popular mind during those times? How about in the minds of economists? [Keynesian economic theory and influence.]

–Before we turn to the post-WWII era, we’d like to approach a subject that we could spend hours on: 20th century exclusion, racism, eugenics. We’d like to ask about just one element that particularly interests us: eugenics. Where did this movement come from and how did it affect public policy?

–In the first part of the program, you spoke with us about population and policy through the first half of the 20th century. Now we hit the baby boomers, a good many of them among our listeners (with their hearing aids turned up). The boom was linked to postwar prosperity and new views of the relationship between population and the economy. Please tell us about that.

–You write that the U.S. and global baby booms also raised fears of overpopulation here and abroad. This seems to have been a period of increased governmental efforts to control population via international organizations as well as such programs such as LBJ’s Great Society. What was happening, and how successful were governmental agencies in getting involved in family planning?

–In your chapter on “Diffusing the Population Bomb,” you discuss the Zero Population Growth movement as well as conservative and liberal views of population. Please tell us a little about the right and the left and their conflicting yet evolving views of fertility rates.

–Your closing chapter focuses on “Population Aged,” they greying of the baby boomers. What do you see as interconnections among population and aging issues, including such topics as Social Security and taxation policies?

–Near the end of the book, you note that “…emphasis on the aging of the population, however justified by spiraling deficits, has encouraged policy makers to think of babies as future taxpayers rather than as potential environmental or social externalities.” Our impossibly broad closing question for you: What do you think the next generation will say and do about population and public policy?

The State and the Stork is published by the University of Chicago Press. You can learn more about the book at <www.press.uchicago.edu> and you can learn more about Derek and his work at the Kansas State history department website <http://www.k-state.edu/history/faculty-staff/hoff.html.>


Ecotopia# 217 Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2013

Posted by on 10 Jan 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: 8 January 2013

Each year, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers to the Grass Valley and Nevada City. The festival runs this weekend, opening with an art reception and showing of 3-D films Thursday night, closing with the awards ceremony on Sunday.

In this program we talk first with Samantha Hinrichs, the Festival’s public relations officer about the incredible line up of films, workshops, and ecoevents taking place. We’ll also talk with two film makers who will be showing their works and will be present at the festival:

Tom McMurray is the Founder and CEO of the Marine Ventures Foundation.  He will be showing a film called A Changing Delta, describing the restoration of the Colorado River in Mexico and how this affected both the river and the communities that depend on it.

Rodney Rascona, has done a film titled “Black Inside: Three Women’s Voices,” which describes the effects of cooking indoors over a wood fire which affects the health of women and families all over the globe.

 Listen to the Program

Our Discussion with Samantha Hinrichs

Samatha Hinrichs,is PR Director, Wild & Scenic Film Festival which I a project of SYRCLE [”circle”], the South Yuba River Citizens League.

–Let’s start with days/dates, hours, and venues for the Festival. [Thursday-Sunday, multiple venues GV and NevCity.]

–Please give us some history on the Festival. How long has it been taking place? What’s your mission? What’s the connection to the South Yuba River Citizens’ League [SYRCL–”circle”]?

–What’s the theme of this year’s festival? [A Climate of Change]

–How many films will you be showing? How are your films selected? [~117 films, 29 of which are premieres, and host over 100 filmmakers and activists, along with over 4500 festival attendees over the course of three days, 10 venues in Grass Valley and Nevada City.]

–You always have an all-star lineup of filmmakers and others who appear live and in person at the festival. Who are some of the notables this year? Are there films that you are particularly excited about?

–The Festival does far more than screen films. Please tell us about some of the satellite activities:

…Greening the festival

…Kids’ sessions and young filmmakers

…Meeting filmmakers

… Paddle Day

… Happy Birthday Aldo Leopold

… Award Ceremonies

–There are a range of passes available, three-day to select events. Please give us the details about Festival passes [We’re not allowed to talk about ticket prices]: how you can get them, how you can get in to see the films that you especially want to see. Anything else you’d like to tells us?

www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org for all the info.

Talking with Tom McMurray

One of the Festival film titles that intrigued us is “A Changing Delta,” telling about the restoration of a section of the Colorado River in Mexico and its effect on the community.  Dr. Tom McMurray is President and CEO of Marine Ventures Foundation which led this project and made the film. Tom will be at the Festival showing the film twice on Saturday, and we’ll give you the times an locations at the close of the interview.

–You’re both a filmmaker and and action-oriented environmentalist. Please tell us about your background and how it led to you founding Marine Ventures.

–”A Changing Delta” takes place in Mexico, where the Colorado River now ends in a sink due to overallocation and drought. Please tell us about Marine Venture’s efforts to change that. Who was involved? What were/are the aims of the project? [“Our film focuses on how a group of people are trying to restore not just a river bit their community, their culture around the river and their heritage for their children.”]

–Your Marine Ventures Foundation emphasizes citizen engagement and citizen science. Plus high technology. [We’re especially interested in the idea of “citizen science” How do these all come together in a project like the Colorado Delta?

–Please tell us about the process of making the film. What’s the technical process? Who actually shoots the images? How do you select images and interviews to raise important points? How do you prepare the script?

–What do you hope for by way of a response to your film? Beyond the Festival where will it be shown?

— What will be the effect of the new US-Mexico treaty on the Delta and how does this catalyze restoration? [“The US and Mexican government have approved an addition to the water treaty that governs water flow across the US border to Mexico. The treaty will enable water allocated to Mexico to be stored in the US until it is needed and more importantly will enable the allocation of water for restoration of the Colorado River Delta. This is very exciting news for the Restoration effort and all the communities along the river.”]

–Please tell us a bit about the other projects you’ve been involved with. [Conservation projects in the US, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas and Western Australia.] Do you do films for all or most of your projects?

–In addition to seeing your film on Saturday, where can interested listeners learn more about your work? [marineventures.org]

Talking with Rodney Rascona

Another of the films that attracted our attention is titled “Black Inside—Three Women’s Vioces.” It is based on the alarming fact that nearly two million people die around the world every year as a result of cooking over an open fire. Rodney Rascona is the film’s Director and Producer.

–We were interested to learn that this film was commissioned by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation. What is this initiative and how were you attracted to the project?

–Where did you travel to make the film? Can you tell us a little about what you saw and the people you spoke with?

–Who are the women whose stories you decided to tell in the film? [Sarah—Africa; Vandana—India; Monica—Peru] Actually, it sounds as if you don’t tell their stories; you let them tell you own. Why did you approach the film in this way?

–Each of the women switched away from open fires to cookstoves. What impact did this have on their lives and the lives of their families?

–What are some of the other stories that didn’t make it into the film?

–In one of your press releases, you say that the film “will lay out the arguments, the issues and the solutions presented by the brilliant minds engaged in this social imperative.” Please describe the breadth of this initiative and the kinds of solutions that are being proposed.

–You have placed a number of still photos on your website <rascona.com>. These include portfolios on health care, American Life, Halfway Houses, Pink London. Please tell us about these photos. How do these portfolios differ from a film like Black Inside?

–What is your next project? Social and/or cinematographic?

More info about the film is available at <http://www.blackinside-thefilm.com>.  See more of Rodney’s incredible photography at <http://www.rascona.com>. There is also a detailed press release at