Environmental film festival draws crowd

In Self-Publishing on March 24, 2010 at 8:20 pm

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Accusing people of addiction and stupidity doesn’t seem like the best way to draw a crowd.

But this time, it worked.

The first annual Gainesville Environmental Film and Arts Festival began Friday with two sold-out showings of the featured films, “End of the Line” and “The Age of Stupid,” reflecting the green interest of the Gainesville community with about 90 attendees. Other films on the bill included “Addicted to Plastic” and “Dirt.”

Initially scheduled for 2011, the event garnered so much interest that it was able to be pushed forward to March 19 through March 28, 2010, said event co-director and environmental journalist Trish Riley.

“When people decide what they want to do, it moves fast, fast, fast,” Riley said.

However, merely watching the films was not the only component of the screenings held at Hippodrome State Theatre downtown. Nine discussion panels and question-and-answer sessions were scheduled after select screenings with local experts to engage, educate and connect attendees.

Some of the films were controversial. One fisheries scientist declined to speak about “End of the Line” because he felt it exaggerated claims, Riley said.

However, others presented a more balanced view. “The Greening of Southie” was one film that did this by providing an insider’s view of building the first environmentally friendly residential construction in Boston. While the dual-flush toilets, with one button for yellow and one button for brown, was an instant hit, along with the cotton insulation, certain materials warped and had to be replaced.

“It was an amazing representation of the pros and cons [of green building],” said Liberty Phoenix, owner and co-founder of Indigo Green Building Solutions, a local building supplier. Phoenix added that materials failures are common to all construction jobs, not just those were environmentally friendly materials are used.

Economics were also an important component in the discussions. Barry Jacobson, of Solar Impact, a local solar energy company, said that he has a customer with no real interest in the environmental movement.

“We showed him the economics and he said, ‘That’s a no-brainer,’” Jacobson said.

Trish Riley also encouraged attendees to “vote with their dollars” and support sustainable practices through affecting supply and demand.

But the overarching theme was strongly in the direction of education.

“That’s why I’m so excited we have this festival,” Riley said. “To spread the information. There’s lots of information out there, but people don’t know it.”

And if they do know it, some may be uncomfortable changing the traditional way of doing things. Drastic change is often emphasized without delineating what happens to the people caught in the middle.

Some programs do address job transition, however. Casey Fitzgerald, assistant director in the department of water resources at the St. Johns River Water Management District, said that when a ban on net fishing and trolling was enacted in Florida, it actually had a positive effect on the fishing industry.

According to Fitzgerald, the state bought fishing nets from fishermen to provide them with supplementary income and then introduced them to aquaculture, a sustainable method of raising oysters and other seafood. The legislation also encouraged recreational fishing and tourism, which brings in $780 million yearly.

However you approach the issue, there’s no doubt that each person is affected in some way. From fixing leaks in your home and sealing windows to investing in solar or wind energy, there are numerous issues and innovations to be discovered.

The Gainesville Environmental Film and Art Festival will be held until Sunday, March 28, at the Hippodrome State Theatre.

  1. […] for Gainesville visitors) The Zebra […]

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