Movies with Meaning

This week’s blog is by Dan Huntsha, the Outreach Director for the North & West Suburbs (McHenry, Kane, DuPage, and North & West Suburban Cook Counties).

Reflecting on the One Earth Film Festival (OEFF) and all of the many good movies that were screened, I remember how the film, An Inconvenient Truth from 2006 was the spark that brought me fully into the environmental moment.

Dan Huntsha leads a film discussion, Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, 2018.

Prior to the movie, I had heard about climate change but I was not aware of all of the specific impacts on the planet and people. I did not know that it was happening now, getting worse, we were the cause, and that solutions are available right now.

The best movies remind us about something that we love, how it is threatened, and what we can do to help work on solutions.

Through An Inconvenient Truth and other climate movies, I learned how things that I loved – oceans, lakes, and the awesome creatures that live in them – were threatened by climate issues. That was a spark that made me want to learn more and to do something about it.

What was good about An Inconvenient Truth was that it clearly defined the problem and it called for two main actions: 1) that more people are needed to be involved in education efforts and 2) to advocate for current available solutions.

Dylan Blake Photography

Photo: 2019 One Earth Film Festival Screening of "Call of the Forest: The Wisdom of the Trees" at St. Joesph's Catholic Church in Libertyville.

It motivated me to want to do more with my personal actions so I used an online carbon footprint calculator and worked to lower my greenhouse gases. I knew that the movement needed to grow to include people working together on education efforts and on local projects, because groups of people can accomplish much more than individuals working alone.

Wanting to bring my impact to the next level, I took the Chicago 2013 Climate Reality Project training. I started to give presentations about climate change and partner with local climate organizations to lead large community climate summits focused on education and action.

It was at the Climate Reality Project training that I first learned about Faith in Place. Later, I volunteered with Faith in Place in 2015 to educate houses of worship about the Clean Power Plan.

This year at OEFF I saw Inventing Tomorrow, which focused on youth taking action in the climate movement.

At Faith in Place, we firmly believe that educating and inspiring youth to take action is very important, so each summer we have the Youth Eco-Ambassador Program. Please see our website for more info and applications for the 2019 program which starts in July.

Photo: Faith in Place Outreach Coordinator, Ramont Bell, tells audience members about opportunities for energy and water conservation at a screening of "Home" at Jackson Park Field House. Community partners, such as Faith in Place, were present at One Earth Film Festival films to empower participants to take action.

The other element that many movies miss, though, is that they focus only on reversing the problem. We have a great chance here to not only bring things back to a neutral place as things were before the problem started, but also to implement solutions that elevate our communities to be even healthier than they were before.

That is a vision that excites and motivates people to get and stay involved long term as we are helping solve multiple problems at the same time.

One of Faith in Place’s current initiatives is the Illinois Solar for All Program. We’re prioritizing job training programs for low income communities that are affected by climate issues the most. Our goal is that every graduate will have long-term employment in the solar installation field. Solutions like this help everyone, because when we lift up our neighbors, we also benefit indirectly.

My hope is that movies will continue to be a source that helps to educate and inspire us into further action.

Movies are a great entry point for people newer to climate issues. Please share with your friends, family, faith community, or Green Team a movie about climate issues that inspired you to learn more and take action!


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