“It is at times like this that we need our artists – and each other. We need to gather together in theaters and auditoriums to find the intellectual and emotional encouragement to fight back and survive.”
Dean Emeritus, Stanford Continuing Studies
47 years ago I organized a roadside cleanup in my little town of Sahuarita Arizona on the second anniversary of Earth Day. I also shot a film that began with footage of the cleanup and followed on that with a look at the water problems facing the beautiful Sabino Canyon just to the north of Tucson. Sabino Canyon was a place where I spent a lot of time during my high school years (on weekends, holidays, and the relatively frequent occasions when I simply decided tht a day in the canyon was of greater importance than a day in the classroom).
The film I made from those experiences got me (and my three partners in crime) an A+ in my Senior Problems (Civics) class, a particular line of high school education that hasn’t been readily available in public high school classrooms over recent decades. It also set me off on a documentary film dream, turned career, that is only now coming to full fruition (I’ve always been a “late bloomer”).
Today, as I watch youth from all over the world marching, preaching (political speeches of any type are almost always sermons) and chanting for “climate justice,” a “green new deal,” and “no action no future,” I am snapped back to that hot spring day on the road in rural Arizona as we picked up big piles of trash and I shot my first 16mm documentary and I am both proud of what I started (in my life and others) 47 years ago and frustrated by the fact that 47 years later things seem to be actually getting worse!
My film work these days is featured primarily on two separate film projects. The Beloved Community Project (thebelovedcommunity.online) and Vocabulary of Expression (vocabularyofexpression.com). The first is an attempt to document the words, memories, and experiences of civil rights movement icons and relate those experiences to what’s going on today. The second is a look at how the art, and the artistic process, of individual artists is a direct outgrowth of who they are as people – what they think, feel, hope and dream – as well as a unique expression of their personal style and technique.
The artist with whom I am presently working, Roberta Ahrens (robertaahrens.com), is the subject of my upcoming documentary, The Architecture of Nature. Today, watching these actions around the world, I am struck, and deeply moved, at the way my past, present, and future are linked in a matrix of urgency, art, and action.
Political work/action, individual effort, and the ways we feed our souls with any and all forms of art (music, film, painting, drama, literature, and performance) are tied together in a way that if we allow one aspect to fall aside we do potentially irreparable damage to ourselves, our families, and ultimately the whole planetary eco-sytem.
NOW is the time to get busy!
We need to… Listen to the heros/sheros who have come before us!
We need to… Feed our souls with life and beauty every day!
We need to… Move our feet in action right now!
We’re all in this together!