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Film festival aims to spur green living

November 6, 2009
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau

MARQUETTE - The idea of living green - whether it's recycling, growing your own food or taking your bike to work - has grown in popularity in recent years. But where do you get ideas to get "green"?

The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, in conjunction with Downwind Sports and Students Acting to Save Michigan's Water, is hoping to inspire some more green ideas with the continuation of the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival today at Northern Michigan University.

The eight films shown Thursday and today showcase environmental efforts from across the globe, including marine reserves, cleaning up mining initiatives and the future of coal in America.

"People are very excited," said Emily Whittaker, executive director of the YDWP. "It's just a different perspective on looking at environmental issues."

Several of the films shown Thursday evening showcased issues that can be found in the Upper Peninsula, such as "Division Street," which looks at how modern roadways can cut off pieces of critical natural habitat for native wildlife.

"It talks about how our road system in the U.S. was designed before the idea of environmentalism existed," Whittaker said. "It's amazing once you put one road through, you have three, then 10."

The festival, which has traveled around the nation, continues tonight with films like "Homegrown Revolution," showcasing a family in Los Angeles that turns their fraction of an acre yard into an organic food production system.

"The whole idea is to use the space that we have," Whittaker said.

It is the hope of the YDWP that those who attend the festival and view the films will begin to take away ideas of how they can incorporate small ideas into their own lives.

"I'm looking for people to take their own initiatives and take bit-sized activities they can make on their own," Whittaker said.

Even if the subjects of the films didn't always seem to carry directly over to life in Marquette County, the stories of what others have done can inspire people to try something new.

"I think there's a lot to be learned from them no matter where you're at," Whittaker said.

To help make that local connection, each film, both Thursday and tonight, is introduced by a local expert in that field.

Although the festival is held at NMU, it is hoped that the larger community will come and get involved, because permanent residents could make a more long-term impact in the area.

"I'd love to see some brainstorming afterwards on what ideas people come up with," Whittaker said.

Other projects that could potentially happen in the area is a revamping of the public transportation system and a more wide-spread battery recycling program.

Using films to explore environmental ideas is a way to combine art with some serious issues, making talking about those issues more enjoyable.

"There's so much doom and gloom and it doesn't have to be like that," Whittaker said.

The festival continues at 6:30 p.m. in Jamrich Hall, room 103. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, available at the door or at Downwind Sports.



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