"Because you can't hug a tree if you can't find one."


The Local Environmental Movement (an interview)

This week I had the opportunity to spend some time talking about my ideas and about Urban Botany with C. Marshall Bell. Marshall is a New York University journalism student, working on a short film about the environmental movement in New York City. For this project he identified various individuals and groups working in different ways to green the city.

After he interviewed me, I decided to turn the tables and interview him right back. Read on to find out more about the film, and what Marshall has discovered about the local green movement.

UB: What prompted you to do this film?
CMB: Over the past year, I have learned more and more about the environmental movement. I would even say that environmentalism was never a subject of thought until coming to college. That said, I did a story last semester about a community garden in Brooklyn that raised enough money to install a composting toilet. When I interviewed the garden's director, he really impressed me with that idea that he did not expect to make any world-changing difference, but what he valued was making the most difference he could in his own backyard (literally). I am really impressed with the efforts New Yorkers have taken to lead more sustainable lives, one step at a time. Hopefully my film can capture the baby steps.

UB: Who are some of the people you've met while working on it?
CMB: I've met some great people: a small shop in Brooklyn that only sells "sustainable" products, a dry cleaners in Queens that uses a brand new cleaner that does not contain the toxic chemicals that generic cleaners do, as well as a number of experts in the field who are so passionate and knowledgeable about their field. It's refreshing to meet these people. It makes you realize that you're not the only one who really cares about this stuff. It also inspires me to do more on my end!

UB: Is New York City's government doing enough, or is it up to individuals and business owners?
CMB: Well, as much as New York City can do and its citizens, the major source of our ecological disaster right now are the industrial capitalists. Their disregard for our environment has long since been covered by profit motives. This needs to stop. The future is really in their hands.

UB: Who do you project as an audience for the film, and what do you want them to get from it?
CMB: Initially, it will only be my classmates and professor. I want to put all my efforts in this film and at least build a small Youtube audience. If they can see that leading a sustainable life does not take a great deal of effort, hopefully it will inspire them to take steps of their own.

What is your next project?

CMB: That is a question I do not know yet. I'm always excited to read online about interesting stories and characters. The world is constantly changing and is always unpredictable and that's the beauty of journalism. I get to tell everyone about it.

Do you know of other great groups or individuals making a difference locally (in NY or elsewhere)? Please let Marshall and me know in the comments.

I can't wait to see the film this Spring, and will be sure to post links to it when it is ready to premiere!

January 2009 Update! Marshall's film, "Slowly Growing Greener," is complete and can now be seen here on blip.tv!

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