Environmental Justice

April Environmental Justice Film Series: The Price of Sand, The Last Mountain, and Triple Divide

by Wanda Guthrie

Event details to be announced:  Join the email list at the Thomas Merton Center to receive an update on the time and place, or visit <EnvironmentalJusticeTMC.blogspot.com>

The Price of Sand

Jim Tittle received a call from his mother two years ago that an open-pit frack sand mine was being considered for an area he remembered well from his youth.

“It really threw me for a loop,” said Tittle, and he then set off with a video camera to research the issue of frac sand mining. His work culminated into the documentary film The Price of Sand.

The documentary features interviews with people on both sides of the frac sand debate, from displaced homeowners to drivers who found work with mining companies. The goal of the film was to raise awareness of the human impact of frac sand mining, Tittle said.  “I want people to see other peoples’ stories.  Wherever I could find a person affected by this, I’d go there and talk to them.”

Tittle first traveled to mines in Wisconsin, resulting in a series of YouTube videos that garnered more than 10,000 views in the summer of 2011. But he did not stop there.  “I came to realize I could either make more YouTube videos or explore the issue deeper,” Tittle said — and explore he did. The Price of Sand  is the result of his exploration.

At our April film presentation, Linda Three Crows Meadowlark, resident of both LeSueur County, Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh will talk about sand mine activism.


The Last Mountain

The message of The Last Mountain is that is not enough to simply be outraged anymore. We are all users of the electricity and power that is generated from the sacrifices of  Appalachia residents and miners. The imagery of environmental devastation is so shocking, the deregulation and egregious indifference of the coal mining companies’ various violations so appalling, that we begin to feel somehow complicit in perpetrating this modern American tragedy. Ordinary people, banded together in a common purpose, can indeed move mountains. And sometimes, they can even save them.

The Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) has identified an age-old way to address civic action. Civil disobedience is the response of ordinary people to extraordinary injustices. “American Quakers have historically been at the forefront of civil and human rights issues, and climate change is no exception,” explains EQAT executive director Amy Ward Brimmer. “Spurred by our moral conscience and sense of shared responsibility to help right the wrongs of our society – slavery, child labor, suffrage, segregation, marriage equality and immigrant rights, to name just a few – we have a tradition of engagement in creative nonviolent resistance. Climate change threatens the health and security of all Americans, and action proportional to the problem is required–now.”

Lou Martin, a participant in EQAT actions, will be leading questions and answers when the Environmental Justice Committee TMC sponsors a screening of the Last Mountain in April.


Triple Divide

Through personal stories, experts and public documents, Triple Divide tells a cautionary tale about the consequences of fracking, including contamination of water, air and land; intimidation and harassment of citizens; loss of property, investments and standard of living; weak and underenforced state regulations; decay of public trust; illness; fragmentation of Pennsylvania’s last stands of core forest; and lack of protection over basic human rights.

The film begins at one of only four triple continental divides on the North American continent in Potter County, Pennsylvania, where everything is downstream. From this peak, rain is sent to three sides of the continent—the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada, Chesapeake Bay on the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. This vast water basin is drained by three major rivers—the Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna. These waterways rank among the most coveted trout streams in the U.S., helping to create a regenerative tourism economy upon which locals have depended for generations. At this “watershed moment” in Pennsylvania’s history, which way will the future flow?

The documentary filmmakers, Joshuah Pribanic and Melissa Troutman, will lead a question and answer session.


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