YERT: Small Acts of Resistance and Resilience

March 27, 2012
Cheryl Woelk |

"When you being to see nature as a mentor rather than a warehouse, your emotions to the rest of the natural world become one of respect."

This quote comes from a unique documentary I watched recently called "Your Environmental Road Trip" or YERT. In this entertaining and informative film, three young adults decide to travel around the United States for one year, carrying their garbage with them, and documenting efforts at environmental sustainability and healthy communities.


The ingenuity and passion they found inspires me.


Travelling to New Mexico, they explore "Earth Ships" that use reused materials, the earth's natural structure, and sunlight to build and power fully functional homes.


In Massachusetts, they learn about "BerkShares" used as a local currency to represent exchanges in services and products among community members, which act to re-set the local economy.


Visiting Missouri, they play at St Louis' City Museum, which was built from "the very stuff of the city" reused and repurposed in imaginative, unusual, and entertaining ways.


In Hawaii, a professor researching the loss of biodiversity on the islands emphasizes that "diversity begets stability" and explains ways that his team is trying to restore some of the diversity that had been lost.


They introduce communities that are part of the Transition Network who are seeking ways of creative community resilience in the face of climate change and "shrinking supplies of cheap energy."


The most moving scene for me was the description of mountaintop removal coal mining, taking place just a few mountains over from our house in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. One man stands alone on the remaining mountain of his home when all around him has been dug away. Despite losing his way of life and family because of the risks he takes fighting the mountaintop removal and refusing to give up his land, he has hope for the next generation and continues to fight. As the camera pans helicopter shots of decapitated mountains, barren slopes, mass sludge pits, and black rivers, Ben Sollee sings, "I saw God on the mountain / Tearing at the sky / I saw God on the mountain / With tears in his eyes / He said; 'Son, I used to know where I put things, / I used to know'"


The film is not available on DVD yet, but is certainly one to watch for. It opened my eyes to the small efforts of resistance, creativity, and spirit of life present in even the darkest situations. Something to celebrate!

Author Name: 
Cheryl Woelk
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