UNAFF Screening, Panel... and Award!

Last week, Worse Than Poop! won the Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the United Nations Association Film Festival. We are so honored!

 Vanessa and Elliot take home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the 2015 UNAFF.

Vanessa and Elliot take home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the 2015 UNAFF.

Held for the past 18 years at Stanford University, the UNAFF seeks to draw attention to the UN's Millenium Development Goals and, going forward, the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals

 Elliot answers a question from the audience at the 2015 UNAFF.

Elliot answers a question from the audience at the 2015 UNAFF.

Our film was scheduled on the last day of the festival, in a section addressing climate change. The other films included DamNation and Antarctic Edge, and afterwards Elliot and I sat on a panel and answered audience questions with filmmakers Matt Stoeker and Dena Seidel.

 

Bittersweet Wednesday

Today was a big day - in part because today I officially FINISHED Worse Than Poop! Last night, I received the last and final animation, and I just finished editing it into the final cut. I am uploading the finished film as I type! Those of you who supported our Kickstarter campaign will be receiving a download link very soon.

But as anyone who isn't living under a rock will also note, today is also the Day After Election Day here in the US - and in particular, an Election Day on which almost all of the candidates and issues we were supporting got thoroughly trounced at the polls.

 Elliot watches Brian Schmidt interviewed on election night at KMTV.

Elliot watches Brian Schmidt interviewed on election night at KMTV.

One particularly bitter loss was for our friend Brian Schmidt, who was running for re-election to the Santa Clara County Water District Board. His opponent, a Silicon Valley millionaire, refused to abide by voluntary campaign spending limits, and outspent Brian 22-to-1. His opponent had no experience in two of the three areas for which the Water District Director is responsible (environmental management and flood protection), but in the end he managed to win the election by a narrow margin. This morning, I told Elliot, "This is a tiny microcosm of what is wrong with our entire voting system - and we need to fix it." When you have unlimited spending, the rich - or their proxies - get elected. Which in most cases does not make for honest or good government - or, for that matter, an electorate that believes in the process of democracy. (Is it any wonder that we had less than 30% turnout at the polls in California, in the most expensive mid-term election in US history?)

However, I am choosing to focus on the positive. One measure that did pass yesterday was Palo Alto's Measure B, which will fund some much-needed bicycle infrastructure here - including retrofitting a truly dreadful narrow cement bicycle underpass at the California Avenue train station that has tormented me and countless Palo Alto cyclists for decades. 

 This nasty underpass' days are numbered! Try pulling your kid in a trailer through that...

This nasty underpass' days are numbered! Try pulling your kid in a trailer through that...

And as my friend Joylette Portlock says, no one ever got depressed into action. With the government this country just elected, we're going to need more action than ever - so I also made a donation today to the Sierra Club, and signed up to participate in a visioning exercise here in Palo Alto for 'big, bold' ideas for sustainability.

And as for Worse Than Poop! - I'll be meeting next week with Carleen Cullen of Cool the Earth, to see if we can hash out a plan to get some funding for a Spanish-language version, some DVD packaging, a study guide, and a resource-rich website. We'd like to include all of these - for free - with Cool the Earth's climate kits, distributed to schools across North America. I'm also talking with some other organizations looking at the possibility of using the film for climate awareness outreach to children and families. There's plenty of work to be done - it's time to just roll up our sleeves and get busy.

Marching for the Climate... with 400,000 of My Closest Friends

 Caffeinated and ready to march!

Caffeinated and ready to march!

I don't think I will ever forget September 21, 2014. I hope I never forget the feeling of being there - the feeling of being surrounded by almost half a million people, with love in their hearts, standing up and demanding a new course for humanity. 

Recently, and ever more frequently, I've felt this deep disconnection from the people around me - like I’m surrounded by sleepwalkers, all of us blindly headed for a cliff. Like I'm the only one awake to the danger we're heading toward, and I’m powerless to stop it. It's a kind of waking nightmare. At best, I might be in the company of a few others who feel the same - but sharing a common nightmare is, in some ways, even less reassuring.

But in New York, it was different. 

 A fellow-traveler in the Peoples Climate March

A fellow-traveler in the Peoples Climate March

 My dear friend Sharon's 14-year-old son, Sam, at the Peoples Climate March

My dear friend Sharon's 14-year-old son, Sam, at the Peoples Climate March

 NYC Subway car, covered in signs encouraging people to attend the march

NYC Subway car, covered in signs encouraging people to attend the march

 Volunteering for the Peoples Climate March at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

Volunteering for the Peoples Climate March at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

In New York, I was part of a tide of people pushing in the opposite direction - so strong a tide that it was pushing me in the RIGHT direction. (And pushing a lot of other people too.) It's like the whole city - labor unions, families, senior citizens, everyone, even the police - just rose up and said WE HAVE TO CHANGE. When I learned on Monday night that the Rockefeller brothers had decided to divest from fossil fuels, I could feel the world shifting beneath me. I felt like I was at the center of a giant upswell of righteousness, and that maybe, finally, things were going to get better.

 Waiting (and waiting and waiting!) with the Interfaith contingent on 58th St. for the march to begin.

Waiting (and waiting and waiting!) with the Interfaith contingent on 58th St. for the march to begin.

 People as far as I could see, up and down 6th Avenue

People as far as I could see, up and down 6th Avenue

It took some getting used to - to no longer being the crazy 'eco-active' mom on the block, and instead being just one of 400,000 people, all asking for the same thing. And it was strange to be engaged in an issue that is so personal to me, with so many strangers and so far from home. But if I felt solidarity from those strangers around me, I also felt that in a very small way, my being there was a source of strength and encouragement to others. Many times during the day, I would hear someone exclaim with pride and delight “Palo Alto - wow! you came all the way from California! That's so great!” And I was so grateful to be able to say, “Yes, my congregation sent me,” and to show them the photos I was carrying, and to let them know that others back home were marching too.

 Ribbons from the Climate Ribbon project

Ribbons from the Climate Ribbon project

 People choosing climate ribbons to take home, Peoples Climate March, NYC

People choosing climate ribbons to take home, Peoples Climate March, NYC

Projects like the Climate Ribbon campaign also showed me that my grief and fear and hope are not mine alone - that we are ALL fighting, and praying, for the better world we know we must build for our children.

 Quite possibly my favorite marcher...

Quite possibly my favorite marcher...

I guess that the best thing about being at the march was that it gave me a taste of hope. For the first time, I believe we might actually win this. It’s going to take a lot of love, and a lot of hard work, to achieve any kind of climate safe future. And when I get back to California, I know it's going to feel weird all over again, and I'll go back to being the crazy eco-mom on the block. It's going to be hard, too, to hang on to this hopeful feeling, and to share it with my eco-active friends - who are increasingly terrified by the news coming in every day about the crazy-short amount of time we have to turn things around.

But I'm going to remember - and remind them - that half a million people marched with me through the streets of New York. And together, we can move mountains. 

New York, Here I Come

I'm on board a tiny airplane headed for LA, where I'll be boarding a much bigger (I hope) airplane for New York. I'm going to volunteer for - and represent my UU congregation at - the biggest climate action in history.
It was a tough decision, whether or not to bring Elliot with me - but ultimately I decided that it wasn't worth the money, and the carbon, to bring him along. I can also be more effective on my own as a volunteer - and this way Elliot will get to participate in the Bay Area's bid this weekend to break the Guinness World Record for most EVs in one place. He's particularly excited because he'll get to see Stella there - the world's first family solar car.

For more on my reasons for flying to a climate march, visit my personal blog: http://vmarksthespot.blogspot.com/

 

Transient