Watch Elliot knock it out of the park in our interview at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival's Media Lounge
We started and ended last week with youth screenings. On Monday, we drove to San Rafael, where the Mill Valley Film Festival's Environmental Youth Forum was screening Worse Than Poop!
On Friday, we attended a screening as part of Los Altos High School's annual "History Week" - which had an environmental theme this year.
As you might imagine, the elementary and middle school audience on Monday was a bit more engaged than the high school students - most of whom agreed that the film was most appropriate for a k-8 audience. Still, when I asked the high school students if they thought it might be appropriate for 9th and 10th graders, a few shyly raised their hands. And the parent volunteer who introduced us (a middle-aged surgeon) spared no effort in finding scatological references for his introduction ("I think you'll find it's a moving experience", etc.).... Proof, yet again, that you're never too old for poop jokes.
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!
Elliot and I leave Wednesday morning for New Delhi, where Worse Than Poop! will be screening as part of the CMS Vatavaran Festival.
It's particularly exciting to be heading to India this week, as the Indian government just released the exciting news of its climate pledges in advance of the COP21 summit. India, the third-largest emitter of CO2, has promised to produce 40% of its energy from renewables, and to reduce its carbon intensity by a third, by 2030. Which is *really* good news for the planet - and for the people of India.
Since our flights to India will generate approximately 34,000 pounds of CO2, I am looking for an organization working on renewable energy projects in India that can provide an offset. (I will be paying double the rate published by TerraPass). If you know of an organization we should consider, please let me know!
I've wanted to go to India for many, many years, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to do this with Elliot. But I have to admit to being somewhat apprehensive, as there is a phrase that comes up with alarming regularity whenever I speak with someone who has been to India. They tell me that India is "an assault on the senses," and that we will "almost certainly get Delhi belly" (i.e. stomach upset due to any one of a number of probable causes). Maybe it's because I'm a mom - or maybe I'm just getting old - but the thought of being assaulted and getting sick has put something of a damper on my enthusiasm.
However, an Indian friend will be traveling with us, which is very reassuring. And Elliot is excited at the prospect of seeing elephants and monkeys, and riding the Delhi subway. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, where I will be posting photos from our adventures while we are in India. I'll also post more here once we return.
The Green Kids Conference was really impressive - a massive undertaking, with two floors of information booths and activities on all things green and kid-friendly. Most impressive is the fact that the event is the brainchild of Pavan Raj Gowda, who founded Green Kids four years ago at the ripe old age of 12!
We also received a warm welcome back from the Silicon Valley chapter of the Electric Auto Association. They hosted us during our Kickstarter campaign, which many of their members supported. It was satisfying to be back to share with them the completed film!
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday night we hosted a cocktail party at the home of Sandra Slater and Drew Maran, to officially kick-off our campaign to crowd-fund Worse Than Poop! We had grown-up cocktails, and "poop cocktails" for the kids. (Annie Talbot even brought "pee-pee syrup" - oh-so-realistic-looking orange-flavored simple syrup - to mix in with the CO2 spritzer. I'm not sure if she had any takers.)
Note to all you future crowdfunders out there: if you decide to set up a pledge station, at which multiple people will be pledging, be sure to station someone super tech-savvy at the station ALL NIGHT to supervise the process. Don't let this be you:
Towards the end of the evening, we were up to $3300, and feeling really good. Then, suddenly the amount dropped to $600. WTF?!
It turned out that a lot of people didn't understand Kickstarter's double-log-in procedure - which requires backers to log in, and OUT, of both Kickstarter AND Amazon. So several people thought they were pledging, when in fact they were simply undoing someone else's pledge, and attributing it to their own account. Suffice to say, it's taken us three days to sort this out, and I'm still not sure it's completely resolved. Lesson learned!
The good news is, even without all the pledges from Tuesday night entered into the system yet, we have already raised $2790, and I expect we'll be over $5000 by the weekend. So we're off to a strong start!
And the even better news is that so many people have been coming out of the woodwork to support this project. We have 41 backers already on Kickstarter - and more every few hours. It's awkward putting yourself out there, asking everyone you know to back your film - but sometimes people really surprise you with their kindness and generosity. It sounds corny - but looking around on Tuesday night at the loving and supportive community around me, all there to help us make a difference in the world (and have some fun in the process), I felt truly blessed.
It's official: we are launching our Kickstarter campaign in 15 days. Or should I say Kickstartr? It seems they have changed their name again. (Just kidding. Note the date on that post.) At any rate, I am now madly preparing for what everyone tells me will be a very grueling (groveling) experience.
On April 22, Earth Day - one year to the date after the idea for a pooping cars movie popped into my head - we will go live, and find out how many people actually want to see a gas car take a dump.
If you're still reading this, I'd be ever so grateful if you'd head over and take the Poopie Pledge to support our campaign! Every little bit of support - moral, financial, and social - really makes a difference.