Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

The Purity Myth

Join the Women’s Center for the final in SIUC Film & Discussion Series during Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2012. This event will take place in the Illinois Room of the SIUC Student Center.

This session will feature “The Purity Myth: The Virginity Movement’s War Against Women” featuring Jessica Valenti. For more information about this event, contact Jenn Freitag at or 618.549.4807.



Taste of Asia Spring Festival

Shryock Auditorium, Front Steps

Come out to Shryock for fun in the sun, food, games, and live performances in this celebration of Asian Cultures. It’s not only a fitting end to Asian American Heritage Month but also the school year. Kickoff a great summer vacation with SIUC!

The New Environmentalists: Grassroots Activists Fight for Justice

(Source: The Huffington Post)

On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was held. It was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, Governor and Senator from Wisconsin. Alarmed by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Nelson was prescient in his concern about “environmental degradation” and the minimal concern it garnered within the domestic political sphere.

Harnessing the Zeitgeist of the 1970s, when anti-Vietnam activism was at its height, Nelson decided to tap into the energy of the “teach-ins” that were taking place on college campuses across the nation. An advocate for social justice, Nelson took his agenda to the public. He spearheaded the concept of mobilizing a huge grassroots protest on behalf of environmental concerns.

Nineteen years later, in 1989, The Goldman Environmental Prize was created to bring acknowledgment to the work of “grassroots environmental heroes” from the regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America and South and Central America. The annual event, which awards a cash prize of $150,000, recognizes individuals whose local endeavors have effected change through community efforts and initiatives. Many winners have faced risks to their personal safety as they have engaged in David and Goliath conflicts — taking on harmful development projects backed by big money corporations that endangered ecosystems and established ways of life.

The Prize endeavors to be an inspiration to average citizens, modeling how they can protect “the natural world.” Past awardees comprise a rich history — from Lois Gibbs, the mother and leader of the Love Canal Movement to Wangari Maathai, who later won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. This year’s recipients come from Kenya, China, Russia, Philippines, United States and Argentina.

Ikal Angelei
Risking her life, Ikal Angelei is fighting the construction of the massive Gibe 3 Dam that would block access to water for indigenous communities around Lake Turkana.

Ma Jun
Ma Jun is working with corporations to clean up their practices with an online database and digital map that shows Chinese citizens which factories are violating environmental regulations in their country.

Evgenia Chirikova
Challenging rampant political corruption, Evgenia Chirikova is mobilizing her fellow Russian citizens to demand the rerouting of a highway that would bisect Khimki Forest, Moscow’s “green lungs.

Edwin Gariguez
A Catholic priest, Father Edwin Gariguez is leading a grassroots movement against a large-scale nickel mine to protect Mindoro Island’s biodiversity and its indigenous people.

Caroline Cannon
Caroline Cannon is bringing the voice and perspective of her Inupiat community in Point Hope to the battle to keep Arctic waters safe from offshore oil and gas drilling.

Sofia Gatica
A mother whose infant died as a result of pesticide poisoning, Sofia Gatica is organizing local women to stop indiscriminate spraying of toxic agrochemicals in neighboring soy fields.

There are two award ceremonies. The first in San Francisco, held at the Opera House, announces the 2012 winners. The second is held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. To introduce the accomplishments of the winners to the public, a three-minute film segment is presented. Later, the six stories are edited into a 30-minute documentary entitled, The New Environmentalists. Robert Redford narrates, and in the 2011 film he introduces the material with the statement,

Many of us are trying to find new ways to build a sustainable world for future generations. On every continent there are new environmentalists who are committed to change–ordinary people affecting extraordinary change.

The Mill Valley Film Group has been the creative force behind these documentaries for eight years. Lorrae Rominger, Deputy Director at Goldman Environmental Prize, wrote me by e-mail,

The New Environmentalists is shown nationally on PBS and on the Sundance Channel. This program is not only to create awareness about the prize winners’ work, but to inspire others to do the same. [They are] sent to environmental film festivals around the world, have won several prizes, and [have] been featured at conferences at universities. We hope that these films will educate us all about the importance of protecting our environment. [They] are proof that one person does make a difference. I feel we live in a very visual society. Having the prize winners’ stories on film is an additional venue for people to understand and see what these amazing people are doing to protect our environment. Film speaks loud and clear and is a great way to communicate and easy to understand.

I reached out to Will Parrinello, one-third of the Mill Valley Film Group team, to learn more about their involvement with The New Environmentalists. When we spoke by telephone, his passion for the subject matter was evidenced in his comment, “We are so lucky we get to do this work.” He shared the backstory on the relationship with the awards, the creative process, and the impact of documentary films in the following interview:
How did The Mill Valley Film Group come to be chosen as the documentary film team for the Goldman Environmental Prize Awards?

In 2004 we were approached by the Goldman Environmental Prize to pitch our creative services as producers of their films. At that point in our careers, we had produced documentary films in remote locations around the world, so we were quite experienced with handling the logistics of international production. We had also worked with many different ethnic and indigenous communities. All of our films had been broadcast on PBS, A&E, The Learning Channel, MTV and other outlets, so we were confident we would get our films about these amazing environmental activists broadcast and distributed.As independent filmmakers we made the point that it was important to distribute the films to a television network that would allow us to maintain the integrity of our protagonists stories and not have to compromise due to story and format constraints. We thought PBS was the natural home for the stories. The prize agreed with us and we’ve been very successful with getting the films broadcast and seen by millions of viewers on PBS, the Sundance Channel and foreign television. We’re at a point where the films are often invited to screen at festivals, conferences and seminars around the world because of the positive reputation we have built for them.

There are six films. Is each member of the team responsible for two films? After the footage is shot, do you all work together on shaping the script and footage?

John Antonelli, Tom Dusenberyand I each produce two of the six short films each year. When we begin to research the stories, we each tend to gravitate towards one or two favorites. Early on we agreed that each of us would get one of our top two choices. We each produce our own films on location but come back together in the edit room to weigh in on each other’s stories. We share our feedback on all aspects of each other’s films, from story to narration, to shot selection, pacing, etc.It’s quite challenging to tell these complex stories in only three or four minutes, particularly when they each could be a 30 or 60-minute film. But after nine years, we’ve honed our short film making skills. I think the proof is in the television ratings and the awards the films have received.

But most importantly, when the films screen at the Goldman Environmental Prize awards ceremony in San Francisco, the warm and emotional response from the audience is overwhelming.

How did Robert Redford come to be part of the project?

Lorrae Rominger approached Robert Redford about narrating when we began to work with her on the films in 2004. He has generously narrated the films ever since. Bob is a well know environmentalist and for many years has used his celebrity and his intelligence to shine a light on issues that are important to him. This isn’t a flavor of the month thing with him. He’s in it for the long haul. He donates his time to the Goldman Environmental Prize as well as to NRDC, where he is a member of the board of trustees. The value Robert Redford brings to the project is immeasurable. His involvement brings positive attention to the films, to the prize, and most importantly to the prizewinners grassroots work.

The Mill Valley Film Group has the tag line “Making films that matter.” How have you seen the three-minute bios of the awarded activists, and the long-form film that is broadcast on PBS, impact the public’s knowledge and perception of global environmental struggles?

When we screen The New Environmentalistsat festivals, they always make an impact. Audience members comment on how unique the films are because in a world with seemingly insurmountable environmental problems, these are stories of individuals who against great odds have effected positive change in their communities. As a result, viewers often ask how they can get involved and take action themselves.
Teachers are also drawn to the films and they are used in classrooms as a jumping off point for conversations about activism, environmentalism, conservation, social justice and human rights. The films have been seen by millions of people on PBS and the awareness that is created as a result of these broadcasts is undeniable.

Last year, I asked Ursula Sladek, the prize recipient from Germany who created one of her countries first alternative sustainable power companies, what she’d like audiences to take away from her story. She said, ‘Do whatever you can in your own community. We made a change and so can you. One person can affect another and in turn another and another…and that’s grassroots. Together we can make a difference. Get involved. Don’t say I can’t. Instead say, I can, and then do it!

Are you doing other work with environmental subject matter?

We are now raising money to produce two independent feature documentaries with environmental subjects. Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching is in post-production. This film explores what happens when measures to protect wildlife are in conflict with indigenous peoples’ land rights, human rights, and their very survival. Troubled Water looks at the multifaceted conflict surrounding gold mining in El Salvador. The mining companies claim their work will exceed the highest environmental standards and provide needed income to this poor country. Salvadoran farmers claim the mine will destroy their fragile water resources and way of life. The documentary looks at the human drama surrounding issues of environmental justice, food sovereignty, and globalization.

How do you think documentary film can impact social consciousness?

In 1999 we produced the documentary Dreaming of Tibet, a film about the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming hardship. It looks at the plight of three Tibetan refugees and their struggle to maintain their culture in exile. The response to Dreaming of Tibet opened our eyes to the power of film to create awareness about important social and political issues. It was a natural progression from this work to our work with the Goldman Prize.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Bill Ayers Gives Knox Students Activism Lesson

(Source: PJStar)

Weather Underground co-founder and education theorist Bill Ayers said he finds it interesting when people call him a “former activist.”

Although his days with the antiwar organization he started are over, Ayers, in a lecture to about 40 Knox College students and faculty Thursday night, explained his ideas about what makes a good activist. Asked about the Weather Underground, which took responsibility for a series of bombings, he did not deny his past, but he did ask not to be singled out.

“I have plenty of regrets. But what I don’t regret is opposing the murder of 6,000 per week,” Ayers said, referring to his opposition to the Vietnam War. “It always strikes me as ironic that I’m asked about it, but John McCain is not asked about it. John McCain, by his own admission, flew mission after mission over civilian targets and bombed them.”

Ayers devoted the bulk of his talk to what a good activist should be. He referred to the “rhythm” of what it means to be an activist: “Pay attention, be astonished and tell about it.”

Ayers drew a parallel between the anti-slavery, universal suffrage movements (describing the political climate then as “everyone’s against it, but no one’s doing anything about it”) and Occupy Wall Street movements, referring to the goal of getting money out of the political system.

“Let’s imagine 40 years from now, and your niece … says to you, ‘Is it true that you were around when the first African-American president was elected?'” Ayers said. He imagined the response, “Yes, I was in Grant Park the day he was elected.”

“‘And is it true that it cost him half a billion dollars to buy the election in 2008?'” he imagined her next question.

Ayers addressed the nature of political debates in the United States, drawing on his experiences as an education activist, highlighting his ideas about the rights of public school teachers.

“Every time any cheap politician from our mayor to our city council people to our presidential candidates gets to a microphone and says, ‘We need to get the lazy, incompetent teachers out of the classroom,'” he loses the argument, Ayers said.

But when he gets the microphone, he says “‘Every kid in our public schools deserves a well-educated, intellectually grounded, morally committed, passionate, caring, thoughtful, engaged, well-paid and well-rested teacher in the classroom.'”

Knox’s Alliance for Peaceful Action, or APA, brought Ayers to Knox as part of its annual symposium, and it was Ayers’ second lecture at Knox in recent years. He was introduced by APA President Netsie Tjirongo, a Knox junior.

“We, as college students, are taught to believe that now is the time for activism,” Tjirongo said in her introduction.

Understanding Hookup Culture

Join the Women’s Center for the fourth of five events in our SIUC Film & Discussion Series during Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2012. This event will take place in the Illinois Room of the SIUC Student Center at 7:00pm.

This session will feature “Understanding Hookup Culture: What’s Really Happening on College Campuses,” a lecture by Paula England of Stanford University.


Earth Day

Student Center

The Student Center is hosting the annual Earth Day celebration! Events will include a Green Fair, live music, speakers, gardening, and awards ceremonies. Come join the festivities!

Vigil for Peace

Main & Illinois, Carbondale, IL
12-1PM tomorrow

Come out and join members of the Carbondale and SIU community to raise awareness for global issues.

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