A pair of independent environmental films offer us insight and a break from summer fare

I’m a movie guy. I read about movies, write about movies and you can even find me on imdb.com if you look hard enough. And I love documentaries. Thus, I’m pumped about two environmental films on this summer’s slate that look really promising.

The first is “If a Tree Falls.” It’s about the rise and subsequent fall (?) of the Earth Liberation Front. I imagine most people are aware of the ELF, a highly organized and unfortunately violent group dedicated to, well, “educating” us about our ills on the natural world. Great cause, wrong approach. In my opinion, their message has collapsed. In fact, it only served to politicize the environmental movement. (Al Gore did the same thing.) Today, the issue is so divided that many people believe Global Warming is a myth. The more partisan an issue the environment becomes, the worst chance we have of saving it.

The other looks to be something wholly original—non-political, engaging and creative. It’s called General Orders No.9 and if the trailer doesn’t pull you in, then it’s just a movie you’ll never see.

Even though I will be leaving the south in a couple of weeks, I have been moved during my time here by the attachment people in have with their land. And not just with places like the Smoky Mountains or Outer Banks. For many families in the south, the landscape was defined by small family farms, patches of ancient woods and hidden streams. Quiet forests of pine and shade from a dogwood. Miles of Piedmont soil and Blue Ridge foothills. Many of these natural areas are gone now, unearthed by rapid development and un-monitored sprawl. Today, the southeast in particular is out-growing any other region of the country. It’s hard to own land here. Kids play in urban parks, not along Civil War-era stone walls and croaking pond banks. And you can tell by the trailer that General Orders No. 9 isn’t meant to inspire change or encourage political action. It’s. Matter. Of. Fact. This is our world now people. Accept it.

Good stuff. Give these films your money. Note: the YouTube trailer embedded here is slightly different than the one accessible via iTunes linked above. Watch them both.



Grand Canyon West Skywalk needs some new glass

Hualapai Nation's Grand Canyon West Skywalk

Controversial. But pretty cool.

The Haulapai tribe occupy and market Grand Canyon West, a significant portion of the park under their governance. A few years ago they opened the controversial Grand Canyon Skywalk, a looped walkway of steel and glass embedded in the cliffside. Many feared it would open to the region to more “Disney-esque” attractions and events, like last week’s flight by Rocket Man Yves Rossy.

There remains a delicate balance between tribal livelihood and the integrity of the spirit of a place like the Grand Canyon. And who am I to question how they make their way?

The Las Vegas Sun ran a cool slideshow of some recent repairs to the Skywalk. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, it’s worth scanning through them.