Thursday, July 19, 2012

Living the Post-Apocalypse Now

I just came back from watching Fixing the Future, a documentary about the development of localized economic models in the face of global economic struggle (to put that issue mildly). The crowd was stellar, and I was really glad I went. To summarize: 1- the economy is a shambles for the little people, the environment is in shambles because of big corp; 2- little people are finding ways to find meaning and resources to survive (some really amazing creative examples); 3- there is another side to this economic and environmental crisis. 

The documentary event ended with a taped panel discussion with Bill McKibben, Majora Carter, and Mike Brady (CEO of Greyston Bakery, founded by Roshi Bernie Glassman). In it this really awesome moment of a nod to the Occupy movement happened. McKibben was talking about how the economy as it currently is doesn't work for most ordinary people. David Brancaccio, the mediator and explorer in the documentary, says something to the effect of it works for some people, and the panelists nod and someone says, yes for maybe 1% of the population, the economy works. 

The audience thought that was pretty funny. I did, too. But then I started wondering about the intended audience for this documentary, and what just might be the message that is hidden in this very respectable and interesting piece of filmmaking. 

Brancaccio, during the panel discussion, asked these three change makers and modelers of sustainable business practice how they keep on going. McKibben was the only one who pointed in the direction that maybe we were too late to change things, but if we aren't, wow there is an untapped human potential that is amazing and energetic and transformative. Carter talked about celebrating the small successes, and the creative possibilities in these small moves. Brady talked about the Greyston Bakery model as one that could possibly change policy. 

These answers were very telling about who the intended audience is for this documentary. I realized, while listening to what honestly felt like half-truths, that these words and images are meant for frightened people who have no idea what to do to make their lives better. Carter did speak some powerful truth about the deep crisis of demoralized folks, at its center being about the complete lack of belief that we can make anything anymore, that we have been so ensconced in our consumer culture, we have forgotten that our bodies are made to make things. That was pretty awesome. 

Maybe that is who this doc was meant for-- the demoralized, the confused, the abstract and disengaged folks. I found myself, while looking at the local oven-making business, or the local flour mill, wondering about where the robots were sourced, or the plastic face masks. I found myself, while watching this film, imagining what I would need to use instead of rubber to seal my future glass cans, once the rubber seals had run out. Would beeswax work?

I am thrilled that this film came to my area and I got to sit in a theater with some amazing people doing good work in the region. I am thrilled that this film exists. I just need another film. I need the Living the Post-Apcalypse Now film. So many of the examples actually felt a lot like that film. That feels like a more honest film, and one that can engender a deeper conversation and a deeper sense of the changes we need to make, and the resilience and creativity that will be asked of us as our world shifts and changes.