I have organized an event each year for our community around Earth Day for the last ten years. This year I was able to do a live event with an all-star lineup, so I decided to dress it up and make it into a documentary so it could hopefully be more alluring to people new to this line of thought.
The event was held in a neighborhood micro-theater, and I was able to get a fantastic videographer (Tyler Aug) to record and edit the film. Nate Hagens lives an hour from my hometown of Rochester MN and has graciously spoken here several times, so he was the first person I invited to be a part of it and share his message. Nate agreed to let us use his newly released Great Simplification animated video and to speak live and do a Q&A.
With the date set, I also wanted to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Limits To Growth (LTG) report and Nate had recently interviewed Dennis Meadows on his Great Simplification podcast. He put me in touch with Dennis and as it turns out he had spent part of his childhood in Rochester and graduated from high school here. With that, he was very happy to send a recorded presentation. I also arranged for a local newspaper to interview him for a nice article on the LTG!
After listening to each of these presentations and with only a couple of weeks before the event, I decided a great followup would be a Transition Towns message. I contacted Rob Hopkins and asked if he would be willing to make a recorded video we could use. I felt bad that it was such short notice, but he made it happen.
The final piece to the planning was music for the introduction and credits. I took an online class in 2021 called “Surviving the future”, which was offered by Sterling college. It was based on David Flemings Lean Logic and Shaun Chamberlin’s Surviving the Future books. Shaun was one of the instructors and he introduced us to a song by Ru Mundy called “Love in the time of coral reefs”. This song has been my favorite and I reached out to her to see if we could use it for the film. She responded that she had recently recorded a new version of the song and that we could use it.
Anthropogenic Man– a documentary on the human predicament
The title of the film was chosen to portray the unsustainability of man in the Anthropocene. I narrate the film to help tie the different segments into a common message. Tyler Aug did an amazing job of producing the graphics for the introduction to Ru’s song.
Dennis is the first presentation that provides the history of the LTG, the message that we can’t continue growing on a finite planet, how we did not make the changes necessary to avert consequences, and where we stand now. Finally, Dennis provides some suggestions of what we can do going forward. This presentation did a great job of setting the stage for our current predicament.
Nate’s animated video was completed just days before our event and we got to be the first ones to see it! The video explores and simplifies what’s happening with energy, the economy, the environment, and our society. Understanding the birds eye view of how everything fits together, where we go from here, and what we can do about it, as a society and as individuals. I really enjoy the entire video, but I especially feel the final segment on the coming Great Simplification does a nice job of describing how we view the world through lenses and that depending upon the choices we make will determine our future.
I have been a fan of Rob Hopkins, co-founder of Transition Towns, for several years and helped organize Transition Rochester a few years ago. Rob talks about what Transition is, what needs to happen to transition to a more localized and energy-efficient society and the importance of community involvement. He provides numerous examples of successful projects and the importance of re-kindling our imagination to visualize what it may look like.
Finally, Nate joins the theater live to give a short presentation and answers questions. Nate does an excellent job of tying the previous speakers points into his answers, and in Nate’s usual form, adding some humor and interesting trivia (there are more pigs in Minnesota than people!) to keep it interesting. The topics ranged from the war in Ukraine, to economics, resource depletion, and even bacon.
In the credits I list the links to The Great Simplification and Transition Towns website links, but also two other links that I feel are of value to someone new to this space, Resilience.org and Retrosuburbia.com. I really appreciate Nate, Dennis, and Rob’s contributions and feel the message they shared provides a pretty good snapshot of the human predicament and where to go from here.
Teaser photp credit: By NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans – https://web.archive.org/web/20160112123725/http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001138.html (image link); see also https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_329.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43894484