• Dirt Rich
    Dirt Rich

Southwestern’s Environmental Studies Program, in conjunction with Paideia and the Brown Symposium, will host a film screening of Marcelina Cravat’s Dirt Rich on campus on Nov. 8, 2018. After the screening, students, faculty, staff, and the community are encouraged to stay for a Q&A with the filmmaker. The event is free and open to the public.

The Documentary

Over the past 40 years, scientific knowledge of the risks of climate change have far outstripped the necessary action to change deleterious energy production and consumption patterns. Today, our atmospheric carbon dioxide levels top 400 parts per million (ppm), far above the preindustrial level of 280 ppm, and continue to climb despite repeated warnings from specialists. Even if we were to instantly discontinue all use of fossil fuels, the climate effects will continue for centuries because much of that carbon dioxide will remain stored in the atmosphere. Scientists warn that we have only a short window of time to make the changes necessary to temper global climate change. In addition, if current rates of topsoil degradation continue, the world’s topsoil could erode within 60 years—a dire prediction considering that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 95% of the global food supply comes from the soil.

These two global problems are connected. We can mitigate the effects of global warming by quickly drawing carbon back down into the soils where it belongs. This not only sequesters the carbon but also serves to revitalize our collapsed soils by allowing natural processes such as photosynthesis and microbial growth to take back over.

Dirt Rich shifts focus from greenhouse-gas emissions to this carbon drawdown, which is critical to reversing the effects of global warming in a timely manner. The documentary spotlights the value and beauty of geotherapy strategies, including regenerative agricultural practices, the reforestation of abandoned land, and the protection and restoration of carbon-rich wetlands and keystone species. Dirt Rich illustrates how implementing these strategies will return our atmosphere to safe levels of carbon while growing soil, our most precious resource.

The Filmmaker

After the screening, the filmmaker, Marcelina Cravat, will engage with the audience in a Q&A. As the daughter of character actor Nick Cravat, Burt Lancaster’s lifelong friend, circus partner, and costar, Cravat grew up around Hollywood sets. She originally trained as a photographer at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, but later in life, her love for storytelling motivated her to return to school at the Berkeley Digital Film Institute to pursue a career as a writer and director. After graduating, she cofounded a small production company specializing in portrait-style documentaries on artists and then went on to found Passelande Pictures, LLC, which has served as an umbrella for all of her projects since 2011. Her first film, an environmental documentary titled Angel Azul (2014) and narrated by distinguished actor Peter Coyote, was screened at more than 50 festivals and earned 12 awards. In 2016, she was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to travel to Russia and screen to audiences in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, with the EcoCup Film Festival.

The Expert Q&A Session

Cravat will also be join by Dr. Richard Teague, Professor of Ecoscience and Management at Texas A&M University, during the Q&A session. Teague has practical and research experience in grazing management systems, brush control with fire and chemicals on semi-arid rangeland in Africa and North America. He believes that research and service must provide the linkage that enables managers to base decisions for sustainable land use on the principles of ecosystem function. His goals are to broaden the understanding of requirements needed to sustain rangeland resources and economic viability, and generate science based information to allow producers to improve management practices on rangeland.

The Event Sponsors

Southwestern’s Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary program that enables students and faculty to investigate provocative, complex questions about such urgent issues as human interaction with the environment, natural systems, and environmental justice.

Paideia is Southwestern’s innovative approach to education, in which students make connections across majors, between disciplines, and in relation to their experiences outside the classroom.

Funded by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Texas, the Brown Symposium is held biannually at Southwestern. The series is designed to enhance the effectiveness of work by the professorships endowed by the foundation. At each symposium, scholars present topics in one of the broad areas of study represented by the chair. The 2019 Brown Symposium will be “The Anthropocene.”

The Event Details

Date: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Time: 5:30 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m.
Location: F.W. Olin Building, Room 105 on the Southwestern campus, 1001 E. University Avenue, Georgetown, TX 78626 

The event is free and open to the public.

Chair of Environmental Studies and Professor and Elizabeth Root Paden Chair of Religion Laura Hobgood will introduce the film.

For more information about the film screening and Q&A, please contact Professor of Economics Emily Northrop at northrop@southwestern.edu.