The Power of Film: Raising Awareness on Environmental Justice

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Courtesy / Rachel Cywinski

The March 6 viewing of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood drew an eclectic audience to Christus Heritage Hall at Village at Incarnate Word senior living complex.

Every first Monday (or on a day close to it) since December 2015, residents of a senior living complex have been joined by Texas Master Naturalists, environmental activists, students, professors and the merely curious to see the latest screening in the Headwaters at Incarnate Word Environmental Film Series.

Kristina Treviño, a Headwaters volunteer and professor of chemistry and environmental sciences at the University of the Incarnate Word, never misses a film. Treviño first saw the films announced in a newsletter for volunteers and continues to attend because of her strong belief in the efficacy of education and the message of the film, which she describes as “we are the change that the world needs.”

“[The films] motivate me to keep educating my students and people about our world’s position,” she said. She encourages her students to attend the films and volunteer with her in the Headwaters preserve.

Live oak trees surround a few dead oak trees in the Hollywood Park neighborhood.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Live oak trees surround a few dead oak trees in the Hollywood Park neighborhood.

The Headwaters at Incarnate Word is “a sponsored Earthcare ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word [abbreviated CCVI for its Latin name],” according to Pamela Ball, its associate director.

“CCVI have made a conscious effort to save the last 53 acres of their original estate for the betterment of the Earth and the local community, and recognize the importance of reflection, eco-restoration, and environmental education,” said Headwaters Executive Director Alex Antram.

The educational rights to the films are purchased by Headwaters so that they can be shown numerous times and loaned to community organizations free of charge. Some of the organizations that utilize the Headwaters film lending library include the Sol Center of University Presbyterian Church, Adult Learning in Retirement, and Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy.

Headwaters is sponsoring films for the coming “Children in Nature” series at Phil Hardberger Park on May 13.

Ball said the films are offered “to raise awareness of issues of environmental justice with the hope of building a community of like-minded people, and to broaden contact with them and the Headwaters.” The film series also aims to “initiate or reinforce each individual’s connection to the Earth and need to be a steward of the Earth.”

Protesters yell and wave flags and signs at pipeline workers.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The fast-tracking of oil and gas pipelines is just one concern environmentalists have about the Trump administration.

Following the March 6 screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood, Ball waved a sheaf of papers in the air and exhorted viewers to act upon what they had seen and heard by making personal changes. Some possible actions on the list that Ball distributed included reducing beef consumption, embracing electronic billing, changing to Energy Star-rated lightbulbs, stopping food waste, buying local products, and unplugging unused electronic devices.

She asked every person to commit to making one change. 

“We provide ways that individuals can create change; not only changing their habits but communicating it to others,” she said.

Antram said the series is offered to “raise awareness of environmental issues including environmental justice (or lack thereof), inspire an individual and collective conservation ethic, and reconnect people with nature.” These objectives are part of the Headwaters’ goal “to help build a conservation community in San Antonio – across ages and including lay people,” and to take nature to the public including people with mobility limitations.

The Environmental Film Series, which is free and open to the public, continues on first Mondays at 3:30 p.m. in the Christus Heritage Hall at 4707 Broadway St., with the following offerings:

April 3: Documentaries The Nature of Cities and Gimme Green

May 1: Documentary The Edge of the Wild

June 5: Documentary The Unforeseen

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