Friday, October 17, 2014

This Corner of the Earth


We're making two new films, both about fracking. 

The first is a primer on fracking itself - the geological history of the Marcellus Shale, the development of fracking technology, and an overview of the thorny but unresolved issues that fracking brings to the surface. Dr. Sandra Steingraber is the host and narrator of our film. 

The second film is about New York State's burgeoning and celebrated agricultural industry, and how it is threatened by the prospect of widespread fracking. We traveled upstate to meet the principals of Farmer Ground, a cooperative venture that links farmers who grow grains to millers who grind them to bakers that turn them into amazing and delicious bread. We met vintners in the Finger Lakes region who are making wines on a level that competes with the best in the world. And we met chefs and restaurateurs who spoke passionately about the importance of fresh, local, high-quality ingredients.

It was inspiring to get to know some of these men and women who are shaping this new enterprise in New York State, to learn about their backgrounds and hear them extol the virtues of a life with purpose. We were humbled by their knowledge, their relentless work ethic and their optimism. So long as they continue to have clean air and clean water, their future is bright. But fracking threatens that future.

It was impossible for us not to draw comparisons between the people and landscapes of New York State and those of Pennsylvania, where fracking has taken hold. The overwhelming gloom and sense of resignation that pervades the communities where fracking is already taking place is in stark contrast to the vibrant, upbeat spirit of the people we met in upstate New York. The deteriorating, truck-filled, industrial two-lane back roads of Pennsylvania remind us of how the bucolic back roads we traveled upstate might look if Governor Cuomo decides to give fracking the green light.

The growth and success of New York's agricultural and food production community bodes well for the future prosperity of our upstate regions. We try not to think about the incredible loss of food, jobs and sustainable future that would result from the massive industrialization of this corner of the earth.

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