Movie Night!

Whenever (and it is rare) I find myself with a night of nothing to do, I always think: well, I should watch a movie! But then I am overwhelmed by my Netflix choices. Sometimes I want to be entertained and sometimes I want to learn something, a lesson, some facts, etc. Actually, this weekend I think I have a night that I’ll be able to watch a movie…so what will it be?

I often turn to a theme I personally love: Sustainability. And there are a lot of sustainability-related movies available today. One of the first times I remember when I made a conscious connection to enjoying  a cartoon and learning an eco-lesson, was FernGully: the last rainforest, in 1992. But it was, according to Karl Burkart of, 1973 that the environmental film-making was born. That year, Chinatown and Soylent Green both hit the big screens. From there, we’ve enjoyed (and possibly been frightened by or disgusted by): The Day after Tomorrow, Whale Rider, Avatar, Erin Brockovich, WALL-E, March of the Penquins, and Happy FeetEven Finding Nemo has an sustainability-story as viewers explore the exotic fish trade, diversity issues, and water/ocean pollution.

and then there are the eco-mentaries, more documentary than entertaining and mostly fiction like: Inconvenient Truth, 11th Hour, Who Killed the Electric Car, Food, Inc., Crude, Forks Over Knives, King Corn, and The Cove just to name a few.

Want more? There are repeats of above, but there are some others not yet listed in the following articles and lists.

Here’s a list of the Huffington Post’s top picks for the 2000-2010 decade.

And, Jill from OdeWire, asks “Are These the 11 Most Inspiring Eco Movies Available Online?

Mother Nature Network shares several movies in this entry:  The best of 2010: environmental picks that include documentaries, fiction and even kid movies., one of my go-to-favorite sites for a lot of really useful green info, shares this top 11 eco-flicks the kids and adults can enjoy together and then this top 5 eco-documentaries they think are must-sees (I have to agree) that are all available on Netflix!

So what’s your top eco-flick? Have you watched any of these listed here? Have a suggestion for something missing? Head on over to the Moraine Valley Sustainability Facebook page and let us know.

Staying Hungry for Justice

Students, staff and faculty frat the University of California, Santa Barabara recently participated in a 24-hour “Justice Fast”, to promote justice, solidarity, integrity and dignity, in light of humanitarian issues worldwide and other social justice concerns.

Excerpts from the article, Campus Fasting Event Highlights Diverse Social Justice Movements, shed some light on the event:

  • …the act of fasting, or abstaining from eating, emphasizes a continued prevalence of people’s hunger for justice. … “We’re trying to bring awareness to certain issues that are affecting our society and our larger global society,” Ochoa said. “At first, we were trying to figure out what issue to revolve our fast around, but in the end, we realized we couldn’t just focus on one issue. So we decided to split them, and students decided to take upon their own issues.”

Another recent article, which cites this UC-SB event, discusses deeping the academic experience to help students foster their already innate connection to the global challenges facing them and expounds on why these students resorted to fasting:

  • From water shortages to climate change, population growth to the health of bees, biocultural diversity to globalization, everything feels inextricably interdependent and connected. Higher education is a great leverage point for addressing the complex issues that affect us all. Many students recognize the multifaceted challenges that face us, and they can become overwhelmed when classes seem abstract and disconnected from day-to-day life and there is no clear action component to the learning process. A recent article discusses a student fast at the University of California, Santa Barbara with the slogan “There’s too much to lose, don’t make me choose!Resorting to fasting shows the seriousness with which these students take environmental, social and economic problems.

And these students and others across the nation are serious!  80% of US grads want to make a positive impact on the environment and 92% want to work for an eco-friendly company. Thankfully, 53% of our Fortune 500 companies are publishing some kind of sustainability or corporate social responsibility report, so our grads can find these companies, and nearly 80% of the nation’s population agrees we need to decrease consumption of energy and goods. This means, more and more our institutions of higher education need to be preparing students to be able to design systems, social and economic, that will meet these concerns and allow humans to persist within our limits.

At Moraine Valley Community College, faculty are fortunate to have an excellent resource that will help them integrate the concepts of sustainability into their coursework. The Moraine Valley Learning Academy, in collaboration with the Center for Sustainability, offers a faculty-enrichment program called the Greening Your Curriculum- Prairie Project. Enrollment for Fall 2013 is open now. The course explores many facets of sustainability, addressing today’s challenges and the unknowns of tomorrow, and guides faculty to understand how these topics relate or can be used to teach their individual disciplines. The program is unique to Moraine Valley, but there are other similar examples across campuses regionally and nationally. I am inspired and hopeful because of them.

Film Blog from Library full of Eco-Flicks!

The Moraine Valley library has several themed blogs, which anyone can find them on its homepage. Of particular interest to me lately is the Film Blog series posted by Moraine Valley Librarian, Sarah Ando. Sarah has been reviewing several films on food, carbon & climate change. Check it out!

Or if you’re interested in personal liberty and freedoms of expression,  Librarian, Troy Swanson has a really interesting piece on Bassem Youssef of Egypt and his fight for free speech.

Librarian Jen Kolan wrote about “a breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production” and its potential impact on how we might fuel our vehicles in the near future. Jen also directs readers to more books and resources that can be found in the Library to learn more on the topic.

I share all this to highlight the Library, the great resources within (including the Librarians!) and to also show how integrated sustainability topics are in our current events, in research and in the Moraine Valley culture. Check out the blog to learn more or peruse the Center for Sustainability website to find out what Moraine Valley is addressing to ensure a sustainable today and tomorrow.

Being an American Baby

I am listening to a presentation by Ricky Cobb & Troy Swanson in the library about being a citizen in America: “What Does It Mean to Be An “American”?: Identity, History and Self”. It’s part of the Confederates in the Attic: One Book One College event series.

The discussion has just begun, but is building to what is American Identity. How is the identity created or instilled? In essence, we learn it as we grow up… And, while listening, I am multitasking with email checking. This just came in:


A New Green History of the World

I wanted to share the link to a new resource in the library. This book,A new green history of the world: the environment and the collapse of great civilizations by Clive Ponting is in our library and available for you to take home. Here’s the publisher’s description:

  • Clive Ponting’s original and provocative history of human civilization—now in a thoroughly revised, expanded, and updated edition Years ahead of its time. Clive Ponting captivated readers with A Green History of the World, his study of great civilizations and the causes of their fall. Using the Roman empire as its central example, this classic work reveals how overexpansion and the exhaustion of available natural resources have played key roles in the collapse of all great cultures in human history. With an argument of urgent relevance to our modern society, A Green History of the World offers a provocative and illuminating view of human history and its relationship to the environment. 

The Big Read – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Don Arnold, our Green Machine Sr. Applications Developer, shared this program with me as his wife is one of the coordinators of the program.  It is the Big Read held by ten libraries in the western suburbs of Chicago.  The book is a great one: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  It is the true story of a family who moves from the dry west to the foot of the Appalachian Mountains and vows to grow or get their food locally.  It is a great read.  The libraries have all kinds of great programming to go with the book: growing your own veggies, gardening, cooking local, movies, and so much more.  Check out the plethora of events here:

Green Web sites to Pass Along

Each week I pass along some Web sites from, and this week included some interesting sites relating to our green world. I thought I’d share them here.

  1. Green Job BoardsList of job boards “that focus on social or environmental responsibility.” The listings (some with annotations) cover general green jobs and jobs in specific industries such as solar energy and green building. From the Green Collar Blog, which provides news and resources on employment in environmental fields.  URL:
  2. Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon WorldThis report, released in October 2008, examines definitions and policies, employment impacts, and employment outlook for jobs that contribute to preserving or restoring the environment. Employment sectors discussed include energy supply alternatives, green and energy-efficient buildings, transportation, basic industry, food and agriculture, and forestry. Includes links to a report summary (also in French and Spanish) and press release. From the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).LII Item:
  3. Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon EconomyThis report, published in September 2008, “shows that the U.S. can create two million jobs by investing in a rapid green economic recovery program.” Provides the full report, a summary of findings, and accompanying publications about the impact of a green recovery program on specific U.S. states. From the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts.URL:
  4. Greening the GhettoJanuary 2009 profile of Van Jones (born Anthony Jones), author of “‘The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems’ [in which] he argues that the best way to fight both global warming and urban poverty is by creating millions of ‘green jobs’ — weatherizing buildings, installing solar panels, and constructing mass-transit systems.” Includes background about Jones, and details about his views and ideas. From the New Yorker.URL TRUNCATED, SEE LII ITEMLII Item:
  5. Landmark Study on Green Collar JobsThis study (published in 2007 and released in February 2008), “found that green collar jobs are highly suitable for people who would typically struggle to find work.” Includes the full report, findings from which were based on interviews with more than 20 green businesses in Berkeley, California, and an executive summary and news story. From California State University; report author is an urban studies professor at San Francisco State University.URL:

Other Colleges Succeed with A Reading Program

Like our One Book One College program spear-headed by library extraordinaire Troy Swanson, other colleges are going with the sustainability theme as well.  This year Troy’s One Book pick is Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte.  Surrounding this book, Troy has organized really great program offerings of speakers, panel discussions, and film showings.  Other colleges, like Rice University, have also found similar success in a book themed program.  Rice chose Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.  For a listing of the events they held log onto

Dirty Secrets, Earth’s Atmosphere, Cauldron Earth, and Oil

Here are a few new DVDs on the library’s shelves. I hope you stop by and check them out.

Protecting earth’s atmosphere:Earth is the only planet known to support life. The primary reason is a mixture of different gases, known as the atmosphere. These gases, along with the sun, warm our planet to an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. This delicate process is known as the greenhouse effect. Without it, the sun’s energy would escape back into space leaving the earth frozen. In this edition of Science Screen Report, we learn about the earth’s atmosphere, climate, and the greenhouse effect. We explore the impact human activity is having on our atmosphere, and ways scientists believe we can prevent further destruction to the atmosphere, and allow our planet to continue to thrive.

Dirty Little Secrets: Program studies fine particle air pollution and its public health hazards

What if The Oil Runs Out?:This film follows a middle-aged, Midwestern couple through violence at gas stations, conflicts with neighbors, and the loss of their livelihood; it also focuses on their daughter, an oil prospector determined to find new crude oil fields in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Interspersed with the docudrama are notable statistics on oil production and consumption as well as real-world interviews with former Pentagon energy security adviser Paul Domjan, Centre for Global Energy Studies chairman Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, and other experts

Cauldron Earth:This program shows how research into the chemical makeup of geological and biological materials drives the innovation of energy systems, building methods, and transportation technolog–and how these improvements can save lives and reduce stress on the environment. Hydrogen fuel cells, resin coatings for giant wind turbines, wax-plaster mixtures for energy-efficient home–the video features these and many other advances, suggesting a future in which humanity can both profit from and protect the Earth