Annie Leonard rips the veil on CAP AND TRADE with her new animated film

At last someone in the eco-world is unraveling the mystery, confusion and blatant lies around CAP AND TRADE, the economic policy to solve the global climate crisis.

Annie Leonard, the creator of the fast paced STORY OF STUFF film (click here)  is a wizard at demystifying eco-babble into easy to digest information…I am deeply beholden to Annie for making THE STORY OF STUFF because it unmasks the real culprit in our ecological crisis – namely over-consumption.

Like Dr. Seuss’s THE LORAX, Annie uses animation and a fun narrative to make us look at what is happening to our culture with all this consumption. Consumption far outweighs over-population, simply because it’s NOT how many people are on the planet but how and what we consume that is impacting the earth. Which is why America (5% of the worlds population) who consumes 24% of the world’s resources is the leading culprit in the environmental melt down. It’s been estimated that one American child is equal to 13 third world children in our ability to consume.

In Annie’s new film CAP AND TRADE, she gives a cogent, fact-based outline of the underlying potential for crime by the big business speculatators and her assessments are spot on.

I especially appreciated the humor in the piece – the list of things that our governments are considering for remedying the climate crisis:

1. Find a new planet
2. Act normal
3. Give up
4. Cap & Trade
5. Deny everything
6. Bribe someone

But her most serious points in a nutshell are:

1. The guys behind CAP AND TRADE are the Enron gang, the Wall Street Financiers like Goldman Sachs, and the subprime architects. These financial geniuses are about to develop a 3 trillion dollar bubble using carbon markets.
2. We need to reduce our emissions by 80% or more by 2050 and some are saying by 2020 but the fact is carbon could increase with the Cap and Trade system.
(Although many of the world’s leading climate experts, including James Hansen say we need reductions in carbon of 80% by 2020. Al Gore has thrown down the gauntlet saying we need to get 100% reneweables in 10 years!)
3. Yearly limits of emissions are good – that is the cap but how do they make sure they under the cap?
4. Annie identifies 3 Devils in the details: 1. Free permits (cap & giveaway) industrial polluters will get these permits for free. 2. Offset permits are created when they remove carbon but they can’t guarantee that there will be false offsets (example one company deforested a region in Indonesia and then planted palm trees and actually got carbon $/credit for this. 3. The biggest devil according to Annie – Distraction – instead of investing in the proven solutions, like a renewable economy, we will go off track and loose the tiny bit of time left to turn this titanic around.

As one of my cool planet partners said, “Another aspect of cap & trade is that the trading will contribute to the GDP. How weird is that? It’s like accounting for the cost of cancer treatment as a plus to the GDP, when the best solution for everyone is to avoid cancer in the first place.”

Check out the most vibrant short video on CAP AND TRADE and tell me what you think…

Brad Pitt is making it right!

I am not dazzled by Brad Pitt, never have been – just didn’t get that he was one of the sexiest men alive or anything like that. But now I am dazzled! Brad has spearheaded a project to restore the lower 9th quarter of New Orleans with the greenest houses in the US. In 2007, frustrated by the slow pace of rebuilding in the Lower Ninth, Brad Pitt set up a foundation called Make It Right; the foundation then commissioned 13 architecture firms to design affordable, green houses. The organization plans to build 150 homes, all for returning Lower Ninth residents. So far, just 15 of them are occupied, but those 15 make a big impression.

The houses are dreamy, energy efficient – from another world of design and beauty – it makes you believe in fairytales to see this once devastated region of New Orleans restored to a mythical solar haven of bliss. The gardens, the smiling people, the community rising…

Enjoy the video Brad made – it will make your heart sing out loud!

Shakespeare said, “alls well that ends well…” no better happy ending or beginning then this.

Go Brad Go!


The real Van Jones – don’t let it happen again!

In any other profession, Carl Pope (click here) might be considered a “company man.” He has worked loyally and tirelessly in the name of the Sierra Club for thirty years, running the organization – the largest of its kind in the country – since 1992. Van Jones has founded several organizations within the last decade, including The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All. They both live in the Bay Area. They both care intensely about saving the environment. The thing is, they use very distinct methods, although the lines differentiating those methods are blurring as we race further into the 21st century. From the environment to the economy, from old fashioned door-to-door fliers to streaming internet video, Pope and Jones discuss the myriad elements effecting our lives today and the many possible solutions that are nearly within reach.

Michael Moore’s New Film CAPITALISM: A Love Story – Moore’s MAGNUM OPUS

With Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore Goes For Broke

By Mary Corliss / TIME

“Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.” So wrote Thomas Jefferson to a friend in 1816. Now Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 9/11 took on the U.S. Army, and the entire military-executive-industrial establishment, brings his latest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, to the Venice Film Festival. The land of Macchiavelli and the Medici is the perfect setting for Moore’s nonfiction tragicomedy of greed and chicanery on Wall Street, in Washington, D.C., and through the entire economic apparatus. The movie will have its world premiere here tonight, before playing the Toronto Film Festival next week, opening Sept. 23 in New York and Los Angeles and achieving wide release Oct. 2.

Writing on his web site, Moore proclaimed, “The director of the festival [Marco Mueller] said that our movie was ‘incredibly symphonic’ and that he was moved by its epic nature. Jeez, these Italians! Everything’s an opera to them!” The movie is not opera so much as impassioned journalism — a broadside fired at the good ship Free Enterprise, with the hope of altering its course, and dislodging the pirates who have seized it.

Capitalism: A Love Story does not quite measure up to Moore’s Sicko in its cumulative power, and it is unlikely to equal Fahrenheit 9/11 in political impact. In many ways, though, this is Moore’s magnum opus: the grandest statement of his career-long belief that big business is screwing the hard-working little guy while government connives in the atrocity. As he loudly tried to confront General Motors CEO Roger Smith in Roger & Me in 1989, and pleaded through a bull horn to get officials at Guantanamo to give medical treatment to surviving victims of 9/11, so in Capitalism he attempts to make a citizen’s arrest of AIG executives, and puts tape around the New York Stock Exchange building, declaring it a crime scene.

Moore’s admirers and detractors alike will recognize his methods in the new film: brisk, pointed synopses of complicated issues (though even a Harvard professor has trouble describing what a derivative is); sad tales of working-class families evicted from their homes because their mortgage rates ballooned; a snowbank of statistics, such as that worker productivity has increased by 45% since 1980 while average real income is stagnant; and pert clips ranging from 1950s instructional films to that YouTube favorite, “Cat Flushing a Toilet Music Video.” The material is, as always in Moore movies, efficiently and amusingly marshaled to serve the larger theme: that the establishment thrives by cheating ordinary Americans.

How so? Moore eagerly counts the ways. He lays out the “Dead Peasants” insurance loophole by which a corporation can take out policies on their rank-and-file workers and, when they die, reap millions in tax-free payouts. To support his position that airlines are risking catastrophe by underpaying their pilots, he excerpts the Congressional testimony of Hudson River hero Chesley Sullenberger, who notes that his pay had been cut 40% and he lost his pension. In an episode that might have come from a Dickens novel, Moore tells of two Pa. judges who shut down a state-run detention center and sentenced children, some for the most minor of infractions, to a facility run by a private company that kicked back millions to the judges.

The anecdotes are instructive and appalling; and if they meander off the immediate talking point of the trillions the banks took in bailout money last year and the billions they made in profits this year, they bolster Moore’s belief that no one should have been surprised by the collapse of a corrupt system, and the ingenuity with which the big-money boys land on their feet while stepping on ours. He must also have thought that many in his audience would be familiar with the shuttle of heavy hitters between Goldman Sachs and recent Administrations, Republican and Democratic. Moore does summon University of Missouri professor Bill Black, author of the 2005 book The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, to describe Robert Rubin, Henry Paulsen, Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner and others as “powerful lobbyists from the inside, and we paid their salaries.”

Black and Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur are Moore’s star witnesses; he gets Kaptur to agree, without too much prodding, that the events of the past 12 months amount to “a financial coup d’etat.” The rhetorical pitch keeps rising until, toward the end, Moore suggests a solution: not from the government down but from the grass roots up, through community groups (like LIFFT in Miami), united workers (like those at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago) and the common decency of elected officials (like the Wayne County, Mich., sheriff who decided to stop foreclosures on his neighbors’ homes).

At the end Moore says, “I refuse to live in a country like this — and I’m not leaving.” But this call to arms demands more than a ringleader; it requires a ring, an engaged citizenry who are mad enough not to take it any more. That’s unlikely to happen. Moore’s films are among the top-grossing documentaries in history because they are pertinent populist entertainments. The question remains: will Capitalism: A Love Story rouse the rabble to revolt? Or will audiences sit appreciatively through the movie, then go home and play the cat-in-the-toilet video?

Traverse City Film Festival & Michael Moore

Well I am back from the wilds of Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) ~ Michael Moore’s visionary creation – only 5 years old and now considered one of the top fests this side of Cannes. Gary, my mom and I made the great trek this year. Gary is from Michigan and has lived in Traverse City. One of his closest friends still lives here, so we have been coming to this area off and on for the last 10 years.

Traverse City is in the heart of a vacation region located in northern Michigan surrounded by the great lakes and quaint seaside villages. Traverse City is the “Cherry Capital of the World,” holding an annual week-long Cherry Festival the first full week in July to celebrate. Besides cherries, the surrounding Tuscany-like countryside produces grapes, and is one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest.

Traverse has a historic downtown with great shops, cafes and world class dining.




Michael has moved his entire film team right here – to live and work full time – he is currently producing his next documentary about the economic meltdown titled CAPITALISM, A Love Story. “It’s got it all — lust, passion, romance and 14,000 jobs being eliminated every day.” – Michael Moore | ‘The Perfect Date Movie’ | ‘A Relationship Movie’ | ‘A Forbidden Love’ Michael is a real life hero in Traverse City, as he has transformed the entire city both economically and culturally with the festival.

I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time this year. Sipping matcha mango iced tea green tea at the Serenity Tea cafe directly across from the State Theatre – when we noticed Michael Moore crossing the street to go to the State Theatre.




We decided to see what was up. It was the first day of this 6 day festival and we were excited to find they were showing a surprise screening of WOODSTOCK (by popular demand) at high noon – the director’s cut 40th anniversary – and the first film of the festival, hosted by Country Joe McDonald and Michael introducing this mind altering 4 hour documentary. A real life time machine back to one of the most amazing, controversial cultural turnings in modern history and on a big screen, this film catapults you back to the people, music and movement at this climax of the 60’s.

Every morning Michael and fellow filmmakers and community organizers host a FREE panel at the old Opera House on Front Street. If you can get up at early enough and go down town these panels are a gift from the gods – Paul Mazursky (TCFF’s honored filmmaker this year – Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice, An Unmarried Woman…) and comedian Jeff Garlin (Curb your Enthusiasm) and joined by this year comic film makers – had the most hilarious discussion about the value of comedy in our crazy world…My mother a ripe 78 and a very liberal woman who loves humor more than anything, said she would have paid $100 to see these guys.

So what was the best film at the festival this year? For me, eco-doc maker that I am, the best documentary was THE COVE, a stunning, jaw dropping eco-thriller, that had me on the edge of my seat for the whole movie. This high end documentary, skillfully crafted, employs brilliant espionage tactics, James Bond style – with the help of Industrial Light and Magic special effects experts, they build special cameras hidden in fake rocks and bird nests, you can’t believe what passion and tenacity the film’s hero, Ric OBarry has, as he takes us on this emotional roller coaster quest to save the 23,000 dolphins that are slaughtered every year in this tiny village in Japan. I fell in love with the heroes of the film, an Ocean’s Eleven team of activists and deep sea divers who take us behind the scenes of one of the most horrific secrets revealed to us in the course of the film made me want to dedicate my life to supporting their cause of saving dolphins. THE COVE should be seen by every human being on the planet.

MORE GREAT FILMS: CRUDE – Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking as it examines a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.

FOOD INC. Eating can be one dangerous business. Don’t take another bite till you see Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc., an essential, indelible documentary that is scarier than anything in the last five Saw horror shows. Decepticons have nothing on ears of corn when it comes to transforming into mutant killers. Kenner keeps his film bouncing with humor, music and graphics. Just like the ads that shove junk food down our faces. The message he’s delivering with the help of nutrition activists, including Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), is an eye-opener. High-fructose corn syrup and its friend the E.coli virus are declaring war on national health, and federal agencies, lobbied by Big Agriculture, ain’t doing a thing to stop it. Reason? Profits. The movie offers solid alternatives. If the way to an audience’s heart is through its stomach, Food, Inc. is a movie you’re going to love.

Back to Sir Michael Moore. I am convinced that he has the Midus touch! Everything he does, envisions and touches turns to gold. Michael and the TCFF folk figured that this would be a difficult year for the festival, given the economic melt down – but in fact they had a 37% increase in sponsors and the festival was almost sold out. The showing of Roger & Me (the 20th anniversary special screening) and Michael’s Q&A with Larry Charles (lead Seinfeld writer) lay bare Michael’s impossible journey from an average mid-west kid attending sisters of St. Joseph’s school to world renown documentary filmmaker. Not only did he reveal that he never reads reviews about his work, but that he is an introvert, shy person, who doesn’t believe the myth of himself that has grown out of his movies. He has created a film festival in a place no one really knows about and brought the best films of the year for us all to view – in a vacation haven, that is not only beautiful place to hang out but also filled with spirited and generous people who have the great fortune to live here, even in the snow.

Good move Michael!

Viva la Traverse City Film Festival!

Here is a link to my very first iPhone “movie” – a snippet from the festival on YouTube

And another YouTube short about how great the festival is with Larry Charles and Jeff Garlin

Carolyn’s Top Ten Films

Here is our current list of great eco-documentaries. Prepared by Carolyn M. Scott, Executive Director of Reel Community Action.

1. The Real Dirt on Farmer John by Taggart Siegel
This film is one of my favorite eco-docs! Taggart Siegel beganfilming Farmer John 25 years ago, back in the 60s, when he was a counter-culture artist hanging out on his farm with his hippie artist friends. John Peterson is not your typical farmer, he wears feather boas while plowing the fields d
resses up as a bee as he sings songs with his sweetie. The film takes you on John’s journey through his own serious depression, the crisis with small farms in America and the resurrection of John’s farm as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It has won more “best documentary film” awards than any doc in the world. It’s heartwarming, heroic, and very funny movie.

2. Upstream Battle by Ben Kempis
I just saw this film at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2009. Wild & Scenic is the biggest and the best environmental festival on the west coast. Upstream Battle is an intimate story of a Native American community on the Klamath River who are fighting to save their fish (the last salmon that make it through a series of damns) 
against an energy corporation. Their struggle may trigger the largest dam removal project in history. It’s a great film.

3. The Future of Food by Deborah Koons Garcia
This film is a must see. If you live in the US and eat food, you need to know the insane and dangerous stuff Monsanto is doing to our food. If you are not familiar with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) this film will tell you the whole twisted story. Soy, corn and canola are the main crops being manipulated by the “White Coats.” Deborah Garcia (widow of Jerry Garcia) shows what is going on in the Corporate agriculture world. This film is perfection– compelling, powerful–and was for me a life-changing film.

4. Everything’s Cool by Daniel B.Gold and Judith Helmand
Everything’s Cool is an upbeat entertaining documentary that follows leaders in the climate change movement who are working against the clock to save the planet from climate catastrophe. Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand, Toxic Comedy filmmakers, make good use of humor in their films–it’s a fantastic delivery device for challenging information. The film shows the most dangerous chasm ever to emerge between scientific understanding and political action around Global Warming. You get intimate, up-close looks into the lives of folks like Ross Gelbspan and Bill McKibben and their different point of views about America’s struggle to deal with this mother of all issues.

5. Blue Vinyl: The World’s First Toxic Comedy by Daniel B. Gold, Judith Helmand
This film won at Sundance Film Festival and is one of the most entertaining and informative eco-docs I have ever seen. The story is cleverly woven around Judith trying to get her parents to take the vinyl siding off her their house. Judith, who is like Michael Moore in a woman’s body, goes to great lengths to get her parents to understand everything you every wanted to know about Vinyl Chloride and its deadly impact on the world. It’s an absolutely humorous, adventurous and intimate story. Blue Vinyl is one of my all time favorite documentary movies.

6. Who Killed the Electric Car? by Chris Paine
I just love this film. It begins with a solemn funeral…for a car. Chris Paine’s lively and suspense-driven documentary is fast-paced, and a real-life mystery drama. As narrator Martin Sheen notes, “They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline..why should we be haunted by the ghost of the electric car?” Paine proceeds to show how this unique vehicle came into being and why General Motors ended up reclaiming its once-prized masterpiece and secretly shredding them. It’s hard to believe that a car could be the main character in a film and keep you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out who committed the murder. One of my favorite documentaries!

7. The Forest for the Trees by Bernadine Mellis
Filmmaker Bernadine Mellis follows her father, a famed civil rights attorney, Dennis Cunningham who took on the court case of Judi Bari, Earth First! who was bombed in her car and then charged by the FBI for the bombing. After 12 years, Judi Bari v. the FBI finally gets a court date. Knowing this is one of her father’s most important cases, Mellis is there at strategy meetings, at breakfast, driving to and from the court, documenting her morally driven, very tired dad. A very important and compelling documentary.

8. Saviors of the Forest by Terry Schwartz, Tod Darling
Tired of filming TV commercials, two well-intentioned Los Angeles “camera guys” decide to do their part for the environment by exposing the villains responsible for destroying the rainforests. It’s real and it’s wonderful–a great example of the power of good storytelling.

9. Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action by Roberta Grossman
The film tells the inspiring stories of four Native Americans battling through issues related to their land and sovereignty. It’s a powerful documentary and gives you an intimate look into the lives of these activists who are trying to save their homes and land from corporate interests.

10. Texas Gold by Carolyn Scott
I am humbly including my own film in this list! TEXAS GOLD profiles the brave and ballsy actions that have earned Diane Wilson the title of “unreasonable woman”: waging multiple hunger strikes, starting up a business bottling toxic water taken from a superfund site – chaining herself to a DOW chemical tower. Diane believes that “…putting your life at risk is where change happens.”