Thursday, 25 October 2007

Quaker media: film, videos, podcasts

Pamela Calvert’s The Beloved Community, an hour-long 2006 documentary, shows native people near Sarnia, Ontario involved in toxics remediation. Women go door-to-door collecting data, demanding action from the city, companies and governments. Pollution by the chemical industry has been virtually uncontrolled since the 1940s. The Aamjiwnaang (pronounced ‘Om-ji-nong’) First Nation is on the front line of investigations into endocrine disruptors, exposure to which can bring about miscarriages, a skewing of the birth ratios between girls and boys, and long-term neurological damage. But what is happening there is an extreme case of the growing “body burdens” that affect future generations throughout the world, as this September 12, 2007 Guardian article shows. Kathleen Burns of says The Beloved Community shows “a strong tribal community…struggling to come to terms with environmental health problems and solve them in creative new ways.” For more details see Beyond Pesticides of April 12, 2007, Environmental Defence’s 2006 news release on Aamjiwnaang and its body burden tests of volunteers across Canada, which finally embarrassed Health Canada into action.
Similar US campaigns have been led by the Environmental Working Group and its alarming 2005 study of newborns. Ft Chipewyan AB doctors, natives and Arctic natives have reported similar problems.
California Newsreel, which distributes The Beloved Community on DVD, also offers many other films with discussion guides, on environmental and globalization issues: A Killer Bargain, Maquilopolis, The Debt of Dictators, Black Gold (about coffee), as well as classics on US race relations, and over 30 documentaries by Africans.
The Beloved Community was made by Pamela Calvert’s Plain Speech company in association with Detroit Public Television. She produced and directed This Far and No Further: Canada’s Asbestos Legacy (for release in 2007), and contributed to two films on communities organizing against hate crimes The Fire Next Time (2005) , and Not In Our Town Northern California: When Hate Happens Here (2005). More films in this series are available from The Working Group.

In 1997 Pamela organized nationally and co-wrote the Community Action Guide for Judith Helfand’s film A Healthy Baby Girl about the endocrine disruptor DES; she later developed campaigns for ITVS programs including Frontline: The Farmer's Wife and La Ciudad. Her 2002 paper “Steps toward a Quaker Media Practice” is available online from Friends Media Project of Bishopville MD ,which offers other Quaker documents, film, video, photos, music and art in digital form.

She is now clerk of, providing videos and podcasts for Quaker media ministry, sponsored by Quaker Institute for the Future.

Videos and reports by other film-makers on chemical pollution and native communities are available: NFB Toxic Trespass, the EcoJustice (ex-Sierra Club Legal Fund) report Exposing Canada's Chemical Valley, UTNE 'Contaminated Science' article; and Homo Toxicus (Carole Poliquin, Québec 2007, 87 min en français).

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