Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Story of Stuff!

Last Wednesday I received five emails from different people telling me about a hot new Internet movie called "The Story of Stuff." Everyone claimed that this movie is a short, funny, easy-to-understand, and compelling look at why environmentalists need to work with other social change constituencies to fundamentally transform the world's economic system in a more just, democratic, and sustainable direction. I showed this 20 minute film to students in my Patterns of Environmental Activism course the next day--and was amazed at the intensity of their positive responses to it. It sparked a lot of aha moments and brought so much of our work this semester into sharper focus.

This movie essentially makes a great case that it is no longer sufficient—as John Muir once suggested—that environmentalists just work hard to protect public lands from industrial or agricultural encroachment and leave the rest of our political economy unanalyzed and unchanged. That is "old school" environmental thinking and we clearly need "new school" sustainability thinking about transforming the materials economy if we are to make meaningful change in the 21st century--a change process that public interest advocates and grassroots organizers need to help drive and direct.

Interested? Please go to the "The Story of Stuff" website, where you can download the film and find additional information on the six major themes addressed in the film (extraction, production, distribution, consumption, waste disposal, and alternatives). Also, check out this article about "The Story of Stuff" by Multinational Monitor editor Robert Weissman.

I agree with Weissman that this film is a great example of using new media to provide solid political education that can reach a lot of people--besides those of us who already see ourselves as social change activists.

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