A 50-state environmental anti-depressant comes to Oklahoma

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Environment, Film, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Sustainability, Transition OKC | Posted on 10-06-2011

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YERTLogoTransparentMore YERT scoop is here! See below for part 2 of the Q&A email interview with Mark Dixon and Ben Evans, producers and directors of the documentary YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, a year-long eco-expedition through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in cheek, these daring filmmakers explored the landscape of environmental sustainability in America and found plenty of laughter, fun and innovation happening all along the way.

YERT is screening today and Saturday at the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City and was winner ofYERT_laurels_EFFY_Winner the Audience Award at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival  at Yale. And tomorrow, Transition OKC is hosting a Meet & Greet with Mark Dixon from 4-6 p.m. at Elemental Coffee, 815 N. Hudson. First ten people at the Meet & Greet win a reusable YERT ChicoBag, and Dixon will also be giving away two copies of Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.

More YERT scoop tomorrow.

Come back for the third and final installment of our interview with Mark and Ben where we’ll find out what the YERT team discovered that inspired and depressed them, what was meaningful and made them very happy, and what they hope people will take away from the film.

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Photo credit: Erica Bowman

YERT email chat continued.

Q: How did you plan your routes and stops, and research and select those you interviewed along the way?

A: The first thing we did, way before we started the road trip, was to do a fair amount of research by meeting and listening to people at Green Festivals, the Bioneers conference, and also doing a fair amount of web-based research. That gave us a rough idea of the topics we wanted to cover, states where those topics might be most relevant, and which states held the most interesting interviews for those topics.

Then we jumped into the actual road trip route, and our goal there was to figure out how to hit the northern states in the summer, and the southern states in the winter — particularly hitting Alaska in the height of summer. We were ultimately trying to avoid driving in snowy conditions to make it easier on ourselves, our car and our schedule.Then we identified a few key events that we wanted to be sure we hit along the way — college reunions, San Francisco Green Festival, Bioneers, and holidays near home — and that led to a rough state-by-state itinerary.

Ben is a bit of a road-trip junky and map nut who had been to almost every state before the trip even started, so he really went to town solving the route puzzle and pinpointing key must-see spots while Mark, who is a spreadsheet guru and great contingency planner, dove into logistics and figuring out the perfect equipment and packing list that could keep the mission functioning on the road. 

With the itinerary in mind, we generally focused on the next couple of states in our planning efforts, setting up about 1/3 of the interviews in advance, and leaving plenty of room for fate (and a bit of luck) to guide us to the remaining 2/3. We often found that one interview would lead us to another interview, and so on, until our schedule forced us to leave a state. All throughout the trip we were hopelessly dependent on the Internet for research, e-mail, mapping and web-based communication with our audience.

Q: How did you handle conflict on your team during the trip and throughout the production process? 

A: Everybody on the team had their individual reasons for wanting to do the project, but ultimately we all wanted the trip to succeed and were motivated most by our collective desire to address the large-scale environmental problems facing us all – and we weren’t looking to get rich or famous from it. So from the beginning, we never needed to second guess the motives for anybody on the team. That said, we had no shortage of different ideas about how to best move things along, and we ultimately spent huge amounts of time in extremely thorough discussions of the smallest details. Generally, Mark was more conservative and interested in arriving early with extra time (turning down unique opportunities in order to get to places on-time, and to get enough sleep), while Ben was often interested in pushing the limits of what was humanly possible (embracing unique opportunities as they arose, trusting in providence to sort out the logistics, and ready to pull all-nighters to make them happen). More than anything, we handled conflict with patience and mutual respect, knowing that we had to solve most issues for the long-term, not just push them under the table for another day.

Q: Regarding conflict, any anecdotal incidents you’d care to share?

A: We had to work through a few tough spots – like Julie’s pregnancy in the face of our garbage challenge and the mostly healthy tension between Mark’s cautious risk aversion and desire to shoot less versus Ben’s intuitive risk taking and desire to shoot more freely. Generally, the fact that we were all doing this in the service of a much larger mission kept our egos in check and our foibles in perspective. Mark did eventually have a significant meltdown about halfway through the trip when Julie’s food needs from the pregnancy started to conflict with the garbage challenge — but, as a friend of Mark and the husband of Julie, Ben tried to function as a mostly-neutral sounding board and, ultimately, it wasn’t anything a little ice cream apology couldn’t solve.

– Posted by Shauna Lawyer Struby. This post originally appeared on ThinkLady.

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