Jacquelyn Pierce, Campus Carrier staff writer

On Wednesday night, an environmental documentary called “The Natural State of America” was shown at Berry as a cultural event. The event was coordinated by members of Students Against Violating Earth (S.A.V.E), the Green Team and the Living Learning Community (LLC). 

The documentary sheds a light on a company who threatened to pollute vital water sources, and how residents fought against rural electric cooperative in the Ozark Highlands of Arkansas. The events highlighted in the documentary are similar to actions on Berry’s campus, such as the construction of Rome City water pipeline that will cut through Berry’s property. 

Associate dean of students Lindsay Norman helped collaborate the event to represent the LLC, a community of students who focus on the environment and complete projects on the sustainability of the community. Similar to how Brian Campbell, associate professor of anthropology and environmental sciences, worked to help residents in Ozark Highlands, Norman hopes that Berry is involved in ensuring the pipeline path is not invasive to Berry’s wildlife and landscape.

“I want students to learn how to be engaged in the responsible management and protection of natural resources.” Norman said. 

The documentary was created by Campbell, who served as producer, researcher, writer and sole funder of the film. He heard about the residents fighting back against the pollution of their water as he was working with farmers in the Ozarks. 

Campbell explained the title of the film as a play on words. Arkansas is a beautiful state full of protected land known as the “Natural State,” but there is a huge lack of democracy that is clearly portrayed in the film with the rural electric cooperative doing whatever they want even when the residents do not agree. Campbell addresses the issue by creating the title, “Natural State of America.”

Campbell worked with students from the University of Central Arkansas, where Campbell used to teach. 

“Some students who were anthropology minors and film majors worked with me; Terrell Case, Tim Wistrand and Corey Gattin were the camera operators and directors, Terrell Case was the editor,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he has made other films which usually take three to five years to complete. But with the passion Campbell had for the environment, the film was finished quickly. 

“We were in a hurry to get it out to try to stop the spraying, so we knocked it out in about a year,” Campbell said. 

The S.A.V.E. president, senior Margaret Iva Ashton collaborated on the planning of the film screening and explained that she hopes Berry students will realize that the people have power. As she describes, corporations and governments only have power because the people choose to give it to them. 

“When communities come together to fight corruption and assert their power, amazing things can happen,” Ashton said. “Now more than ever, we need people who will stand up and fight for a clean planet.” 

The main purpose of the documentary, as Ashton explains, was to highlight environmental injustice and spread awareness about how communities can deal with infringements on basic human rights.

Students who missed the film screening event can catch a viewing at the Rome International Film Festival, which is being hosted in Rome from Nov. 6-10. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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