Jun 24, 2008 Willie Kiernan Uncategorized
Caz girl brings green film first screening to CNY
By Willie Kiernan
You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.
“I’ve been so proud of my grandfather and how environmentally conscious his farming practices have been,” said Kristina Fitzsimmons.
Fitzsimmons grew up around the Pushlar dairy farm in Cazenovia and has blossomed into an eco-conscious soldier in the war against society’s and businesses’ earth-harmful practices.
“I caught the bio-diesel and renewable energy bug eight years ago and I’ve been trying to find my niche,” she said.
Fitzsimmons is part of a group that has come to Syracuse for the premier of “EcoSutra,” a film to be shown on Saturday June 28 at the Palace Theater, 2384 James Street. Doors will open at 6 p.m. The film will begin at 6:45 p.m. with an introduction by producer Russel Berns. There will be presentations to follow along with music by Rebecca Keefe Fitzsimmons. Admission is a sliding scale: $0 to $10.
“This documentary introduces us to the practices of permaculture, a design science that mimics natural cycles to maximize productivity,” said Fitzsimmons. “The ‘EcoSutra’ film takes us on a global quest for the solutions to the challenges of our time We visit revolutionaries from all walks of life and travel across the globe to explore the ingredients of sustainable communities and the worldwide eco-movement. Permaculture teaches us that the efficient processes of an ecosystem can be applied to human communities as well, and that nature is by far our greatest teacher. We discover the power of permaculture to produce a strong economy and a healthy environment.”
The film highlights valuable alternatives to current infrastructure and lifestyles, including profitable renewable energy technologies ready and waiting for wide scale implementation. Other chapters of the film explore the rapidly growing green building movement and of efficient agricultural practices that were second nature to local farmers thirty years ago.
Steve Strong, president of Solar Design Associates of Harvard, who Installed the first solar panels on the White House, is interviewed in the film.
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, in environment and in energy supply,” said Strong. “This is the largest challenge humanity has ever faced. We have to focus our resources, both financial and intellectual, upon this with the intensity of a military conflict or a moon shot or a Manhattan project.”
Another expert, Eric Daniles, vice president of technology and product development at British Petroleum Solar, was also interviewed.
“It could well be that all of a sudden your home has a solar array on top that produces hydrogen for your automobile, or some fuel cell in your home during the day when your car is not there,” Daniles said. “If your car is there it charges up your car battery. When you start to integrate these things in a brand new way it really opens up a lot of opportunity, you think about it all differently.
“This is a very unique premiere,” Fitzsimmons said. “We are gathering not only to watch a great film, but also to network within the community and create positive synergy towards sustainable community developments.”
Following the film, local leaders will discuss practical solutions for moving Syracuse in a more sustainable direction.
“One of the reasons I’m here with the film is because the Syracuse area and even Cazenovia can be self-sustainable,” Fitzsimmons said. “We have an abundance of resources here, land, sun, wind and especially fresh water.”
Fitzsimmons went to school in Cazenovia, moved to Tully in her junior year and graduated high school there. Representing her father’s company, Fitzsimmons Systems Inc., she attended a national bio-diesel conference in Texas where she met up with a social and environmental justice film maker, whose first film was “Freedom Fuels” with Willie Nelson.
“Then he made “Justicia Now” with Darryl Hannah about the Chevron/Texaco toxic legacy in the northern Ecuadorian rain forest,” Fitzsimmons said.
There is a multi-billion dollar class action suit against the oil conglomerate for allegedly dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into the rain forest that wiped out two entire tribes of people.
“‘Justicia Now’ demonstrated to me the power of film,” Fitzsimmons said. “When people see it, they really get it. The story is really tragic and heartbreaking and with my energy I wanted to push forth all the solutions that are available to us that are not being used.”
Russell Berns, the founder and director of EcoSutra, is the son of legendary song-writer Bert Berns, who was responsible for hits like “Twist and Shout,” “Under The Boardwalk,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” among others, and is a founder of BANG Records. Russell Berns grew up in the music publishing industry, and has freelanced in music and video production. He filmed, directed, produced, and composed music for the EcoSutra film, all of which was funded by his family’s legacy.
This is Berns’ first full-length documentary release, which showcases more than two years of his research meeting with top permaculture scientists and environmental companies in Asia, Africa, Europe, Israel and North America.
For more information go to: ecosutra.tv/trailer.
The premiere will also feature a special performance by Rebecca Keefe Fitzsimmons, a local singer-songwriter whose angelic voice has long been a staple of the Syracuse music scene. Rebecca was featured on the New York State Rhythm and Blues Fest CD compilation Women ‘N Blues, and was the very first performer at the famous and now defunct Happy Endings Coffeehouse.
Recently, her song Invitation to the Dance was recorded by international jazz artist Emily Saxe, who performed it as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center series in New York this past April.
“Some of these practices were standard 40 years ago,” Fitzsimmons said. “What has impressed me, while I’m in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, is seeing all these people protesting Starbucks for buying from farms using bovine growth hormones. When I was 10 years old my grandfather was already turning down the growth hormone.”