Another round of Green Wednesdays at Kwantlen is almost here.
This Wednesday, the School of Horticulture and the Green Ideas Network will be showing “Dirt: The Movie” at the Langley Kwantlen campus.
Gary Jones, Horticulture Instructor at Kwantlen, says, “It’s really a time for some informal education around issues of sustainability and it provides a venue for people to come together to discuss these things in a very informal setting.”
Typically, a Green Wednesday begins with an environmentally-themed movie. Then there is a break, where people can have something to eat and drink, before door prizes are awarded. The door prizes are from the event’s sponsors: A Bread Affair and Ladybug Organics.
The rest of the evening is left open for when there is a guest speaker, such as last month when the movie makers of “The Clean Bin Project” arrived to talk and answer questions at the event.
“We try to have some take-home action points as to what we can do in terms of personally at home or in our individual communities to make some changes,” Jones said.
An average of somewhere between 50 and 60 people attend the monthly Green Wednesdays, but Jones said that this number is steadily increasing.
“At the last event, which was the first of the season, we had 130 people,” Jones said.
This Wednesday, as well as showing the short 40-minute film “Dirt: The Movie,” some of the movie’s special features will be shown.
“I want to show two of them in particular,” Jones said. “One is about landscape planning and town planning, and how that effects soil and how that affects community. And the other one is about schools and bringing education around soil, food production, sustainability and food security into the classroom.
“I’d like people to go away with something that they can actually think about doing.”
Green Wednesdays are held at the Langley Kwantlen campus in Room 1325, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the movie starting at 7. Admission is by donation.
Film screenings and discussion forums on contemporary issues are a common part of university culture, but Gary Jones thinks his evening series of documentary films and speakers at Kwantlenâ€™s Langley campus is more than just a clichÃ©d fixture of campus life.
For the last two years, Jones, chair of Production Horticulture at Kwantlenâ€™s Langley campus, has been organizing a monthly evening of films and discussion on sustainable agriculture, called Green Wednesdays.
Beginning in October and ending in March, the event happens on the second Wednesday of every month in one of the labs that Jones teaches in at the Langley campus.
Jones began the event as a government-funded speaker series in the fall of 2008, but government funding was eventually curtailed, forcing him to look elsewhere for material to inspire discussion.
Luckily, people involved in the Green Ideas Network, a Burnaby-based environmental advocacy organization, were looking for a new venue for to the Surrey Environmental Film Festival. Jones linked up with the network, and began hosting evenings of film, discussion and networking around an array of environmental issues.
So far this year, Jones and his students have shown features dealing with peak oil, energy use and climate change, all films that highlight the need for people to consider more sustainable lifestyles. This Wednesday, Jones, his students and some members of the Langley community will gather to watch Good Food, a 2008 film about the resurgence of small-scale, family-run farming initiatives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Participation in setting up and promoting the evening has become required coursework for students in Jonesâ€™ Sustainable Horticulture class. Students help organize the event and do assignments based on the films being shown.
â€œItâ€™s a good way for the students to get involved and to make connections out there with the organic community and the public who turn out,â€ said Jones.
Jones is enthusiastic about the potential for exposing people to the broader issues that affect the environment. He is aware that the evening has an outreach potential, in that it brings people to the campus who might not otherwise.
â€œOne of my desires for the Green Wednesdays was to use it as a link between the community and the school, so people in Langley or Surrey or wherever could come on to the campus when they might otherwise not do so,â€ said Jones.
â€œThe evenings are bringing new information to the students, but theyâ€™re also getting the students to share their information with the public. Itâ€™s a good way of extending the education to the wider community,â€ said Jones.
Farming the SeasÂ offers a lot of information in very little time, but makes an important claim: Aquaculture is dangerous is so many ways.
Farming the Seas, a 55-minute documentary shown at the latest Green Wednesday at the Langley campus, that begins in B.C. and then takes the viewer to Norway, Scotland, China and Thailand, where they have seen the disastrous affects of aquaculture.
Aquaculture began with good intentions as a solution to overfishing, which caused the salmon population to drop.
At first fish-farming seemed like a brilliant idea. Millions of salmon are raised besides other sea-life, but within a caged net that floats in the sea. One aboriginal in the film referred to them as â€œfloating hotelsâ€ for salmon.
But one of the greatest problems with fish-farming is disease. The fish get sockeye disease (a viral infection) and sea lice, which spread quickly throughout the population trapped within the net.
Farming the Seas shows numerous clips of millions of fish being thrown away, because of these diseases.
Since these fish grow in the same waters as wild salmon, these diseases affect other wildlife as well. In B.C and Washington alone, nearly 1 million salmon have escaped from their farm, spreading the disease throughout the ocean.
This problem does not just affect the fish population, it affects what we eat. The treatment for these diseases is antibiotics, which contain pesticides that are fed orally.
The audience gasped when it saw a one-year-old farmed salmon compared to a one-year-old wild salmon. The farmed salmon was triple the size of wild salmon, because of the hormones the fish are given to make them grow faster, therefore making it on the fish market quicker.
This mass-production not only affects the livelihood of fishermen, but other marine life, such as whales, turtles, bears and seals who depend on them for food. As the wild salmonâ€™s population continues to decline, this means little food for the animals higher on the food chain.
Farming the Seas spares us the horror of other documentaries when they show us a cute cub whoâ€™s starving. Thankfully, in this film, viewers are shown clips of a bear snacking on wild salmon, and seals dancing in the ocean while clouds of fish disperse in unison, creating a miraculous vision.
Other issues addressed in the film include the extinction of blue fin tuna and the repercussions of farming shrimp.
Farming the Seas is an information overload, Bbut information that we should be loaded up with. Experts such as David Suzuki, Sylvia A. Eerie and UBC professors are featured throughout the documentary.
And the documentary is not just about doom. It shows solutions to the problem, that as a society we need to address.
Since there is so much information to process in less than an hour, it made a huge difference to be watching Farming the Seas with people who wanted to converse about the issues.
Green Wednesdayâ€™s at Kwantlenâ€™s Langley campus is about education. The room was packed with people who watch the weekly films to gain knowledge. But what separates this from sitting on a cozy couch at home or surfing the internet, is that these people want to talk about it.
At the end of the documentary, Shauna MacKinnon, a campaigner for Living Ocean Society, was there for a Q&A. People raised their hand to ask questions that were not addressed in the film, or to get more understanding about what the film brought up and the positive and negative advances in the fishing industry since the film was made in 2004.
Not everyoneâ€™s idea of fun is watching a documentary called Farming the Seas, jam-packed with information about aquaculture, then diving into a deep discussion concerning what kind of fish you consume. But if it is, youâ€™re going to have a blast.
Kwantlen Polytechnic Universityâ€™s Langley campus held the first official Green Wednesday this week, drawing 40 people, most of them residents in Langley.
The environmental movie King Corn was shown. It tells the story of two young men, fresh out of college, who move to Iowa, the “corn capital of the world.” The movie shows that basically everything western civilization eats is made out of corn: corn is fed to the animals we eat, as well as made into corn syrup, which sweetens everything from pop to spaghetti sauce.
The event was co-hosted by the Green Ideas Network; Doreen Dewell, a biology teacher in Whatcom County; and Kwantlenâ€™s Kent Mullinix from the Sustainable Horticulture institute. When picking films for the series, Dewell wanted to have â€œfilms on edge rather than only informational.â€
Dewell and her sister Joyce Roston are among the founders of the Green Ideas Network, which is a non-profit organization. The network is designed to teach local people about sustainability and raise awareness about environmental issues.
Dewelll says that she basically runs the series like an educational class. â€œWhat I do in class, I do in public,â€ she said. The Green Ideas Network is a fairly young organization, which started about three years ago with environment displays at local fairs mostly in Burnaby, Langley and Surrey.
Wednesday, after the hour-and-a-half movie, door prizes were given out and those on hand were offered refreshments and coffee.
Green Wednesdays are being held at the Langley campus on the second Wednesday of each month. Details of next month’s event are not yet available.
Kwantlenâ€™s Langley campus will promote environmentally-conscious ideas in a new series called Green Wednesdays. Every second Wednesday of each month will be devoted to movies that deal with environmental issues, as well as presentations about sustainability and healthy living.
Gary Jones, horticulture instructor at Kwantlen, is putting on the event along with the Green Ideas Network. Jones says that the event is open to everyone because “we want what we do here to be relative to the community.”
Jones said that last semester, they put on a similar event called the Environment Around Us, which was held only three times in the spring. He said that they had a great turnout and, by the last event, they had 120 people show up.
This year, the Green Ideas Network approached Jones and said it wanted to get involved and include its movie picks in the itinerary. Jones, along with students from Kwantlen and the horticulture sector, set up the evening, bring in guest speakers and make sure that everything is running smoothly.
The Green Ideas network, consists of two women, Doreen Dosdwell and Joyce Rostron. It’s a non-profit society, based in Surrey. Jones said that Dewell and Roston share his goal for the environmental series, which is “to make people more aware of issues surrounding food security, community development landscape, housing development.”
Jones said that he hopes people will leave the series with an idea about issues such as sustainability, alternatives to oil and challenges to the food supply. He hopes that people will teach these issues to other members of their communities so people will “decide to do something, specifically, that they can implement themselves and make a change on a local level.”
The first Green Wednesday will be held Wednesday, Oct. 8 at the Langley campus auditorium. King of Corn, a movie about farmers finding out what happens to their crops in a “fast-food nation.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $4 for students.