The Humble Earth

Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognizant of this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and vainglory….
(Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Wilmette, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988, p. 44)

Repost – Movie Review : Human Footprint

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I figure you might enjoy this post from an eco-blog called Worldchanging.  Environmental stewardship and personal responsibility are spiritual and moral issues that we all struggle with. Here is a quote before but it’s worth repeating since I think it fits so nicely with the theme:

Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognizant of this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and vainglory. ~ Bahá’u’lláh

So without further ado, enjoy!

Movie Review: Human Footprint

from WorldChanging by Amanda Reed

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Two years ago, Worldchanging listed “Human Footprint” in its Holiday Gift Guide, but as far as I could tell no one here had offered a review of the film. Due to a recent flu that left me bed bound, I was able to watch the movie and I thought it would be of interest to Worldchanging readers if I offered a bit more information about it.

In true National Geographic fashion the film is a visual feast, with both captivating still life images and dramatic video sequences used to illustrate the vast quantity of stuff the average American uses over the course of a lifetime (where a lifetime = 77 years 9 months). The narrative is simple: the film follows an American boy and girl from birth to death and shows their average consumptive footprint. For example, at the beginning we learn that the average baby requires 1,898 pints of crude oil and 4.5 trees just to make their diapers; and then as teenagers the boy and girl develop hygiene habits that will lead to the use of over 156 toothbrushes, 389 tubes of toothpaste, 656 bars of soap, and 198 bottles of shampoo over their lives; and as adults it’s estimated that the young man and woman will live in a 2,000 square foot home and move about 10 times, with each home requiring 13,837ft of lumber, 17 tons of concrete, 400 lbs of copper piping, and 30 gallons of paint to construct. That’s a lot of awesome data, and the strength of the film is in how it visually demonstrates these abstract footprint values. As a primarily visual learner, this documentary really helped me to see how much stuff I potentially use in my life, both directly and indirectly.

Here are a selection of screen shots of some of the more impressive visual sequences that I took while watching the movie online at Snag Films:

(Screenshot of sequence showing a lifetime of showers with 28,433 rubber duckies.)

(Screenshot of a lifetime’s worth of appliances put on a wall.)

(Screenshot of sequence where a typical sports shoe is dismantled to highlight how many parts, materials and resources one shoe requires.)

(Screenshot of sequence where a Ford car’s parts are removed and arranged on a map of the world to show the global scope of the resource extraction and production of the car.)

In addition to simply making visual the hard-to-visualize large quantities of food and products I potentially consume over my lifetime, I thought the best parts of the “Human Footprint” film were in the scenes where they reveal the backstories of products or otherwise break down the sub-footprints of the things we use (see the above images of the dismantled car and sneaker, for examples). As the movie narrator says, “Without even thinking about it Americans are tapped into a global infrastructure.” This placement within a global infrastructure is of course true for all people and not just Americans. Hopefully after watching this film more people will think more about the global infrastructure within which they’re enmeshed.

The “Human Footprint” does not make a a strong argument about how you can reduce your carbon footprint or human footprint, but as a compilation of data coupled with dramatic and eye-catching images, I think the film serves as a good introduction to how big an impact our direct and indirect consumption of goods and services has on the planet. This knowledge can in turn lead to more solutions for revealing product back stories like in Patagonia’s The Footprint Chronicles project, or in providing eco-labels on products that show the materials, processes, transportation, energy, and water used in production, or through increased research into and mapping of supply chains, such as with Sourcemap and Tacoshed.

If you like The Story of Stuff or No Impact Man I think you’d also like this movie. You can view the “Human Footprint” online at Snag Films.

For more information on ecological footprints and product back stories, see the Worldchanging archives…

Previous stories about ecological footprints at Worldchanging include (in chronological order):
Ecological Footprints

City Limits London

Biocapacity and Ecological Footprints: Graph, Thousand Words

Principle 2: Ecological Footprints and One Planet Thinking

Personal Planets and the Little Prince

Ecological Footprint 2.0

Ecological Debt Day
Previous stories about product back stories at Worldchanging include (in chronological order):
Principle 1: The Backstory

The Eco-Nutrition Label

The Footprint Chronicles, Grey Matters

The Backstory of Stuff: New Sites Enable More Transparency in the Supply Chain

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(Posted by Amanda Reed in Media at 11:00 AM)

Dawn Breakers International Film Festival (DBIFF)

I had a comment a while back that unfortunately my filter thought was spam, however I caught that it wasn’t and discovered this amazing film festival just in time to share it for Naw Ruz!

Dawn Breakers International Film Festival (DBIFF)

From their website:

The purpose of the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival (DBIFF) is to discover, recognize and showcase films and filmmakers of all backgrounds who have a world-embracing vision and incorporate, discuss or reflect on themes that relate to the Bahá’í Faith*.

Our Mission:

  • To encourage filmmakers throughout the world to contribute to the advancement of the New Civilization** via film and multimedia visual-arts mediums.
  • To introduce and recognize Bahá’í filmmakers and/or Bahá’í-themed* films from all over the world.
  • To invite and encourage industry professionals and the general public to participate in the process.

*The films need not to be made by the Baha’is or discuss the Faith directly. For a list of “Baha’i themes” please see the FAQ page.

I am sad that I missed it, but hopefully I’ll be able to blog to promote next year’s.  However you can still check out the films from 2009 and 2008 on the website, two of which I had blogged about  (Armed and Afghan) .  I’ve included their trailer to the festival here:


Children of a Lesser God — Communication and Connection


Children of a Lesser God, 1986

Starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin.

Synopsis (from Netflix):

Speech teacher James Leeds (William Hurt) uses unconventional methods to reach his hearing-impaired students but can’t make headway with the school’s deaf custodian, Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin, who captured the Best Actress Oscar). The brainy but cynical Sarah thinks it’s better to stay in the safe confines of her voiceless milieu than to contend with a callous world. Can James get through to Sarah and release her from her cocoon of silence?

My Thoughts:

My heart is still beating rapidly from watching this film.  It’s tagline is accurate.  There are so many different directions I could go from here.  The film unravels many themes and subjects from education, to communication, and connection.  These are all topics we deal with in our daily lives, and for the most part struggle with.  How do we educate without patronizing?  How do we learn without pride?  How can we truly listen and communicate?  How can we connect constructively?

This film follows two characters, a speech teacher at a deaf school and an angry former student who contends to live in silence.  This dynamic addresses a greater issue in our society.  How can people overcome differences to work, live, and grow together happily without imposing their views on others?  And how can we learn from others differences, and be humble enough and detached enough to embrace them?

In this film the difference is hearing versus deafness which creates an incredible hurdle for communication.  Some of the barriers to communication are direct and obvious and huge, but I think that the lessons we take away from the film can transcend this particular situation.  There are often barriers to communication which aren’t as conspicuous but that block communication just as strongly.

A fundamental lack of communication between peoples seriously undermines efforts towards world peace.  ~ The Universal House of Justice

It is amazing how often conflict springs from miscommunication, whether inter-personally or internationally.  We need to work to break down our barriers.  Some of the barriers that James and Sarah had to break down were pride and fear.  Pride kept Sarah from wanting to speak because she did not want to do anything she was not good at.  Having been ridiculed and harassed for attempting to speak kept her from wanting to ever speak again.  Pride also caused James to hurt Sarah.  Even though he did not think he was better than Sarah because he had an ability she did not have sometimes his actions communicated that and it was hurtful. Part of that also reaches to fear, as Sarah feared that she would get hurt and in doing so would see actions of James’ that were neutral as negative.

O SON OF DUST! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved. Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring from the heart and not from mire and clay. ~ Bahá’u’lláh

This is something we all can think about and learn from.  How do we communicate?  Do people always communicate what we think they do or do we add meaning that they did not convey?  When we fear or judge people too quickly we can interpret what they say differently then they perhaps intend.  We can insert malice where there is none and that will only lead to conflict.

On the flip side we need to be aware of the other party when we speak.  Sometimes we are quick to speak before we fully think about how our words could hurt others.  This happened when James asked Sarah to say his name.  She had already expressed her reticence to speak and how she felt he was pressuring her, so when he did that it made her feel disrespected and used.

He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. ~ Bahá’u’lláh

I think often what creates conflict and barriers to communication are these two forces, pride and fear.  True communication takes patience, love, and humility.  It takes admitting that you might have misunderstood something and the willingness to ask for clarification so that you can better understand before judging.  So often people point to good communication as a factor for a good marriage.  It involves give and take, listening more often then speaking (for you should listen to yourself and how you come off in addition to listening to the other pers0n.   This film helped awaken my eyes to how we all struggle to communicate, so that we can build trust and connect.