Occupy Sustainability: #MakeMoviesNotMissiles

by Adam

Mickey Z.

“To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

– Howard Zinn

During my many visits to the original Occupy Wall Street (OWS) encampment, I’d often found myself hanging out at the Sustainability table. This will probably come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read my work. “Ecosystem Before Economics” is the song I sing.

It was at the Sustainability table that I met Winnie (yeah, just “Winnie”), one of the organizers of the OWS Sustainability working group, and learned of her essential film projects. In conjunction with Paul Park of One Pack Productions, Winnie is creating a series of short films which will focus primarily on sustainability topics such as: alternative energy, bike power, recycling, composting, farming+food, localization, creative reuse, alternative economic models, urban gardening, bee keeping, natural building, greywater systems, and biodiversity.

“We want to bring you the knowledge and the stories of many human beings, who are deeply committed to people care, planet care, and fair share,” she writes. “These films will be made available to the public on an open source website currently in development.”

Their first two films have been embedded into hundreds of blogs and websites around the world and Bill McKibben of 350.org called their film on The Guerrilla Gardeners of Vermont, “beautiful.”

I had a recent conversation with Winnie and it went a little something like this…

Mickey Z.: It must be easy to make films with all the extra time you have from not bathing or having a job, huh?

Winnie: This is my job, and like Derrick Jensen once said, “forget shorter showers.”

MZ: When did you first get involved with OWS?

Winnie: I am one of the organizers of OWS Sustainability working group. My involvement with the NYC Occupation began in early summer of 2011.

MZ: What type of activism had occupied you prior to that?

Winnie: I edit and publish a blog, http://www.seismologik.com, which is a site that focuses primarily on Earth changes, Earth health, and transition culture—although, we also devote a good amount of bandwidth to anti-war activism, censorship/privacy, and the Wikileaks conversation. All things that lead to the real issue people are still not talking about: paradigm shift in cultural consciousness.

MZ: How do you see sustainability blending into the OWS movement?

Winnie: It’s pretty simple really: Infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is unsustainable. Something has got to give, and it has to be us. And, if we don’t, the consequences will be horrifying. So to answer your question, sustainability is an absolutely important part of this movement. We’d be the people who provide alternative solutions to the growing RESOURCE crises. What do we do when we run out of oil? There are a lot of options. Permaculture is an optimum solution. We can wean ourselves off dirty fossil fuels by switching over bio-fuel from algal feeds. Let’s restore the biological health of the planet and sink some carbon. Contrary to popular belief, none of this is rocket science. That would not be sustainable, probably. The hope is that these solutions will help create the equality that the movement is constantly calling for: Ideas into action, action in practice.

MZ: What would you say to those who hear “sustainability” and think mostly of recycled toilet paper and CFL bulbs?

Winnie: THC + A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen = A Consciousness Cocktail.

MZ: Why film? What is it about this medium that lends it to spreading the word?

Winnie: People enjoy watching movies because movies can effectively transport them into a realm of fantasy and possibility. I place more of an emphasis on “possibility” rather than on “fantasy.” Also, we tell stories of humans being good (to each other), creative, sincere, passionate, kind and caring. When you jam the frequency with amazing vibes and positive sentiments, you’re creating universal love magic.

MZ: I like the idea of movies because those who have yet to visit their local occupation are being misled by the media or other naysayers. Words help, photos are good, but moving pictures can best help convey the reality that OWS is creating an alternative mode of human culture. Tell us a little about your short films.

Winnie: We focus mostly on topics centered around sustainability and permaculture. The idea is to show people that closing the loop is an easy thing to do. And, it’s a bonus if we’re able to deliver something beautiful to the naked eye in this process. So far, we’ve made videos on Greywater Systems, Guerrilla Gardening, and Food Co-ops. In the future, we hope to visit and film at urban farms. We’ll film bee keepers, window farmers, and rooftop farmers, follow green visionaries around, visit and stay in an Earthship. We’ll check out the transition communities. We’ll learn a lot, and we’ll also share our knowledge. Empowerment through education. We’d love to show these films at middle and high schools. The kids need to know what is going on, because they are the ones who are going to running this game in the future.

MZ: How can readers learn more, help out, and get involved with your projects?

Winnie: OWS Sustainability meets every Monday at 5pm and every Thursday at 8pm at 60 Wall Street. We encourage people to come join the conversation. Bring your creativity, your altruism, and your curiosity to these meetings. You won’t regret it.

Also, we are currently crowdfunding a film project. Our team will visit Occupations early next year so modest monetary gifts and sharing our links widely will be tremendously helpful.

MZ: What’s been the most unexpected aspect and/or biggest surprise you’ve encountered since OWS went public on Sept. 17?

Winnie: That this is becoming what appears to be the global consciousness movement that we’ve all been waiting for. This feels like evolution. It is synthesizing in a very organic way. Everyone can feel it, even if they are not participating. Occupy might still be in its infancy but the thing is growing faster than Monsanto pesticides can kill off bee species, and that is good news. Culture is being jammed and paradigms are shifting—whether people like it or not. In the future, we’ll look back on this and be glad we could put our differences aside to work together and create a better world. One that is fair, sustainable and fun to live in.

MZ: Anything else you’d like to share?

Winnie: It’s now or never.

#OccupyParticipation. Please donate/get involved/spread the word:

Help fund the OccupyTogether film projects

OWS Sustainability Working Group



Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.