Reflection on La Vista Screening

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we were invited to screen at La Vista Ecological Learning Center in Godfrey, IL. Our film had screened once before on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, and geographically, there are many insights to be gained about the pipeline’s impacts from talking to communities in the Illinois region. We may be divided by political lines, but bioregionally, our communities share much of the same biodiversity, geography, and culture. These political state lines it turns out can be very arbitrary.

La Vista is a beautiful retreat, occupying a robust forested area along the bluffs, overlooking the river. It is also home to a Community Supported farm.

The film screened in the common room of the main building to a group of community members and Novices who live on the property at La Vista. As with all our screenings, audience members come to the issue of energy in the United States from varied backgrounds. We counted in our company that evening a long-time Sierra Club member, a community member active in many different sustainability projects, and Novices from Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Haiti, and Texas.

With each screening, themes begin to emerge in regards to what audience members want to talk about – in Kirkwood we heard a lot of comments about corporate control over energy infrastructure; at Mary Mother people were very interested in the mechanics of pipeline construction (we even had an audience member who came from a long line of Louisianan pipeliners); and at La Vista we discussed the legal system of permitting pipelines, prompted by our Australian Novice who had a law background and was very curious about the American legal system. Novices from Sri Lanka asked thoughtful questions about why public transportation is so limited in the United States and where we can expect the future of meeting our country’s energy needs to go in the coming years. These perspectives from near and far remind us that if we take the time to engage with one another and actually make room to discuss important issues, there is much to be hopeful about.

And to leave La Vista at the end of the evening being able to look up to a clear sky, free of light pollution and full of stars, certainly solidified that hopeful feeling.

Special thanks to Sister Maxine for organizing the screening and to the Novices for a lovely meal before the event.

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Director Caitlin Zera with Sister Maxine Pohlman, Director at La Vista Ecological Learning Center

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Answering Your Questions

We get a lot of great questions from the audiences at our screenings, including some we can’t answer without more information. We always make note of these inquiries and get to work doing research to give you the best answers we can.

Below are questions we’ve received at our most recent screenings in Kirkwood and Oakville. The research for these answers are in progress – stay tuned and we’ll be posting answers as soon as we find them!

We are so grateful to have such engaged community turnouts at our screenings – it means we are building a more informed citizenry. Please continue to send us your questions!

  1. Are citizens taxed on the electricity that is used to heat tar sands pipelines?
  2. There’s a project $8.7million in tax revenue from the pipeline in Missouri? What does that money pay for?
  3. Does the heat from the underground pipeline affect marine life when it crosses under rivers?
  4. How much crude oil is being transported through the United States right now?
  5. How much tar sands are being transported through the United States?
  6. Has the spearhead pipeline had an incidents in its 50 year history?
  7. What happens to the waste produced from refining tar sands, including the liquid chemicals?
  8. How much more energy is used for tar sands extraction than fracking or crude oil?
  9. Is tar sands economically viable anymore with the falling gas prices?
  10. Are there tar sands reserves in the United States like there are in Canada?
  11. What happens to decommissioned pipelines? Do they get excavated or cleaned? Is the residue from a decommissioned pipeline dangerous?

Reflections on Our January Screenings

We are so grateful every time we get to share our film with a new audience. We screened the film at two community spaces this week, The Franciscan Sisters in Kirkwood and Mary Mother of the Church in Oakville. Both screenings were full, with new faces, long-time supporters, and returning viewers. We get important questions after each screening, including many we have to follow-up on after additional research (see our blog post on questions we’re in the process of researching). We’ve had controversial questions and moderated discussion between audience members. We envisioned sharing the film this way, in small community settings where the film can spark dialogue between viewers. Every time we leave with a new sense of the issue and a new sense of how our communities can become more engaged in the conversation about energy in the United States.

Everyone who attends our screenings brings a valuable perspective. The film is not really complete without interaction from the audience.

We began this month of screenings in Kirkwood. We had shown the film with the Franciscan Sisters before and to be welcomed back into such a thoughtful, engaged community was a wonderful start to our month of screenings. The audience asked lots of informed questions, and I was particularly impressed by a question from a student about how making the film impacted my everyday relationship with oil products. Not able to say that I had eliminated them from my life, which would be ideal, I could only respond that I now saw much more clearly the impact that transporting oil products has on communities and wildlife. We heard several stories from audience members about triumphs of other communities over pipeline construction, and the sense of hope at the evening’s end was, for me, very palpable and energizing.

At Mary Mother, we were welcomed by a diverse audience – members not only of Mary Mother parish but other organizations and communities of faith. We had many audience members who were new to the issue of tar sands and lots of great knowledge sharing amongst audience members.

We look forward to our two remaining screenings as well as some to be announced in the Kansas City area later this spring.

Thank you so much to Maurice Lange, the Franciscan Sisters, Ginny S., Sister Jan, Diza V., and Mary Ellen for organizing these events. You all make the vision of this film come to life.

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Director Caitlin Zera with Mary Mother of the Church screening organizers (from left) Ginny Schrappen, Sister Jan Stocking, and Mary Ellen Factor.

Railroads or Pipelines? Opinion Piece Looks at Risks and Safety of Petroleum Transportation

In our film, Mayor Larry Ritter discusses his view of oil pipelines as being a safer alternative to railroading or trucking petroleum material. All modes of transportation have their risks when it comes to transporting crude oil and tar sands. In this thoughtful opinion piece published by the Duluth News Tribune, Thane Maxwell writes that the choice between railroading, trucking, and pipelining petroleum material is a false one. Many energy companies use all modes of transportation to increase their capacity; a pipeline is not necessarily a replacement for railroading material. In many cases, it is simply an addition. We must weigh all the risks associated with each mode of transportation for each community. Transporting petroleum material poses many dangers, and no mode of transportation is 100% risk-proof.

Read on for more thought provoking information: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/local-view/3917811-local-view-oil-trains-pipelines-offer-false-choice

TransCanda Lawsuit over Keystone XL Rejection

 

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was officially rejected this past November, but now TransCanada is suing the Obama Administration under NAFTA, “using a complex and opaque process known as the investor-state dispute system, which allows corporations to bring lawsuits against countries that they feel are unfairly blocking the free flow of trade. TransCanada’s accusation is that the Obama Administration rejected Keystone XL for purely symbolic reasons, rather than its impact on the climate, and therefore the company has been discriminated against.”

The Huffington Post details the lawsuit and provides useful commentary into “how terrible trade agreements like NAFTA can be for our environment.”

Read on here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-henn/transcanadas-pathetic-key_b_8925396.html

From the Pipeline featured on Earthworms podcast

Listen to Jean Ponzi discuss From the Pipeline with director Caitlin Zera on this week’s Earthworms episode, full podcast available now at: http://earthworms.kdhxtra.org/from-the-pipeline-with-filmmaker-caitlin-zera.

Tune into KDHX 88.1 FM to catch an Earthworms “segment” about the film live on air.

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Featured photo: Host Jean Ponzi with Caitlin Zera at the Larry J. Weir Center for Independent Media, KDHX Studios, St. Louis