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The following 16 mm films and videos from the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s are being offered to inspire reflections on how much the values, moods and tenor of the present day have tragically strayed from what they were back in those days. For the most part, the era in which these films and videos take place is dramatically distant from what’s happening today.


Here we are, in the throes of an absolute, anti-constitutional, authoritarian takeover of this country that could never have been imagined by the folks in ‘Almost Heaven, Grafton, West Virginia’ in 1974. Yes, they were dispirited by Watergate and governmental circumstances far beyond their control, but losing faith in the democratic process? Not yet. That began to fester six years later in 1980 as ‘Small Business My Way’ recorded the cultural atmosphere of a small rural town’s small business community. Ronald Reagan’s candidacy was rising in the polls and the hard working, self-reliant, rugged individualists of the film start to show their hand when, for example, the candidate for county sheriff, in no uncertain terms, tells the federal government to just “go to hell” over the EPA’s strip-mining regulations.


An abiding faith in our country’s deeply held values and democratic norms, paired with an ever-deepening distrust and disillusionment with how things are turning out, has grown to become the mess we are in today.


In ‘Natural Capital Speaks!’, the same historic shifts that were lurking in most every other democracy in the 90’s would not be dwelled on by the astute, forward-thinking international scientists featured in these videos. Passionately debating the fate of the earth in Madison, WI; Stockholm, Sweden; Aspen, CO; and San Jose, Costa Rica there was not a peep about the constitutional crises that would soon engulf the free world’s most reliable democracies. ‘Costa Rica Counts the Future’ (1994) comes closest by featuring, among others, an indigenous campesino who articulately speaks truth to power, saying that an economic war is being waged against his people and “we’re not going to take it anymore”. Ironically, this is not unlike what we’re witnessing today in the United States. Vast numbers of white, middle-class Americans are saying the very same thing, for very different reasons – basically, and regrettably, (in no uncertain terms), that the federal government can just go to hell.


Succumbing to a fascistic upheaval of all that we hold dear in this country is simply unacceptable. As reflected in these films/videos, the hard-fought, hard-won values and responsibilities that intuitively come from living in the world’s greatest, constitutional, liberal democracy is what is at stake.


The twin threats of a destabilized climate, along with the persistent avoidance of the top tier to pay their fair share, is driving an existential, profoundly conflicted crisis unlike anything we have ever seen. To address these challenges, various federal and state environmental agencies, along with hundreds of thousands of non-profits, NGO’s, businesses, and communities alike, have been, and continue to be, hard at work operationalizing sustainability, while, remarkably, in 2021, 138 countries agreed to sign on to an international 15% minimum income tax for corporations. A similar, international 2% minimum tax on the world’s billionaires is on the table and looking like it too will soon pass.


We won’t be able to save the earth without investing – big time – in our natural capital.


We won’t be able to do that unless we save ourselves, by voting for a diverse, inclusive, and deeply compassionate democracy.


Please enjoy this look back to the way we were, and then imagine what might yet become…of us.


Peter R Griesinger

Memorial Day 2024

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

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