Dirt! the Movie

November 18, 2009

Dirt movie explains dire soil erosion problem

Last updated: 11/18/09 11:30pm

Dirt may not be the most likely mascot for the green movement, but it might be the most important.

The UNM community can discover the importance of dirt this Friday in a special presentation of “Dirt! The Movie.”

Terry Horger, program coordinator of the UNM Sustainability Studies Program, said soil erosion is one of the biggest issues facing the environment today.

“We wanted to make sure that people knew that this sort of thing was happening,” she said. “I think for a lot of us, especially if we don’t grow our own food, it’s not in our consciousness to think about dirt and how important it is in our lives.”

The film, directed by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow, was selected for the Sundance Film Festival and won best documentary in the Maui and Mendocino Film Festivals.

The documentary demonstrates the various uses of dirt throughout the world, the importance of dirt in the environment, and how negligence in communities around the world is eroding dirt, Horger said.

“The message is relatively heavy,” Horger said. “But I think it’s done in such a way that it just wants to raise people’s awareness. I think it offers some solutions for how we can get involved with this aspect (of the environment) that isn’t necessarily in the front of people’s consciousness.”

Jake Rio Charney, a sustainability major, said that while some people may not understand sustainability problems, they should still see the film.

“I think it’s important for people who don’t understand what sustainability is (to see) that sustainability can be implemented into their daily lives,” he said. “This film will show people that sustainability is possible and there are ways for people to live without waste. There are concepts that people can use that are here but people are not taking advantage of them.”

“Dirt! The Movie” will play at the Leopold Centennial Building in honor of the 100 year celebration of Aldo Leopold, a noted environmentalist who lived in Albuquerque and wrote the acclaimed A Sand County Almanac.

Before the film, there is a presentation concerning vermicompost, the process of breaking down organic matter through earthworms.

Bruce Milne, a sustainability professor, will give a half hour speech before the film about the importance of Leopold in Albuquerque’s ecological history and the future of sustainability studies in the state.

Milne said dirt is one of the biggest sustainability issues in New Mexico.

“In New Mexico we have three things that plants need to grow in a healthy way,” he said. “One is sunlight. We have unlimited sunlight. They need water, and we provide that from rainfall and irrigation. The third critical thing is the soil because that’s where all the fertility is for plant health and growth. If you’re a community gardener or an organic farmer, the thing you pay the most attention to is the health of your soil.”

Horger said that UNM is doing its part to advocate sustainable practices and that the sustainability program has grown. However, she said there’s still room for improvement.

“We have more and more demand for our courses, and what that tells me is that more and more people are becoming aware of what sustainability is all about,” he said. “We all have to work in a way to protect the environment, whether it’s doing more recycling of our own, getting involved with growing our food (or) reducing our carbon footprint by using public transportation.”

Rio Charney said the importance of the college crowd with the sustainability cannot be underrated.

“The process of producing waste has gone on for a long time,” he said. “I feel as college students — people who basically have been given a chance to be educated on a concept like this — I feel without a doubt it is our duty to figure out a way to create a system that creates no waste and where everything is regenerated.”

*“Dirt! The Movie”
Leopold Centennial Building
6 p.m.
Free *

Published November 18, 2009