eing anti-fracking is all the rage these days; lots of celebrities have taken up the cause, and even Governor Cuomo has jumped on the bandwagon. But it wasn’t so long ago that nobody had heard about the people who could set their tapwater on fire because their wells had been contaminated with natural gas due to hydraulic fracturing. That rapid rate of consciousness-raising about the issue is largely attributable to a Pennsylvanian who, seven years ago, got curious enough to grab a camera and do some low-budget independent research when a gas company offered his family $100,000 for the right to drill under their land.
The result was the 2010 documentary film Gasland, which went on to earn many accolades including the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, a Best Documentary Directing Emmy and a Best Documentary Oscar nomination. It inspired HBO to finance a sequel and the Independent Petroleum Association of America to create an “informational” website trying, with little success, to douse the firestorm of public outrage that filmmaker/activist/banjo-player Josh Fox had ignited.
After five years on the lecture/screening and talk show circuits, Fox has become an international environmental rock star: A town in France’s version of Gasland actually named a street after him. He now has enough financial backing to travel all over the world gathering footage for his work-in-progress – title as yet unannounced – documenting the effects of climate change, from Africa to Iceland to the Amazon, and what people are doing about it at the grassroots level.
You can get a sneak peek at sequences from that new film; hear music from Fox, chanteuse Vanessa Bley (of Beast Patrol and Twin Danger), Bethany (Yarrow) and Rufus (Cappadocia) and possibly Bethany’s Dad, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary); and listen to Fox and erstwhile gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout drum up enthusiasm for renewable energy alternatives at SUNY-New Paltz on Tuesday, March 10. Billed as A Solar Home Companion in homage to the folksy style and variety-show format of Garrison Keillor’s long-running public radio program A Prairie Home Companion, the event is the local whistlestop on Fox’s national “Solutions Grassroots Tour.”
With the Town and Village of New Paltz currently joining forces to seek state grant funding to become the epicenter of a sustainably powered electrical microgrid, the timing seems perfect for this event. If you believe that the best sources of energy are wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal and human beings committed to a cause, you won’t want to miss A Solar Home Companion. The road show gets underway at 6 p.m. in Lecture Center 100 on the SUNY-New Paltz campus, and admission is free.
A Solar Home Companion with Josh Fox, Zephyr Teachout & musical guests, Tuesday, March 10, 6 p.m., free, Lecture Center 100, SUNY-New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz; firstname.lastname@example.org.