Following a couple of decades spent visually chronicling the health of the planet’s oceans and waterways from a kayak for National Geographic, Stone Ridge-based documentary filmmaker/environmental activist Jon Bowermaster turned his attention first to the fracking debate, and then to other threats to ecosystems close to home. His video-magazine series The Hudson: A River at Risk waved red flags calling attention to PCB-contaminated river sediments, “bomb trains,” lax security at the Indian Point nuclear plant, proposals to fill the Hudson Valley with moored oil barges, new power lines and pipelines.
These days, through his production company Oceans 8 Films, Bowermaster has been turning his attention to the more positive alternative approaches that our Valley has been fostering, with a new series of mini-documentaries collectively titled Hope on the Hudson. City on the Water documents citizen action to rescue and protect the 520 miles of waterways that surround New York City. In Restoring the Clearwater, Bowermaster’s crew spent a year following the master craftsmen who were rebuilding the sloop Clearwater, flagship of the campaign launched by Pete Seeger in the 1960s to clean up the Hudson and reconnect people to the river.
Now there’s a third installment to the Hope on the Hudson series, Seeds of Hope, which will have its “sneak preview” premiere on Thursday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Senate Garage in Kingston. It will then join the previous two films on a three-month regional screening tour that will begin at the Rosendale Theatre on April 3 and 4, before heading off to Peekskill on April 5, Basilica Hudson on April 7, Upstate Films on Earth Day, April 22, and some 60 other venues.
Seeds of Hope tells the story of a collaborative initiative to preserve Native American culture and foodways through seed-saving at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub. In 2016, the locally based not-for-profit group Seedshed and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub formed a partnership with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe of northern New York to create a Native American Seed Sanctuary at the Farm Hub for the purpose of protecting, honoring and returning sacred seeds to the tribe. “When we plant, we promise in our language that we won’t abandon the seeds, that we will take care of them, because this is a duty and a responsibility that we have had since the beginning of time. Corn keeps us connected to our spirit and our community,” explains Mohawk seedkeeper Mary Arquette.
Since its inception, the Seed Sanctuary has significantly expanded the seed stock of traditional varieties of corn, beans, squash and sunflowers and returned them to the tribe, together with food for youth and cultural restoration programs. The film includes interviews with Akwesasne community members and others involved in the project, highlighting the 2017 Seed Sanctuary activities from planting to harvest and illuminating the beauty of the Hudson Valley season by season. You can read Jeremiah Horrigan’s article about the Native American Seed Sanctuary at http://bit.ly/2ppwrvk.
The March 28 premiere screening at the Senate Garage will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and project participants, including Akwesasne community members, Native American seed-saving expert Rowen White and Seedshed’s Ken Greene. (Longtime readers of Almanac Weekly may remember Greene as our former columnist the Rogue Librarian, whose pioneering seed-sharing exchange at the Gardiner Library evolved into the Hudson Valley Seed Company and Seedshed.)
The event is free of charge and open to the public. Registration is strongly encouraged, as seating may be limited. To sign up, visit http://bit.ly/2IadSTR. The Senate Garage is located at 4 North Front Street in Uptown Kingston’s Stockade Historic District, right near the Senate House.
The full Hope on the Hudson series so far, including City on the Water, Restoring the Clearwater and Seeds of Hope, will screen beginning at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 3 and 4 at the Rosendale Theatre. Tickets cost $8 general admission, $6 for members. The Theatre is located at 408 Main Street (Route 213) in downtown Rosendale.
To learn more about Seeds of Hope and the rest of Jon Bowermaster’s Hope on the Hudson documentary series, visit www.hudsonriverstories.com.