Grass//Routes Film Documentary

The Problem

In the Scotchman Mountains of Montana, the soaring proud pines, the migratory moose herds and the pristine air have been replaced by clouds of dust as mineral deposits are exploited. While researching conservation issues, I learned of the plight facing this large wilderness area. As a passionate conservationist, I felt that I needed to immerse myself in the fight for this land and drive people to action. I contacted The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (FSPW), a group dedicated to advancing policies to protect the mountains. Once in Montana, I was surprised to learn that no real "fight" existed. FSPW was at the forefront of a grassroots coalition of community partners advocating for the protection of the wilderness area. What I found was a rare case of collaboration between environmental groups, timber companies, mining organizations and the local community. In a time when divisive partisanship, rather than compromise, is responsible for policy gridlock in the U.S.A., this is a story I needed to tell.

Plan of Action

The past three summers, I have led a film crew in the creation of documentaries exploring the story of this Montana community’s effort to protect the 88,000-acre Scotchman Peaks wilderness area. Because the Scotchman Peaks are so rugged, very few community members have actually witnessed the majesty of the wilderness just beyond their backyards. Therefore, one of the foremost goals of my first film, En Plein Air, was to assist FSPW in their community outreach efforts, ultimately gathering support in order to achieve congressional protection for the mountains. I interviewed over fifty community leaders, politicians, and conservation officials, and observed watercolor painters working to support the FSPW campaign to protect the mountains. My film, which has been viewed by over 1,200 community members, depicts artwork as a creative policy tool used to ignite interest among stakeholders. Understanding that public policy requires the building of broad community support, I intend for my second film, Grass//Routes, to deliver a powerful, communicable message of grassroots coalition building, and political cooperation across non-traditional lines (i.e. timber and conservation groups). I am therefore pursuing a Do Something Seed Grant to allow my team the resources with which to make our second film a reality.

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