Gen Y

Get a glimpse of domestic clean energy innovation, screen the YERT film

The folks at spent about a year on the road gathering material for their documentary on clean energy.

Now that the production and editing is complete, their mission is to get their movie seen by as many people as possible. It's no easy task as any documentary filmmaker will say. Even the duo who put together this year's Oscar winner, "Undefeated," tells National Public Radio how thrilled they were to get the radio interview just for the exposure. And they like NPR.

The crew who put together "Your Environmental Road Trip" isn't in the Oscar running yet. The team nailed a series of interviews with some of clean energy's pioneers and most interesting innovators. A guy who's devised a solar road was the first to capture my interest.

The YERT people describe the film this way:
About the courageous and creative individuals, groups, businesses and leaders of this country who are tackling the greatest environmental threats in history. Called into action by the ever increasing threats of planetary catastrophe (from climate change to toxic pollution, from water scarcity to habitat destruction), the three of us - Mark Dixon, Ben Evans, and Julie Dingman Evans - upended our lives, pooled our collective life-savings, and set off on a first-of-its-kind, 50-state, year-long journey of discovery to personalize sustainability and to answer a critical question: ARE WE DOOMED?

Mark Dixon says YERT is now on its West Coast Screening Tour. He mentions a screening coming up at 7 p.m. in Seattle on March 2. Here's a link: Location is Keystone Congregational Church, 5019 Keystone Place N, Seattle, WA 98103-6229.

That same day there's another in Gainsville, Florida at the Cinema Verde Enviro Film & Arts Festival. On March 3, they head to Portland, Ore., and at 6 p.m. March 9, they start a two-day showing a the San Luis Obispo Film Festival at the The Palm Theatre, 817 Palm St. Dixon will be there to talk about the film.

If looks at all doable, go to and put in a request under "Screenings." Look at the trailer while you're at the site. The screening dates of March 12 and 13 are available.
The San Joaquin Valley is a place ripe for clean energy development and the jobs it could generate. The staff at University of California Merced has dubbed the region the Solar Valley for its potential. And developers are in the midst of a record number of commercial, industrial and residential projects.

Anything that jump starts the imagination of Valley residents could be a game changer. Here at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, we talk often about what small event could push all these projects forward like dominoes.

Maybe somebody will agree to screen Dixon's movie in Fresno, and the event's synergy will start more dialogue. After all author and activist Bill McKibben says: "Here's a trip you'll wish you'd taken, and you'll be glad you get to watch! And Jeff Biggers of the Huffington Post writes: "A deeply absorbing ... hilarious ... important film. Audiences will not only cheer, but feel compelled to spring to their feet to join an inspiring movement for change."

Photo: YERT interview with owner of Rufus the solar bus in Hawaii.

Young people battle for a cleaner planet, their future

Much depends on the younger generation.

Their habits, priorities and motivations largely will define the directions of development, technological advancement and political leanings. And while this always has been true to some degree, it may matter more now as society ponders the potential crushing cost of climate change, pollution and the cumulative effects of humankind's unprecedented industrialized push forward these past 150 years.

Millennials, or Generation Y, and those born after them will have to seriously consider the environmental impact of everything they do. Mental Klaxons may as well sound a crisis alert every time they consider driving a car, purchasing a house or otherwise taking part in potential carbon-creation.

Passing the Boomers

Growing up, I didn't have to do that. To me, pollution, contamination and too much garbage was the big scare. I remember walking above an abandoned missile site in the middle of nowhere Alaska and thinking about irradiated dirt in 1971. (I was 10, hitchhiking with mom.)

Nukes are bad, certainly. But their impact proves relatively minor as long as they remain in their silos.
Now the passive threat of rising sea level threatens thousands of island nations and low-lying real estate worldwide, and we've blown past the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists say is safe for humanity -- 350 parts per million. Current level is 392 ppm. Yet, we keep pushing it. The stakes are off the charts.

"Danger, Will Robinson!" Or so says voice actor Dick Tufeld in his guise as the Robot in the the 1960s TV show "Lost in Space." But that's Boomer speak. (Another that comes to mind is Rita Moreno bellowing "Hey you guys!" on Electric Company.)

New catchphrases

This generation has its own references, its own icons and its own messages and means of popular delivery. Who over 30 knows of Strong Bad? This phrase is apt: "When all the land is in ruins; And burnination has forsaken the countryside. Only one guy will remain. My money's on Trogdor!"


Many Millennials take their air and water quality seriously. They want to limit commuting, live close to work, walk to restaurants. Potentially, they're creating an entirely different approach to community design, energy use and how resources should be exploited.

And they're hardly shy about expressing their opinions. They're tearing up the Internet via YouTube and social media pathways. But they aren't stopping there.

Democracy & climate change

Take Zaheena Rasheed, a former intern and a resident of the Maldives, a scattered island nation with an average ground level about 4 feet above the sea about 250 miles southwest of India. In an email, she expresses thanks to, which seeks to build a global movement to solve the climate crisis.

"In under a week, an incredible 35,553 of you signed our petition to world leaders," she says. Her words appear on the group's website in a post by Kelly Blynn. The Maldives have reportedly scheduled democratic elections after President Mohamed Nasheed's troubles that culminated with Canarygate, which involved allegations of corruption.

Rasheed continues. Her words ooze power and conviction: "There is much in common in the battle against climate change and for democracy -- the right to a healthy and dignified life -- and this can happen when people are free to speak their minds, make decisions over their own resources, and have the power to act against injustice."

Eloquent, yet not too unapproachably activist.

Others offer a more laid-back delivery. But the underlying message -- be good to Mother Earth -- remains.

So Fresh, So Green

Sarah Laskow of stumbled across a video created by a group of seniors from Atlanta’s Marist School. "So Fresh, So Green" was written and performed by Butta Biscuit, Mikey-B, Confucius Rodge and Clive Sensation with the filming and editing handled by Eric Eichelberger.

Laskow says the motivation was Marist's participation in the Green School Alliance’s Green Cup Challenge. She says schools that took part tried to reduce their energy use over four weeks, and some did so by more than 20 percent.

"This stuff isn’t rocket science: They just turned off more lights, readjusted the thermostats and, in some cases, replaced old equipment," she writes.

The video is based on Outkast's "So Fresh, So Clean." The student rappers stick to the basics, encouraging people to recycle, save energy by turning off lights and not just "talk the talk, but walk the walk."

Mr. Eco spreads the word

Another would-be Al Yankovic is Mr. Eco from Cal Poly (known offically as California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo), who has a number of videos devoted to the green cause. Mr. Eco calls himself an environmental rap superhero who incorporates sustainable living tips into parodies and represents the Alliance to Save Energy's Cal Poly Green Campus Program.

In one of his videos, dubbed "Turn Em Out," Mr. Eco parodies rapper T.I.'s "Bring Em Out." That latter video has more than 4.5 million views, while our Mr. Eco at this writing had 3,127. But when we first wrote about him in early November 2011, he had yet to break 1,000.

And Mr. Eco, the outspoken superhero that he is, also has taken his schtick on the road, visiting Ahwahnee Middle School in the scenic confines of our own Fresno, Calif. Mr. Eco, also known as Brett Edwards, is from Fresno. So that helps.

He's making an impact. Ahwahnee Principal Tim Liles even did a plug for Mr. Eco in the video.

One year, zero garbage

The crew at is tirelessly going from city to city to screen its powerful documentary. The next is March 2 in a Seattle church.

Dubbed "Your Environmental Road Trip" -- thus the acronym YERT -- the film covers all 50 states in a search "for innovators and citizens solving humanity's greatest environmental crises."

The trio of filmmakers says they were "called to action by a planet in peril." Producer Mark Dixon tells me he's up for more screenings. So if anybody's interested ...

I'm psyched.