This inspiring documentary (USA, 27 minutes) by director Isaac Hernández shares the 50-year history of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California at Santa Barbara, recounted by professors, students and graduates. Narrated by Jon Zuber. Original score by Sheena Birrittella.
Fifty years ago an oil spill united a community and changed the world forever
Christopher Lloyd narrates Better Together, a feature documentary about how one community keeps coming together through oil spills, fires, mudslides and the future challenges of a changing climate.
Upcoming screenings include:
Better Together, narrated by Christopher Lloyd ("Back to the Future", "Over the Garden Wall"), is a celebration of the power of community to affect lasting positive change. Focused on the Santa Barbara oil blowout, this coastal community has pioneered environmental laws and policies to protect water, air, soil and living creatures... including each other. We're better together.
The catastrophic effects of four million gallons of oil spilling on the ecologically rich Santa Barbara Channel for most of 1969 changed Santa Barbara forever, and ignited a global shift that resulted in new laws and protections for environmental health. Through the years, the community has continued to come together in the face of disasters.
This 47-minute documentary covers community response from that 1969 oil spill across five decades to the devastating 2018 Montecito debris flow, and the community-generated response to climate change.
The effects of the 1969 oil blowout were felt across the world, inspiring Earth Day, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
Better Together features an array of local activists, including Direct Relief’s President and CEO Thomas Tighe, as well as California thinkers and scientists like oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Paul Ehrlich (author of The Population Bomb) and Solution Project’s founder Mark Jacobson.
Santa Barbara is rich with community organizations, several of them like the Community Environmental Council, the Environmental Defense Center, and the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, were born directly out of the 1969 oil spill. They are featured in Better Together alongside the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and many others. The newest of these organizations is the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, which has gathered over 3,000 volunteers to dig homes and trees out of the mud. It was born, coincidentally, on the 49th anniversary of the oil blowout.
Director Isaac Hernández (Madrid, Spain) offers a poetic and hopeful look at what’s possible at a global level through local action, featuring many solutions generated in Santa Barbara, from the birth of curbside recycling to the first microgrid in the continental United States at Direct Relief’s headquarters.
Funding was provided in part by Bobbie and Gerry Rubin. Executive Producers include Lynda Weinman (Diving Deep, 2019; The Tale, 2018; Unrest, 2017), Leslie Bhutani (Lutah, 2014) and Linda & Frederick Gluck.
Better Together was the Environmental Showcase Film at the Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival (November 2019), won the Best Documentary Feature at the Santiago Independent Film Awards (August 2019), and was a finalist for the Best Environmental Documentary at LA Femme International Film Festival (October 17-20, 2019). It was also a finalist for the Ted Turner Prize and official selection for the 2019 BZN Film Celebration (September, 2019) and the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (February, 2019), where it held its World Premiere.
About the director
Isaac Hernández came to America from Madrid, Spain to study film at Brooks Institute of Photography. His career took him into photography, journalism, painting and writing plays, before returning to produce short films for nonprofits, and finally directing his first feature.
He’s working on a memoir about the impact of censored American films during his childhood in Franco’s Spain, and thinking about his next film.
About the producer
Nancy Black was president of the Pesticide Awareness and Alternatives Coalition that successfully campaigned to reduce the use of pesticides in public parks and schools. She serves on the board of The Israel Palestine Project, Committees for Land, Air Water and Species (CLAWS), and Gaviota Coast Conservancy.
About Mercury Press International
When Nancy Black and Isaac Hernández met in 1991, they had a dream to make films together. They founded an animation company which evolved into Mercury Press International, and went on to publishing stories and photographs in over 300 publications in 27 countries, including Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, ESPN, Focus, Stern and USA Today. Now they produce books (including In Love With Earth by environmental elder Marc McGinnes, which chronicles some of the stories in the film Better Together), documentary films and journalistic videos for nonprofits (clients include United Way, Direct Relief, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Tri-Counties Regional Center, CALM, and UCSB Arts & Lectures).
Leslie Sweem Bhutani
Linda and Frederick Gluck
Director of Photography
Zegar Family Fund
Funded in part by
Bobbie and Gerry Rubin
Featuring (in order of appearance)
Linda Eckerbom Cole
Sofia Arabella Martin
Robert H. Sollen
James "Bud" Bottoms
Roderick Frazier Nash
President Richard Nixon
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
Heather Smith Wennergren
First Camera Operator
Second Camera Operator
First Assistant Editor
Heather Smith Wennergren
Assistant Sound Engineer
"Better Together" © Jack Johnson/Brushfire Records/Universal Music
"O" © Emiliano Campobello
"Elk Prayer" © Emiliano Campobello and Kevin Donoho
Mercury Press is delighted to feature the book In Love with Earth by environmental legal pioneer Marc McGinnes in our catalog for 2019. We're grateful for the great press the book has received since its launch. Thank you to the KCSB News and Sports community radio for featuring Marc on August 13th, 2019, in this 22-minute interview hosted by Dylan Lewis. Marc reads the epilogue of In Love With Earth: Testimonies and Heartsongs of an Environmental Elder and discusses the importance of maintaining and instilling hope in the face of environmental devastation. Listen to this interview here on SoundCloud.
Thank you as well to KCRW for publishing the article“New book follows the birth of the environmental movement”and featuring Marc on The 805 podcast. In this podcast episode hosted by Jonathan Bastian, Marc discusses the Santa Barbara oil spill that encouraged Marc to enter an emerging opportunity: environmental law. Marc also describes his journey of rekindling hope to become better able to inspire hope in others.
On April 23, 2019, The Santa Barbara Independent graciously featured an excerpt of Marc's book, In Love with Earth, in their Earth Day issue. This excerpt details the important moment that changed Marc’s life forever, setting him on a new course to pursue environmental law. After the Santa Barbara oil spill blowout of 1969, Marc was encouraged by his friend, Rep. Pete McCloskey to change the focus of his career to protecting the environment. Thank you to The Santa Barbara Independent for this lovely feature.
“Symeon Shimin was a vessel for the unheard voices of his time. Those who were shunned, he highlighted; for those who were unseen, he provided a stage. He saw the common man for what he was – beautiful, exceptional, and equal.” --- Research Editor Lauren Kinsley
(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Mercury Press International is proud to launch an overview of the collected works and unique perspective of the expressive Mid-Century New York-based artist, Symeon Shimin. As a Jewish immigrant whose family fled the Pogroms for Brooklyn, as well as a child laborer himself, Shimin painted especially sensitive portraits and images understanding that viewpoint personally.
The book includes over 100 beautifully printed plates and photographs, an autobiography by the artist and essays by Santa Barbara arts writers Josef Woodard and Charles Donelan. Hardbound with beautiful paintings in glossy plates on creamy paper, The Art of Symeon Shimin celebrates expressive and powerful works of a master storyteller who illustrated over fifty children’s books, as well as painting the original painted film posters for Gone with the Wind and the 40-foot canvas for Solomon and Sheba, among other film work. With paintings held in collections including the Chrysler Museum of Art, this is the first complete collection of work over his life, from 1902-1984.
Born in Astrakhan, Russia on the Caspian Sea, Symeon Shimin immigrated with his Jewish family to Brooklyn, New York, at age 10. By age 16, he had apprenticed himself to a commercial artist to help support his family, attending night classes at Cooper Union Art School. He wove his American dream for peace, justice and liberty into his work, most notably showcased by the impressive mural, Contemporary Justice and the Child (1936-1940), which still hangs in the Department of Justice Building, Washington, DC.
Author Chaim Gross stated in 1973, “Shimin is a painter who knows the craft of drawing and painting, which in his hands becomes great art.”
The artist's daughter, Tonia Shimin, is a dance faculty emerita at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught for 27 years. She lovingly curated the first-ever total collection of all known Shimin paintings and artworks over many years, joining the personal family collection with images of paintings in private, museum and gallery collections. Only this year she discovered the gigantic painting for the film Solomon and Sheba that was exhibited at The Detour Gallery, in Red Bank, New Jersey where it had been stored for many years.
To honor the first responders and rescue teams who worked to save people after the Montecito Debris Flow on January 9, 2018, a year ago, our filmmaker friends Stan Roden and Phyllis de Picciotto, created this loving tribute. We're grateful for this film and for the community who has pulled tighter together through this tragedy, and especially for those who put themselves in danger to help others. Thank you for being here for us.
On April 19, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco opened hearings on PG&E’s Joint Proposal to shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Francisco. The hearings are expected to continue on weekdays through April 28. Administrative Law Judge Peter G. Allen is presiding.
Attorney Sabrina Venskus is representing San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP), which is a party to the proceeding. MFP takes the position that Diablo Canyon can and must be shut down by 2019:
- The facility is old and in need of repairs and replacement of worn and failing components. The costs of needed maintenance are so prohibitively expensive that PG&E has already filed several requests with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking permission to delay inspections and replacement of parts.
- PG&E’s seismic analysis is inaccurate, and the costs of repairing damage caused by even a “small” earthquake could be catastrophic, both in human terms and economically.
- California doesn’t need the power from Diablo Canyon. The use of energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal), will be able to more than replace the electricity lost by a Diablo closure in 2019.
The home page of the MFP website at https://mothersforpeace.org/ provides access to the testimony from MFP’s expert witnesses: Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer; David Jackson, Ph.D., geophysicist; and Robert Freehling, renewable energy expert.
Attorney Venskus will show that shutting down Diablo Canyon in 2019 rather than in 2025, as PG&E proposes, would benefit the ratepayers and the people of the State of California.
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has opposed the operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant since 1973, when the all-volunteer non-profit organization gained standing as Legal Intervenors with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency charged with protecting public safety. With the services of Washington, D.C. lawyer Diane Curran, the organization raised many issues of safety.
Many of the legal challenges focused on the radioactive wastes produced and stored in vulnerable spent fuel pools and in extremely thin-walled casks at Diablo. During its three decades of operation, 2,000 metric tons of lethal wastes have been produced and remain stored on the site. Diablo Canyon is surrounded by 13 earthquake faults, some of them active and several of them within three miles of the reactors. PG&E’s claims that the plant can withstand any ground motion that might be produced, but that conclusion is strongly contradicted by the findings of MFP expert witness David Jackson, which can be found on the MFP website at https://mothersforpeace.org/
For the CPUC proceeding on plant closure, MFP needed an attorney licensed in the State of California. Their search led them to Venskus and Associates Law Firm. Attorney Sabrina Venskus has extensive experience with the CPUC.
"Better Together" official finalist Best Special Focus Doc at LA Femme
Posted by Nancy Black · October 11, 2019 1:30 PM
Santa Barbara County Public Works and Explore Ecology will teach students at several Goleta Union School District campuses about composting and reducing the production of methane in our landfills. The program will provide the schools with composting education, tools, and other resources. In this hands-on educational program; students will become composting experts, develop composting skills, make positive environmental impacts, and eventually share knowledge with their classmates, community, and family. Students will ultimately use their experiences from the program to write a “how to” guide for composting in other schools.
Explore Ecology School Garden Program Director Alex Bereda says, “The main goal is to rescue food waste before it gets to the trash, and to compost that food waste into a useful product, which will be used in school gardens to grow more food – closing the loop.”
County Public Works Program Specialist Sam Dickinson says, “Schools generate large amounts of compostable food scraps and plant materials that can be recycled on-site into compost, an excellent fertilizer for school garden plants.”
This program is another example of how Santa Barbara County Public Works is working to reduce the production of methane in landfills by supporting alternatives to throwing food scraps and yard waste into the trash. Through the County’s Backyard Composting Program, the public can purchase composting bins at wholesale prices. Composting bins can be purchased at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station, located at 4430 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. Free educational resources and support are available onwww.LessIsMore.org/Compost.
Using a green waste recycling bin is another great way to help return organic materials back to nature and complete the organics loop. Yard waste like grass, leaves, flowers, and other plants that are placed in a green waste recycling bin is collected and chipped into a mulch product distributed locally to residents and farmers. County’s Mulch Program Coordinator Joey Costa says, “The main benefits of mulching is water conservation, weed prevention, and nutrient input.” Get free “load your own” mulch at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station in Santa Barbara. For details visit www.LessIsMore.org/Mulch.
For more information on these or other county recycling programs, call 882-3618 or visit the County’s recycling website www.lessismore.org.