University of Redlands Environmental Studies professor and filmmaker Monty Hempel
previewed on Wednesday, April 6 three short films shot with an eye to connecting human beings to nature and community as a prelude to Earth Day on April 22.
“Richard Louv coined the term ‘nature deficit disorder’ referring to today’s indoor children and I would extend his diagnosis to most adults,” says Monty Hempel, Director of the Center for Environmental Studies at the University of Redlands.
“People today are immersed in a world shaped by our own hands and minds. Many of us yearn for encounters with places and creatures that are wild and not products of human design. My films celebrate the importance of wildlife and natural landscapes on a human-dominated planet.”
Hempel’s films shown on April 6 include:
• “Spirit of Place,”
which examines the struggle to connect to nature and community through the eyes of a 95-year old woman whose love of forests, mountains and streams has taught her valuable lessons about the meaning of life. Focusing on America’s wildest and most alluring landscapes, the film celebrates the sense of wonder that springs from human encounters with wildlife and natural systems, as well as revealing health and spiritual benefits.
• Coral reefs are often referred to as the rainforests of the sea, but they could also be thought of as the living “blue heart” of Earth. A “Celebration of Coral”
will give a stunning introduction to the colors, forms and behaviors of life on a coral reef, and the changes in oceans and atmosphere that threaten these fragile ecosystems.
• “Between Two Worlds”
captures the juxtaposition between the world in which we live and the world we hope to build, and presents a fundamental choice between conventional growth and sustainability. Filmed in 15 countries, it examines choices and challenges presented by securing environmental health, economic vitality and social equity for both present and future generations.
The films were written, filmed and produced by Hempel. Musical scores were composed by various artists.
The screenings were held at the University of Redlands from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 in Gregory Hall, room 161. The evening was sponsored by Students for Environmental Action and the Environmental Studies program at the University of Redlands.
Hempel is the immediate past president of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) and serves on the executive committee of the national Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD). He is a founding board member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and a Senior Associate of the California Institute of Public Affairs.
He is a widely published environmental scholar and documentary filmmaker and often leads college students on expeditions. In May 2011, he is scheduled to again lead Redlands students on a trip to Palau for an intensive course that will look at Palau's marine ecology and natural history, its clan-based system of social organization and its efforts to achieve sustainable forms of development.
In 2008, Hempel produced a 30-minute documentary, “The Palau Expedition,” about the discoveries and experiences of the University of Redlands Palau course.