Documentary Review - This Changes Everything
A couple of weeks ago, Sam and I went to watch a documentary called ‘This changes everything’. Directed by Avi Lewis, the documentary is narrated by Naomi Klein, author of the namesake book it is based upon.
The screening was curated by local collective, CoResist, which supports and helps people with alternative – and possibly behaviour changing – ideas to present their thoughts and find a space where they can talk about an issue they value.
The organiser of the event was a young woman who, after receiving Naomi’s book from her grandmother, watched the documentary and started discussing the matter with her friends and peers. I guess that the question they were trying to answer was something on the line of: what could we do to save the world?
The documentary focuses on environmental crises across the world. From Canada to Greece, Montana to India, the documentary explores how seven different local communities face enormous environmental challenges threatening their natural environment. These challenges are mainly represented by big corporations aiming to exploit lands and reserves in order to satisfy their appetite for oil, primal resources, wood, and water, without any consideration for the potential damage to the local environment and population.
The recurrent theme is that we need to change our perspective and the way we see facts about climate change and natural disasters.
According to Naomi Klein, we still have the power to fight back against fracking and oil companies keen to exploit every single centimetre of beautiful, wild and untouched spaces by changing the story we’ve been told so far (that’s where the title of the book comes from). She claims that for years we have been sold the idea that we cannot fight against big companies and that we won’t be successful in trying to change the way things are done in our developed world. She argues that another way is possible, that climate change can be transformed from one of the biggest threats we face to a wonderful opportunity to take back what belongs to nature and local communities.
In order to do so, she suggests we need to be the first ones to change our mind-sets and start to believe that a positive outcome is possible, delivering a strong message by being united and determined to preserve our villages, towns and cities.
Throughout the documentary we see very ordinary people who suddenly face massive challenges and threats to their own habitats, taking the destiny of their lands and children in their own hands and fighting for their freedom and their beliefs.
I found the actions undertaken by all these people and communities very brave and impressive, and I think that the message of the documentary is a powerful one. But the enthusiasm and the adrenaline experienced watching it needs to translate into planned and strategic action in order to enable change. And this is the difficult part.
Lots of dynamics and interests are involved in the process, and sometimes it’s not a matter of being brave or united enough, it’s a matter of obstacles and life-death decisions. In India, lots of protesters have been shot dead by authorities while they were trying to stop the exploitation of their lands, and we constantly see how in the world many other protests and marches end up in blood and tears. The good news is that the Indian protesters eventually achieved their goal: nobody is going to drill their land. But the war might not be over, and the same protest might be unsuccessful in other parts of the world.
But I do believe that something can be done and that we can change a lot at least on our personal level, among our peers, friends and beloved. Little changes can lead to further results for the common good, and if we are brave enough to challenge people surrounding us (sometimes it can be very hard even to inform your family your reasons for going vegetarian!), we could start changing habits step by step. The message I got from this all, is the importance of raising awareness, of making people conscious of what’s going on, what’s going to happen, and why it is important to act.
This reminds me of a great project I came across a while ago: Do-Nation. Do-Nation is based on the idea that instead of pushing and promoting big behavioural change campaigns, we can all make a difference by making a meaningful pledge – like for example cutting out meat, cycling to Scotland, going zero-waste – and inviting our friends and loved ones to support us and to make themselves a new pledge. Sounds awesome, right? And it is. Small changes can change a lot in your personal life and in the life of your community, leading to unexpected and great results. Fancy giving it a go? Who knows what big changes your small action could lead to.