After months of rain in Northern California, we now have more water than we know what to do with. The land has absorbed her fill and the creeks are swollen with a steady flow. Gratitude is palpable, with a promise of spring on the horizon. We’re coming out of this winter slumber ready to greet the new season.
We returned from Standing Rock in December with so many stories to sort through and a great deal of content to sit with. We’ve been enjoying the gift of these dark days to incorporate this experience and to reform the guiding questions of the film. We’ve been in a listening period, gestating all that we’ve witnessed on the journey so far and distilling the essence to ask “what is emerging now?” And, “what is this film in service to?”
As the days grow longer, we are beginning to see the sprouting seedlings emerging from these quiet months. In the past 2 weeks we’ve already filmed with three more characters, and we are thrilled to see how each emerging voice supports and gives strength to the others.
We started the season visiting Singing Frogs Farm, talking with farmers Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser, both of whom have backgrounds in forest ecosystems and agroecology in the arid landscapes of Eastern Africa. Singing Frogs Farm is an 8 acre no-till farm in Sonoma County, CA, which has become a leading example of how agriculture can restore the health of the soils and therefore rehydrate the earth and aquifers. This is really exciting considering that 40% of the Earth is devoted to agriculture… and considering that most conventional models of cultivation are based on principles of extraction rather than regeneration. We will also be exploring large scale grassland management for increased water retention with Ariel Greenwood this month, so stay tuned.
Last week we were in Southern California spending time in Ojai and Los Angeles. In Ojai we returned to East End Eden to witness changes that have occurred on their farm since establishing new water-retention features. When we spoke with Connor Jones in November, he expressed doubts that their newly dug pond would fill in a single season. In a matter of only weeks, the pond was overflowing! “Minutes after the area was dug, it started drizzling, and then raining, and it hasn’t stopped since.” We spent precious moments with Connor while he fished in this new pond, fulfilling a long held childhood dream of his. He spoke to us about the implications and possibilities for rehydrating landscapes all around the Ojai Valley. His little paradise is singing to a new tune now that there is water held on the land, and each morning we woke to a chorus of birds and frogs all enjoying this life-bearing habitat together.
We then sat with Andy Lipkis, founder of TreePeople, in Los Angeles. He spoke of the challenge of receiving so much rain in a city which is designed to be hydrophobic (ie which shunts and repels and sends water away to the ocean as quickly as possible). This creates a dangerous system overload even with just an inch of rain. Andy is part of a large scale city revisioning and retrofit, which aims to reestablish LA as a functioning watershed. He shared with us that LA receives enough rainwater to meet 40-50% of its water usage needs, yet the built environments are not designed to capture and store. This is just the beginning of a much deeper conversation we explored.
There is a vast weaving unfolding before us and many more characters to come. We are so happy to be a part of the listening. Each day we hold new inspirations and we trust that these currents will move through the film in a powerful way.
Thank you so much for supporting this undertaking.
Cailey and Emmett