The Sust Enable Project is
- a collection of diverse and original media–including blogs, videos, and presentations–probing the core question, “what does sustainability really mean?”, and
- from this insight base, a holistic attempt to actually embody sustainability in the documentary film production of Sust Enable: The Metamentary
Click here for the SE blog.
About the project
The Sust Enable Project exists to critically explore and invite dialog about the diversity of meanings of sustainability. In a few short years, “sustainability” has become a massively popular buzzword–yet no one has a conclusive definition for what “sustainability” means. Despite this ambiguity, the word “sustainability” is used widely, in fields as diverse as community organizing, science, business, mass marketing, government initiatives, even permeating casual conversations. However, through mainstream media, the public is exposed only to definitions of sustainability that suit current industrial or governmental agendas. People are rarely given the platform to freely discover, discuss and debate about what “sustainability” looks like in our every day experiences and lives. We are rarely given the chance to define “sustainability” ourselves.
With The Sust Enable Project, we seek elegant–not simplistic–definitions of sustainability that grapple with such issues as complex systems, networks, emergence, holism, and equity, oftentimes through the lens of personal or professional experience. We expose the perspectives of our world’s sharpest minds, edgiest thinkers, wisest souls–from radicals and rogue academics, to community leaders of grassroots initiatives, we focus on voices that are rarely heard in the mainstream media. We don’t get our best insights about sustainability from think-tanks, but instead from real individual’s and communities’ direct experiences with this word–brilliant, funny, heart-breaking, genuine attempts to “live more sustainably.” Though we give priority to voices rarely heard from, when possible we include institutional and political voices too, in order to give balance to our sustainability mosaic. The Sust Enable Project‘s design of finding insight from real people’s stories stems from director Caroline Savery’s remarkable attempt to live a 100% sustainable lifestyle for three months in 2008.
The Sust Enable Project provides an important platform where people from all walks of life can claim a role–and a stake–in helping evolve and define “sustainability,” through the open, creative process of exploring, critiquing, and participating in today’s diversity of sustainability initiatives. In this way, The Sust Enable Project seeks to actually “enable sustainability,” from the premise that the more people question and dialog about the meaning of sustainability in their everyday lives, the more viable a sustainable world actually becomes. We believe that democratically delving into a diversity of sustainability definitions is an empowering, vitalizing process that has the potential to transform individuals, communities, and ecosystems.
About the Film
Sust Enable: The Metamentary is the working title of a planned documentary film project that explores the question, “what does sustainability mean?”
Sust Enable: The Metamentary is a non-profit collective filmmaking endeavor designed to produce an artistic non-fiction film and filmmaking process for the purpose of sustainability education, experimentation, and empowerment.
This is a truly unique film project, defined and driven by its holistic (from conception to beyond distribution) attempt to embody sustainability at all levels of a film’s creation. It does this through exploring, then modeling, answers to its core question, “what does sustainability mean?,” on all levels of the film: its story, its cinematic stylization, and its methods of production and distribution.
For its story, SE:MM draws insights into the meaning of sustainability through examining itself, reflexively, through footage and commentary from its extremely different origins in 2008 through to today, and inclusively its principal creator and director Caroline Savery’s life. Real dramatic experiences are compared with theories of sustainability explained through interviews from a diverse array of voices. Unlike a traditional “Hero’s Journey” film story, this is a recursive story, of a person-and-her-film being shaped by her environment–where the environments are just as much a subject requiring attention as the main character. Drama will arise from this ongoing attempt to embody sustainability in a mostly unsustainable world: for example, illustrating the tensions between conventional film production processes and sustainability.
As the film progresses, Caroline/Sust Enable evolves its understanding of sustainability from both its direct experiences, and its rich relationships: interviewees from a range of different lifestyles and professions offer their perspectives on the meaning of sustainability in their own lives and work. In a conversational manner that prioritizes authenticity and feelings, Caroline listens, compares these folks’ ideas with her own trajectory, and adapts accordingly. The film progresses thematically into increasingly high-resolution descriptions of sustainability–but with the question looming ahead–can sustainability be completely defined?
Stylistically, the film will build upon recent cinematic and narrative innovations in areas such as reflexivity, recursion, multiple viewpoints, interconnectedness, and holism, using comprehensive symbolic metaphors (visual, aural, rhythmic and narrative) to mirror the story’s message within the stylization.
As a limited piece of media, Sust Enable: The Metamentary cannot possibly include all voices about sustainability, but through its holistic approach to its subject matter, it may still form a powerful statement about the significance and debate surrounding “sustainability” in our time. A process-oriented film does not mean “the filmmakers don’t plan to complete it.” It means that the process of production will truly transform our expectations for the final product. In our trust that the process has been and will be positively transformational, Sust Enable: The Metamentary is itself a statement on our broader human social situation, as we strive to collectively confront and adapt to issues of global sustainability.