Sust Enable as a platform for openly “workshopping” sustainability

Sust Enable has adopted many forms throughout its development from a seed film idea two years ago, derived out of filmmaker/author Caroline Savery’s remarkable struggles with the Sust Enable episode series in 2008.

Caroline wanted to share how her life had been radically altered–for the better–through practically testing her naive, culturally-influenced attitudes about what sustainability means in a three-month “sustainable living” experiment.  With a ten-year background in filmmaking, she wanted to tell this story through the film medium–namely, with a documentary that would illustrate her trials, tribulations, and her maturing philosophy that this one little word, “sustainability,” could encode a massive shift in culture, consciousness and conduct.  And from the tough-earned insights she learned about sustainability, it was important to her to approach the production of the documentary film in an authentically sustainable, holistic way.

This seed developed into an ambitious vision.  What if the entire film production process was built upon an adapting, evolving list of sustainability principles?  The world is currently working out definitions of sustainability in a variety of settings, fields, and lives–are there any emergent, common themes to this movement that the film could use as guidelines and models?  What if the film’s entire process embodied these values–would the final product not only be about what sustainability means, but actually look, feel, and be a more sustainable film?  How would this effort contribute to global sustainability? Continue reading

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Expanding the social function of storytelling

At the Evolver Convergence two weekends ago, Daniel Pinchbeck uttered a line that has been echoing in my head ever since.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it was something close to “perhaps the reason for storytelling in cultures is about coordinating behavior.”

Coordinating behavior.  Wow.  Whether in a primitive, small-scale human hunter-gatherer clan, or our massive industrial globalized sprawling society, we tell stories not merely to transmit information critical to survival, but to coordinate our behavior relating to the information.  Stories aren’t just “I found a herd of buffalo–come this way.”  Stories have moral conflicts, often represented by contrasting characters, and they have problem solving (conflict and resolution).  Stories are built on our built-in process to make analogies–stories may even be allegories, which recursively tell two stories at once.  Our stories have models for action embedded in them.  Through our ability to relate emotionally, we imagine ourselves in the place of the hero, and we learn, through the drama of the story, what we ought to do to succeed.

The story of how we, as humanity, might achieve sustainability may not star a single hero.  It may not have an obvious villain.  Since we are the ones that made this mess, and the ones who are compelled to clean it up, maybe the (hi)story of how we might actually orchestrate such a change in behavior requires a hard, deep look at ourselves–at our natures as the source of incredible creativity, profound compassion, and devastating greed.  Thus, our new stories may look drastically different than they ever have. Continue reading

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Sea Change for Sust Enable

Hello everyone,

It is my joy to share with you today some new direction for Sust Enable: The Metamentary.

If you are wondering “what has Sust Enable been up to lately?,” I appreciate your curiosity!  The Sust Enable project has evolved through many phases, just like any growing organism.  It has been in a dormant period lately, as we had to honestly assess our capacity as an all-volunteer, micro-budget endeavor.  Sust Enable is about to emerge from a dormant phase, but it is certainly not dead, or even ailing.  It has merely been thoughtfully evolving, same as ever.

The film’s main mission has always been to try to embody sustainability as effectively as possible at all levels of the film’s creation, and thus to serve as an educational model and empowerment tool.  This film is going to try to live up to its working title of “metamentary” by going “beyond” traditional cinema structures and devices (building on, not hating on, I’d like to note!) and innovating a more sophisticated, holistic model of filmmaking, film style, and storytelling–as justified, of course, by our film’s expansive, slippery subject matter.  In this effort to embody sustainability as best we can, at times, the Sust Enable project has:

  • adopted a radically inclusive collective production structure;
  • held Community Feedback Sessions which morphed into Sustainability Jams, where people shared practical sustainable lifestyle skills and shared their perspectives on what sustainability means;
  • employed online collaborative devices to maintain collaboration between all volunteer stakeholders;
  • and we have gone through many different visions of what the film would look like.

And in this ongoing process, I have sheared away a lot of what Sust Enable is not, and discovered amazing insight into what Sust Enable is.

Sust Enable is a very special project.  As its Director, I have recognized that for me to hold the complex vision for what Sust Enable needs to be, my ambitious artistic standards exceed my drive and abilities as Producer.  One thing I have learned is that I need an experienced, highly creative production team to bring this project to life. Continue reading

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