Background

In 2008, Caroline Savery, a 21-year old environmental activist living in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, launched Sust Enable, a three-month attempt to live, as defined by the online Ecological Footprint Calculator, a “100% sustainable” lifestyle in urban Pittsburgh.  That quest, which involved living in a tent, collecting rainwater, dumpster diving for food, and more, would be depicted in a web-based video episode series, giving viewers an example of how to implement sustainability into their own lives.

Within just a few days of the project’s launch, Caroline realized that many things seemed to be going wrong. By the end of the three-month period, after battling poison ivy, heavy rains, weight loss, and severe depression, she was overwhelmed with doubts about the original idea for Sust Enable, and about what “100% sustainability” really means…

After two years of painful reflection and research, Caroline realized that the Sust Enable project essentially failed because her original definition of sustainability was deeply lacking. Thus, Caroline’s goal with Sust Enable evolved into uncovering the rich diversity of definitions of “sustainability” in order to expose the flawed cultural and psychological assumptions behind her original definition of “100% sustainability”.

The Sust Enable project continues now in the form of a documentary film equipped with Caroline’s research of sustainability’s dynamic and complex nature. In the autoethnographic filmmaking tradition, Caroline aims to explore how her own experiences and the continuing metamorphosis of her understanding of sustainability parallels with exciting insights coming out of a diversity of communities and fields.

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