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Taking Root

Wangari Maathai planting trees in the degraded Aberdare Forest, Kenya. Photo: Lisa Merton
Wangari Maathai planting trees in the degraded Aberdare Forest, Kenya. Photo: Lisa Merton

The Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust is proud to co-sponsor the Community Cinema Vashon’s December film screening of TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai. This inspirational documentary film is a portrait of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement. Everyone is invited to this free event Sunday - December 18th - Ober Park Performance Room - 3:00-5:00pm.

How does the the simple act of planting trees lead to winning the Nobel Peace Prize? Ask Wangari Maathai of Kenya. In 1977, she suggested rural women plant trees to address problems stemming for a degraded environment. Under her leadership, their tree planting grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, defend human rights, and promote democracy. Alan Dater and Lisa Merton, Directors/Producers, say that "Wangari was a cinematographer’s dream. She was charismatic, humorous, a consummate storyteller....She also had amazing courage and was humble." Her story helps us understand the linkages between environmental justice, human rights, good governance, and peace. She was the recipient of numerous awards, served in many positions of leadership and authored 4 books - the last in 2010, Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World. Wangari died Sept 25, 2011 of ovarian cancer at the age of 71.

The film is a testament to the power of ordinary people to effect major social and political change. What began as a tree-planting movement became an example of how "the little grassroots people....can change this world." In their efforts to bring political change to Kenya, Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement used nonviolence, a strategy that rejects the use of physical violence. Nonviolent techniques stand in contrast to armed struggle and have proven to be powerful tools in numerous movements for independence, government reform, and human rights.

The Land Trust, whose mission is to preserve the wild places and rural character of Vashon-Maury Island, has been instrumental in importing over 100,000 native trees for planting by the island community. In thinking of planting trees and preserving forests, consider that trees produce oxygen, add moisture to the atmosphere, sequester carbon through photosynthesis - thus controlling the levels of carbon dioxide in the air, reduce stromwater runoff, and improve air quality.

Derek Churchill, former Land Trust board of directors member & Island Forest Ecologist, will moderate an audience discussion following the screening. ITVS (Independent Television Service) brings the unique and timely content of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens to Community Cinema events monthly to over 100 cities nationwide. Vashon events happen every third Sunday - always free at Ober Park. For more information: ITVS.org or Jane Berg - 567-4532.