LISTEN: Empowered on the Radio

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Producer Suzanne McMannis, Director Shira Evergreen, Art Weaver of Renovus Energy (featured in the film), and Guillermo Metz, Coordinator of the Green Building and Renewable Energy Program with Cornell Cooperative Extension, were on Ithaca Community Radio 88.1 WRFI, on Tuesday morning, February 12th discussing Empowered, Renovus Energy, Solar Tour Dryden and Solarize Tompkins SE. You can listen to the show in two parts:

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2/12: Empowered on the Radio

Producer Suzanne McMannis, Director Shira Evergreen, Art Weaver of Renovus Energy (featured in the film), and Guillermo Metz, Coordinator of the Green Building and Renewable Energy Program with Cornell Cooperative Extension, will be heard on Ithaca Community Radio, 88.1 WRFI, on Tuesday morning, February 12th, at 7:00 am.

They will be talking about the possibilities of using the sun to heat your water and to power all things electrical – including your radio! Tune in to learn about the new initiatives Solar Tour Dryden and Solarize Tompkins SE!

Applying the Lessons of Empowered to Our Home

Since the premiere of Empowered almost a year ago, my wife Ari (who made the animations) and I have been working on applying the lessons we learned in making the film to our own house. In addition to insulating, sealing, and upgrading appliances, we are now using 20% biodiesel in our furnace and have solar panels installed on our roof. You can learn all about our journey and find out about programs that make these renovations accessible to all through the article I wrote for Tompkins Weekly’s “Signs of Sustainability” series.

Tompkins Weekly, August 20-26, 2012
PDF version: A Model for Creating that ‘Green’ Home, scroll to page 8

PRESS: We’re on the Sundance Channel’s blog!

We’re thrilled to be featured on the Sundance Channel’s “SUNfiltered” culture blog, with a great article by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg. You can read the whole thing here or on their site: EMPOWERED: No power plant required!

Sure, you’d love to power at least part of your home on renewable energy, but the local infrastructure isn’t there yet: no nearby wind farm, no solar or geothermal installers. And, besides, it really isn’t that windy where you live.

That’s the kind of mindset that fossil fuels have given us: we really can’t go out and drill our own oil and gas, or mine our own coal, so we’ve assumed largely that energy is something that others have to provide for us. But part of the beauty of renewables is their availability: we all get some sun, wind, or geothermal heat, and with a little elbow grease, we can harvest that energy – no power company or massive centralized plant needed.

That’s the the theme underlying EMPOWERED: POWER FROM THE PEOPLE, an independent documentary produced in the Ithaca, New York area. Director Shira Golding Evergreen, one half of queer vegan multimedia production and community organizing company Shirari Industries, and producer Suzanne McMannis (a full-time farmer) were originally drawn to the topic of natural gas fracking, but really wanted to make a film that was for something positive. That “something” turned out to be the community of energy DIYers in the area: folks using the sun, wind, biofuels, energy efficiency upgrades, and more to power their lives. EMPOWERED debuted at last year’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, and has since screened at various locations in the Ithaca area.

Energy’s not the only thing that doesn’t need massive infrastructure and money behind it: the creators of EMPOWERED demonstrate that professional film making can come from a small-scale, DIY approach. Don’t expect this one to come to the local multiplex; you can, however, watch the film online for a mere $4.95, or order a DVD.

PRESS: We’re in the Ithaca Times!

There’s a full-page piece about Empowered: Power from the People with quite a bit of back story about Shira’s prior filmmaking experience and why Ithaca is such a great place to make movies. Here’s an excerpt and you can read the full article: Do-It-Yourself Film Ethic Empowers Ithaca

Evergreen and her partner moved upstate from the city for both professional and personal reasons. “All the physical spaces gave us the financial and emotional space to tackle film making,” she said. “We started out in Ithaca and set up a graphics business, and we now live in Dryden. It’s less than an acre, but it seems like so much coming from the city.” She has been applying the energy efficiency lessons that she learned while making Empowered to her own house.

What advantages are there to making films out in the hinterlands? “Well, the overall pace of life is a relief,” Evergreen said. “It promotes creativity and collaboration. There’s a big word-of-mouth community, and everyone is eager to tell a story that reflects pride in the community. Empowered quickly became more about the people than about the [alternative energy] systems.”

Haven’t seen the film yet? You can get the dvd or watch it online for $4.99.

PRESS: We’re in the GreenLeaf

There’s a great article by Kristie Snyder about Empowered in this month’s issue of the GreenLeaf, Greenstar coop’s newspaper.

Here’s an excerpt…

You’re sure to recognize friends and neighbors, or maybe those folks up the street you’ve been meaning to introduce yourself to — the ones with all those solar panels on their garage. The people profiled come from all walks of life. “We’re hoping everyone sees someone in the film that they can relate to,” says Evergreen.