If we take away the concrete, where will the kids play? That’s a question Andy Lipkis, founder of eco-nonprofit Treepeople, says a reporter asked him at a project to de-concrete some school space — revealing how far we’ve removed ourselves from natural fun. Now, Dirt! The Movie invites us all to play in the dirt again — via an 80-minute documentary that makes you want to get your hands dirty.
Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, Dirt! begins by wowing you with the amazing versatility of Earth’s skin. Of course, dirt’s used to grow food in — a fascinating process in itself — but dirt’s also used for everything from plastering houses to making beautiful pots to carrying cultural histories.
Then, once you’ve fallen in love with dirt, Dirt! gets into how we’re destroying the stuff that nurtures us. Regular MNN readers likely know about these eco-horrors: Mountaintop removal, monoculture farming, chemical pollution, and much much more.
But Dirt!’s still an unrelentingly uplifting film, showcasing environmentalists and other dirt-lovers from all over the world who’ve planted many seeds to produce a cornucopia of eco-solutions. Those efforts are already bearing fruit. In Dirt!, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx shows off her urban rooftop garden, Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters works with kids in edible school gardens, and the inmates who take part in The Greenhouse at Rikers Island Prison Systems wax lyrical about gardening, growing and giving back.
Similar to Food, Inc., which shows how fast food affects everything from personal health to global immigration, Dirt! The Movie highlights the interconnectedness of the many environmental issues we face. In Los Angeles, for example, we’ve paved over most of our dirt — which helps create water shortages (the dirt’s no longer there to soak up the water, so we funnel out free clean rain into the ocean) and energy issues (20 percent of the energy L.A. uses is to transport water into the city from far-off places).
Dirt! The Movie came out on DVD today — in 40 percent recycled and 100 percent recyclable packaging. Buy it for $26.95 — or watch the film during its broadcast premiere on PBS’ Independent Lens on April 20 at 10 p.m.