Who cares about Humboldt County? If the recent Richardson Grove protests at CalTrans or the ongoing rancor surrounding the proposed Marina Center and/or the General Plan are any indicator, the people here still do. To many, this land is their land. Which is good. Even if Humboldtians can't come up with a collective answer to which direction the region is headed they are, at least, not too jaded to be engaged by the question.
Similarly, environmental justice filmmaker and South Dakota-native Teresa Konechne's connection to land has led her to spend her career asking questions and chronicling people, groups and the land issues they face, often in less noticed regions like ours. She has won multiple awards, screened her films in 10 countries and her work has been commissioned by the Archibald Bush Foundation and the White Earth Land Recovery Project. This week she will screen three of her films for free in Humboldt State University's Kate Buchanan Room.
The first film, This Black Soil: A Story of Resistance and Rebirth, will be shown on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. The film details the struggle of the impoverished citizens of tiny, rural Bayview, Virginia to prevent the state of Virginia from building a 270-acre maximum security prison in the middle of town. Despite many town leaders having little education past a high school diploma, they were able to organize successfully against the prison. Energized by the triumph, the residents formed the Bayview Citizens for Social Justice nonprofit and purchased the prison site land to use in the construction of a new community.
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Konechne will be on hand for screenings of two of her films. First, the short film Manoomin: A Minnesota Way of Life sheds light on the plight of the sacred wild rice of the Ojibwe Nation known as "Manoomin." The rice's existence was threatened when researchers proposed changing its genome and using it for the genetic modification of other species which led to the creation of the film in an attempt to draw the attention of Minnesota State legislators. Also shown will be Konechne's latest work, Woven from the Land: Women Prairie Culture, which draws together the voices of 18 Native and non-Native American rural women to provide a narrative on the filmmaker's journey home to South Dakota. Both films will be screened at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Each screening will be followed by a conversation with the filmmaker. For more on Teresa Konechne and her film work, visit www.workinghandsproductions.com.