I grew up admiring the peaceful, natural environment that surrounded my home in rural Connecticut. The forest was a place of meditation for me and as I grew older I wanted to protect it from encroaching department stores and strip malls. So, when I was 25 years old I went on a journey to make a film about the most extraordinary pioneers challenging the norms of American culture and lifestyle—people who had figured out how to live in balance with their forests and friends.
Upon entering the hurricane-wrecked Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, I began working with Nat Turner, a New York City schoolteacher who had moved to New Orleans and started an urban farming school in an abandoned grocery store. He had no experience farming, but threw himself into it, living without electricity or water, trying to get neighborhood kids involved to teach them how growing their own food could provide a healthier life. Nat’s radical and creative manner of education is an inspiration to anyone who sees wrongs in the world but has never felt strong enough to break the cycles of destruction alone.
I continued my travels and met Marcin Jakubowski, a genius technologist living in a village of mud huts in the backwoods of Missouri, attempting to build an ecologically sound community with pragmatic technology. He began developing a Global Village Construction Set, the 50 machines necessary to create and maintain a modern sustainable civilization. These blueprints are made available for free online to all
While on my journey, I decided to make The Spark
, a documentary that follows these two rogue pioneers whose audacious thinking and radical community empowerment may raise the scaffold of a new American evolution: a healthy, fair, honest culture. The Spark
tackles the biggest challenges of our time—economic, social, and environmental degradation—and the cutting-edge attempts to combat and rebuild this erosion. We are making the first feature film to get a behind-the-scenes look at Open Source Ecology: a network of farmers and engineers building a platform that gives anyone low-cost access to DIY agricultural and industrial technology.
Nat and Marcin are part of a cycle of prosperity and healing. This film connects the dots and I hope that it can illustrate to our audience how they can become a part of this cycle and escape a future of destruction and competition. I have learned how to build community through this experience and with The Spark I hope to share this knowledge.
We have been working on the film for three years and are close to finishing. We have one final, important scene to film that will serve as the climax to our story—building the latest Open Source Ecology tractor in Missouri with activists from around the country, and bringing it to New Orleans to donate to Nat’s farming school called Our School at Blair Grocery.
This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.