Here’s the link to the full film everyone. Please share. Thank you. It’s 92 minutes-long (plus a 2-minute intro – so go grab some popcorn, and a glass of wine!): https://youtu.be/eRKlaC2EjL0
Last-minute finishing funds for my film were held up [escrow fell through on my family farm!], and after having made it all this way — through years of endless hoops and hurdles — I just could not wait any longer to get the film and its vital message to parents everywhere — so, after a lot of soul-searching, I decided to go ahead and publish a preview screener of the film on YouTube yesterday (12/12/2019)!
The film is a documentary feature film about childhood Lead poisoning. Right now you can watch it for free (no rental fees, commercials, or ads!) on YouTube. I will keep it up through the holidays. The film has music donated by The Who, Tom Waits, Maia Sharp and others (as well as several local Portland-area musicians). It includes footage from my interview with Noam Chomsky, and from my presentation with Bernie Sanders in Flint, Michigan in 2016.
If you are interested in documentaries, in children’s health – or the intrigue of stories of industrial malfeasance; institutional incompetence, cowardice, and collusion that have served to keep Americans in the dark and thwart efforts to protect our children’s health – please watch it, and share the link with your friends, family and others who may be interested.
FYI, this film is NOT a film about Flint…
A note for those of you who may be new to my work [or unfamiliar with my own story]: while it would be unconscionable to have failed to include a discussion of the current Lead crisis in Flint, this is not a film about Flint. In fact the film’s scenes with experts discussing the issue of Lead in water were filmed in early 2012 – yet perfectly outline the catastrophic failure that unfolded in Flint years later! I went to Flint with a cameraman (Jesse!) and filmed there in early 2016 to cover that important part of the story, and incorporated that footage into the film at that time.
While I was born in Saginaw I haven’t lived in Michigan for several decades. I now live in Portland, Oregon. My own children were acutely Lead-poisoned in Portland in 2005; I came up with the concept of the film in 2007 (nearly scene-by-scene as it can be seen today), and started filming in 2011. This was, of course, long before the story of Lead-in-the-water in Flint broke, capturing the media’s attention, and reviving general public interest in the thousands-of-years-old scourge of damaged bodies and destroyed lives caused by exposure to the incredibly neurotoxic metal, Lead.
Flint’s impact on awareness for the concern of childhood Lead poisoning is unprecedented in modern times. I am thankful for that aspect of it.
For the first time in a generation (or longer), the situation in Flint catapulted concerns for the continued widespread exposure to Lead still present in communities across the country – onto the radar of our political leaders and citizens.
Unfortunately, media coverage of the crisis in Flint also served to reinforce the long-held misperception and myth that “Lead poisoning is not your problem.” Specifically this was due to journalists’ perpetuation of the century-old Lead-industry-crafted-narrative that “Lead-poisoning only happens to low-income black families” – as the media has persistently mischaracterized the population of Flint over the course of this crisis.
I’ve been to Flint four times since January of 2016. In my experience this (“low income and primarily black”) is not how the population of Flint perceives themselves, nor how they occurred to me when I met so many of them. The people I met in Flint were just like the rest of us, not separate from us in anyway. Flint reminded me of Portland, Oregon (very hip but but with more diversity) and of New Orleans (an incredible arts scene – but a little colder!) Flint is a culturally rich college town with so many well-educated, politically aware, passionate, loving, interesting people from all walks of life. The people in Flint are just like you and just like me.
The culture and community I experienced in Flint was just like the rest of the country – not “other”, not “different”, and not any more low-income than I was nor any more or less diverse than my own American family. When the media paints an image that Flint is somehow different and somehow an anomaly – the audience who watches these news stories compartmentalize the concern for Lead Poisoning – often thinking “well at least I don’t live THERE” ….”so that couldn’t happen to ME!” and “Those poor people!”
I assure you, you do live THERE. Where you live is just like Flint in many ways. The paint on your old houses has just as much Lead and the water coming out of the pipes in your old homes and schools is just as contaminated. The people in YOUR TOWN are being poisoned too…. irrespective of the color of their skin and regardless of socio-economic status.
My film deconstructs the myth.
Lead poisoning is simply NOT a low-income minority problem.
Lead poisoning does not discriminate.
Lead poisoning is an everyone problem.
It impacts you, your children, your grandchildren, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers; everyone.
Until the collective public consciousness fully adopts the concern that this is a problem impacting everyone (every single person – young and old) in our country, there will never be the political will to generate change to protect children everywhere from Lead. That is, unfortunately, the impact of perpetuating the Lead-industry narrative that asserts that Lead poisoning has a basis in race and socio-economic status.
This is not to say that there are not racial disparities in terms of the impact of lead poisoning. There are. If you have economic barriers due to race and poverty you are less likely to be able to remove your family from a toxic home, making the impact on your family potentially that much greater. However, fundamentally, it is Lead that poisons people (not the color of their skin nor level of prosperity or geographic location) and we need to address this problem at the root – getting the Lead out of housing and consumer goods – and out of our lives.
Lead poisoning is an industry-created problem. The industry that created this problem needs to be held accountable for the cost of fixing the problem. This accountability will only begin to happen with a shift in public perception and the information contained in my film helps to support a shift in the right direction.
Please share the link to this film with anyone you know who lives in an older home and has young children.
In test audiences to date, teachers, Special Education professionals, contractors, therapists, doctors, and nurses also have appreciated the film – as it has many of the top experts in the various relevant scientific fields sharing fascinating insights and shedding light on various widely misunderstood aspects of this multi-layered issue (plus there are compelling stories and interviews with families of Lead-poisoned children around the country).
In fact for many of the preview screenings and post-screening discussions that I coordinated over the years of development of the film (with collaborative partners like hospitals, health departments and universities across the country), State Health Departments arranged for nurses, teachers, childcare providers and others to get continuing education credits (CEUs) for attending these presentations and watching the preview of the film.
Teenagers and students (both high school and college) have also really appreciated the opportunity to watch the film, so please share it with the students in your lives.
A little story about one audience that watched the film a while back…
One of my favorite stories to share is that – several years ago – The State of New Hampshire had me present a preview screening of the film to all of the licensed abatement contractors in the State. New Hampshire-registered abatement contractors were notified that any who did not attend the screening and my presentation following the film would be fined (twice their license renewal fee) for not attending.
Not surprisingly, I had a full house! When I learned about who was going to make up the audience I was mortified —anticipating that after the film they were probably going to throw tomatoes at me – and that, considering the “incentive” for their attendance, the audience would likely not be at all receptive (as they were being effectively “coerced” to attend the presentation!). Yet quite the opposite happened — the contractors in the audience were personally moved by the film and the presentation; many came up to me and sincerely thanked me afterward! Based on questions from the audience after the preview screening, it was obvious that they came away with the following reaction: “Whoa – this is a problem for me, too! If I do this work incorrectly I may be poisoning myself and my family!”
Needless to say, I came away with even more love for the State of New Hampshire! I wish all states could be like New Hampshire when it comes to the creative and progressive nature of their policies around childhood Lead poisoning prevention!
Thank you for taking the time to watch this film, and thank you for taking the time to share the link with anyone and everyone you know! Please do let me know if you have any questions – and – as always – I will be happy to answer them personally. Here’s the link again: https://youtu.be/eRKlaC2EjL0