Dirt! The Movie airs nationwide on PBS April 20th to celebrate Earth Day

Dirt! The Movie poster "A story with heart and soil."Why should we care about dirt? With more than half the people on earth living in cities, what’s the big deal about something we work hard to keep out of our homes and streets? As it turns out, dirt – the earth’s living soil - is a huge deal when it comes to our sustainability, resilience, adaptation to climate change and protection from its effects, in fact our very lives.

Dirt! The Movie addresses many basic things we’ve forgotten – why we need healthy soil to survive and thrive as humans…whether for water supply, to protect from floods, or to feed people.


From my vantage point as president of TreePeople, the Los Angeles based organization I founded nearly four decades ago, I'm reminded how every civilization that forgot its trees inevitably began a series of cascading environmental disasters that led to its downfall. Soil and trees are inseparable. Take out trees, and you lose soil, you lose water, you lose food, you lose biodiversity, you lose life.

But it’s important to point out this movie is different from many environmental documentaries. While touching on the dangers, Dirt! is in no way overwhelmingly negative. In fact, it’s very hopeful about the impact each of us can have in restoring our connection to dirt, restoring our awareness, and restoring the soil’s vitality.

I’m delighted to be one of the featured leaders, sharing how TreePeople is enacting some inspiring solutions. In the film you’ll see kids in our programs working to peel asphalt from their over-paved school yards, and neighbors doing the same thing on streets and in yards: opening the concrete and letting the soil breathe – enabling trees and plants to play their natural roles as guardians of our water, air and soil.

If we are going to retain some semblance of quality of life and health through all the environmental challenges we face, we must find ways to work together in our cities and neighborhoods. Dirt! The Movie points to ways this might easily be done.

It’s an entertaining film for all ages, but more than something to watch by yourself on PBS on Tuesday, April 20th (check your local station for broadcast time), the film is a great tool to show to family and neighbors to start an action conversation, to bring folks together to do a project to restore the dirt where you live and begin making a difference fast.

This 40th anniversary Earth Day is more than a time to party - it's a time to put your hands in the soil and get dirty taking the actions necessary to head off the threats that are every day diminishing our quality of life.

If you miss the broadcast…or if you see it and are moved to act, the filmmakers have put together a tool kit to help you screen the film in your home and community and resources to take on projects to begin fixing the problems right beneath our feet. More information is at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/dirt-the-movie/ .


Correction: The version of Dirt! The Movie that aired on PBS included an old and inaccurate quote from me about 20% of California’s electricity being used to bring water to Los Angeles. Actually importing water to LA is the LARGEST SINGLE USE of electricity in the state of California, and nearly 20% of California's energy use is related to water throughout the entire state.  - AL