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On Sunday, June 23, 2013 the Petaluma Community Guild will present a screening of A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet, a new film by Bay Area filmmaker Mark Kitchell at Lydia’s Sunflower Center in Petaluma. Kitchell previously directed the Academy Award-nominated film, Berkeley In the Sixties.

This event marks the first collaboration of its kind amongst a host of local organizations to present a major film screening at Lydia Kindheart’s spacious Sunflower Center venue, which opened in 2012. Co-hosting this event are the Petaluma Film Series, Aqus Community, Save Shollenberger Park, Daily Acts, and the Progressive Democrats of Sonoma County. Representatives of these groups will be on hand to discuss their work, encourage collaboration, and enlist the community’s support.

Coming off a busy spring of screenings of the film at film festivals and community events across the United States, Europe and Asia, Kitchell sounded excited to be closer to home when reached for comment.

“It’s clear you are the environmental homeland. We just sold out a show in Willits for the Mendocino Film Fest, on top of five screenings last fall. We’re organizing grassroots screenings all over the country – contacting libraries and schools, environmental groups and activists – working really hard and getting lots of stuff set up for next fall. I’m proud of our outreach but it sure is nice to come home where everybody gets it.”

According to Kitchell, the upcoming event at Lydia’s is exactly the kind of event he’d hoped to participate in, telling Petaluma Community Guild Lecturer (and primary organizer of the event), Connie Madden:

“I’m excited about this convergence of environmental players in the North Bay. Showing up is the first step toward collaboration on the bigger issues.”

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Kitchell’s film plays out in five acts, each with a central story and character:

1 David Brower and the Sierra Club’s battle to halt dams in the Grand Canyon
2 Lois Gibbs and Love Canal residents’ struggle against 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals
3 Paul Watson and Greenpeace’s campaigns to save whales and baby harp seals
4 Chico Mendes and Brazilian rubbertappers’ fight to save the Amazon rainforest
5 Bill McKibben and the 25-year effort to address the impossible issue – climate change

Robert Redford, Isabelle Allende, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, and Meryl Streep provide narration.

According to Mark Olsen, of the L.A. Times, “Rarely do environmental-themed films come with the ambitious scope of ‘A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for A Living Planet’…..which aims at nothing less than the history of environmentalism itself.'”

The filmmakers describe their film as “The first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change.”

Activities on June 23 begin at 3pm, with Kitchell on hand to discuss the film, and brief presentations by representatives of the sponsoring organizations. Local musician, Larry Potts, will play a few songs. Lydia’s special vegan and raw food samples will be available for purchase, as well as natural energy drinks, hula hooping for the brave and playful, and the chance to fly on a yoga skychair while viewing an ongoing video panorama. Lydia’s jewelry, artwork, organic cotton & hemp clothing, and raw & vegan foods will be available for purchase.

The film begins at 4pm.

A suggested donation of $10-$15 will benefit the maker of the film, which was eleven years in production. However, no one will be turned away for lack of funds and the film is intended for everyone.

Co-founder of Progressive Pastures and President of the Petaluma Community Guild, Pam Torliatt, says she’s thrilled to be co-hosting the event.

“The Petaluma Community Guild is excited to partner with these organizations. We are really working toward networking and continuing to build a good local food network. Come join us!”

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The Petaluma Community Guild is the local branch the rapidly growing, progressive California Grange movement. It is dedicated to fostering a sustainable community by advocating for local farmers and the creation of equitable, resilient local agricultural and food systems.

Lydia’s Sunflower Center is located at 1435 North McDowell Street, in Petaluma. Here’s a map to help you find them if you haven’t yet had the pleasure. The Sunflower Center is “the culmination of Lydia Kindheart’s decades of devotion to the wellness of the planet and its people.”

Aqus Community “is a gathering of people coming together to support our local culture of community. We are focused on furthering the connections between people of all kinds, their nonprofits and businesses in the spirit of mutual support and appreciation. By focusing on this relationship-based economy, we aim to strengthen, empower and enrich our local community both for ourselves and future generations.”

Friends of Shollenberger Park is a Petaluma organization which has been working tirelessly since 2007 for the preservation of Shollenberger Park and the Petaluma Wetlands.

The Petaluma Film Series regularly screens films of interest to the community at Aqus Cafe, 2nd & H Streets, in Petaluma as well as other venues.

Daily Acts is a local non profit organization dedicated to building resilient and sustainable communities through inspired action and education.

Progressive Democrats of Sonoma County, local chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, is a political action committee dedicated to supporting grassroots political activists across the North Bay.

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All images from A Fierce Green Fire: Battle for a Living Planet, courtesy of Mark Kitchell.

Christopher Fisher is Vice President of the Petaluma Community Guild, and an independent Sonoma County journalist whose work has appeared at Civil Eats, Grist, and elsewhere.