First film in 'How We Respond' series focuses on family's dairy farm challenges

September 07, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Sustainability Institute (SI) will kick off its third annual "Intersections" film series titled “How We Respond,” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, with a screening of Shaena Mallet’s "Farmsteaders." The year-long film series consists of eight films, all of which highlight individuals’ actions in response to ongoing and current social and environmental crises facing the nation and world, with more than half of the films focused on structural racism specifically.  

“Often times we think we have to have the perfect answer in order to respond to today’s challenges,” said Peter Boger, assistant director of community outreach and engagement at SI. “But Alice Walker talks about everyone adding their own small stone to the pile that adds up to what she describes as the ‘rugged boulders of heroism.’ However small and imperfect it may be, we all have something to contribute.” 

"Farmsteaders" documents a family in Ohio trying to keep their small dairy farm operational despite continual setbacks. Filmed over the course of five years, the documentary offers audiences a firsthand look at the many struggles and challenges faced by the often-overlooked small family farms that are responsible for feeding much of America. A panel of experts will participate in a Q&A after the screening for a discussion about sustainable agriculture, challenges facing small family farms during the pandemic, and ways to support local farmers. 

“We’re excited to partner with the Student Farm at Penn State for this first film of the series,” said Boger. “The students running and operating the farm can relate to the struggles those in the film are facing, even as they are leading the way for younger farmers and gardeners committed to sustainable food systems and practices.” 

For the first time, the entirety of this year’s film series will be offered virtually. Screenings will be held via a live-streaming platform that allows the audience to watch film simultaneously and participate in post-film discussions directly afterward. Pre-registration for the screenings is requested, and some films will have attendance limits. This virtual format makes it possible for attendees from all Penn State campuses and the surrounding communities to attend and participate in the post-film discussions. 

“We’re excited to partner with the Student Farm at Penn State for this first film of the series. The students running and operating the farm can relate to the struggles those in the film are facing, even as they are leading the way for younger farmers and gardeners committed to sustainable food systems and practices.”

—Peter Boger, assistant director of community outreach and engagement, Sustainability Institute

Along with the overarching narrative of the series, the films serve as a framework for understanding sustainability in the context of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals — 17 objectives agreed to by more than 190 nations to create a sustainable future for the planet. The SDGs cover everything from human sustainability (zero hunger, quality education for all), to economic sustainability (providing good paying, safe jobs and industrial innovation), to environmental sustainability (ensuring clean water and addressing climate change).  

Support for the film series comes from across Penn State, with the series being co-sponsored by WPSU, providing streaming services for the series, as well as Shaver’s Creek and the College of Liberal Arts’ Green Steering Committee. This film series follows SI’s “Limits of the Imagination” and “Landscapes of Labor” film series, which were held in 2019-20. 

For more information about the films in this year’s ‘How We Respond’ film series, visithttps://sites.psu.edu/intersectionsfilm/. To register for the first film, visit https://intersections.psu.edu/farmsteaders/.

 

Last Updated September 17, 2020