SOURLANDS: The last green spot between NYC and Philly

Not in my back yard — that’s often the shortsighted response to clean energy development, right? But it can also be an appropriate response to more threatening forms of development; no one wants a nuclear or coal plant in their “back yard,” either. But this phrase (or the acronym NIMBY) can also describe another phenomenon: the notion that important efforts at sustainability occur somewhere across the globe, in the Arctic or the Amazon — but not in my back yard.

Like politics, though, one could argue that all sustainability is local, and filmmaker Jared Flesher brings that notion home in his new documentary SOURLANDS. The title refers to a forest in Central New Jersey which the film’s Facebook page describes the Sourlands as “the last green spot on the map between New York City and Philadelphia.” Flesher, whose films focus on environmental issues, realized that this forestland serves as a microcosm for all of the kinds of stories he wants to tell, from small-scale organic farmers battling the elements (including increasingly extreme weather) to conservationists and hunters banding together to restore balance to deer populations (and save the forest itself). There’s even a small community of technology entrepreneurs focused on energy development. The film’s trailer shows the broad perspective on environmental challenges in this small green spot on the map:

The film itself is also small, at least in terms of distribution: SOURLANDS premiered late in June at Hopewell, NJ’s Off-Broadstreet Theatre and made its festival debut at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival last week. A handful of other screenings are scheduled, but it probably won’t make it to your local multiplex, so consider either hosting a screening or buying a copy of the DVD.

I’ve only watched the trailer at this point; if you’ve seen the film, tell us what you think about it!


Image: Director Jared Flesher at work in the Sourlands. Credit: SOURLANDS press kit