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Bill McKibben will appear at the Making It Home Film Festival in Milwaukee this week. (PHOTO: Nancie Battaglia)

Making it Home Film Festival serves up movies and environmentalist McKibben

A visit by environmentalist and bestselling author Bill McKibben kicks off this week's Making It Home Film Festival, April 16-18 at the Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Pl., on Milwaukee's East Side.

Admission to the festival, including the McKibben event -- which takes place Friday, April 16 at 7 p.m. -- is free.

The Milwaukee event is one of four around Wisconsin in March and April. Baraboo, Dodgeville and the Chequamegon Bay area are hosting their own versions of the event.

"Sometimes it feels like we live in silos," says statewide festival coordinator Jessica Becker, "spending much of our time with people who think and live just like we do. But the truth is, the best way to ensure that our community thrives in the future is to find ways to talk with, and learn from, all of our neighbors."

The festival will screen seven films from the U.S. -- one is a U.S./Bolivian production -- that show man's ties with the Earth.

"Ghost Bird," for example, is a feature-length documentary about an extinct woodpecker and its ties to a small Arkansas town hoping to change its destiny.

"Men of the Lake" is the story of a 4,000-year-old Bolivian town that is threatened with extinction.

"What's On Your Plate?" is the story of two 11-year-old African-American girls who explore their place in the food chain.

One of the local organizers, T.J. Fackelman, an active member of Milwaukee's film community, says the event is more than simply a film festival.

"(It) helps strengthen the Milwaukee community because the festival includes more than just films," says Fackelman, who is program coordinator for Milwaukee Film.

"The discussions and community involvement opportunities included in the schedule are just as vital and our community real and substantial ways to make contributions."

The McKibben appearance is also a key facet of the weekend.

McKibben has long been a loud voice of American environmentalism and his latest book, "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet," out in hardcover from Times Books, argues that it's too late to go back. Regardless of the changes we make to our lifestyles and our carbon emissions now, we can't stop the series of expected and unexpected results of our thirst for oil.

"I've been fighting hard to stop climate change since I published the first book on the topic, 'The End of Nature,' in 1989," writes McKibben in an open letter to readers.

"In the past two years I've led the largest global grassroots campaign to force real action. This work is hugely necessary -- without it climate change will reach levels of complete chaos.

"But already we've passed the point where we can avoid serious change, and with that comes the need for a real rethinking of how we're going to live on this planet."

Whether or not you agree with his bold opinions, expect McKibben's talk to be an explosive and important one.

The complete Making It Home Festival schedule and film details are at


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