The Responsibility to Inform & Potential to Transform

Written by Tea Cakarmis
    Monday, 22 January 2018
The Responsibility to Inform & Potential to Transform

The viscerally devastating moving picture of a polar bear struggling to board a chunk of ice, dissolving under its paws, still haunts me today. Judging by the public and critical response to the The Inconvenient Truth—a national and international box office success from 2006—I was not the only one that found the documentary poignant and disturbing. The impact of the film is best captured by the Oxford University-run survey which shows that as many as 89% of respondents said it made them more aware of the problem of global warming and as many as 74% of them claimed that they had changed some of their habits after seeing the film.

The responsibility of this and any other documentary is to accurately inform the public of an issue. However, there is one more purpose to a film that uncovers truths once veiled or ignored—its potential to move the public to a point where business as usual becomes intolerable.

At the Urban Ecology Center, we wish to cultivate this momentum of rethinking our relationship to nature and to each other. We wish to explore how being informed makes us act as a transforming force in the world around us. Inspired by the notion that documentary watching can be turned into an engaging affair, the Washington Park Community Programs team has introduced the Environmental and Social Justice Film Series!

FilmSeries blog

This ongoing program will include monthly screenings of films that have somehow shaped the way the public thinks about their respective topics and have been carefully picked for their relevancy to the Washington Park community and Milwaukeeans at large. In order to really encourage an exchange of opinions and reactions, we organize facilitated discussions or mediated panels after each documentary showing. Additionally, we are intentionally in reaching out to organized groups, high schools, and community alderman, in order to ensure a diversity of voices and a fruitful discussion. All perspectives matter and that is why you, and your friend, and their grandmother’s cousin should join us!


Through our upcoming documentary showing of An American Ascent, we will meet the first all African-American expedition group to tackle North America’s highest peak, Denali. They embody the strength and determination necessary to accomplish such a physical feat while carrying the extra baggage of America’s race relations. Join us on Thursday, February 8th at 5 p.m. as we recognize the legacy of inclusion in the outdoor/adventure community!

Also, don’t forget about our following screenings of Plastic Paradise on Thursday, April 12th and Milwaukee: A City Built on Water on Thursday, June 7th. It is an opportunity to enjoy some hot cocoa and be lazy “woke”, and quite frankly, no one should miss that!

Tea Cakarmis

Tea Cakarmis

Tea is a Serbian-born citizen of the world! She received her B.A. in Political Science and French from Grinnell College in Iowa and spent her junior year in Paris. She discovered her passion for environmental justice while working for the Delegation of Palau to UNESCO and has since focused her energy to food justice and vegetarian cooking. She leads the Washington Park Young Scientist club and organizes the Environmental and Social Justice Film Series. On her off-days, you’ll find her doing yoga, swimming, drinking ginger tea, and reading historical fiction.

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