The Environmental Studies Department, Film and Media Culture Department, and MCAB present:

A screening of Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai followed by an opportunity to speak with the film’s Vermont-based producers, Alan Dater and Lisa Merton of Marlboro Productions

Wednesday January 21, 4:30 in MBH216

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, a new film by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, tells the inspiring story of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and its unstoppable founder, Wangari Maathai, who, in 2004, became the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Taking Root illustrates the development of Maathai’s holistic worldview and model for sustainable development. Maathai discovered the core of her life’s work when she turned her attention to the rural women with whom she had grown up in Kenya’s central highlands. Their daily lives had become intolerable: they were walking exhaustive distances for firewood, clean water was scarce, the soil was eroding, and their children were suffering from malnutrition. One hundred years of colonialism and neo- colonialism had devastated the forests they’d lived with for centuries. “Why not plant trees?” Maathai thought. Trees provide shade, prevent soil erosion, supply firewood, building materials, and produce nutritious fruit. With this realization Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization encouraging rural women and families to plant trees in community groups.

As the trees and the Green Belt Movement grew, a spirit of hope and confidence also grew in ordinary citizens – especially amongst rural women – only to be met with violent opposition from the government of Daniel arap Moi.  Maathai and her colleagues soon bore the brunt of President Moi’s political oppression. In response, Maathai’s political activism only grew. At great risk she lead numerous confrontations in defense of the environment and social justice, all of which brought her country closer to democracy.

Through TV footage, newspaper headlines, and chilling first person accounts, TAKING ROOT documents these dramatic confrontations of the 1980s and 1990s and captures Maathai’s infectious determination and unwavering courage.

More info available on the film’s website.