Marion Abrams (2012, U.S., 57 min.) + additional short film + post-film discussion
This summer Vermont faced unprecedented flooding–two months’ worth of rain fell in the space of two days in places, flooding Montpelier and other communities. But this flooding wasn’t unprecedented—just twelve years ago Hurricane Irene similarly dumped “unprecedented” amounts of water on the state that had never been seen before. That’s the problem with climate change—all the precedents for what we think are “normal” and “abnormal” are changing. And in Vermont and other Appalachian states, one of the biggest precedents being overturned by climate change will be flooding.
So how should we respond? In the long term, it will require major adaptations for infrastructure and community planning to minimize the devastation of future flooding. But in the short term, we should remember that we can survive this–indeed, amazingly these disasters can even remind us of our better selves, as communities come together and find “a paradise built in hell,” to borrow Rebecca Solnit’s phrase. That’s what we witness in Marion Abrams’ Flood Bound, a first-person narrative told by the residents of Pittsfield, Vermont as they recount how everyone pitched in during the afterrmath of Hurricane Irene, when the town was cut off from the outside world. Neighbors rescued neighbors. Strangers donated food. People volunteered however they could–offering schooling, rides, cell service, whatever anyone needed. In the process, old grudges disappeared and new friendships were kindled–the community emerged stronger than before. A true reminder that our anxiety in disasters can be conquered by productive collective action.
Following the film screening, we will host a post-film discussion panel about riverine flooding due to climate change facing the Appalachian region and other parts of the world.
This event is put on by Penn State Sustainability and the Penn State Water Council, with support from the CLA Sustainability Council.