'Before going off on the deep end ranting'
Another note regarding my wind power post, this one from a Zumbrota reader:
Dear Mr. Furst,
I am writing in response to your article/blog entitled, "Call it what it is: An anti-wind power film.
First, have you been to a showing of this film, "WINDFALL"? I have NOT but intend to do so. My husband and I live in our retirement home within the footprint of the AWA Goodhue Wind project. We, along with many of our neighbors and friends, truly are concerned citizens about the impacts of industrial wind energy in Goodhue Co. Before going off on the deep end ranting about this film, I suggest you allow others to see it and make their own decisions.
The film is free. You can come and listen and feel free to walk out at any time if you so wish. The fact that a freewill offering box may be sitting on the table does NOT mean anyone has to give to it. Freewill is freewill...and not obligatory!
So, may I suggest you attend one or both showings of "WINDFALL" and then say your piece. We all have the freedom to our opinions.
Since the Post Bulletin has been actively following this wind project, I suggest you come and meet the "locals." They are good people. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for the note -- I don't think the blog post was a rant -- it was just to note that the organization presenting ("facilitating") the film is working against the Goodhue wind project and the film itself, based on everything available online about it, says it takes a negative view of wind power. That's it -- no other opinion about the film, the project or anything else. But as a news organization, it's certainly reasonable for us to point out that it's not an impartial organization presenting a neutral film...it's a documentary with a clear position on the issue...and until I read this review from the Washington Post, I didn't realize that the filmmaker has property in the N.Y. town that's the focus:
Faucets don’t spit fire in “Windfall,” making its local premiere Saturday at the Environmental Film Festival. But incendiary water may be the only side effect not associated with wind power in Laura Israel’s absorbing, sobering documentary about the lures and perils of green technology.
With the Oscar-nominated “Gasland” (and its flame-throwing plumbing) enlightening viewers on the environmental and public health implications of natural gas drilling, and with nuclear power’s reputation in meltdown as a global community turns an anxious gaze toward Japan, some hardy souls may see hope in wind power. After seeing “Windfall,” those optimists will probably emerge with their faith, if not shaken, at least blown strongly off course.
“Windfall” takes place in Meredith, N.Y., a once-thriving dairy-farming community of fewer than 2,000 tucked into a bucolic Catskills valley that is teetering between post-agricultural poverty and hip gentrification. When Irish energy company Airtricity offers leases to build windmills on some residents’ properties, the deals initially seem like a win-win. A little extra money in the pockets of struggling farmers, an environmentally sound technology, those graceful white wings languorously slicing the afternoon sky — what’s not to like?
Plenty, as the concerned residents in “Windfall” find out. Not only do the 400-foot, 600,000-pound turbines look much less benign up close, but research has suggested that their constant low-frequency noise and the flickering shadows they cast affect public health; what’s more, they’ve been known to fall, catch fire and throw off potentially lethal chunks of snow and ice.
Soon Meredith succumbs to drastic divisions between boosters, who see Airtricity’s offers as a godsend for the economically strapped community, and skeptics, who see the leases as little more than green-washed carpetbaggery. “Windfall” chronicles the ensuing, agonizing fight, which largely splits lifelong residents and the relatively new “downstaters,” who’ve moved in from Manhattan and want to keep their views and property values pristine.
Using artful collages of maps and signage, a rootsy soundtrack and crisp digital cinematography, Israel provides a vivid backdrop to “Windfall’s” most gripping story, the emotionally charged human conflict that results in a genuine cliffhanger of a third act. Wisely letting Meredith’s residents speak for themselves, the filmmaker avoids simple good-guy-bad-guy schematics, instead enabling each side to state its case.
Israel, a film editor making her feature debut here, has owned a cabin in Meredith for more than 20 years, a fact never made clear in “Windfall,” which is, nonetheless, filmed with careful, dispassionate distance. In large part, the documentary follows Israel’s process of discovery. Although she wasn’t approached for a lease, she initially supported wind power in the community, she said in an interview. “I wanted a turbine on my property, which motivated me to learn more about it,” she explained. “A lot of the people in the film are illustrating the process I went through, from initial excitement to having it unravel as you find out more about the subject.”
Comparing the situation in Meredith with similar ones in other New York communities, Israel conveys an alarming portrait of small, economically vulnerable towns being cynically targeted by Big Wind — slick, savvy energy companies less interested in the public good than in profits, which are virtually ensured thanks to generous federal and state tax breaks, as well as the deep pockets of investment banks. “It’s not green energy,” notes one observer. “It’s greed.”
Meanwhile, in Meredith, a handful of earnest, common-sense heroes try to separate fact from hype, do the right thing and navigate thorny questions of civic progress by way of small-town democracy. The latter isn’t always pretty, as anyone who has attended a town hall or school board meeting knows. But “Windfall” makes it look exciting, inspiring and, most important, stubbornly enduring. Last year, the Environmental Film Festival helped launch “Gasland’s” grass-roots tour, during which the film pulled the veil from an otherwise opaque subject. With luck, “Windfall” will soon embark on a similar eye-opening journey. Catch it if you can.
There are many more reviews to choose from that are more pointed.
But my point with the blog post was simply, here's who's presenting the film, and here's what the film is.
I'd like to see the film and might get to the Zumbrota screening. I believe we'll have a reporter at the Goodhue event.
I'll also just say, we've covered this issue more thoroughly than any other news organization -- by a long shot -- and have done our best to get the facts out to the public. Among other things, we hosted a community forum, one of our Post-Bulletin Dialogues event, on the project several months ago, as you probably know.
Thanks for the note,
By the way, the documentary is NOT to be confused with a 2003 action thriller by the same name.