Greetings from St. Louis, Costa Rica, and TEDx Pittsburgh!

Whew, I just got back from St. Louis, Costa Rica, and Pittsburgh…and boy are my arms tired. 😉 It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks for the YERT film – (hey, we just won Best Feature Documentary for our international premiere at the Costa Rica International Film Festival!!). Here are some snapshots and a few things I learned while traveling.

St. Louis (11/11-13):
* Always remember your wallet when taking a road trip to St. Louis (or your Aunt Karen will never let you live it down when you get there).

* When in St. Louis’ incredible City Museum, keep track of your 3-year-old…no, really.

* Treating said 3-year-old to a celebratory ice cream cone and root beer at said museum may seem like a good idea at the time…

…it is not.

* The St. Louis International Film Festival is really cool. They’ll even take a picture of you outside their marquee.

Costa Rica (11/14-18):
* Always remember your passport when flying to Cos…don’t worry, I did actually remember my passport. 😉

* 48 hours is not nearly enough time in Montezuma, Costa Rica.

* But, if 48 hours is all you can get in Montezuma, Costa Rica…take it!

* Don’t try to cross the river to hike through the jungle to get to the big waterfall if it rained the night before because the river will look like this and you will die.

Instead, cross the river the next day when it’s calmer…

Of course, when the waterfall you’re trying to get to looks like this…

…I can understand why people might throw caution to the wind.

* Zip lines are harder to pull off as you get older.

* The Costa Rica International Film Festival is also really cool! And they dig fun environmental docs!

TEDx (11/19-20):
After a long day of travel from San Jose, Costa Rica to Farmington, PA by way of MIA and PIT, I finally rendezvoused with Mark at what can only be described as rural Pennsylvania’s answer to the Palace of Versailles for a truly remarkable experience presenting YERT highlights at Pittsburgh’s TEDx conference where we were very well received.

* Pennsylvania doesn’t have Las Vegas, but it does have Nemacolin Resort. And holy honkin’ hotel, Batman! This place is decked out!

* There is a certain inescapable irony about holding a conference focused on “power” in an enormous, sprawling hotel with giant chandeliers in every hotel room. Kind of like an environmental road trip…

* In a pinch, a hotel room bathtub can be used as a washer and an iron as a clothes dryer…for all of your wet, stinky Costa Rica “jungle clothes”…on the morning of your presentation.

* TEDx is really cool. You might even meet someone like, oh, say…C-3PO. Though he’s harder to spot without the full metal body suit.

Finally, as exciting as the traveling’s been, it’s always a joy to come back home to family.

Here’s to an even more fruitful and exciting 2012! Oh, and don’t forget to BUY YOUR YERT DVDs before the holidays – they make great gifts!

Happy Holidays!
-B (& J & M)

Louisville Premiere + More Good News…

Dear YERTians,

Welcome to the latest update on all things YERT! Lots of exciting news this week. Read on for details…

  • Louisville Premiere on July 28!
  • YERT is an Official Selection at Route 66 Int’l Film Festival
  • Success at deadCENTER Film Festival
  • Premiere Planning in KY, PA, CA, TX, NY, OR, WA, DC, and Europe
  • Seeking Outreach Volunteers

Louisville Premiere on July 28!
You are warmly invited to the Louisville Premiere of the feature documentary “YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip” on July 28th at 7pm (7pm is filled up! Second screening at 9:15pm) @ The Louisville Science Center. (Reserve your tickets here.) Edited and post-produced primarily in Louisville, the movie bears the marks of a variety of the city’s local talent (some of whom will be at the Louisville Premiere) including Director/co-Producer Ben Evans, YERT-mama Julie Evans, Co-producer Gill Holland, Co-editor/Co-producer Scott Irick, animation from Eric Stemen at Kertis Creative, and music from Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore among others – as well as invaluable help from a wonderful group of local donors, transcribers, and supporters. After more than four years in the making, the film will have its Louisville Premiere on July 28th at 7pm (7pm is filled up! Second screening at 9:15pm) @ The Louisville Science Center’s IMAX Theatre. The screening will be followed by a special Q&A with Ben Evans, Julie Evans, and Scott Irick – hosted by Gill Holland. Tremendous thanks to the Louisville Science Center, the Louisville Film Society, and the Green Building for so generously sponsoring this premiere and to the entire Louisville community for such incredible support over the last few years. We can’t wait to see you at this very special event!

Ticket reservations for the Louisville Premiere are essential and seats are filling quickly. Reserve your tickets here:

YERT is an Official Selection at Route 66 Int’l Film Festival
We just received word that the YERT Film has become an “Official Selection” at the ultimate road-tripping film festival – the Route 66 International Film Festival in Springfield, IL. They liked the film so much that YERT will be featured in a special advance screening prior to the film festival, hosted by the Chairman of the Illinois Sierra Club, Will Reynolds. Ben will be in attendance at the screening for Q&A, on Aug. 9, 7-10pm at the Capital City Bar and Grill, 3149 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, IL. If you know anybody in the area who might enjoy our special flavor of “environmental anti-depressant,” send them to the screening!

Success at deadCENTER Film Festival
YERT was extremely well received at the deadCENTER Film Fest in Oklahoma City! Over 160 people saw the film via two separate screenings, and out of 107 films, YERT was the most highly rated and most reviewed film at the entire festival. You can see for yourself here. And we’ve included some of the reviews at the bottom of this e-mail. We also had a successful “meet and greet” event during Mark’s visit to OKC, bringing together young and old, experienced and new YERTians from the area for a candid discussion about sustainability at the local level. A big THANKS to deadCENTER for being such a fun, welcoming festival! Thanks also to Elemental Coffee for hosting the gathering, and to Transition OKC, Sustainable OKC, Fresh Greens Blog, and Cimarron Group of the Sierra Club.

Premiere Planning in KY, PA, CA, TX, NY, OR, WA, DC, and Europe
We’re continuing to roll out the YERT film at premieres around the country. The Louisville premiere comes up next, and we’ll soon be announcing premiere dates for Pittsburgh, PA and California (San Francisco). We would also like to have premiere events in Portland (OR), Seattle (WA), New York (NY), Austin (TX), and Washington (DC), and an international premiere. Do you know organizations or individuals in these cities that you think would be helpful collaborators in creating a strong YERT premiere? Please encourage them to contact us ASAP at! And if you’d like to arrange a screening near you, wherever you are, premiere or not, you can always do that at our screening page.

Seeking Outreach Volunteers
We have two talented, connected, and dedicated interns (Angela Wiley and Laura Beck) working to plan screenings, develop a press kit, and generally boost YERT’s outreach efforts, but we need more help! Would you like to spend a couple hours each week as an outreach volunteer? Click here to sign up and we’ll follow-up with you by e-mail and phone. We particularly need active grass-roots development in these states: KY, PA, CA, TX, NY, OR, WA, DC. Sign up today!

And that’s the latest news from YERT. You can join the conversation on Facebook, and we’ll see you again soon!

Ben, Mark, and Julie

— NEW Quotes from YERT Film Audiences —

“The Fellini trio of the climate justice movement, the YERT film crew has managed to pull off the impossible in the world of cinema–a deeply absorbing and often hilarious road trip that confronts the badlands of our nation’s spiraling descent into dirty energy darkness, only to emerge along the solar roadways and wind-swept plains into the myriad possibilities for new power and sustainable living. By the dramatic end of Your Environmental Road Trip, audiences will not only cheer, but feel compelled to spring to their feet to join an inspiring movement for change. If only our nation’s policymakers will watch this important film and do the same.” – Jeff Biggers, author, Huffington Post

“This was an exceptional documentary. It had the 3 E’s of any good documentary. It was entertaining, emotional and educational. Forget the Tea Party. Working on alternative energy sources and getting humans to work toward sustainable lifestyles, needs to be the next American Revolution.” – deadCENTER Film Fest audience member

“Wow! One of the best eco-documentaries I’ve seen. Loaded with information. Why havn’t I heard of the revolutionary, forward thinking people in this film before? A real eye opener; not just to the environmental issues but to the popular media and their inability to bring this information to the masses. Great movie!” – deadCENTER Film Fest audience member”

Q&A featuring Mark with Lance McDaniel, Executive Director of the deadCENTER Film Fest.

YERT feature film – KY Premiere – July 28, 7pm @ Louisville Science Center!

YERT Film Poster for Louisville
The YERT Film poster is an homage to films that have undoubtedly influenced many environmental documentaries: Charlie’s Angels and The Ten Commandments . Conceived/designed by Ben Evans and created by local Louisville graphic artist Kyle Ware.

“…A deeply absorbing and often hilarious road trip… By the dramatic end of Your Environmental Road Trip, audiences will not only cheer, but feel compelled to spring to their feet to join an inspiring movement for change. If only our nation’s policymakers will watch this important film and do the same.”
– Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post

(One night only and seating is limited, so get your tickets early.)

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip is an award-winning film (Audience Award – Environmental Film Festival at Yale 2011) celebrating the American spirit in the face of adversity – a unique docu-comedy profiling the courageous and creative individuals, groups, businesses and leaders of this country who are tackling the greatest environmental threats in history.


(One night only and seating is limited, so get your tickets early.)

Covering 50 states in 1 year and virtually every environmental issue coast to coast with a blend of humor and depth – from the heroes on the front lines fighting mountaintop removal in Appalachia to the iconic Kansan “solving the 10,000 yr-old problem of agriculture”; from an eccentric 92-year old cave-man in the wilds of Idaho to the inventor of futuristic Solar Roadways; from New Mexico’s utopian Earthships to Alaska’s melting ice cellars – we shot 600 hours of footage and interviewed nearly 1000 people including such luminaries as Bill McKibben, Wes Jackson, Michael Bloomberg, Deepak Chopra, Janine Benyus, Will Allen, David Orr, Michael Reynolds, Joel Salatin, David Korten, and members of Congress…as well as ordinary citizens from all walks of life.

To better understand the environmental challenges before us, Mark, Julie, and I also decided to put ourselves through a series of outrageous challenges on the trip, like never turning on an incandescent light bulb, radically reducing our water usage by any means necessary, and, above all, attempting to generate zero waste by keeping all of our garbage (and recyclables) in the car with us for the entire year. Little did we know that in the middle of the trip, an unexpected turn of events would instantly and dramatically change life for all of us and push the entire project to the brink. It was an alternately heart-rending, mind-blowing, and gut-busting adventure – but ultimately, we hope, an inspiring one.

Crafting the film has been as challenging as surviving the trip itself. Edited and post-produced primarily in Louisville, the movie bears the marks of a variety of the city’s local talent (in addition to Ben and Julie…and frequent visitor Mark) including co-producer Gill Holland, co-editor/co-producer Scott Irick, animation from Eric Stemen at Kertis Creative, and music from Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore among others – as well as invaluable help from a wonderful group of local donors, transcribers, and supporters. After more than four years in the making, the film will have its Louisville Premiere (generously sponsored by both the Louisville Science Center and the Louisville Film Society) on July 28th at 7pm @ The Louisville Science Center. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow.


(One night only and seating is limited, so get your tickets early.)

Tremendous thanks to Louisville for such incredible support over the last few years. We can’t wait to see you at this very special event!

Ben Evans
DIRECTOR / co-Producer

YERT wins Audience Award at EFFY 2011 World Premiere!!

After a fantastic world premiere at EFFY 2011 (the Environmental Film Festival at Yale) – complete with packed house, laughter, tears, two standing ovations, and friends and family all around – we’re proud to announce today that the YERT film just won the Audience Award at the festival – in a tie with Oscar-nominated “Waste Land”!! Read all about it HERE.

If you would like to find or request a YERT feature film screening in your area, click HERE.

Thanks to anyone and everyone who has helped this project over the last 4+ years. This one’s for you, YERTians!

This film’s been a long time coming – but the real fun has just begun. Get ready world, here we come!


Ben, Mark, & Julie

A great screening at the National Bioneers Conference! + Screenings in KY and PA this weekend

Dear YERTians,

We’re thrilled to report that the YERT feature film rough-cut screening at the National Bioneers Conference went very very well. There was a crackling excitement in the room on Friday night, filled to capacity with 100+ audience members who laughed so loudly and so often that passers-by thought it was a comedy show.

Ben at Bioneers 2010 Mark at Bioneers 2010

After the screening we heard lots of wonderful feedback that people were both tickled and moved by the film and couldn’t wait to see the final cut and screen it in their home towns. A few audience members were so excited that they donated a total of $70 to the project right on the spot. The Bioneers conference co-founder, Kenny Ausubel, mentioned to me something along the lines of “I heard lots of good things about the YERT screening.” Kenny also gave Ben a big hug on Monday after the conference. And finally, we have also received an invitation to screen the final film at the National Bioneers conference as soon as we finish the final cut.

All in all, a great time, and an affirmation that we’re on the right track with this film. It is also an affirmation to you, our friends and supporters, that we’re working together towards an inspiring, fun, and worthwhile contribution to the movements dedicated to improving the relationship between people and our dear planet.

And if you’re in Louisville, KY or Pittsburgh, PA this weekend, you can watch the same screening that we shared at the National Bioneers Conference last weekend. Here’s the information:

Louisville, KY – Bluegrass Bioneers – Friday, 10/22, 7:00pm-8:50pm – Free entry! – YERT Feature Film: Your Environmental Road Trip (preview cut) – followed by Q&A w/ Director/Producer Ben Evans (University of Louisville, Planetarium/Strickler)

Pittsburgh, PA – 3RiversBioneers – 5:30pm-7:30pm – $5 at the door – FILM: YERT Feature Film: Your Environmental Road Trip (preview cut) – followed by Q&A w/ Producer/Director Mark Dixon (Pittsburgh Project, 2801 N Charles St, Pittsburgh, PA, in the Sanctuary)

Thanks again for enabling the project so that we can continue to give positive updates like this one, and we’re looking forward to seeing you soon.

Ben, Mark, and Julie
Your YERT Team

I am a Pro-Life, Conservative, Capitalist!

Speech delivered at Fight Washington Corruption Rally
Louisville, KY – August 10th, 2010
by Ben Evans

I am pledging to clean up Washington because…I am a pro-life, conservative, capitalist. Strange right? Now say it with me – I am a pro-life, conservative, capitalist. Let me unpack that statement a little bit.

I am pro-life because I believe that not just human life is important and sacred but that all life is important and sacred – that we must stand humbled and awed in the face of this sacred and fabulously diverse web of life that supports and nourishes us and that we should do everything in our power to honor, protect, and support that web and all of its inhabitants. THAT is pro-life and we cannot allow our language to be hijacked by those who would restrict us to some narrow view of what kind of life is valuable.

I am a conservative because I believe in conserving our most valuable assets – our true wealth – our water, air, land, climate, and biosphere. I am a conservative because I reject the utterly rash and unforgivably radical idea that we can use our planet as humanity’s open and unregulated sewer without devastating consequences for us and all life that supports us. Conducting that kind of uncontrolled experiment on the only home we have – an experiment that we are currently carrying out at full-throttle – is the most insanely radical idea I can imagine and it flies in the face of the very word “conservative.”

And finally, I am a capitalist because I believe in the intrinsic value of natural capital – the real wealth upon which all of our seemingly important human wealth is based and without which none of this would exist. I am a capitalist because I believe in the ability of market forces to conserve and utilize this real capital wisely if, and only if, we have a truly open, accurate, transparent and distortion-free market that accounts for actual consequences and costs over all time frames. This means, among many other things, pricing carbon and adding the true and irreplaceable value of natural capital and the ecosphere to the ledger – because right now the “free-market” that we think we have could not be more distorted or backwards. Or, as noted author and economist David Korten once said to me, “What economic growth really measures is the rate at which the rich are expropriating the real resources of the poor in order to turn them into garbage at an accelerating rate to make money for people who already have more than they need.”

And so I am truly a pro-life, conservative, capitalist – and we need more of those in Washington. We can no longer allow our language to be co-opted by those who would distort and destroy it, anymore than we can allow our government to be. We need to take back Washington and remind them that they work for US. We need a government that recognizes that humanity does not live in a vacuum, that a sustainable human economy and a healthy vibrant ecosphere are not mutually exclusive but, rather, mutually essential – and we need a government that can legislate that way.

We can all do a tremendous amount as individuals in our own lives and communities to protect this planet that sustains us – and I’m definitely all for that. But there are certain essential things that only our government can do. Only our government can enforce true-cost accounting by putting a price on carbon to move us away from our dead-end fossil fuel obsession. Only our government can set renewable energy standards to allow the energy marketplace to function wisely and in our long-term best interests. And only our government can negotiate climate treaties with other nations to preserve the enduring health of our species. We need an effective government, and so long as Washington is run by those who see mowing down our forests, blowing up our mountains, and polluting our water in order to make a buck for the top tax-bracket as “economic progress”, we will not have an effective government.

BP is not a person. Goldman Sachs is not a person. Massey Coal is not a person. And yet, they have more rights than any person – without the same responsibilities. We cannot continue to live in a world run by the likes of BP, Goldman Sachs, and Massey – or we will simply not have a world to live in.

Now say it with me one more time: I am a pro-life, conservative, capitalist. And I want an honest and fair government that knows what those words REALLY mean, and acts like it.

Wow! You donated $20,000 in December!

Dear YERTians,

Thanks to you and dozens like you, YERT received just over $20,000 in donations during December. This is an extraordinary breath of fresh air into the film– one that we plan to use very wisely. We have news about this and more in this latest YERT update!

    In This Update:

  • EVENT: YERT featured on FireDogLake TONIGHT, 8pm EST
  • EVENT: Coal Free Future Project and YERT film preview on 2/11 in Pittsburgh
  • Mark & Ben featured on “The Wall” by Repower America
  • Film Festival Update
  • Marketing Survey Results + ChicoBag Winners!
  • How YERT raised $20,000

EVENT: YERT featured on FireDogLake TONIGHT, 8pm EST
YERT was recently asked to appear on– our second appearance on that site. FireDogLake has a regular “movie night” event, and tonight, Monday 9/18, they’ll be featuring three YERT short films with Ben, Julie, and Mark available for Q&A in chat form. Come join us! . Oh, and here are the three films for discussion:

EVENT: Coal Free Future Project and YERT film preview on 2/11 in Pittsburgh
We have a very special event coming up in Pittsburgh– Ben is a key performer in and has created short film “faux-mercials” and visuals for the Coal Free Future Project’s presentation of “Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal,” an original multimedia play by Jeff Biggers, American Book Award winner and frequent contributor to Huffington Post and The Nation. From the Coal Free Future Project’s website: “The performance draws attention to the national scandal of mountaintop removal mining, and the grave health impacts of coal mining and coal-fired plants, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate destabilization triggered by CO2 emissions.” In addition to Jeff and Ben, the play features and is directed by Appalachian Voices National Field Coordinator and actress Stephanie Pistello, and is set to songs by some of coal country’s finest songwriters. After the performance, we’ll be screening selected “sneak peek” chapters of the YERT feature film– chapters featuring Joel Salatin, Wes Jackson, and other favorite personalities from the trip. We’re eager to get your honest feedback to help shape the creation of the film!

Picture from Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal
<-- Here's a picture from "Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal," courtesy of the Coal Free Future Project.
The event happens from 8-10pm on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 at the Union Project Great Hall, 801 N. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh, PA. Contact for more details. For more information about the Coal Free Future Project and additional events around the country in Louisville, KY, Asheville, NC, Washington DC, Columbus, OH, Lexington, KY, and NYC, visit

Mark & Ben featured on “The Wall” by Repower America
Through a bit of magic performed by our friends at Repower America, Mark and Ben have been given exclusive “big boxes” to highlight the videos posted on “The Wall,” a collection of countless videos by activists sharing their views about the need for action on climate change. Ben and Mark created videos sharing our views, and our small squares were upgraded to more easy to see “large squares.” Browse around here and then click on the picture of Mark or Ben to listen to our messages! Here’s The Wall. Or if you want to cheat and go right to our video messages (with, oddly, small squares for us), click for Mark’s message and Ben’s Message.

Find Mark and Ben on The Wall!

Film Festival Update
Scott and Ben have been working their tails off on the latest cut of the YERT film, with our most recent film submission going into the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. The next big entry date is the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, CO. We’re still waiting for results from the South By Southwest entry. In the meantime, we’re working to get the time of our film down to 90 minutes, with the next big developments likely to be the addition of additional narration and some motion graphics to move the story along more effectively. After that we’ll drop in some custom music. We are currently trying to get the film fully baked by the summer of 2010.

Marketing Survey Results + ChicoBag Winners!
Thank you all for the excellent feedback that you contributed through the marketing survey that we released in December. It was extremely helpful to our planning and marketing efforts– so much so that I’d like to share it with you and put the knowledge into the public domain to help other filmmakers out there. You can check out the data about pricing and demographics here. And there were some wonderful suggestions for marketing an environmental feature film in our open-ended question, with the top 99 suggestions collected in our blog here.

And, as promised, we’ll be shipping out a YERT ChicoBag to five special survey participants, chosen at random (via random number generator in Excel). Congratulation to the winners, specifically…

  • Joan Hare
  • David Buscher
  • Callie Williams
  • Aaron Meyers
  • Ellie Gordon

How YERT raised $20,000
We are thrilled and a little stunned by the incredible flow of donations from YERT supporters all around the world. We received contributions from over 30 brand new donors in December, bringing the total number of donors to 119, raising just over $20,000 in December. We blew away the matching donation of $3,000, and apparently that got the ball rolling with people coming out in waves to support the project. Most (95%) of the money came through checks written to Pittsburgh Filmmakers, with 5% coming through PayPal.

We were wondering how we were going to find the funds to finish the film, and this round of support lets us worry much less about that and focus on finishing the film. We still need more money to do it right, but this keeps the core team in gear for the foreseeable future. It also gives us more options for marketing and distribution when that time comes around– increasing the impact of the YERT film even more.

We can’t thank you enough for all of your incredible support. May you have a happy, GREEN new year, and please keep in touch.

Ben, Julie, and Mark

Just $650 of matching funds left!

Since we announced our $3,000 matching contribution on Dec. 17, we have received an amazing $2,350 of contributions. Doubled, that comes to $4,700 raised in less than two weeks! Can you make a donation to use up $650 of remaining matching funds before the end of the year?

Click here to make a tax-deductible and MATCHED donation to YERT!

And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the “YERT Filmmaking Lair,” take a look! You’ll see Ben, Scott, and Mark discuss the nitty gritty elements of eco-filmmaking.

Click here to watch the “YERT Filmmaking Lair”…

This is your last chance in 2009 to put your money where your mouth, or your mind, or your heart is. Every penny removed from the “extractive” economy and delivered to YERT helps to bring about a more sustainable world in a direct, loving way. Can you help us reach our year-end goal of $10,000?

Count my donation as a vote for a more sustainable world!

As always, we’re funded by love, encouragement, and your financial contributions. Thank you for sending them our way!

Happy New Year,

Ben, Julie, and Mark

WATCH: Inside the YERT Filmmaking Lair

Dear YERTians,

We’ve created a new video to give you an inside look at the “YERT Filmmaking Lair,” where our feature film is coming to life– see our grand plans on the giant whiteboard, meet our editor, Scott, and then find out what gives him his secret powers!

Click here to watch the “YERT Filmmaking Lair”…

We also just received a generous matching offer from an anonymous YERT donor: $3,000 of funds to double donations given before January 1st!

Click here to make a tax-deductible and MATCHED donation to YERT!

We’re trying to raise a total of $10,000 by the end of the year, which will give us the funds to pay our editor for a few more months and kick start our grass-roots distribution and fundraising plans for the new year. Can you spare a dime? Please consider making a year-end tax-deductible donation at

We believe that the planet and those working for her care deserve a voice, and the YERT feature film will do just that. We’re funded by love, encouragement, and your finacial contributions, so please help us keep the message alive and well by making a MATCHED donation.

Thanks for your support!

Ben, Julie, and Mark

YERT Submits to SXSW Film Festival

Just wanted to let you all know that Ben and Scott submitted a fresh new cut of the YERT feature film to the SXSW (South by Southwest) Film Festival! They pulled a butt-kickin’ all nighter last friday and today I received official notice that our submission was received. So now we wait. Looks like we’ll find out it we’re in the festival on or before February 12, 2010. Stay tuned!!