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

And the Sundance results are…

We finally received the results from Sundance and they are:

YERT was not accepted…

…but all is certainly not lost. (In fact they only took one environmental documentary film out of nearly 10,000 total submissions.) This just makes all of you, our grassroots supporters, all the more important. In fact, we’re convinced more than ever that the feature film will move countless environmentalists to action– both new and battle-tested activists alike. We just need a little more time to get it ready for prime time. We’re seriously examining the possibility of self-distribution, but we need to collect more information to do it well.

Please take our “YERT MARKETING SURVEY” by answering 10 quick questions here:

As a thank you, we’ll give away five YERT ChicoBags to five lucky survey responders, selected at random.

Our submission to Sundance was very rough and incomplete– nothing compared to what we expect to create with a little more time (and money). Now we have our sights set on several other solid festivals – SXSW, Florida, and Tribeca. While the film remains far from done, we’ll keep whittling away at it until it finds its way successfully out into the world.

In the meantime, stay tuned for continued updates and thank you for helping us get this far. And don’t forget to fill out the YERT MARKETING SURVEY!

Happy Holidays,
Ben, Julie, and Mark

P.S. Many thanks to our awesome unpaid marketing intern, Vidya Sarma from Chicago, for assembling the survey!

YERT Submits Feature Film to Sundance!

Dear YERTians,

Thanks to some extraordinary efforts by Ben and our trusty new editor Scott Irick, we have submitted a rough cut of the YERT feature film to Sundance. It is a milestone and a launching pad to the next round of YERT filmmaking efforts. Read on for more information…

* YERT submits feature film to Sundance Film Fest
* YERT to be featured on TONIGHT
* YERT presenting at two Bioneers conferences
* We need donation$ for music and motion graphics

YERT submits feature film to Sundance Film Fest
THANK YOU YERTIANS!! It’s true, after countless late nights (and a true all-nighter from which I (Ben) am still recovering), at 10:36pm last Thursday night, the YERT editing team rushed a relatively watchable ROUGH cut of the film out the door and through the Louisville rain to FedEx and on to the Sundance submission office in Beverly Hills – a whole 24 min. before the late submission deadline! Even a week ago, this literally looked like an impossible deadline – and now some “lucky” intern at Sundance will have the privilege of watching Ben manure-wrestling with pigs, Mark getting “faced” by a snowblower, and Julie giving birth to a conehead (albeit, an adorable, life-changing conehead). And so, this is the part of the blog where we send out an ENORMOUS THANK YOU to all our transcribers and other volunteers who worked diligently to help us comb through our mountain of footage and get this rough cut out the door. You know who you are, WE know who you are – and we are eternally grateful for all your time and care spent on behalf of YERT and the planet. It would not have been possible without all of you. But our work is just beginning, as we revise the rough cut and zero in on our final cut, we’ll need all of our wonderful YERTians more than ever so stay tuned. (A special thanks to Ange Vesco who transcribed over 30 hours of tape single-handedly!)

YERT to be featured on TONIGHT @ 8pm EST

Mark recently visited the Netroots Nation conference when it came to Pittsburgh back in August, and at the event we bumped into some folks from! They became interested in the project and to make a long story short, YERT will be featured on the front page of their blog tonight during a live “meet the ‘author’ book salon” session focused on our Dugout Dick video and also our recent efforts to get into Sundance. It will be a Q&A text chat format– go to website at 8pm EST and click on the link for Dugout Dick. It should take you to a page where you can submit questions to Mark, Ben, and Julie all about YERT. In the meantime you can see we’re queued for action at this book salon link.

YERT presenting at two Bioneers conferences
Mark (in Pittsburgh) and Ben (in Louisville) will be will be presenting all about the YERT project at their cities’ respective Bioneers events. They’ll be sharing stories from the road, YERT short films – and sneak peeks from the upcoming feature film… Catch Ben’s YERT Presentations at Louisville’s Bluegrass Bioneers event at the UofL Rauch Planetarium Friday 10/16 at 4:15pm and Saturday 10/17 at 8pm AND at Mark’s YERT Presentation at Pittsburgh’s 3 Rivers Bioneers at the Pittsburgh Project on the North Side Sunday 10/18 at 10:30AM.
Click here for more details about Ben’s presentation in Louisville
Click here for more details about Mark’s presentation in Pittsburgh

We need donation$ for music and motion graphics

The YERT submission to Sundance had almost no music in it. That’s because we need to lock down much of the video before it makes financial sense to tie music to it– and there are many more changes in store for the film. That said, once that golden hour arrives, we have several excellent musicians eager to score portions of our film and we’d like to hire them, but we don’t yet have the money. The other element that we’d like to add to our film is animation! We have some professional animators on deck, ready to go, but we need up to $9000 in the bank before we feel comfortable setting them loose.

Can you help us add music and motion graphics to our film? DONATE HERE.

And if you haven’t yet, can you send this link to friends and family, and embed the video in your blogs? YERT FEATURE FILM TRAILER

We’ll be working our tails off this fall the pull the loose ends of the film together and prepare it for viewing by audiences around the world. We couldn’t do it without your support and encouragement– thank you for believing in us and this project!

Humbly Yours,
Mark, Ben, and Julie

YERT: The Film – Trailer

Get ready for YERT: The Film. This is going to be the full road trip story you’ve all been waiting for jam-packed into a powerful feature-length film, and this new film trailer is the first real glimpse into what it’ll be like. We’re shooting for Sundance, so spread the word to all of your friends and family – we want this trailer to travel around the world.

We need your help!

  • We need transcribers. (you earn some cash)
  • We need donations. (tax deductible)
  • We need your friends. (and their friends)

Also, be sure to check out the synopsis below for a less-quick look at what the film is all about.

Please Transcribe (we just might pay you!)

We’ve got a tight deadline for the first possible entry date into Sundance, and boy do we have our work cut out for us! We’ve been working to transcribe our footage for months, but still have quite a ways to go, and we need an army of helpers– yourself included. And if you can sign up for at least three tapes a week we will pay you $10/tape. If you’ve ever wondered how you can help Mother Nature, now is the time– and she’s paying cash. Send an e-mail to for more information.

Please Donate (get your name in the credits!)

We’ve put over $160,000 of our own money towards the YERT project and creation of this film. Now we’re asking you, our favorite planetary supporters, to put your money where your angst is and pitch in $20, $50, $100, $1000, or more to help us finish this film while the planet still stands a chance. We think we’ll need between $60,000 and $200,000 to finish as quickly and professionally as possible. You can make a tax-deductible donation to YERT by making out a check to “Pittsburgh Filmmakers” and noting “Conduiting Program: YERT” in the memo line of the check. Then mail the check to “Mark Dixon – YERT, 327 Denniston Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206”. All donors who request it will get their names added to the credits of our feature film. For donations of $100 or more we’ll send you a free, autographed copy of David Korten’s new book: Agenda for a New Economy, or you can choose an autographed copy of his YERT-inspiring book The Great Turning. Many thanks to David Korten for donating the initial batch of autographed books to make this offer possible!

Tell 5 Friends (in 10 seconds)

If you’ve ever wondered when a tiny action on your part can make a huge difference to YERT, now is that time! Please tell five friends about this new trailer by simply sending them this link: . That’s all. It takes 10 seconds. You’ve done it before, or maybe you haven’t, but we hope you’re inspired to do it for us right now. Extra points if you “favorite” us in YouTube. Even more extra points if you Digg, StumbleUpon, or share us on Facebook (use the links to the right of the video player one this Trailer Page).


YERT (Your Environmental Road Trip) is a groundbreaking adventure and a celebration of the American spirit in the face of adversity – a thought-provoking, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious, documentary about the courageous and creative individuals, groups, businesses and leaders of this country who are tackling the greatest environmental threats in history. Called into action by the ever increasing threats of planetary catastrophe (from climate change to toxic pollution, from water scarcity to habitat destruction), the three of us – Mark Dixon, Ben Evans, and Julie Dingman Evans – upended our lives, pooled our collective life-savings, and set off on a first-of-its-kind, 50-state, year-long journey of discovery to personalize sustainability and to answer a critical question: ARE WE DOOMED?

On July 4th, 2007, with camera in hand, tongue in cheek, and packing ourselves, our supplies, and our filmmaking equipment like sardines into a used hybrid car, the YERT team set out from the Rachel Carson Homestead in Pittsburgh, PA to document environmental sustainability in every state in the union in a single year. We wanted to find out: What can Americans do to save the planet? What are they already doing? Why aren’t we all doing more? Is it possible that doing right by the planet is more economical, joyful, and fulfilling than not?

But this film isn’t just about documenting change, it’s about living it. We were on a mission to personalize sustainability, and as the National Academy of Sciences pointed out back in 1990, humanity is currently “conducting an uncontrolled experiment with the planet.” So as we traveled and filmed, we decided to BE the experiment – we would never turn on an incandescent light bulb, we would radically reduce our water usage by any means necessary, and, above all, we would attempt to generate zero waste, keeping all of our garbage (and recyclables) with us for the entire year…in our packed-to-the-gills hybrid. To pull this off, all of our garbage each month would have to fit in…a shoebox. We scoured the country, conducting over 800 interviews, amassing nearly 600 hours of footage, and bathing ourselves in America’s unique approach to environmental sustainability – the good, the bad, and the weird. We found everything from a 92 year-old caveman who’s built an entire cave community in the mountains of Idaho to an electrical engineer working to repower America with solar roadways; from outrageous green personalities like Missouri’s Eco-Elvis and Florida’s Earth Man to incredible new businesses like Tom Szaky’s Terracycle in New Jersey that’s making a mint turning garbage into almost anything; from the utter devastation of Mountain Top Removal coal mining in Appalachia to the revolutionary agricultural genius of Wes Jackson and the Land Institute in the Kansas heartland.

Several months in, an unexpected pregnancy instantly and dramatically changed life for all of us (particularly Ben and Julie, who had been told they could never have children) and pushed the team to the brink. Facing the potential derailment of the entire project, the team had to grapple with new challenges and questions – How long could two dudes and a pregnant woman survive in an enclosed space? Would we all be able to finish the trip? Would the needs of the pregnancy wreck the team’s environmental goals and challenges? Were Ben and Mark up for birthing a baby in the Alaskan wilderness? As both Julie and the garbage expanded, would the car actually explode? And as our personal journeys progressed and we dug deeper into the causes of climate change, it became clear that creating a sustainable world is about much more than simply combating global warming. Everything is tied together, and we began to connect those dots. Efficiency, renewable energy, and technological advances are critically important, but we can’t begin to address climate change unless we also address how we grow our food, how we use our water, how we measure our economy, how we approach human health, how we create/protect community, and, ultimately, how we find fulfillment and understand ourselves. Global warming is but the most dire symptom of some very fundamental issues about how our species functions on the planet. As the godfather of green building, Bob Berkebile, reminded us, we must “move beyond the current environmental movement which is about doing less harm. Our responsibility is not to do less bad, but to do something creative, and regenerative, and restorative, and loving.”

It’s taken more than 150 years to get ourselves into this mess, with America leading the way. The science tells us we have 5-10 years to get ourselves out of it. The question is, will America be leading the way or…are we doomed? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

YERTfully Yours,
Ben, Julie, and Mark – Your YERT Team

Cloth Diapering to the Max: We are going to try them all!

Just a quick note to say that, unbeknownst to my dear husband, we are going to try one of every kind of fitted cloth diaper i can find. We have bought gdiapers, used kissaluvs with covers and Fuzzi Bunz “All-in-ones,” all fine, but now I am out to find the diapers that rock mine and baby’s socks off, and are the easiest to use, clean, travel, etc…and stay out of the landfill! Stay tuned for complete review in about a month, when I have secured all our purchases and had a chance to try them out…Moms, feel free to weigh in here…

How Facebook is changing the World one filter at a time…

I confess I don’t really remember when i first joined facebook – was it 2005? – when my NYC agent first “friended” me and I “accepted.” I don’t really remember when i started signing on regularly and enjoying people’s “status” lines changing. All I know is that this thing is a social network with wings and I am happy to climb on board. Today one of the virtual “groups” that i joined sent me an email that hints that it so much more than a social network.

Yes, the YERT group on facebook proved mighty useful during our year on the road – Several times we landed a friendly place to stay just because somebody forwarded our message. My babysteps blog automatically posts, which is a lovely thing. It’s super easy to post photos and videos and thus keep abreast of everyone’s happinesses and growing families and accomplishments. Just recently, high school acquaintances have started popping up in my inbox, and I realize I have the opportunity to kindle relationships with people I had not really known in the hormone-laced haze of high school – who I may only now be able to fully appreciate and only now realize that i have important things in common with.

There are some annoying aspects of the network, like the endless applications that show up and seem to multiply within seconds. (I thought they were fun at first and allowed a “green” application called “Lil Green Patch,” an application which asks you to “help take care of so-and-so’s plot – there’s a deer in their yard – you’ve saved 62 square feet of rainforest…” I presently have 237 “Lil Green Patch” requests and I am unconvinced that any rainforest anywhere is being protected from slashing and burning just bc i am watering my friend’s virtual garden of strawberry shortcakes. Call me a cynic, but I have just stopped watering.)

I am, however, intrigued by the Causes application. Today I was particularly elated to find out that one of the virtual “groups” that i joined has actually made a very REAL difference. It may seem small but it is a brilliant example of how, together, making some noise, we really can initiate change. The group was called Take Back The Filter: Help Convince Clorox to Recycle Brita Filters!” which takes you to this address where people could add their names to a petition asking the manufacturers of Brita filters to take back and recycle their product so that it won’t become more needless landfill. And guess what? It worked!!!
How about that? And probably it wasn’t just facebook – I am sure the website reached many more people in different ways – but that is how I found the petition and added my voice, and I am proud and thrilled to have played a little part. I enjoyed similar satisfaction during YERT when I wrote CamelBak a letter and returned our water bottles due to #7 plastic and BPA and, a few months later, learned that CamelBak was changing its bottles due to consumer requests! We were heard. And heeded.

Ah! My baby is waking up on my lap now so i’ll close but i want to encourage everyone out there that your voice can and DOES make a difference – however you use it – be it a letter, a phone call, your name on an emailed petition, FACEBOOK, what you buy or don’t buy…It’s your VOTE, and it may seem small, but it’s REAL and it’s powerful. Use it!

Oh Yes We Did… Now what do we do?

It’s hard to believe a whole week has passed since America enthusiastically said Yes we can! and elected Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States. This overwhelming vote for change, for Unity, and Peace thrilled most of America to pieces Tuesday night just as it now inspires us for the great hard work we have yet to do. America may be limping, but we just got a new PT and we can do this if we are all ready to walk a bit together. WE must support our new leader by getting off our duffs (apologies to those of us who already don’t spend much time there) and BEING the change we wish to see…there’s so much opportunity here, for our human habitat, for civil rights, for global relations…
So…what exactly do we do? Keep sending money to the Obama team as the new administration? I doubt many people can keep that up. Keep up to date on all the political goings on through our media of choice? Sorry: passive. Keep trying on a personal level to “go green” in our lives? Of course we should, but that won’t be enough. It‘s time for each of us to make some beautiful noise, if we haven’t already: contact our local representatives on a regular basis, go to town meetings, become involved in our communities, and support the new administration in its work by letting government AND corporations know that we want things to change, and how.
We now have THE opportunity to make real change happen. Let’s ride the wave!! Don’t let this opportunity pass us by. Let our policy makers know that we care, we are aware, and we EXPECT new and better laws and protections for ourselves, our children and our environment.
President-Elect Obama said we have a lot of work to do. He’s right. But his election proved to a lot of us that things really CAN change so we can all, as a beautiful woman once said to me in the NYC subway, “Be encouraged.” I, for one, feel recharged. Thank you, America. Let’s pull up our boots together and see what we can do.

Some words to keep the faith now we’re NOT on the road…(borrowed from Not So Big Blog via no impact man…)

Anne from Not So Big Blog quotes from Edward Abbey, “cranky environmentalist/mystic of the desert southwest”:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

“So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.

“Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Eco-Mothering, week 6

OK so YERT finished the traveling part of the project. I left 2 months before the very end to nest and Ben left a couple of weeks out to join me and get ready for a totally natural birth with our midwife and doula at a nearby hospital.

July 18th at 2am we started having serious contractions…and labored at home for 7 hours…

July 19, 11am – After 33 hours of hard labor, 4 bags of IV saline fluids, antibiotics, pitocin, stadol, and a C-section… there emerged 6 lbs, 13 oz of beautiful Bailey Bee out of my belly and into this wonderful Life. How surreal.

That was 6 weeks ago yesterday, and I am wondering, Where did the time go?

I am recovering well, I even like my smiley little C-section scar 🙂 Bailey has gained 3 lbs and grown 3″ on mama’s milk! So, THAT is going very well. There were some other things I had planned for parenting, however, that have gone the way of the totally natural birth we hoped to have… Some of you may know that we eschewed all manner of plastic, packaging, consumerism, etc., at our baby shower in the spirit of YERT. We planned to use ONLY cloth diapers and wipes, BPA-free baby bottles if we needed to pump breastmilk, and to continue making no trash…I bought clothesline and put it up in Mom’s backyard and I swore we would NOT have a television on near our baby… it all seemed so DO-able before the birth.

Now, 6 weeks out of the gate, the truth is…parenting a newborn is no walk in the park. Suffice it to say, our best laid plans were not able to soothe our fragile nerves when lack of sleep and colicky baby had us climbing the walls after the first week… And there are some pretty cool and convenient contraptions out there that really do help semi-conscious, frayed, in love parents – not the least of which is the brilliant PACIFIER. God Bless the individual who came up with the idea of popping a rubber nipple in crying baby’s sweet little yap to calm them when nothing else can.

And so, there are pacifiers in the house, and disposable diapers and wipes for trips in the car. The hairdryer has been known to stay on for 20 minutes straight – not drying anyone’s hair at all (the most amazing tool in the colic toolbox) and I do not turn away gifts of any kind from well-meaning friends, no matter how inefficiently I imagine they were made or whether or not they were imported from possible sweatshops in China. (However, we do have lead testing sticks and are not afraid to use them.) Diapers get washed in the hottest water possible to avoid passing thrush and then popped in the dryer bc, well, we can’t keep up with how fast baby wets them if we try to dry them outside on the line. And at 3am when baby is not sleeping, we are reminded of what a comforting pal can be found in the old TV.

sigh. It’s ok. At first, I beat myself up over how poorly I was managing being an eco-friendly mom but now I am relaxing and letting myself off the hook for not being perfect…I know that some things are going to get easier and we will be able to re-introduce them as Bailey gets a little bigger.

I can hardly believe we were ever without this little girl and, though YERT seems a lifetime away, I know that what we did this last year may have more impact on her life than we could ever have imagined going in. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

And then, there is the election.