Thanks to the Conscious Media Network

CMN Logo
I just have to stop and take a moment to thank the Conscious Media Network for their work–a massive site filled with eco and spiritually enlightening videos. The site is run by Regina and Scott Meredith, who have given up their house and hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money to keep the site alive and kicking, with frequent interview updates and a treasure trove of information. They have also posted the Solar Roadways: Prototype video to their site here, sending over 280,000 views to the video to-date. That’s more than half of the 470,000 views we’ve received so far. Take a moment and check out the site if you’re inclined: Conscious Media Network.


Whatcha Gonna Do (With All That Poo)

SO much fun. This is my new favorite environmental video. Puppets. Humor. Good fun family-style humor, but powerful nonetheless. Give it a minute and enjoy!

Ben and I sang in a group at Stanford called “Fleet Street” and this is a newer, younger member of the group, sharing his talents with a planet in need! I’m delighted!

New Video for Earth Day: The Transition Movement!

Dear YERTians,

During the YERT adventure we heard about but never actually visited anybody involved with the Transition movement. Once the trip ended, however, Ben, Julie and Mark all became involved, seeing it as a powerful path to address climate change and peak oil with an uplifting community response. This Earth Day, YERT would like to introduce you to Tina Clarke, from TransitionUS, who gives a detailed presentation all about the global Transition movement. It is surprisingly refreshing, sane, effective, and YERTy– not to mention growing like a wildfire, with well over 1000 chapters worldwide.

Click here or on the picture below to watch The Transition Movement – An Introduction (62 minutes)…

It is difficult to explain it in a short paragraph, so we hope you take the time this Earth Day to watch the informative presentation from start to finish. For more information, and to find a Transition community near you, please visit . You can also watch the film “In Transition” for free online here: .

This presentation was recorded by YERT at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Conference (PASA) in February 2010.

Ben, Julie, and Mark

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

Top 99 Ideas for Marketing the YERT Feature Film

Here they are! The survey results are in and we’re getting the results out there. The multiple choice answers can be found here:

And we loved all the advice in the open answer section, where we asked “Please offer your suggestions for getting the YERT film seen by as many people as possible.” The results might help you market your own environmental film. Here are the top 99 responses:

  • e-mail sociology/biology/aware college profs & ask to set up a screening
  • a community theatre in chapel hill (a place where your film will be well received):
  • A social media awareness GRASS ROOTS campaign.
  • Advertise
  • advertise on the PlanetGreen Channel on DirectTV!
  • Ask for donations along the way…
  • Assign YERT college fans to write pithy, clever, YERTy phrases (less than five words) in chalk all over their campuses and sign it YERT . . . or just post lots of pictures of Mark; he’s one irresistible cutie!
  • BUT most importantly continue your positive vibe in all that you do!
  • but you could exploit the Hollywood avenue…Oprah, The View, Jay Leno, 60 Mins.;
  • Buy Blu-ray – $20
  • Buy DVD – $16-$20
  • Can you get on the Daily Show? Colbert? 🙂
  • check out
  • check out the radio stations in major cities that have the most listeners in your demographic. In KC – it would be KCUR and KKFI. Get an interview – in conjunction with a viewing.
  • College campuses are great too, but college kids don’t have money either. But if provide free or low-cost screenings, you’d get a pretty big return in terms of word of mouth, activism, and name recognition that might pay off in bigger ways.
  • college campuses, story on local news, fliers, e-mail blasts, etc.
  • Colleges!!!!!!
  • Connect with like-minded organizations (e.g., in Pittsburgh have presentations/screenings in conjunction with Venture Outdoors, the Sierra Club, etc.) or even businesses (e.g., R.E.I.), and tap into their member bases
  • Connect with sustainability programs/professors at business schools. Many B-schools now have at least one prof who does sustainability work. They might be interested in hosting an event or using the film in class. If you are interested, I can introduce you to some professors at Oregon State and one at Notre Dame.
  • Contact Transition Louisville, Sustainable Louisville Network, other greenie networks.
  • Continue to blog (I am connected to you via Facebook). You may try “selling” the film (or articles about the film) to all the green sites (I work for Green Joyment [], and he would like an article regarding your film. I am in the process of writing the article.).
  • Debbie Ford (author of “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” and others) is showing her recent film: THE SHADOW EFFECT around the country. I saw it last year to a large group in a SF Unitarian Church before it was even released. I don’t know how she’s doing it exactly, but I know people are having “Salons” at their home to show the film. You may want to contact her people. I know there is someone in Louisville who shows her film. Check out
  • distributing the dvd or video file to environmental focus organizations at colleges and universities. I would love to throw a house party or dorm party and show the video. We did this with ‘Coal country’ this year already and it worked really well.
  • Do a Rolling Roadshow with the Alamo Drafthouse (based out of Austin, Tx). They put on a large screen outdoor/non-theater event related to some location of your movie. Past examples: Xanadu at a Roller Rink, Open Water in innertubes on Lake Travis, Field of Dreams on that very field in Iowa, The Goonies in a cave, etc. They’re very creative. If you can incorporate/relate food with it, you can even do one of their dining events.
  • Farmer’s Market short film screenings?
  • for traditional DVD purchases, interview segment on mainstream talk shows with similar appreciation for good humor (as shown in YERT film); for online downloads, stimulate buzz on discussion boards
  • get a BIll and Melissa Gates Grant
  • get an interview with Jon Stewart
  • get into schools via science teachers and classes
  • get the blessing of a celebrity (rock star who tells the audience to buy DVD and has it for sale at a concert); or
  • get the film on an airline film roster;
  • Get the movie to activists from different environmental groups. Greenpeace, 1Sky
  • Get your movie added to Netflix and Blockbuster repertoires, especially as one of the on-demand streaming movies. You could also try to add it to Hulu and other on-demand internet sites.
  • Go to as many colleges, schools, etc. as much as possible.
  • has great environmental communities linked together. Ours in Rutland VT just did a showing of Food Inc.
  • have college students at a prestigious university; take it on as a marketing project assignment
  • have FOX news run trailer
  • Hit up college campuses! We like to network with other schools, so the word spreads twice as fast!
  • hmmm. You tube videos…sharing on FB, mainstream distribution, indie release (coffee houses, indie theaters. etc), hosting the film at eco-conferences, eco-events, maybe BIONEERS…..
  • Hopefully you’ll get a big break – maybe even from a totally unexpected source. You guys have done an amazing, amazing thing. I can’t believe that somebody won’t snap it up soon. How ’bout PBS? (If a well-publicized documentary could bring you income. I have no idea how that works, but I’m sure you do. Which might be why you want to keep it a feature film. I’m rambling now. Bye. 😉
  • House Party – $10
  • I am happy to keep passing the word through the folks I know..
  • i could attend but not HOST screenings – just too much on my plate right now as i’m trying to start a community farm and protect against marcellus shale exploitation
  • I guess this doesn’t really get the entire film seen, but it does increase the film buzz, right?
  • I think some kind of streaming/dowloading online would be great.
  • I work in the Center for the Arts in Jackson, WY – might be able to help coordinate a screening of the feature when it is ready…don’t know if we could pull it off for free, but you never know!
  • I’d say provide it for free download, but ask for donations. That might work well.
  • If it were in the theaters, like Inconvenient truth was, I’d definitely go see it and make my friends and family come too, or at least see it afterward when I bought it. I’m a little too mobile in my life right now to see it any other way 🙁
  • if you can somehow tap into the entire organization and get a coordinated screening going, that might be a great grassroots thing. although, cars and movies about the environment maybe don’t go so well together…
  • I’m a member of my local Holistic Mom’s group. This would make an excellent event for an HMN meeting open to the public!
  • I’m sure it’s already in the plan, but I’d offer a portion of it for free viewing on “social” sites like and and, with a link to a website that allows you to order/pay for the entire film via either a traditional DVD or downloadable file you can view on your computer with most popular media players.
  • It’s really hard to cut through all of the noise out there. I don’t have any specific suggestions other than to have people WANT to view your work rather than feeling like they have to because it’s the right sociopoliticaleconomical cause. Bring the spirit of your videos (which are very engaging) to the way you promote it.
  • I’ve been thinking about contests recently–what about a contest for people to produce their own YERT segment and submit via youtube. You select 20 top entries to be voted on (a whole second step of engagement with people online) and then the winner gets to be included in the feature film. Or maybe you reserve the right to re-shoot that segment…
  • Keep on traveling around to schools 😀 Students eat this up and are always looking for things like this to inspire them and to get involved with! Good luck!
  • Keep up the good work!!! Someday soon the US will be ready for your awesome work. Hope everyone is doing well.
  • Live presentations!
  • local tv
  • Luv you guys!
  • make it available for on-line and download for donation and ask that it be widely distributed
  • Make it available to Conscientious Projector, the monthly sustainability film screening organization at All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA. Advertise on radio station KPFK.
  • make it free to watch online – if you really want to make it seen by as many people as possible.
  • Make the first 15 minutes available for free. Leave ’em hanging and then make ’em pay! 🙂
  • Movie night screenings projector on the side of a building.
  • No specific ideas for now, but definitely concentrate effort on college kids, who seem most likely to road trip!
  • Nudity, and plenty of it. Or, a strategic marketing plan that identifies target markets and considers what effects that the film, its price, the place it can be accessed, and its promotion have on the target consumer. In doing so, the YERT value proposition will become more aligned with the needs of its largest and most loyal customer base.
  • Offer it through the permaculture network
  • Okay, not sure that would actually work or be the best idea, but I think you have to lead with something substantial that’s free. There was a popular on that topic recently, no?
  • Online first??
  • other film festivals, green fests,
  • People somehow respond to grass roots and the fact that they are helping a worthwhile project.
  • Please do a screening at the University of Pittsburgh. We’ll advertise it and make sure a lot of people come to watch it. Thanks!
  • Provide free copies to extension agents located at land-grant universities in each state (1/state). Ask them to share with a professor who might screen it for a class or allow them to show it an event they might be participating in. Use your YERT followers to select at least one local environmentally-focused community organization per state and provide a free DVD.
  • put an eco-oriented celebrity in the film;
  • Put it on the YERT site and market the hell out of it on social networking sites, twitter, maybe doing 1 minute YERT tips like–“YERT TIP #46: When recycling aluminum blah blah blah insert correct tip here” and have it be funny and quick and quirky. OR with your connection to the theatre, contact the broadway green alliance and see if you can partner with them and have a concert and screening. Just thoughts.
  • Question 8’s “$11 – $20” response is too wide a margin, especially when $0 – $10 gets broken down into three separate answers.
  • Reach out to colleges and don’t give up on the film festivals!
  • release it!!! 🙂
  • screening at hipster bars
  • Secure spots in summer outdoor movie screening schedules. Have an introduction/taped testimonial by Al Gore or other eco-friendly high profile figures to use in publicity materials. Get a distributor (even if small indy studio) so your movie is presented/available to all their clients. And the idea of a series on PBS or Discovery or similar channel could work really well as a lead up (and publicity) for the DVD release.
  • Short film screenings on the street?
  • Show it at Flicks at Stanford!
  • sometimes hooking up with another group helps and you can promote each other;
  • Take a look at for environmental peeps to write reviews, post clips, etc. (I need to add you to my twitter …)
  • talk to Dreamworks people
  • tap into braddock youth project (BYP) and GTECH
  • Theater – $11-$15
  • Try to contact news outlets about it… I’m sure some newspapers would be interested in the story
  • visit college campuses more often. I attended the USC presentation, I think that age range is the easiest to target and the easiest way to spread your message rapidly. best of luck
  • We already had a YERT Live presentation at my college (Westminster). In the future, the Westminster Chapter of the Sierra Student Coalition would be very interested in hosting a screening event for the YERT film 🙂
  • We could still try to get it to be shown at our Panida theater here in Sandpoint and possible coordinate to do a fundraiser.
  • We have a college extension office that offers a lot of education and research opportunities here in Nebraska City connected to UNL – I would think those types of facilities would be a great way.
  • We have told several friends about YERT and everything you are doing to help the environment. Getting everyone to spread the word is one good way.
  • What you are already doing with Facebook. Facebook is how those up to age 35 and women above age 50 communicate.
  • Why not market the movie as educational model for teaching environmental awareness? In a contest, encourage mimickers to submit their own local segments to you or on YouTube and offer a monthly prize for the best video to be featured (embedded) on your website.
  • Word of mowf… in the words of Luda.
  • Yert itself needs to become a social networking site in which qualified green professionals (who you three have met) can interact. These are the same people who act as opinion leaders in the field and will get your word of mouth moving.
  • You have prob. already tried these!
  • You need money to finish, and then you want to make some from it! I need to think this over and give you realistic suggestions later on…

What am I doing differently because of YERT?

I received a question from a YERT supporter a while back, and decided to post my response to this blog– they asked: What am I doing differently because of YERT? Here’s my answer…

“And what have I done differently since the trip? Well, I shop locally and organic whenever possible (co-op), seeking out bulk foods as my primary source of calories (oats, beans, lentils in 25-50lb bags). Bulk foods are cheaper and generally more healthy, and make less garbage! I’m almost vegetarian, and trying to only allow myself to eat meat if it is locally grown without added pesticides or fertilizers. I also don’t touch bottled water. Silly stuff. And I use handkerchiefs chronically. I wash all my clothes in cold water all the time. I’m living with family to cut costs so that I can finish the film– but as a result I basically get to bask for free in the energy that my family would use anyway to heat their house. I compost and recycle just about everything that I can. I support local sustainability initiatives like the 3RiversBioneers conference and Transition Pittsburgh with my time and technical equipment/expertise. I don’t buy holiday gifts– I cook them or find them or create them from re-used materials, or I make a card.”

I’d love to know if you have done anything differently since first hearing about the YERT adventure. Add your comment below or write to me at Thanks!!

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!!


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!