A Year of YERT + New Video!

Dear YERT Family,

It has been an amazing Year of YERT, and we’ve been working hard to get the feature film out the door while we change the tone of environmental action around the country. What have we been up to in 2010? We have…

* Edited, edited, and edited the footage from our adventure into a
rough cut feature film
* Screened a 2 hour 11 minute rough-cut of the
feature film in Pittsburgh to rave reviews
* Given 15+ presentations
nationwide, including a screening at the National Bioneers Conference
* Raised over $15,000 for the project
* Interviewed Bill McKibben, Janine Benyus, and David Orr for the film.

AND, we have released a BRAND NEW VIDEO, a sneak peek from the feature film for you to watch: The Junk Montage. Watch it by clicking on the picture below…

speaker.png Click Here for a Free Download of the Junk MP3!*

We hope that during this holiday season you feel inspired to contribute not only to stockings in need, but to a YERT feature film dedicated to preserving a planet for children around the world. We need $31,000 to finish the film with motion graphics, audio engineering, color correction, and our sanity, and you can help us get there!

Please donate to YERT at: http://www.yert.com/donate.php

Here’s what they’re saying about the YERT Film:

“Engaging, entertaining, moving, fun!”

“I loved the overall concept, the energy, and the inspiring interviews.”

“I was tearing up out of awe and inspiration at what you were able to create, what so many people have been able to create, what we can all create together, and convinced I had seen the best film of all time.”

‘Tis the Season for the Planet,
The YERT Team

Watch the YERT Junk Montage at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8ZwDFHGR4A
Please donate to YERT at: http://www.yert.com/donate.php
Download the free Junk song mp3 file here*: http://j.mp/eTUUeC

* The Junk Montage was created with the help of a great piece of music called, yes, “Junk” by Brainpool! It is featured in “Junk the Rock Opera” and they’re a bunch of kindred, YERTy spirits. Help them spread the word about their show by visiting their website at http://junkrockopera.com and see the original Junk music video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxHg3DIv9kg . The free download is made possible through the generosity of the Junk musicians who support YERT and our fans! The download is for personal use only, but feel free to tell your friends about it!

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!

350.org on Solar Roadways Prototype

During my visit to Solar Roadways HQ in Idaho, Scott Brusaw and I decided that the climate-helping missions of 350.org and Solar Roadways were so similar that we ought to literally put them together! And so this photo was born: 350.org on the Solar Roadways prototype.

Solar Roadways and 350.org, working for the climate!

And if you haven’t yet watched the Solar Roadways Prototype video, definitely check it out here:

Oh, and if you haven’t heart just yet, 350.org founder Bill McKibben wants us all to get mad and then get busy about climate change. His latest article is a must-read: “This is f-cked up — it’s time to get mad, then get busy.

New Video– Solar Roadways: The Prototype

Lots to share in this update…

  • Exclusive New YERT Video– Solar Roadways: The Prototype
  • YERT Featured Tomorrow at Dutch Environmental Film Festival
  • Ben Performs in “4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire” in New York City
  • YERT to Interview Janine Benyus in Bar Harbor, Maine (and Mark needs a place to stay!)

Solar Roadways: The Prototype
A few months back we heard that Scott Brusaw was busy building a prototype of his solar roads, and we just had to see it for ourselves– so we visited him in Idaho to give you an exclusive sneak peek.

For the first time ever on video, check out Solar Roadways: The Prototype

While building the prototype, Scott quickly realized several opportunities for improvements to the design, and he discusses a few of them in the video. Our favorite is to laminate glass panes together to effectively “sandwich” the solar panels and LEDs inside the road surface. This adds both strength, solar panel surface area, and improved visibility to the design. Scott also has plans to set the glass panels on a sturdy mixture that includes plastic garbage pulled from the oceans. Quite an upgrade from traditional asphalt– power-generating glass roads that use up garbage from the ocean!

This video also features Dr. Carlo Pantano, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Director of the Materials Research Institute at Penn State University. Finally, we also meet Scott’s wife and co-founder of Solar Roadways, Julie Brusaw.

YERT Featured Tomorrow at Dutch Environmental Film Festival
Ben has assembled a fresh collection of YERT shorts and chapters from our feature film for screening on opening night (June 3) at the Dutch Environmental Film Festival in Amsterdam. This isn’t the final YERT film, but it is a very significant “walk” in the “crawl, walk, run” path to film completion. If you have friends in Amsterdam, tell them to swing on by for a great time! We’ll be sitting in good company, as the festival will also be featuring Josh Dorfman a.k.a. “The Lazy Environmentalist,” “Carbon Nation,” “No Impact Man,” “Dive!,” and “Sweet Crude,” to name a few familiar TV and film faces.

Ben Performs in “4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire” in New York City
Ben is visiting his pre-YERT hometown of NYC for all sorts of excitement. First, he is performing with Jeff Biggers (HuffPo blogger/author) and Stephanie Pitello in “4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire,” an original multimedia play about mountaintop removal mining. The show opens on Friday, June 4 at 9pm and goes for a week. Find more information here. Ben is also hunting for connections to help get the YERT film out into the world when the time is right. And if you’re in the mood for a YERT presentation while he’s in town, he’s game– particularly if you’re a college or high school. Send him a note at ben@yert.com to discuss details!

YERT to Interview Janine Benyus in Bar Harbor, Maine (and Mark needs a place to stay!)
That’s right, we’ll be interviewing internationally acclaimed biomimicry guru Janine Benyus for the YERT feature film. To save every penny, Mark is looking for a free place to stay in that town. If you have a friend up there, he’ll need floor space for two on the evening of 6/15 and 6/16. Thanks for helping out!

That’s all for today– thanks for reading!

Mark, Ben, and Julie

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 http://www.transitionnetwork.org . You can also watch the film “In Transition” for free online here: http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about/publications/transition-movie .

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

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: 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 mark@yert.com 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: http://www.yert.com/film.php . 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

New Video – Earth Hour: Feel Depower

Once a year, and only once a year (sadly), civilization gets together to power down…for a whole hour. Started by the WWF (no, not the wrestlers) in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has since become a global phenomenon. Well, almost global. YERT was in DC for Earth Hour 2008 and was pretty unimpressed. One would think that the capital of the planet’s most power-hungry nation would jump at the chance to save a few kilowatts (and greenbacks), even if it meant turning out the lights at the capitol for a few minutes. One would be mistaken. This year promises to be better as DC (as well as over 100 other US cities) has signed on to Earth Hour in a big way. Of course, the proof is in the skyline.

Hopefully the awareness that Earth Hour brings can usher in a new era of Earth Weeks, and Earth Months, and, eventually, non-stop Earth Years. In some ways it’s a sad indictment of our civilization that the notion of turning off the lights needs its own special “day” or, sadder still, “hour.” We’re not quite sure what the concept of Earth Hour implies about every other hour of the year, but it’s probably not good (certainly Earth Hour should not be followed by Anti-Earth Hour, if at all possible). Nevertheless, the idea of Earth Hour is an inspired, if symbolic, step in the right direction. And this year, you can actually VOTE for the Earth. The opponent in this “election” is…um…Global Warming – and your lightswitch is your vote. I know that that in some ways that ballot choice seems very reminiscent of the 2000 Presidential election, so, by signing up for Earth Hour and turning out our lights, we can all do our part to make sure we don’t make THAT mistake again. The “results” will be presented at Copenhagen in December and Earth needs 1 Billion “votes” to “win.” Incidentally, the respective VP candidates in this election are Dennis Kucinich and Rush Limbaugh’s pilonidal cyst.

Lighting Out,
Ben, Julie, and Mark


P.S. If you’d like more information about saving energy, Earth Hour, or generally powering down, check out these breadcrumbs…
Calculate your carbon footprint here:

Here’s how much carbon Chicago kept out of the atmosphere last Earth Hour:

For those sitting on the fence, here’s a good article with some reasons to participate:

To learn more about the larger issue of powering down civilization in a post-carbon world, check out:

All The Presidents’ Heads

First of all, a Happy Belated 200th Birthday to President Abraham Lincoln (not to mention Charles Darwin) and joyful Early Birthday Wishes to George Washington. Here, on President’s Day Aft Aft and in the very heart of President’s Birthday Week, we present to you a special Presidential Edition YERT video! During our travels in South Dakota, the roadside attraction capital of America, we stopped by David Adickes’ President’s Park for some quality one-on-one time with our nation’s leaders – in all their 20-foot, sculpted concrete glory. Sure, Mount Rushmore may be bigger and more famous, but where else in the country can you come face to GIGANTIC HEAD with every single US president? Actually, Williamsburg, VA (David has a second park there) but we were in SD, so we decided to bust in to catch some “green” pearls of wisdom from everyone from Lincoln to FDR. We even interviewed President Polk….yes, the President Polk. Best of all, we caught a super-sized face-off – a White House solar panels showdown between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan! Watch the drama unfold below:


Julie, Mark, and Ben


P.S. For information about the topics in this video, check out these breadcrumbs:

There’s a great documentary coming out soon called “Road Not Taken” about what happened to the solar panels Jimmy Carter put on the White House (and Reagan took down). To watch a trailer and for more on this story, check out these links:

See which Presidents have been the best for the environment here:

Another list of the Best and Worst Presidents for the environment. Oddly enough, Nixon makes both Best and Worst lists of this one. Evidently, as the old saying goes – “when he was good he was very good, but when he was bad, he was horrid.” However, he wasn’t THE worst – that spot is reserved for “you know who.”

To see what kind of “Green New Deal” our current President is conjuring, go here:

Check out how Carter tried to fix Bush’s environmental/energy mistakes nearly 3 decades before Bush made them. Carter’s “malaise” speech (in which he actually never uses the word) is not terribly uplifting, but it couldn’t possibly have been more prescient then or more relevant today. Check out the speech (and dozens of other fascinating presidential speeches) HERE.