WICA presents: “Kiss the Ground” Documentary examines climate change from the ground up

— Created November 17, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Could the solution to the Earth’s climate crisis lie beneath us? That is the premise of “Kiss the Ground,” a documentary narrated by actor Woody Harrelson, being shown Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley. The evening includes a presentation and question and answer session following the film by a panel from Whidbey Island’s Organic Farm School.

In the film, directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell explore the question of whether regenerating the Earth’s soil could help stabilize climate, restore ecosystems and provide abundant, healthy food supplies. The WICA event was originally meant to coincide with the Langley Chamber of Commerce’s Harvest Festival, which had to be cancelled due to COVID concerns.

“WICA reached out to the owners of the film and were thrilled that they are allowing this local screening in conjunction with a conversation with the Organic Farm School,” said Deana Duncan, WICA’s artistic director. “When the Langley Chamber needed to cancel its festival, we felt the film and conversation were too important, so we decided to move forward with it.”

Duncan said films like “Kiss the Ground,” along with the discussion from the Organic Farm School, fit WICA’s mission perfectly.

“We know that art is much more than entertainment and that story is the heartbeat of humanity,” she said. “This story is important and relevant, and we want to participate/facilitate this event in order to create space for critical conversation in the community. Plus, personally, I really wanted an opportunity for the Organic Farm School to be seen and heard; its work is vitally important in our rural community and beyond.”

“We were thrilled to be asked by WICA to be on hand to engage with viewers before and after the film,” said Judy Feldman, executive director of the Organic Farm School. “It’s so encouraging to see farming make the big screen, but sometimes in translation, the messages can come across as a bit simplistic. For instance, ‘do these things to sequester more carbon’ doesn’t begin to address what it takes in terms of capital, time, markets, and experience. I suspect WICA wanted to generate a robust, ‘grounded’ discussion in this community that might move beyond the ‘4 Easy Steps’ to the real work that is within our reach.”

Duncan said events like the one Friday evening are vital when it comes to bringing global issues to the community.

“This allows the community to come together to be informed, debate and learn about an issue that affects us all,” she said.

“The Organic Farm School wants to engage in community-wide conversations that move beyond ‘good vs. bad’ when it comes to farming and instead engage in conversations about how to support all farmers and foresters in ways that allow them to move from degenerative to regenerative methods. Like all things in life, farming is complex. Farming is an honorable profession and we need the best and brightest to literally step into the field. That won’t happen if we keep repeating the stories of farmers as broken, financially down-trodden, anti-environment backward thinkers.”

Instead of telling people everything they’ve done or continue to do wrong, Feldman said “Kiss the Ground” offers hope to viewers, by exposing food production practices that are harming the Earth, what can be done to repair the damage and how this work can have a positive impact on climate change. She hopes it will raise questions for those in the audience.

“We hope they leave with big questions,” Feldman said. “The kind that won’t let you go. Questions that generate more questions and thus lead to critical thinking. We hope they leave with ideas they can implement themselves, rather than just work they want others to do.

“Arenas for public discourse, for the sharing of science and culture, for shared learning and thoughtful doing – these are critical at this point in time,” she continued. “We must find opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations that move beyond us/them and instead focus on we/us.”

“WICA hopes to accomplish a conversation around what could be a powerful solution to the growing effects of Climate Change,” said Duncan. “The ‘New York Times’ says of this film: ‘ ‘Kiss the Ground ‘ inspires a rare feeling of hope.’  This is an opportunity to showcase art in a way that speaks to our humanity.”

Tickets for Friday’s screening and panel discussion are $15 each and are available at wicaonline.org. The panel includes Feldman, farm manager Peyton Cypress and Will Noe, field assistant and a graduate of the Organic Farm School. OFS is a nonprofit organization that offers a fulltime, seven-month training program aimed at teaching aspiring farmers the skills needed to run a small, organic farm. Find more information online at organicfarmschool.org. Learn more about the film at kissthegroundmovie.com.

“‘Kiss the Ground’ is a beautiful, inspiring movie,” said Feldman. “It is not a robust ‘how to,’ instead it is a rowdy rally cry for ‘why not,’ that leaves the specifics to farmers who are willing to be in a relationship with their land and the people they feed.”

“I think attendees will be deeply moved by this film while being informed on a global issue,” Duncan said. “Then, to have our local Organic Farm School speak to its work right here on our island, we begin to see how important all our choices are. It will be a thought-provoking evening.”