8.7/10
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The Natural State of America (2011)

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A small group of residents in the Arkansas Ozarks battles the U.S. Forest Service and a rural electric coop to protect organic farms, wells, springs, and the first National River in the United States from being contaminated by herbicides.

Writer:

Brian Campbell (researcher)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Len Schlientz Len Schlientz ... Thomas Hart Benton (voice)
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Storyline

A small group of residents in the Arkansas Ozarks battles the U.S. Forest Service and a rural electric coop to protect organic farms, wells, springs, and the first National River in the United States from being contaminated by herbicides.

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Genres:

Documentary

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Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 January 2011 (USA) See more »

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Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
We All Live Downstream...
12 June 2011 | by meddlecoreSee all my reviews

In this film, researcher Brian Campbell tells the story of a group of people in the Ozarks that banded together in order to take on their "electric co-op" (the people who are responsible for power lines) when they started to use herbicides without their knowledge.

This intriguing and inspiring group made up of organic farmers, back-to-landers, environmental activists, and other DIY off-the-grid minded individuals who live sustainable lifestyles; farming small plots, taking their water from natural wells, and living mostly off what the natural landscape- which is one of the most original and diverse in Western World- provides.

The Ozarks is an area where a number of different ecosystems collide, and as such is home to a rich and mystifying variety of biodiversity- including a number of very important medicinal plants that can been used to treat/heal various ailments, of paramount importance to protect.

The issue here is that they are using the herbicide as a defoliant in order to keep plants and tree branches from interfering with the power lines as a way to "keep costs down". As the interviewees point out, herbicides are designed to kill plants without discrimination and will thus threaten the valuable biodiversity in the area; not to mention they are completely toxic and will poison pristine land. The cocktail of herbicides they use are also known to have a negative effect on pollinators, like honeybees for instance; and to have toxic effects on literally everything that comes in contact with it...including humans.

They point out how this evokes memories of the US Forestry Service's post-Vietnam plan to rid themselves of their excess reserves of the uber-toxic "Agent Orange" by dumping it on the National Forests (think BP dumping millions of gallons of Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico after the oil spill), with plans to essentially create a monoculture tree-factory farm for the lumber industry.

This hit's particularly close to home for me as it was recently revealed that, for over a decade up until 1968, Ontario Hydro used "Agent Orange" as a defoliant in EVERY SINGLE field with hydro-electric lines and towers in the province. Quite disturbing...and now you know why they say it's not good to live by the hydro towers....

Possibly the most educational part of the film is the seventh grader's excellent presentation on "Karst Topography" (backed up by a legit hydrologist). This occurs when you have an area of porous limestone, or something similar, where any contaminants polluting the surface will wash down to the groundwater without virtually any filtration whatsoever; and as he points out...this is the case for 40% of Americans and 1.5 billion people worldwide... The moral of his story: "WE ALL LIVE DOWNSTREAM".

The second half of the film is a documentation of the affects that the spraying of these toxic chemicals had on the local environment and people; and why- especially considering it is detrimental on so many levels and not even cost effective- it is also completely illogical and totally unnecessary. It continues with footage from the war that followed; waged by the members of the "co-op" (who were constantly being silenced, despite it being their "co-op"...) on the power company who was responsible for hiring the company to spray the defoliant.

They conclude with a call to arms (or cameras) for all like minded people to get out and document similar libertarian schemes that are not only illogical, but toxicly dangerous from your own areas...because this is a global problem that must be fought at the local level.

This is an incredibly inspiring and truly moving documentary, that is beautifully shot and filled with wonderful people; people driven by hope instead of fear; people who actually care. The entire movement is summed up perfectly in the speech by the man named "Curly" near the end of the film. If this speech moved you, then you are probably a like minded individual and should heed the call to action. The time is now, remember, "We All Live Downstream". 10 out of 10.


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