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0 Sep 14 2011 @ 9:41am by Matt Smith in Biofuels, Global Energy

Tamales and Tacos With YERT Producer / Director

Alrightee, so we move onto the main course with YERT producer / director Ben Evans, getting to the questions that really matter:

Who is your favorite super hero?

Well, I really liked Underdog growing up as a little kid – which featured one of the all-time great theme songs. I think he’s an appropriate role model for us as we face these fairly stiff enviro-politi-conomic headwinds. We’re definitely up against some pretty powerful entrenched and unforgiving forces.

Julie said at the premiere that it was harder to be sustainable once you have a child given the time constraints. Have your goals changed since becoming a dad?

We’ve found that thoughtful preparation is key to reducing one’s ecological footprint, and it is more of a challenge to prepare when you’re really low on sleep, scrambling to feed another mouth, and constantly working to address a child’s immediate needs which can seem all-consuming in the moment.The goals remain the same and have only intensified since becoming a dad – help to stop breaking and start restoring our ecosphere…and quickly, ’cause now I’ve got a little three-year-old who’s counting on me.

What is your favorite documentary?

I’m a big fan of docs. I loved “War Dance” about the power of dance to heal the lives of kids in war-torn Uganda – incredibly moving. The John Muir section of Ken Burn’s recent National Parks documentary series also touched me deeply. “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Who Killed the Electric Car” were infuriating in the best way possible. “KOYAANISQATSI” and “Super Size Me”, each very differently, shaped and expanded my idea of what a documentary can be, while the Vietnam doc “Hearts and Minds” showed me what one can accomplish. And though it may be trite to say, I think “An Inconvenient Truth” is one of the most important films ever as it basically spawned the modern environmental documentary movement.

There are some really disturbing moments in the movie; what was the most saddening or shocking experience from your perspective?

Certainly Mountaintop Removal coal mining (MTR) is exceptionally disturbing on many levels. Intellectually we knew it was bad, but seeing it first hand from the air and on the ground and witnessing the lives of those living in the shadow of this environmental nightmare was profound. But MTR is not an isolated tragedy. From the tar sands of Alberta to the Deepwater Horizon disaster to natural gas fracking around the country, we’re witnessing an absolutely stunning level of short-sightedness as our civilization compromises nearly everything of lasting value (air quality, water quality, topsoil levels, climate stability, human health, biodiversity, long-term economic viability) in a desperate effort to suck every last drop of fossil fuels out of the earth.

The soundtrack to the documentary is great. What album was played most on your trip, or what song reminds you most of your adventure?

The funny thing is that the soundtrack during the trip and the soundtrack of the film have almost nothing in common. I hadn’t even met Gill Holland, who hooked me up with the incredible Ben Sollee and much of the other music in the film, until after the trip was finished.  On the road, we listened to a lot of Gap Band, Ben Folds, and the debut CD of an up and coming musician we met in Little Rock, Arkansas named Johnny Rocket – or we just sang ourselves silly (I guess that’s what you get with a car full of a cappella and musical theater nerds).

What was the most inspiring moment that you had on the trip?

There were plenty. Witnessing the indomitable Larry Gibson was incredibly inspiring; But Scott Brusaw taking a chance on his world-changing, “crazy” idea of Solar Roadways and actually starting to make it happen was enough to get even the most hardened heart excited about what’s possible when we unleash our creative problem solving skills. It was probably the most inspiring idea of the trip, if not the most inspiring moment. Of course, nothing can compare to the birth of your child or finding out you’re pregnant when you thought that was impossible.

If your super hero and environmental super hero had a fight, who would win?

Haha.  I’m pretty sure they’d be on the same side of just about any fight.  Larry Gibson IS Underdog.  It’s the greatest David vs. Goliath story I’ve ever seen.

What small thing would you ask every reader to do to be more environmentally friendly?

At this point, I think most people know about things like turning off lights and appliances, driving less, switching to CFL’s and renewable energy as much as possible, and moving toward a vegetarian diet – and those are all great things to do.  So I would say this: Go outside, into nature, and think about why you’re here.  Really.  Find a quiet place, lay down, take a long close look at the ground, study it, touch it, lay your head down and rest on it – then really think hard about why you are here – right here, right now, on this incredible gift called planet earth. And if you really want to make a difference, invite someone who might not otherwise do something like that to do the same.  Then go inside, call your congress people to demand publicly funded elections, and organize politically.  Oh, and buy less stuff.

This entire interview will be running as a main feature on Houston Chronicle’s Fuelfix tomorrow. It will likely cause some lively debate, so please check it out!

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