Something in Our Water
Bridging the Urban and Rural Divide through Youth Empowered Media
New York City students from the Educational Video Center and Appalachian youth in Tennessee lived and worked together during a one-week documentary film camp to explore the impact extractive industries have on the quality of their water.
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In the summer of 2019, youth from New York City made an annual twelve-hour road trip to live and work with Eastern Tennessee partners of the Clearfork Valley to make a documentary film on a social issue they are all facing. Participating in EVC's WAC program, the urban and rural teens came together and produced Something In Our Water about how extractive industries and climate change affect water quality for low income and marginalized communities in both locations.
In focusing on water sustainability, the youth make clear parallels between the issues urban and rural communities confront while developing a deeper understanding of how the environmental justice movement can cut across differences to show that everyone is connected.
“Something’s in the water, slowly killing all we hold dear. Industry is booming, but seeds can grow in puddles.”
-Iliana Lugo, WAC Youth Producer from NYC
EVC students created a mural, poem and song included in the film on the relationship between extractive industries and their environment
Song written by Yhenni Rodriguez
Stop and take a second
sit and listen for a minute
We may not have that long
so let’s just try to take this moment
to face the problems we now have to live in,
that we now have to swim in
Drowning, I feel like we’re drowning
The world’s seen enough but I feel like we’re drowning
Burning, the world’s slowly burning
Like the fire in their eyes
Watch the flames as they fly
"Something's in the Water"
Poem by Illiana Lugo
“Something’s in the water “
Said the Elder to the children
ho went to their mother and asked if she knew what it was
She then asked her husband if the storms were coming in
And he drove to the fisherman who said his goods are all dead
So the fisherman found the hunters to ask if they’d seen the mountains cry red
Who in turn tracked the rangers to learn about the rivers that had turned orange
Rangers went to the teachers to tell the students not to swim and students warned the miners about the storm coming in
The miners looked for the farmer to see if there was anything to harvest
But the farmer said all the crops and animals died in the floods
So the farmer went to the florist to see if the flowers still grew
The florist shook their head and went to warn the grocer about the storm
Grocer said their running out of bottled water in the store and asked the truck driver about how far they’d have to go to get more
But the truck driver couldn’t drive because of the flooding from the storm
So she and the others went to the librarian to ask what to do
“Water is life”
Said the Elder, wisened by the books she told them all:
“It gives as much as it takes.
You can buy the rivers and ponds but the water will never belong to you
It is we in need that will be left to the floods but even the largest cities will drown in the storm too”
You see, the springs only wanted to heal you
And the rivers and streams wanted to move you
The lakes wanted to bathe you
And ocean wanted to feed you
But now there's something in the water
Something in my brothers
Poisoning my sisters Sickens my mother
And Hurting my father
Somethings in the water
Slowly Killing all we hold dear Industry is booming
But seeds can grow in puddles
“I like making new friends and learning new things. This program helped me realize that I had more confidence in myself than I thought I had. “
-Jody, Youth Producer from TN
The Educational Video Center is a non-profit youth media organization dedicated to teaching documentary video since 1984, as a means to develop artistic, critical literacy, and career skills of young people, while nurturing their idealism and commitment to social change.
In the 1980's New York City youth from the Educational Video Center lived, learned and made documentaries together with rural youth in Appalachia's mining communities of East Tennessee. Their films focused on chronic unemployment and poverty and allowed teenagers to experience the connections between their urban and rural communities. The current We Are All Connected (WAC) project is the revival of this student exchange from over 30 years ago.
The WAC project brings youth from these communities together to help bridge our rural-urban gap. Turning their cameras on systemic issues including the right to broadband access, the opioid epidemic, foster care, climate change, and water quality, teenagers learn how interconnected their urban and rural communities really are.
-Jody, Youth Producer from TN
"My experience is to not give up. Let's keep it up so we can do more videos to help others!!"
- Mediba, Youth Producer from NYC
Meet the Crew
Miken grew up in Haiti and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. He goes to school at Medgar Evers College. He enjoys playing video games, soccer, and coding. He signed up for the We Are All Connected program to tell untold stories and make a difference. In this workshop, he learned and taught a lot. He's met a lot of awesome people and one Thing that he learned through the WAC program is we all can make a difference. Somethings he likes about making media is to inspire others through our voices, experiences, and things that occur around us. His future ambition is to become a computer scientist and he’s also considering media.