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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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The Film

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

about wac

About EVC

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.


About WAC

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.  


WAC 3.0 is our third annual summer camp project in Tennessee.  You can find more information on the 2017 WAC project here and the 2018 project here.

-Jody, Youth Producer from TN

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"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

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.​




Learn more about youth-led and environmental social justice work:


Earth Uprising


Sunrise Movement


The Alliance for Appalachia

Extinction Rebellion

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