Commander Ben and Ms. Jessica Strickland ready to hunt invasive species during SXSW Eco
I had a great adventure on Thursday when I joined Ms. Jessica Strickland, Invasive Species Program Manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to help map the location of invasive plants along Waller Creek.
The special SXSW Eco “Green Army” event began at the Congress Avenue Kayaks building located at the end of Trinity Street in downtown Austin. The building is on Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) and Waller Creek. All the participants for the event gathered here before we headed out on our adventures. Mr. Justin Murrill, Global Sustainability Manager for AMD and coordinator of the event, welcomed us all and explained the importance of volunteer efforts like this to help keep Austin beautiful.
Commander Ben and Mr. Justin Murrill, Global Sustainability Manager for AMD at SXSW Eco Green Army Event
Some people were going to clean up the trash in the creek, others were going to make seed balls (which were going to be donated to Bastrop State Park to help replant their area after last years wildfires), and others—including me—were going to identify invasive species for future removal or containment projects.
Ms. Strickland and I found many invasive plants along Waller Creek including:
The afternoon started at the Scottish Rite Theater with an address by the festival’s keynote speaker Turk Pipkin, founder of The Nobelity Project. This project focuses on two things:
Doing good thought the world…including our own backyard right here in central Texas, and
Creating documentary films focusing on these acts of good works.
I really enjoyed his talk.
Commander Ben and Turk Pipkin at the 4th Annual “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival.
Let There Be Sight
One of the Nobelity Project’s films was “Let Their Be Sight”, a joint project with The SEVA Foundation – Compassion in Action, that provides eye care, including eye surgeries, to people living in rural areas of Nepal. Many of the program’s participants were blind and their sight was restored through cataract surgery. It was amazing to see a Nepali woman, who had to be carried through the mountains to see the eye doctor. After the cataract operation, she was able to see and walk home!
Nepalese children Photo credit: The Nobelity Project
1000 Books for Hope
Another cause highlighted by the Nobelity Project was 1000 Books for Hope which provides donated books to children in Kenya. This project asks people to donate just one book…their favorite book. So why one book? Well, when they asked folks to simply donate “books”, they received a lot of junk that no one wanted. One example was How to Build a Swimming Pool! Not a much needed topic in Kenya where the luxury of being able to ever build a swimming pool is highly unlikely!
But once the project focused on asking people to donate just one favorite book, lots of wonderful books came pouring in. What was particularly nice about this project is that all the donated books contain an inscription from the donor to the kids. Mr. Pipkin said that this is the first thing the kids rush to read.
1000 Books for Hope Photo credit: The Nobelity Project
Replanting Fire Burned Bastrop State Park
And what about our own backyard? Well, the Nobelity Project has partnered with none other than one of my favorite organizations, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to replant the pine trees in Bastrop State Park that were destroyed in last year’s Texas wildfires. And these aren’t just any ordinary pine trees, these are a species only found in the Bastrop area. Luckily, even though almost all of the trees were destroyed in the fire, there were seeds stored in a seed bank that they are using for replanting.
Bastrop Replant the Park Project Photo credit: The Nobelity Project.
The Last Day of Films
After the keynote address, we all headed over to the Spirit of Texas Theater at the Bob Bullock State History Museum to watch a number of great uplifting films, including Stay: Migration and poverty in rural Mexico. This was an amazing film benefiting Bread for the World.
Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico Photo credit: Bread for the World
The Awards Party
After the films were over, we all headed back to the Scottish Rite Theater for an Awards Party…my first cocktail party! But oh man…that ginger brew…soda, that is, was strong! 😉 LOL! Mind you, I was the only middle-schooler at the party but luckily there was plenty of soda! And some great food too. I especially enjoyed the sushi from How Do You Roll.
Commander Ben at “Lights. Camera. Help.” Awards Party Buffet Line
Watch out for the Ginger Brew!
At the party I had the chance to talk with a lot of great film makers who shared some wonderful advice with me about film making and acting. Once everyone had plenty to eat, we all settled into the theater where the winners of the Film Festival were announced.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 “Lights. Camera. Help.” Film Festival:
Thanks to all the great festival sponsors, including the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and blackbaud. (Their logos were on the cool “photo wall” that we used as a background for photos!)
Best Ever Film Festival and Many Thanks
Overall, the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival was the best film festival I’ve ever been too…and so far, the only one I’ve ever been too…for now! 😉 But I’m so looking forward to the 2013 5th Annual “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival! As a matter of fact, I’m already planning my next film.
I’m so happy that my video, “Native Plant Avengers”, was selected to be shown at the film festival to entertain and help raise awareness about invasive species and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
If you didn’t get a chance to see it at the festival, here’s the video:
For more information, here are additional posts and pages about the film festival and Native Plant Avengers: