Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Going with the Flow
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Going with the Flow

Holly Wren Spaulding - February 25th, 2008
It was 5 a.m. and I had the loveless job of rousing the rest of the tired crew for another long day of cross-country travel, interviews, and shooting in South Africa. Weary, yet determined, we had an ambitious proposal: to make a feature documentary about the threats to our global water supply, what that means for the survival of humans and the planet, and what can be done to address the growing crisis.
Irena Salina, director of the now newly completed film FLOW: For Love of Water, had wanted to get to the far eastern coast of South Africa to visit a Zulu village where people were sick, and in many cases, dying, due to lack of access to clean drinking water. To do so, we’d drive all day through uncertain terrain, navigate language barriers, forebear the oppressive heat, and eventually find a hotel well after midnight. Tomorrow, we’d be in an urban community where poor people were having their taps disconnected for lack of funds to pay the water company. What was I doing? Why was I racing around southern Africa with a multinational team of independent filmmakers?

Five years ago I was justifiably mad about Nestle’s water bottling scheme in Mecosta County, had already faced intimidation by the FBI for my stance on the issue, and I was wondering why it wasn’t more clear to greater numbers of people that it simply is not a good idea to let our water go like that. I started traveling, hoping to learn some things from activists in other places where water battles were ongoing.
It was the early days of the making of a film documenting precisely what I was researching independently. French born director Irena Salina quickly brought me onto the project to assist in shaping a story about the global water crisis.
Clearly, making a film about the problem of water scarcity and global water conflicts — including those in our own backyard -- was going to be a great tool for reaching all of those people who do not have the opportunity to travel and study the issue as we were.
The romance of making a film in another country, and the thrill of getting close enough to situations and people to really hear their stories was not wearing off, but I was running on pure adrenalin. Who has time for food? Sleep? Or exercise, when you’ve got two weeks to shoot and a shoestring to do it with?
I was exhausted—we all were—but I couldn’t have been having more fun. And the African trip was just the beginning of what would take us five years to complete.

The thrill of being at the Sundance Film Festival to premier the final cut of FLOW last month was the kind of opportunity any independent filmmaker will dream of.
Said another way, it’s a wonderful thing to collaborate with passionate people in the creation of a document that is meant to move our culture toward a more thoughtful, intellectually critical, and emotionally invested perspective on water—something we so easily take for granted. Naturally, being selected from among 3,624 feature submissions to be one of 16 U.S. feature documentaries in competition is pretty fantastic indeed.
And yet I was standing in a massive line outside the sold-out premier screening in Park City, Utah, the waitlist number 64 in my hand and blind faith that I’d actually get in to see a film I helped to make—a film that I’m actually in!
This is, of course, a quintessentially Sundance experience. Everyone waits, often outside on a cold piece of cement beside an oversold theater. Sometimes you get one of the coveted tickets that are released at the last moment, and sometimes you get in thanks to a producer or an agent, and sometimes you end up in line for two hours, bundled for the bitter cold, having a lovely chat with the other film lovers standing around with you.

My brother Ethan and I did finally get in, thanks to the executive producer who was running around madly, procuring tickets and trying to get all of his people into our big night, come what may.
And then when the lights came up again in the theater, I was sitting among 20 or so other members of the crew. You can bet we were all smiling. Ear-to-ear and full of pride. The film looks stunning (many of us were seeing it for the first time). It is a vessel woven of so many clear and compelling stories—from Northern Michigan to South Africa to India, Bolivia, and more—and it carries you with it on a tremendous tour of water hot spots all over the planet. Even to Michigan.
At a screening the following day, the first comment during the Q & A came from a man who introduced himself as a former CEO of one of the companies who receives considerable criticism in the film; one of the ‘Big Three’ corporations who are blamed for countless millions of poor people going without access to water because they can’t afford the rising rates. He went on to say that all of it was true, that indeed these corporate guys only care about the company share price and steak dinners with hedge fund managers in New York. The audience was rapt.
Shortly thereafter, a woman who had waited a while to raise her hand said that she works in branding and was currently on a project to sell privatization to the people of Scotland, the only country in Europe who has not privatized their water. It is coming up for a vote in 2010 and she is supposed to sell the idea to the people. She said, “Now I’ll be working for the other side.” The film made it that clear: we cannot afford to let profit motives control something as fundamental as water.
Another woman said, “Obviously I’ll be boycotting some of these products but what do you drink when you are traveling?” Director Salina is committed to drinking public tap water, and said so. It is only one small step, but maybe the tides are really finally turning. Increasing numbers will likely join us.

As a person who cares deeply for this message, and as one of the worker bees on this film, I couldn’t be more convinced of the power of such a documentary. As I walked around Park City for a week, watching movies, celebrating the premier of FLOW, and getting to know other people who do this for a living, I was pleased to start hearing about how our own contribution to the conversation was being taken up.
At the final screening, 450 people gave the film a standing ovation—a truly rare occurrence at Sundance. Blogging for Wired magazine, Jason Silverman’s ‘Best of Sundance’ included an honorable mention for FLOW. Another column pointed out that this year’s festival seems to be especially responsive to green films with many new releases perhaps riding the wave carved by Al Gore’s 2006 Sundance hit, An Inconvenient Truth.
FLOW is well argued and beautifully crafted, and I look forward to when the people who really care most for the Great Lakes, can see them shine in this new documentary by Irena Salina.

Holly Wren Spaulding is a writer from Leelanau County.
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