My latest creative project was to co-direct a short documentary film called Greenway Heroes: Profiles in Land Conservation. It’s the sequel to a longer documentary, Marion Stoddart: The Work of 1000, which was also produced by my client Susan Edwards, who is principal and founder of Extra Mile Design and founder of The Work of 1000 civic engagement program. Sue hosted a premiere screening of the film last Saturday, May 9, for an enthusiastic and appreciative audience of more than 50 individuals.
The idea for the film was born out of Sue’s desire to support Marion’s vision for a greenway along the Nashua River and its tributaries: “sparkling blue water with a ribbon of green alongside it.”
This film focuses on the inspiring stories of three local (north central Massachusetts) people who have engaged in what we call land philanthropy; they’ve either donated land outright, or sold it, or set up a conservation restriction on their property. By sharing their stories we hope the film will inspire current and future landowners to consider donating or selling their land for conservation, to make a positive difference in their communities.
Personally, I think many people assume that only the wealthy can afford to donate or sell their land for conservation. The reality is that although some donors are affluent, many others are land-rich but cash-poor. Even though they are not wealthy, some folks donate a generous legacy of land, and some folks sell their land at a fair market price to government agencies or private non-profit land trusts. There are some excellent government agencies and land trust organizations that offer some funds and/or tax credit programs that make it easier for landowners to protect land. My point is, there are a variety of options for people to leave their land and protect it in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy and for the environment to benefit.
Now that the film is complete, the next phase begins: sharing the film (free of charge) with people who support land philanthropy, and with landowners. The Work of 1000 is willing to set up in-home meetings for landowners who would like to meet with Marion Stoddart to discuss the various conservation organizations and options they could consider. So please spread the word about the film to your local conservation commissions, land trusts, and “green” advocates; one never knows when some current or future landowner will see this film and be inspired to take the next step toward becoming a Greenway Hero!