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The Common Experience Project Presents Spring Sustainability Film Series

For a spring full of shared exploration of sustainable issues and solutions, the Common Experience Project returns to host another season of the Sustainability Film Series, set to continue February 10 at 7 pm at the Athena Cinema. As opposed to the usual five films, six documentaries will be screened at no charge, each followed by a panel discussion led by ecologically-conscious community members as well as Ohio University faculty and students.

Each film explores global, cultural and economical challenges related to the environment. The first film, “This Changes Everything,” discussed social justice against fossil fuels as many confront the climate crisis head on.

The following film, “Bag It The Movie. Is Your Life Too Plastic?,” dissects the ubiquitous role of plastic in the life of the average person. Discovering the answer to this question is ‘yes,’ a man travels in search of better possibilities. “Bag It” will be shown on February 10th; the other films will ensue every other Wednesday at 7pm.

The overarching goal of the project is “to educate students, essentially it’s all about students, about the concepts of sustainability and environmental literacy,” said project organizer and Environmental Studies Outreach Coordinator and Advisor Loraine McCosker. “My personal goal would be that each student would graduate OU with an understanding about the environment. They don’t have to be scientists, they don’t have to be physicists, but they should have a basic understanding about the human’s place within the environment, and how we’re all connected.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity that each of our students would graduate and leave or stay as ecological citizens and take that knowledge other places and spread it. They can do it in their workplace, they can do it with their families, they could do it in their communities wherever they are. That’s the basic goal. It’s a big goal, but why not?” encouraged McCosker.

Since its inception in 2013, The Common Experience Project has expanded its outreach and engagement beyond the boundaries of the university, offering the opportunity for extensive community interaction surrounding the theme of sustainability. These partnerships within and outside the Ohio University community have allowed for a growing interconnectedness when fighting for a sustainable future in Southeastern Ohio.

“We have non-university community members involved. They don’t work at the university or attend the university, but they’re part of the community, and they help to build that fabric of community,” said McCosker. “There are people of all ages talking together and listening to each other. I think it’s a really important thing, because oftentimes we don’t have much community interaction in Athens. Bringing the entities like CFI or Rural Action to the panels so students can learn about something that they didn’t know about and maybe choose to do an internship there or go into nonprofit work. Sort of just expanding everyone’s understanding.

“We are now working on expanding the project beyond the university to the community—high schools. Doing more activities, having it as an offering to other entities so they can come in and educate the community,” said McCosker.

The Project hopes to continue in its expansion in the coming years, planning for student participation quite literally. Plans are being made for a student-made sustainability film competition, the winner of which will be included in the series.

The Common Experience Project on Sustainability presents the film series each semester. The Project is a collaboration between The Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs, Environmental Studies, the Office of Sustainability, The Arts and Sciences Sustainability and Food themes, University College, Alden Library, the Athena Cinema and several other departments and programs.


The remaining scheduled films will be shown on the following dates:

February 10: “Bag It The Movie. Is Your Life Too Plastic?”

Panel:  Jennifer Cochran, Athens City Council; Heather Fuston, Rural Action; Scott Miller, Zero Waste; Andrea Reany, Zero Waste Program Manager, Rural Action.

February 24: “Bikes v. Cars”

Panel: Amy Lynch, Geography; Paul Logue, Athens City Planner; Pete Kotses, Athens City Council; Sam Crowl, Office of Sustainability; Carson Calhoun, Plant Biology.

March 9: “Inhabit—A Permaculture Perspective”

Panel: Therese Moran, Arts and Sciences Food Studies Theme leader; Paige Walters, International Development and Environmental Studies Student; Weston Lombard, Solid Ground Farm Athens County.

March 30: “Seeds of Time”

Panel: Janice Brewer, Food Studies graduate; Paul Patton, Anthropology; Mary Nally, Jess Chadwell, Community Food Initiatives.

April 13: “Angel Azul”

Panel: Erin Shevaugn Schlumpf, Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies; Molly Gurien, Biological Sciences.

Alexa, strategic communications major, spanish minor, and environmental certificate candidate, hopes to one day become a tree. Her best friends are plants and the occasional human that can keep it chill. You will always find her with music in her ears and in her head, whistling or even grooving to an unheard tune. When there’s time to breath, she enjoys floating in water, looking at the sky, and cooking delicious, flavorful food. One day, Alexa hopes to change the world.

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