Gold for Green
Laura Dunn's environmental doc wins UT award
Contrary to what you may have heard, the West hasn't actually been won yet. The battle is still raging, though now the combatants aren't cowboys and Indians or Jim Bowie and Santa Anna. These days the fight is between developers and environmentalists; the battlefields are places like the Hill Country, Circle C Ranch, and Barton Springs; and the weapons are subdivisions and protest signs.
Recently, Austin filmmaker Laura Dunn stepped into the fray with her excellent documentary The Unforeseen, a meditation on Austin's tenuous balancing act between the desire for growth and the need for a sustainable environmental policy. Executive produced by Terrence Malick and Robert Redford, the movie revisits some of the city's most defining debates of the last 30 years, particularly the philosophical dispute over the role of Barton Springs, and other natural landmarks, in the life of the community. On one side stood the Save Our Springs Alliance, an ad hoc group of concerned citizens looking to keep the city green; on the other, Gary Bradley, a former West Texas farm boy turned big-money developer who looked out at the hills and springs of Austin and saw "a clean canvas" upon which he would paint a scene of suburban domesticity and convenience, often at the expense of the natural vitality of the city.
This Friday, the University of Texas Department of Geography & the Environment will be honoring Dunn and her movie with its first ever Outstanding Environmental Documentary Award. The award was created by the department to "acknowledge the important contributions of environmental documentaries for furthering and deepening our geographic knowledge and imagination." Dunn will be presented with the award at 4pm on Friday, April 17, at an event co-sponsored by the university's American Studies Department in the Texas Student Union; there will also be an informal discussion with Dunn led by Dr. Eliot Tretter, Dr. Jennifer Miller, and Dr. Steven Hoelscher. A reception will follow at 5:30pm in the Student Union Governors Room.