Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 10-3-07

Most every doom and gloom documentary about the state of the planet ends with some happy chapter; something rosy; some  “oh, it’s all right, really, because……” snippet.  You can go back home and feel okay about business as usual because, well, it’s all right, really.


Not really.

What is real is an important film coming to town on October 12th without a happy ending: “What a Way to Go! Life at the End of Empire”.  This special screening and dialog with the filmmakers will take place October 12th, at 6:45 p.m. at the Whatcom Community College Heiner Center Auditorium.  It’s free to the public as part of WCC’s “Sustainability – Issue of the Year” series of events.  And it’s profound, having attracted sponsorship by Sustainable Bellingham and Whatcom Community College, with co-sponsors The Pickford Cinema and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.  Find out more about it at

David McLeod brought the film to my attention when he said that “….it’s tone is very similar to your recent columns “Know Thyself” and “Know Myself.” It offers no easy answers, and has no “happy chapter” at the end, yet in its own way is hopeful, and challenges viewers to respond in a serious way. “

Simply put, the full-length documentary exposes  a  middle class white guy who comes to grips with peak oil, climate change, mass extinction, population overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle.

Rosy, huh?

Featuring interviews with Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Richard Heinberg, Thomas Berry, William Catton, Ran Prieur and Richard Manning, writer/director Tim Bennett made a conscious choice not to end this movie with a “happy chapter.” He says there are far too many books and movies that tell us about the terrible things going on in the world, but most all of them end in a happy chapter of what people are doing to address the problems. This lets the viewer off the hook – “oh, don’t worry, there are people working on this problem, and they’ll fix it.” Instead, Bennett says “If there’s going to be a happy chapter, we’re going to write it together.

“Hundreds of my readers have told me that my novel Ishmael should be read in every high school classroom in the world. Naturally I’d be delighted to see this happen, but I really think it would be more to the point to have “What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire” seen in every high school classroom in the world! The two hours of this documentary are two hours that bring hope for the future of humanity by awakening and informing in the most profound yet lucid way imaginable.” – Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael and Tales of Adam

“Nothing less than a 123-minute CAT scan of the planet and its twenty-first century human and non-human condition.” – Carolyn Baker

Come on by on Oct. 12th and watch me, another middle aged white guy, come to grips with the middle aged white guy on the silver screen.  I’ll be the dude that looks just like the caricature at the top of this column.  I won’t bring my eraser, though.  I’ll let the film chisel away at your ecological footprint.

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