By Blaine Payer `18
“Everything we are intersects with this landscape.” This statement, delivered by Loren Spears, the executive director of the Tomaquag museum, perfectly encapsulates the sentiment of the documentary Our Sinking Bay, a global studies capstone project that premiered last Saturday at the Cable Car Cinema to a full house.
The five-month long project, conducted by Daniel Hentz ’17, Rachel Krokenberger ’17, Brooke Clark ’17, and Kimberly Maida ’17, sought to illustrate how the preservation of the Narragansett Bay is a community issue that affects everyone, not just people of native heritage or environmentalists.
The group went above and beyond the call of duty and transformed their research into a 30-minute long documentary that challenges viewers to be more aware of the environmental degradation occurring around them, and how everyone can play a small role in shaping a future characterized by a greater respect for both the land and the people on it.
As the school year draws to a close and everyone braces themselves for finals and heartfelt goodbyes, it is refreshing to see a group of students dedicate their time to improving the world around them in their own humble way. “We wanted to bring together the perspectives of environmental activists and Narragansett tribal members to show how each group is concerned with the environmental degradation of the bay and how each of them works to protect it,” explains Maida, as she summarizes the project.
The group collectively interviewed nearly 10 different concerned parties, including Rachel Calabro, a representative from Save the Bay, as well as Cassius Spears Sr., a Narragansett tribal member who feels an especially close connection to the bay that he has spent his entire life on. Both were in attendance on Saturday, with Spears offering sentimental praise for the respectful ways in which the group presented his voice and respected his culture.
“This event truly was the culmination of my work as a global studies student,” says Hentz, the primary cinematographer for the project. “The audience received it really well, and they made sure to let us know with a lengthy applause.” Hentz goes on to say that, although the feedback from the audience and their global studies instructors was great, “It was Cassius Spears Sr.’s kind words that truly validated our efforts…that, that, was a moment I will never forget.”
The last question that the film challenged both the interviewers as well as the audience members to answer was “What is your biggest concern for the future of the Narragansett Bay?”
Raymond Two Hawks Watson, the sachem of the Mashapaug Nahagansets, responded, “That people don’t wake up,” effectively showing the reason why projects geared towards social and environmental awareness like Our Sinking Bay are so important. Not only was the film a very successful showcase of five months of hard work by a very dedicated group, but it also woke up at least a movie theater full of people to the problems that everyone in the modern world seems determined to ignore.