Sierra Club/GVSU Film Series aims to raise environmental awareness

The Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter and Grand Valley State University’s School of Communications join forces to introduce people to the club’s Michigan Chapter and call attention to environmental issues in Michigan. A film series and membership drive kicks off with a free, public screening of the award-winning documentary “Gasland,” Thursday, February 16, 7-9 p.m., in Loosemore Auditorium, 401 W. Fulton St., on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Another environmental film screening at Grand Valley is planned for April 5, as well as student recruitment activities, including a wilderness outing hosted by John Philbin and John Schmit, who teach film in Grand Valley’s School of Communications. “In the 1980s while living in California, I got hooked on the great outdoors and joined the Sierra Club – it was a place I found kindred spirits,” says Philbin, who made a documentary about Yosemite National Park rangers in 1986. “And Sierra Magazine got me dreaming of hiking trips to all the national parks. I’m happy to help introduce the club to my students and rally a new generation to the cause.” Schmit spent more than two years working with students at Grand Valley to produce the documentary film “Lake Invaders: The Fight for Lake Huron,” which explores the threat to the ecosystem and some innovative solutions. Primary filming took place during spring 2008, as part of a new Nature Documentary Production course.

The Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences nominated the film for an Emmy for Best Topical Documentary in 2011. “Gasland,” an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning film by Josh Fox, offers a first-person account of the filmmaker’s quest to find out more about hydraulic fracturing –“ fracking” for short – an increasingly popular method of extracting deep-seated natural gas that has come to Michigan in recent years. The Sierra Club/Grand Valley collaboration in 2012 honors the 45th anniversary of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter and the 120th of the national organization, and marks the 25th anniversary of the Michigan Wilderness Act. For more on Gasland, visit:

For details about the screenings and other Grand Valley events, contact John Philbin in the School of Communications at (616) 331-3608.

For information about the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, visit, or call (517) 484-2372. For More Information Contact: Mary Pirkola in News & Information Services 616-331-2221