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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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World AIDS Day – A Time For Solutions


Monday December 1st was World AIDS Day.  I meant to write something about it, because we often forget about this disease and it is so important in our lifetime.  One in eight people in South Africa have HIV/AIDS.  1 in 8.  In our small apartment building, there would be 3 people.  In our old town of 1,600 people, there would be 200.  In our city of 500,000 people, there would be 62,500. That’s a lot of people.  

Of course it doesn’t really work that way.  In many poorer towns and townships in South Africa, the percentage of people with HIV/AIDS is much higher.  This disease hits impoverished people hardest, as they are least likely to have access to condoms and anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs). Fortunately there is a new health minister now, who is actively fighting AIDS rather than calling on victims to eat garlic and lemons to fight the disease.  But it is a long and expensive road to recovery.  And as yet there is no cure.

I worked on a film for a year, about a group of children living in an AIDS orphanage in South Africa.  It’s a good film, and it’s a heartwarming film.  You should be able to find it in your local video store or request it from your local library system.  It’s called “Angels in the Dust.”  I think you’d find the story interesting.  Here’s the trailer:



If you can’t see this version (it’s in Quicktime), here is the low-resolution YouTube version:



A Time For Solutions


We write a lot about solutions here, because for me it is not enough to become aware of an issue – it’s important to find solutions to that issue.  I think most of you will agree!  So the important thing about “Angels in the Dust” is that it offers a solution.  The orphanage is not just fighting HIV/AIDS with medicine, it’s not just keeping kids off the street with a place to sleep.  It’s a whole system of treating the mind, body, and soul together, so that the next generation grows up nurtured, educated, and self-sustaining. 

The orphanage is nearly self-sufficient – they grow and raise their own food, they pump water from a well, they built their own school, and they have a community that has built itself around them (the adults in the village do the laundry, cook, teach, make furniture and clothing, and help nurture the orphaned children).  Lastly, the founder of the orphanage is a wonderful psychotherapist, who works with the children on grief counseling and self-empowerment.

It is this way of thinking about the whole system, of treating all aspects of the issue, that is so incredible.  Do watch the movie if you can, and ponder how we might use this way of thinking find solutions to other important issues that are so pressing during our time. Can we expand upon this idea of creating a nurturing, educating, self-sustaining system of recovery – to reach millions?  Can we use it to work on other issues as well, like climate change?  How do we do it?

These are just a few of the things I’ve been pondering lately… What a little recovery time does, eh?!  I’m not asking for a solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis, nor to climate change, but I think there might be something to this idea of stepping back and thinking about the whole system.  What do you think?

Please do share your thoughts, whether or not you’ve seen the movie (though I encourage you to do so)!


“Food Fight” Joins the Growing Ranks of Media About Local Food

Food Fight

“Food Fight” adds to the new wave of local and slow food media like  King Corn, The Future of Food, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, Super Size Me, Black Gold, The Meatrix and other short filmsAnimal Vegetable Miracle, 100 Mile Diet, Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Slow Food Nation, The Future of Food and many other booksand a myriad of great local food blogs and websites.

If you have seen most of those movies and read most of those books and websites, you may not learn a whole lot from watching “Food Fight.”  But it does have some great interviews with Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Wolfgang Puck.  The film also spends a large portion of time following the history of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, which is interesting.  And it spends a few inspiring moments following Will Allen, who just won the MacArthur Award for his work in inner-city Milwaukee.  

Overall, my hopes were too high for this movie.  I really, really, really wanted to like it and to give it a glowing review.  As a documentary director and editor myself, I think the filmmakers have a lot of great material here, but need another pass at the editing:  it lacks cohesion and doesn’t quite capture the energy, vitality, and diversity of the local food movement.   Having said that, however, I am glad I saw it – it is a film that has added value to my life, unlike many films out there.

Ann Marie (who writes a great deal about local food) sent me this film and asked that I write about a November 8th screening in LA.  Due to the crazy week last week – full of an election, writing a huge grant application, getting the Sustainable Capitol Hill website up, and working on the a new business – I was unable to post about it in time for the screening.  I apologize!  But there is a Facebook group and a website, where you can sign up to receive screening information for your area.  And there are more video clips on Food Fight‘s YouTube page.



VIDEO!! Gardening 101: How To Hand-Pollinate Tomatoes & Peppers

Allright, y’all – had a few glitches so it’s not Thursday as promised, but I’m hoping you’ll forgive me. And also go easy on me? Normally I have a whole crew working with me, but this film was directed, produced, filmed (except for the shot where I handed the camera to my mom – go mom!), audio recorded, and edited by yours truly. We made this film yesterday.


Gardening 101: How To Hand-Pollinate Tomatoes And Peppers from One Green Generation on Vimeo.

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Three Good Videos Relating To Sustainability

I have a lot going on today, so in preparation for my own videos arriving sometime shortly, I’d like to share a few videos I’ve discovered lately. Some you may have seen, others you may have missed. Also, stay tuned – there were some great questions and thoughts shared yesterday that I look forward to answering later today!

In the meantime, enjoy…

And a bonus video for fun: