The River Runs Through Us

"It's a natural fit. The Nature Conservancy members and Environmental Film Festival attendees are curious about nature; they enjoy being transported to different natural environments.”

By: Karen Sosnoski

Get ready for lights, cameras, and environmental action.  This spring an exciting partnership blossoms: The Nature Conservancy is collaborating with the DC Environmental Film Festival to bring the dramatic beauty, benefits, and needs of nature to life both on and off screen. When films generate excitement about the environment, collaborations like that between The Nature Conservancy and EFF can enrich and extend the experience.

“It’s a natural fit,” says Stephanie Flack, The Nature Conservancy’s Potomac River Director. “The Nature Conservancy members and Environmental Film Festival attendees are curious about nature; they enjoy being transported to different natural environments.”

Flack, herself an Environmental Film Festival attendee since 1995, will be featured in its 2013 premiere of the documentary film, Potomac: The River Runs Through Us. She loves that the theme of the March 12-24 festival is rivers, and is looking forward to participating in two panel discussions associated with the festival’s programs.

“Where does our water come from?” Flack asks. “A Nature Conservancy study shows that nationwide, of those who don’t get their water from a well, 75 percent have no idea.” In her work, Flack finds that some people initially become interested in learning about conservation when they glimpse nature’s impact on their health and quality of life. By simply getting outside to play by the Potomac, people discover a kinship with this water source and the forests and wetlands that support it. Later they might learn that “some five million people in the Washington DC metro region depend on the Potomac River for their water”--and grow more committed to protecting the river and its watershed.

Flack believes that film - “the aesthetic experience of nature" - also connects people to the environment and can compel investment in its protection for future generations. She personally brings her kids out to play in beautiful natural areas like the Potomac’s Great Falls in VA and MD—and she takes them to the Environmental Film Festival’s children’s programs. (“My children know where their water comes from,” she jokes.)

If you’d like to get informed and inspired to protect our vital water sources, stay connected with The Nature Conservancy year-round via email, Facebook or Twitter. Or meet Stephanie Flack in person at an upcoming DC Environmental Film Festival event:

March 15, 6:30 PM

DC Environmental Film Festival and The Nature Conservancy will co-sponsor "An Evening with James Prosek", artist, writer and naturalist. National Academy of Sciences Auditorium, 2101 Constitution Ave., NW.  FREE. To register, please visit

March 18, 6:30 PM.

World premiere of Potomac: The River Runs Through Us and screening of Chattahoochee: From Water War to Water Vision, followed by panel discussion, moderated by The Nature Conservancy’s Potomac River Director, Stephanie Flack.  FREE. Sidwell Friends School, 3825 Wisconsin Ave., NW.

POTOMAC: The River Runs Through Us (USA, 2012, 27 min.) World Premiere. Each of us is connected to rivers in our everyday lives. Most of the 6 million people living in the Potomac River watershed do not realize that their drinking water comes from the Potomac. Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the health of the Potomac River has improved. However the Potomac is still in trouble and faces a number of serious threats: runoff from farms, pharmaceuticals and chemicals that are not visible, urban development and population growth. The film follows the flow of the Potomac water from its origin, into our homes and businesses, and back into the river. We become aware of the need to protect this essential resource and of how our well-being and that of future generations are intertwined with the health of the Potomac.
Director - Peggy Fleming. Producer - writer Sean Furmage. Director of Photography and Editor - Toby Mues.
Discussion with filmmakers follows screening

March 21, 7:00 PM.

Panel Discussion: "Ok, I’ve Watched the Film, Now What?" -- exploring ways we can use film to inspire action, moderated by AU environmental film professor Chris Palmer. Panelists include Stephanie Flack along with other environmentalists and film experts. FREE. American University, Center for Environmental Filmmaking, Wechsler Theater, Mary Graydon Center, 4400 Mass. Ave., NW.

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