The area between New York City and Philadelphia is the most densely populated in the country. Yet documentary filmaker and environmental journalist Jared Flesher managed to pinpoint what he calls “the last green space” situated between these metropolises, depicting it in the new film “Sourlands.”
In a statement, Flesher explains:
Get out a map, and trace your finger from New York City to Philadelphia. The line you draw runs through the most densely populated place in the entire country. But along this line there’s still one large chunk of glorious green — a forest that has survived development. The locals call this region “The Sourlands.” It’s a big green symbol of hope, guarded doggedly by citizens who care for it deeply.
For the documentary, I’ve decided to look at just this one forest, plus the community immediately surrounding it, and tell its story as best I can.
Flesher hones in on the Sourlands’ microcosm of local sustainability, from small organic farmers to hunters to conservationists to green tech entrepreneurs. Though they face daunting obstacles such as climate change, local extinctions and an uncertain ecological future, Flesher says they do not sink into despair:
The environmentalists I meet and interview are rarely naïve. They seem to understand the big scope of the environmental problems we face. What is heartening is that these folks do what they can anyway, usually with a gritty sense of optimism. I believe this is a lot better than doing nothing.
“Sourlands” premiered in a New Jersey theatre in June and has limited showings around the country. Flesher gives guidelines on hosting a screening, and DVDs are available for those interested in checking out the last green spot in this corridor of the northeast.
More from Smithsonian.com: