Re(cyclers): Sustainability and the art of storytelling

I started as an intern with the sustainability office when I was a first year, back in 2013, so I have been involved with sustainability for as long as I have been a film student. I saw my culminating film production as an opportunity to combine the best of what I’d learned from these two central parts of my Dartmouth experience, and, in a way, to pay my learning forward. With the permission of Rosi Kerr, director of Sustainability, and Jenna Musco, the assistant director, I pitched my idea for a 10-minute documentary featuring the Dartmouth Bikes team to the Dartmouth Film Department as part of my senior honors project in October 2016. I started shooting in January 2017.

I was my own one-man crew, and was constantly making mistakes. It was discouraging at times. For example, I will never forget how, when I first filmed Rosi, my camera battery died and I unknowingly missed an entire hour of our interview. Rosi just laughed. She told me it was part of the learning process and she was happy to reschedule. That was a pivotal moment for me. It took a lot of pressure off and reminded me that I was not in it alone.

(Re)cyclers is not perfect. There are things about it I would do differently if I had the chance, but if there’s one thing I have learned in my time at the Sustainability Office, it’s how to learn from my mistakes. I have always been encouraged to dream big and I have not been afraid of failure, because I have had the support of the sustainability community to catch me when I fall. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Dartmouth Bikes is an example of the creative problem solving that comes with awesome teamwork. I do not like to call (Re)cyclers my film, because it really belongs to everyone who helped make it possible. I am just fortunate to be the one to tell our story. It is not a story about bikes, or about one person who is really interested in bikes; it’s the story of a team that shares a passion for sustainability and an interest in bikes, and the community we have built around them. As I hope our film shows, this is what our work in sustainability is all about.

Re(Cyclers) - By Joe Fairbanks