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The Ground Between Us at Augustana College

My name is Gracie Benstine and I’m a representative of Augustana’s Sierra Club! We are a club dedicated to advocating for and educating on environmental issues and the management of our earth’s ecosystem. We provide lots of nature-filled experiences for Augustana students including outdoor excursions to local nature preserves, a campus wide “Trash Dash” in which students helped to clean up Augustana’s campus of litter, and our most recent event: the QC Environmental Film Festival! Augustana’s Sierra Club has had the amazing opportunity to partner with the wonderful organizations that sponsor the QC Environmental Film Series; River Action, Nahant Marsh Education Center, Sierra Club Eagle View Group, and The Jewish Federation of the QC to host your own screening right on campus! We will be showing the film The Ground Between Us which explores the issues of public land management and the protection of these incredibly valuable natural resources. The film presents these public land disputes alongside the stories of three drastically different families and their connections to the land. They focus on the rapid shrinking of the Bears Ears National Monument, the exploitation of the Arctic Wildlife National Refuge, and the privatization of the Elliott State Forest. With a special emphasis on indigenous land management and indigenous rights, this film presents a very progressive perspective on environmental justice and the pressing issues of social injustice within the environmental movement.

Our reflection speaker for after the movie is Dr. Matthew Fockler, who is a natural resource geographer and former Associate Professor of Geography at Augustana College. Fockler now is a Socioeconomic and Environmental Justice Specialist with the Great Basin Zone for the Bureau of Land Management. For the Bureau of Land Management he oversees the socioeconomic and environmental justice resources in the planning and decision-making process for Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. In this role, Fockler analyzes the potential social and economic impacts the Bureau of Land Management plans have on the people of the Great Basin and works to mitigate disproportionate and adverse impacts to these communities. He has recently been asked to join a joint White House/Department of the Interior sub-committee on environmental justice community engagement. There will be time for a Q&A after Dr. Fockler’s talk. This is an amazing opportunity for the public to learn more about these pressing issues from a professional with first hand experience!

We will be hosting the screening of The Ground Between Us on Sunday, February 12th at 2pm in the Olin Auditorium at Augustana College! Admission is $5 per ticket for community members and free to students with an Augie ID and you can order tickets online at RiverAction.org! Parking is at Hanson Hall of Science 738 35th street, Rock Island and Centennial Hall 3703 7th Avenue, Rock Island. Also there will be signs and club members to direct you to the Olin Auditorium. We look forward to seeing you there!