I want to create a film that captures the impacts of climate change on the people of Andean Peru and the efforts of an Engineers Without Borders project to help.
Tell me more...
Huasta is a rural village in the Andes of Peru, and its people rely on glacial melt and seasonal precipitation for fresh water. For hundreds of years, these sources have provided dependable, clean water for drinking and irrigation. Unfortunately, due to climate change, the people's water sources are in peril; the rainy season is becoming significantly shorter, and the timing and amounts of the rainfall and glacial runoff are now unpredictable.
Realizing this, 25 Peruvian communities joined together and formed the Tres Cuencas Commonwealth to proactively address these water and climate issues. "Tres cuencas" means three watersheds. There is money available from the Peruvian government for this purpose, but in order to be eligible the organization must prove that it has actual engineering designs that will help solve the problem.
This is where Engineers Without Borders (EWB) came in. EWB is a humanitarian organization dedicated to a vision of a world in which all communities possess the capacity to meet their basic human needs in a sustainable way.
Students and professionals in the Greater Austin Chapter of EWB created the CAMBIAR program, standing for Climate Adaption in Mountain Basins in the Andean Region. Its mission is to assist rural Peruvian communities with developing climate change adaptation strategies. Collaborating with a local NGO called The Mountain Institute, teams from CAMBIAR have twice traveled to Peru to assess the situation and form relationships with the community.
For the time being, they are focusing on the community of Huasta, which needs new sources of fresh water for crop irrigation. The group's proposal is to improve the community's wastewater treatment plant so that the water exiting the facility is clean enough to be used for irrigation.
A team from CAMBIAR will be traveling to Peru again this July to work on implementing this strategy, and I want to be there with them to produce a film about the impacts of climate change and their efforts to mitigate these changes.
Who are you?
I’m a Master’s student studying water resources engineering at the University of Texas at Austin! While I may not seem like your typical candidate for such a project, filmmaking has long been a hobby of mine.
In my senior year of high school, I was a national finalist in the documentary category of the National History Day competition. Then, during my undergrad at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I worked on an EWB project that was partnered with a community in the Brazilian rainforest. I managed the project for over a year-and-a-half, traveled to the Amazon to implement one of our solutions, and put together two videos (seen below and here) about the work we were doing.
I feel my background in science affords me a different perspective from a traditional filmmaker, which, considering the film's topic, will lead to a better and more informative result.
I also have experience with time-lapse photography. After graduating from UMass, I shot a time-lapse project of some of my favorite places around the beautiful Pioneer Valley, the area of western Massachusetts where UMass is located.
In addition to film, I'm an avid photographer, and many of the rewards for backers include high-quality prints of photos I'll take down in Peru. You can check out some of my past work over on my Flickr page.
When I moved to Austin last summer and learned about the Engineers Without Borders project in Peru, I saw an excellent story to be told and an urgent issue to educate people about. I became determined to use my film talents to tell the story of the impacts of climate change in Peru and CAMBIAR's efforts to help.
In the past, I've been able to borrow from friends any equipment that I didn't own. Unfortunately, that's not possible this time, and UT does not loan out equipment for international travel (or for more than 2 days at a time, but that's beside the point) - believe me, I called every office possible. That means that the money you contribute will cover travel expenses as well as the camera and recording essentials necessary to make the film.
- $1200 Airfare
- $800 In-country travel expenses (transportation, food, etc.)
- $1850 Canon XA10 video camera
- $400 2x 1TB external hard drives
- $150 Video tripod head
- $400 Microphones (rode, lavaliere, etc.)
- $100 2x 64GB SD cards
- $100 2x battery packs
If by some miracle I raise more than the funding goal, the extra will go toward post-production and distribution costs that I was planning to cover myself.
Thank you so much for your support! It really means a lot. I want as many people as possible to see what's happening down in Peru.
Note: The footage of the community seen in the video above was taken when a team from the EWB project traveled to Huasta this past January. I lent them my little Flip camera so they could get some basic footage of the region.
If you have any questions or are interested in donating any equipment, I would love to hear from you! You can reach me at johnrsull (at) gmail (dot) com.
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