The night Public Herald kicked of its national tour of Triple Divide at Wesleyan College in West Virginia, 43 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15 showed up — the most kids we’ve ever seen at a single screening.
Sierra Club of West Virginia featured the event as part of their annual Marcellus Academy with members in attendance, but the kids in the crowd stole the show. When the film ended we [the filmmakers] thought, “We’ll give an update and take three questions then call it,” thinking most of the kids would be ready to move on. But after walking through the darkened room amid enthusiastic applause, someone hit the lights and almost half a dozen kids had their hands in the air. Shocked, we skipped the update and went straight to some of the best questions we’ve encountered.
“How come the fracking companies are allowed to come on your property after you told them no? Isn’t this illegal? I can’t understand how this is possible?” This was our first question from a boy who referenced the chapter on “split-estates.”
“How is it that these human rights abuses are allowed to keep happening?” (A question that solicited a snarky “welcome to America” response from one of the boys.)
“Are the water contamination and health problems from fracking part of a national or state health registry?”
“Why isn’t the DEP doing anything about this… do they lack the funds, or is it something else?”
These kids blew us away. Asking ourselves why… it was clear we were used to most adults having a different perspective, a more complacent reality. More and more hands were in the air, and the questions kept coming.
“The man who had to live next to the flames, wouldn’t it be illegal to cause that type of noise next to someone’s home?”
All in all it was one of the most uplifting moments we’ve witnessed at a screening. One of the teachers who works with the kids posted on Triple Divide’s facebook page the following day, saying it best:
“Last night’s showing of Triple Divide in Hyma Auditorium, sponsored by Sierra Club WV, was truly wonderful. I brought 43 gifted children and two counselors, and their questions were incisive and “on point,” as Josh Pribanic said after the question-answer session. One kid, who stayed back with me to buy merchandise and ask more questions, also got to see the Tesla that Josh and Melissa Troutman were driving, and he was enamoured. It was a great night, but mostly, it gave me hope to see the kids get so engaged over such an important issue. I hope that all our young people will get the proper exposure to, and develop an awareness of, the crucial issues that face our society today. Water contamination is certainly one of the most urgent. Education is our ammo, solidarity, our weapon.” (April Pierson-Keating)