The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s work with environmental issues will be featured this spring on a new HD documentary TV series called Down2Earth, which airs on Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). The series is hosted by Cree musician and television host Art Napoleon (The New Canoe). Down2Earth visits Indigenous peoples across Canada, the United States and worldwide who demonstrate how they are adapting their traditional knowledge to respond to the manmade environmental challenges that are threatening their communities.
The show’s crew of four men and one woman recently spent two days filming with the SRPMIC Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Department (EPNR), focusing on ways that EPNR has been working to address the Community’s environmental issues.
The crew started their first day at the Air Quality Monitoring Site located near the Senior Center. Napoleon interviewed EPNR Senior Environmental Specialist Stan Belone and Environmental Specialist Corwin Smith, who provided an overview of the EPNR Air Quality Program and demonstrated how to change the air filters which trap particulates floating in the air.
EPNR Manager Ondrea Barber was also interviewed at that location. She discussed the goals of EPNR and all the work the department does to protect and preserve the quality of our environment.
After wrapping their filming at the Senior Center, the Down2Earth crew headed over to Lehi to talk to Community Gardens Coordinator Jacob Butler. At the Lehi garden, they set up their cameras and sound equipment near an odd mound covered with rocks arranged in a spiral. Butler explained that he and his co-worker were building a “spiral garden.” The spiral design of the mound holds in water, and the rocks serve as a way to capture and keep heat, warming the plants on chilly evenings. The garden will contain a number of vegetables and other plants.
In the afternoon the Down2Earth crew headed to the wild horse range, where they met with Environmental Programs Supervisor Dan Daggett, Senior Environmental Specialist–Range Brian Gewecke, Environmental Technician Raleigh Lomatska and Environmental Technician Joe Herrera. They talked about the wild horses and the Range Management Program. Napoleon toured the range and helped feed some of the horses.
The next day, Down2Earth toured the Salt River Landfill and Recycling Center.
Site Engineer Rich Allen talked about the landfill’s design and the process for sorting refuse. At the Recycling Center, Allen mentioned the tire-removal program and the curbside recycling electronic container for TVs and computers.
After they completed filming there, the crew took a quick break, then went to the Cottonwood Wetlands for their final location. For the final shoot, Butler showed Napoleon how to harvest a cottonwood pole, and EPNR Environmental Engineer–Water Quality Regina Leverette and Environmental Specialist Amy Miguel demonstrated taking a sample of the runoff water.
Napoleon was impressed by all the environmental programs he saw in the Community.
“It’s good to see a Native community take a proactive approach to the environmental issues it faces,” said Napoleon.
When asked which was his favorite segment to shoot, Napoleon was undecided, saying that everything he saw and learned at all the locations was great. But when it came down to it, he really enjoyed the Community Garden.
“Jacob was very entertaining and full of stories, and he knows his stuff—he knows about the plants and the traditional stuff, and he is a young guy,” said Napoleon. “He is really gung-ho about that, and hopefully that kind of energy will rub off on other people.”
Down2Earth will air on APTN this spring. For more information about the show and a program schedule, visit www.aptn.ca or projectdown2earth.com.
“The series will share extraordinary environmental success stories that will inspire viewers to take more responsibility for preserving and reclaiming the earth for future generations.” —Down2Earth