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about In the air

 

In the Air is a feature film in which artists from the Gulf Coast use dance, spoken word, and visual art to tell stories of environmental injustice, survival, and alternative visions for the future.

Directed by John Fiege

 

 
 

What Is Environmental Justice?

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This means that all people should have the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, as well as equal access to the decision making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

                    United States Environmental Protection Agency

 
 
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THE ARTISTS

Outspoken Bean (Poet): Emanuelee “Outspoken Bean” is a performance poet, writer, compassionate mentor, electric entertainer, and educator. Bean travels the country performing his original works and inspiring creative minds. He is a 2011 Texas Poet Laureate nominee, ranked 9th in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2013, ranked 2nd in collaborative poetry at Group Piece Finals 2013 and, is ranked 11th at National Poetry Slam 2014 (both with Houston VIP). Bean has also worked with the Harris County Department of Education, Houston’s Young Audiences: Arts for Learning and Texas Commission for the Arts, Houston Grand Opera, and coached Miami’s youth poetry slam team, Tiger-tail WordSpeak in the summer 2016. He serves as the Project Coordinator, Lead Coach, and mentor for Meta-Four Houston, a project under Writers in the Schools’ WITS Performance program. Through this program, professional slam poets encourage self expression and literacy among Houston’s youth through creative writing and performance.

Outspoken Bean (Poet):

Emanuelee “Outspoken Bean” is a performance poet, writer, compassionate mentor, electric entertainer, and educator. Bean travels the country performing his original works and inspiring creative minds. He is a 2011 Texas Poet Laureate nominee, ranked 9th in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2013, ranked 2nd in collaborative poetry at Group Piece Finals 2013 and, is ranked 11th at National Poetry Slam 2014 (both with Houston VIP). Bean has also worked with the Harris County Department of Education, Houston’s Young Audiences: Arts for Learning and Texas Commission for the Arts, Houston Grand Opera, and coached Miami’s youth poetry slam team, Tiger-tail WordSpeak in the summer 2016. He serves as the Project Coordinator, Lead Coach, and mentor for Meta-Four Houston, a project under Writers in the Schools’ WITS Performance program. Through this program, professional slam poets encourage self expression and literacy among Houston’s youth through creative writing and performance.

Loyce Gayo (Poet): Loyce Gayo is a Tanzanian born slam poet, singer, teaching artist and activist who is currently based in Houston, TX. Gayo is profoundly influenced by her experience in the African Diaspora and uses her craft to celebrate the journey of a people dispersed. She also uses her voice to advocate for the empowerment of marginalized people by supporting local efforts and organizations. Gayo was the slam champion of the UT Spitshine poetry slam team who won the 2014 Collegiate Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Her work has been featured on Button Poetry, Write About Now, Badilisha Poetry, and PBS. She also teaches creative writing for Writers in the Schools, Houston.

Loyce Gayo (Poet):

Loyce Gayo is a Tanzanian born slam poet, singer, teaching artist and activist who is currently based in Houston, TX. Gayo is profoundly influenced by her experience in the African Diaspora and uses her craft to celebrate the journey of a people dispersed. She also uses her voice to advocate for the empowerment of marginalized people by supporting local efforts and organizations. Gayo was the slam champion of the UT Spitshine poetry slam team who won the 2014 Collegiate Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Her work has been featured on Button Poetry, Write About Now, Badilisha Poetry, and PBS. She also teaches creative writing for Writers in the Schools, Houston.

Asia Rainey (Poet): Asia Rainey is a poet, actress, musician, visual artist, activist, community advocate, mentor to young writers, and playwright. As a spoken word artist and vocalist, she has been welcomed as a featured and guest performer at numerous events, festivals, benefits, and educational institutions around the country, including as a poet and speaker at the Amnesty International Annual General Meeting (representing the work of Howard Zinn), New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Seattle BiLocal Fest, the Emancipate Tour (NY) and many others. She was a member of the New Orleans National Poetry Slam Team in 2005. As a performance artist, she has shared stages with artists such as Sonia Sanchez, Gloria Steinem, Kerry Washington, Saul Williams, the Last Poets, Common and others, who all helped to challenge her creative goals. In August 2014, she traveled to Turkey as an ambassador for spoken word in Beyoglu, Istanbul.

Asia Rainey (Poet):

Asia Rainey is a poet, actress, musician, visual artist, activist, community advocate, mentor to young writers, and playwright. As a spoken word artist and vocalist, she has been welcomed as a featured and guest performer at numerous events, festivals, benefits, and educational institutions around the country, including as a poet and speaker at the Amnesty International Annual General Meeting (representing the work of Howard Zinn), New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Seattle BiLocal Fest, the Emancipate Tour (NY) and many others. She was a member of the New Orleans National Poetry Slam Team in 2005. As a performance artist, she has shared stages with artists such as Sonia Sanchez, Gloria Steinem, Kerry Washington, Saul Williams, the Last Poets, Common and others, who all helped to challenge her creative goals. In August 2014, she traveled to Turkey as an ambassador for spoken word in Beyoglu, Istanbul.

Kataalyst Alcindor (Poet): Kataalyst Alcindor is a New Orleanian poet whose work focuses on the people, culture, and history of his native city. He is a founding member of the spoken word club Slam New Orleans, a three-time National Poetry Slam Champion, and one of the Big Easy's most influential young voices. He was the only poet chosen from thousands of submissions to appear on the second season of Lexus sponsored television show Verse & Flow; a season that earned the show a NAACP Image Award nomination. He recently published a collection of poetry called ‘Marrero.’ He also performed in on PBS'S "The Tavis Smiley Show" in honor of the tenth year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina.

Kataalyst Alcindor (Poet):

Kataalyst Alcindor is a New Orleanian poet whose work focuses on the people, culture, and history of his native city. He is a founding member of the spoken word club Slam New Orleans, a three-time National Poetry Slam Champion, and one of the Big Easy's most influential young voices. He was the only poet chosen from thousands of submissions to appear on the second season of Lexus sponsored television show Verse & Flow; a season that earned the show a NAACP Image Award nomination. He recently published a collection of poetry called ‘Marrero.’ He also performed in on PBS'S "The Tavis Smiley Show" in honor of the tenth year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina.

Ebony Stewart (Poet): Ebony Stewart is an international touring performance arts spoken word poet and active artist from Central Texas. She has coached Austin Neo Soul and Austin Poetry Slam, finishing 1st and 5th at the National Poetry Slam and They Speak Youth Slam finishing 8th in the world at Brave New Voices. The only adult female three-time Slam Champion in Austin, Texas has shared stages with many brilliant artists including the late Amiri Baraka. In 2015, Ebony Stewart debuted her one-woman show, Hunger, which was nominated for a B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Original Script and won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama and the Austin Critics’ Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award for original script.

Ebony Stewart (Poet):

Ebony Stewart is an international touring performance arts spoken word poet and active artist from Central Texas. She has coached Austin Neo Soul and Austin Poetry Slam, finishing 1st and 5th at the National Poetry Slam and They Speak Youth Slam finishing 8th in the world at Brave New Voices. The only adult female three-time Slam Champion in Austin, Texas has shared stages with many brilliant artists including the late Amiri Baraka. In 2015, Ebony Stewart debuted her one-woman show, Hunger, which was nominated for a B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Original Script and won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama and the Austin Critics’ Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award for original script.

Sha'Condria "iCON" Sibley (Poet): iCon is a nationally-acclaimed championship poet/spoken word and multi-disciplinary teaching artist. As a founding member of Slam New Orleans, she has helped the team win multiple regional and national titles, solidifying them as a “dynasty” in the world of slam poetry while going on to make a name for herself as an individual artist and one of the top-ranked female slam poets in the world. In efforts to reunite and revitalize the post-Katrina New Orleans poetry community, iCon, co-founded the Write!NOLA Festival (2011-12) with Asia Rainey. In 2014, iCon partnered with the Alexandria Museum of Art to become the host and organizer of the Rhythm & Rhymes Spoken Word Performing Arts Series, which includes open mic shows as well as poetry workshops for youth and adults. She also works as a teaching artist with Sankofa Cultural Collective and teaching poetry to inmates at a maximum security federal correctional facility.

Sha'Condria "iCON" Sibley (Poet):

iCon is a nationally-acclaimed championship poet/spoken word and multi-disciplinary teaching artist. As a founding member of Slam New Orleans, she has helped the team win multiple regional and national titles, solidifying them as a “dynasty” in the world of slam poetry while going on to make a name for herself as an individual artist and one of the top-ranked female slam poets in the world. In efforts to reunite and revitalize the post-Katrina New Orleans poetry community, iCon, co-founded the Write!NOLA Festival (2011-12) with Asia Rainey. In 2014, iCon partnered with the Alexandria Museum of Art to become the host and organizer of the Rhythm & Rhymes Spoken Word Performing Arts Series, which includes open mic shows as well as poetry workshops for youth and adults. She also works as a teaching artist with Sankofa Cultural Collective and teaching poetry to inmates at a maximum security federal correctional facility.

Harrison Guy (Choreographer): Harrison Guy is a dancer and choreographer from La Marque, TX who has captivated audiences across the nation through his inspirational and unique works of passion, beauty, and activism that’s rooted in African American culture. He studied dance at Prairie View A&M University under the artistic direction of Kenneth Epting and Paula Williams. In 2004, Harrison debuted his dance company Urban Souls Dance Company at the city-wide dance festival, Dance Houston. Since the inaugural performance, he has lead Urban Souls to win the dance Houston award and best artistic achievement honors in both 2005 and 2006. In 2008, Urban Souls was awarded best choreography at the Houston Black Dance Festival and Best Choreography and The Audience Pick Award at Dance Houston. Harrison has gained a reputation for creating soul stirring works that shifts the consciousness of the audience. He has facilitated a cultural exchange in Kigali, Rawanda and was commissioned to create a work at Vanderbilt University in the Spring of 2015 to honor one of America’s most prominent composers, John Harbison. This year he launched Houston's first African American Dance Festival and he is currently one of Houston's 12 Individual artist grant recipients.

Harrison Guy (Choreographer):

Harrison Guy is a dancer and choreographer from La Marque, TX who has captivated audiences across the nation through his inspirational and unique works of passion, beauty, and activism that’s rooted in African American culture. He studied dance at Prairie View A&M University under the artistic direction of Kenneth Epting and Paula Williams. In 2004, Harrison debuted his dance company Urban Souls Dance Company at the city-wide dance festival, Dance Houston. Since the inaugural performance, he has lead Urban Souls to win the dance Houston award and best artistic achievement honors in both 2005 and 2006. In 2008, Urban Souls was awarded best choreography at the Houston Black Dance Festival and Best Choreography and The Audience Pick Award at Dance Houston. Harrison has gained a reputation for creating soul stirring works that shifts the consciousness of the audience. He has facilitated a cultural exchange in Kigali, Rawanda and was commissioned to create a work at Vanderbilt University in the Spring of 2015 to honor one of America’s most prominent composers, John Harbison. This year he launched Houston's first African American Dance Festival and he is currently one of Houston's 12 Individual artist grant recipients.

Reginald C. Adams (Visual Artist): Reginald C. Adams is a public artist, artrepreneur and community developer who has facilitated the design, coordination and production over 200 public art projects over the last 20 years. He is best known for his award winning tile mosaic murals, sculptures and art installations, which are strategically located in some of Houston’s most historic and under served neighborhoods. His creativity and approach to his artwork is inspired by his travels to more than 28 countries around the globe. Reginald fundamentally believes that everyone deserves access and exposure to the arts and strives to engage the general public in the design and production of his public art projects. In 2010, the Houston Press honored Reginald with their annual Mastermind Award, an honor recognizing creative professionals that are making a significant impact on the city of Houston through the arts. He was recently honored by the Houston Business Journal as one of Houston’s 2012 top 40 Under 40 business executives.

Reginald C. Adams (Visual Artist):

Reginald C. Adams is a public artist, artrepreneur and community developer who has facilitated the design, coordination and production over 200 public art projects over the last 20 years. He is best known for his award winning tile mosaic murals, sculptures and art installations, which are strategically located in some of Houston’s most historic and under served neighborhoods. His creativity and approach to his artwork is inspired by his travels to more than 28 countries around the globe. Reginald fundamentally believes that everyone deserves access and exposure to the arts and strives to engage the general public in the design and production of his public art projects. In 2010, the Houston Press honored Reginald with their annual Mastermind Award, an honor recognizing creative professionals that are making a significant impact on the city of Houston through the arts. He was recently honored by the Houston Business Journal as one of Houston’s 2012 top 40 Under 40 business executives.

Walter Hull (Choreographer): Over the last 12 years, Walter has strengthened his commitment to mentoring young men of color, and created the Village Responsibility Mentoring Model for the U.S. Dream Academy. His work in youth development and mentoring has earned him an appointment on the Harris County Juvenile Detention Alternative Committee (JDAI), designed to reduce the confinement of court-involved youth. He is also the Regional Program Director for the U.S. Dream Academy, overseeing ten after-school and mentoring programs across the country. Walter also assisted in the design of Urban Souls Dance Company, founded by Harrison Guy, and founded the U.R.B.A.N. Kids Initiative, which partners with a number of schools and arts organizations to expose students to the power of movement through African American culture. In 2010, Walter created a partnership with Ishyo Arts Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Through this partners he worked with a variety of dancer artists in Rwanda and Congo. Each of Walter’s experiences and skill sets have contributed to his ongoing work in the arts and Youth Development.

Walter Hull (Choreographer):

Over the last 12 years, Walter has strengthened his commitment to mentoring young men of color, and created the Village Responsibility Mentoring Model for the U.S. Dream Academy. His work in youth development and mentoring has earned him an appointment on the Harris County Juvenile Detention Alternative Committee (JDAI), designed to reduce the confinement of court-involved youth. He is also the Regional Program Director for the U.S. Dream Academy, overseeing ten after-school and mentoring programs across the country. Walter also assisted in the design of Urban Souls Dance Company, founded by Harrison Guy, and founded the U.R.B.A.N. Kids Initiative, which partners with a number of schools and arts organizations to expose students to the power of movement through African American culture. In 2010, Walter created a partnership with Ishyo Arts Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Through this partners he worked with a variety of dancer artists in Rwanda and Congo. Each of Walter’s experiences and skill sets have contributed to his ongoing work in the arts and Youth Development.

 

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John Fiege

John Fiege

John Fiege (Director/Cinematographer/Producer) is an award-winning filmmaker whose latest film, Above All Else, is a feature-length documentary about the Keystone XL pipeline that premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, with an international premiere at Hot Docs. The film won Best North American Documentary at the Global Visions Festival and a Special Jury Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. Mississippi Chicken, his intimate portrait of immigrants working in the poultry industry, was nominated for a Gotham Award for “The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” and screened at the Museum of Modern Art. He photographed the 2014 Sundance documentary selection, No No: A Dockumentary.

Christopher Lucas

Christopher Lucas

Christopher Lucas (Producer) is a producer, writer, and educator. He produced Above All Else with John Fiege and Anita Grabowski as well as numerous shorts and commercial projects in collaboration with Fiege Films. He was an associate producer on Living Springs, an interactive environmental documentary about Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. He formerly worked as a studio director at KOBI-TV (NBC). He was awarded a doctorate in media studies from the University of Texas, where he co-founded flowtv.org, a popular site for scholarly media criticism.

Anita Grabowski

Anita Grabowski

Jacques Colimon

Jacques Colimon

Anita Grabowski is a community organizer and campaigns strategist who also produces films in collaboration with her husband, John Fiege. Their first film, Mississippi Chicken, is based on Anita’s years of organizing work in rural Mississippi, where she co-founded a workers’ center to support poultry workers in their battle to improve workplace conditions. She has worked nationally on issues ranging from immigration reform to economic justice and death penalty abolition, and she currently does political advocacy and campaign work around reproductive health and rights.

 

 

Jacques Gerard Colimon (Producer) is an award-winning multidisciplinary Haitian-American performer, writer, and documentarian (ICM, Untitled MGMT). A University of Texas at Austin alumnus (BA Theatre & Dance, BS RTF), he is the recipient of the 2015 Austin Critics Table Lead Actor award and the 2016 B. Iden Payne Lead Actor award. He most recently starred in the off-broadway world premiere of Daniel Alexander Jones's DUAT directed by Will Davis at the Connelly Theater with SoHo Rep. Hilton Als of The New Yorker called Jacques a "sexy, knowing scamp." He's alright with that. Other titles in development include Unt Stephen Winter Project and COFĒ.

Shelby Hadden

Shelby Hadden

Shelby Hadden (Associate Producer) is a writer, speaker, and documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of gender and identity. Her films have screened at various film festivals including the Nashville Film Festival and Sidewalk Film Festival. Her current film, Tightly Wound, is a short animated film about her personal experience with chronic pelvic pain, based on her essay that was published in BUST Magazine. She is a producer at the Austin-based creative agency, Bring Light & Sound, and an associate producer with Fiege Films and Women Rising. She has also been an instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and Austin School of Film. Shelby holds a B.A. Comm. from the University of Alabama and an MFA in Film and Media Production from the University of Texas at Austin.

Leah Marino

Leah Marino

Leah Marino (Lead Editor) has edited documentaries for 20 years in Austin, TX. She recently completed Motherland (Bayang Ina Mo) about the world’s busiest maternity hospital in Manila, Philippines (Special Jury Award Sundance ’17). Her recent work includes Deborah Esquenazi's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Best First Feature Doc Critics’ Choice Awards, 2016), Robert Byington’s narrative film, 7 Chinese Brothers, starring Jason Schwartzman (premiered SXSW, 2015), and John Fiege’s documentary, Above All Else, (premiered SXSW 2014, Global Visions Jury award). In 2013 she completed Ramona Diaz’s Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, which won the Independent Lens Audience Award. Her work includes projects on race car drivers, super fund sites, revolutions and civil rights movements. She enjoys helping each film to realize it’s unique story and purpose in the larger world.

Liz Perlman

Liz Perlman

Liz Perlman (Editor) is an Austin based editor, producer, and filmmaker who uses compelling storytelling to explore the intersections of social justice, identity, and sexuality. She served as a co-editor + associate producer for Above All Else (SXSW '14) and recently edited Deborah Esquenazi's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Tribeca '16). She edited a short film for the TATE Modern about Scotland's national poet, Jackie Kay, which will screen at TATE's upcoming exhibition featuring queer British Artists. Liz also worked for Bob Byington as an assistant editor for 7 Chinese Brothers (SXSW '15), starring Jason Schwartzman, and as a DIT for his latest feature, Infinity Baby (SXSW '17), starring Nick Offerman + Kieren Culkan. 


ADVISORs

Robert Bullard

Robert Bullard

Robert Bullard is often described as the “father of environmental justice.” His book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality is a standard text in the field, and he has authored eighteen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, climate justice, and related topics. He has served as an expert witness in hundreds of civil rights lawsuits and public hearings over the past three decades and won of multiple awards and honors for his leadership in this area, including the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award, and in 2008 was named one of “13 Environmental Leaders of the Century” by Newsweek. He is currently a professor within the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. Prior to coming to TSU he was founding Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University.

Heather Houser

Heather Houser

Heather Houser studies contemporary fiction, the environment, medicine and literature, and new media. Her most recent book is Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect (Columbia University Press, 2014), and she's currently at work on Environmental Culture of the Infowhelm, a study of how contemporary artworks manage environmental information. Heather is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

Hilton Kelley

Hilton Kelley

Hilton Kelley is a leading figure in the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, as he fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries. He was born and raised on the West Side of Port Arthur and spent many of his early years in the Carver Terrace public housing project on the fence line ofthe Motiva refinery. He worked as an actor and stuntman in California before returning to Port Arthur, where his environmental justice organizing work earned him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2011.

Aaron Mair

Aaron Mair

Aaron Mair of Schenectady, New York, is the president of the Sierra Club's board of directors. An epidemiological-spatial analyst with the New York State Department of Health, Mair's experience includes more than three decades of environmental activism and over 25 years as a Sierra Club volunteer leader, where he has worked diligently for environmental justice.

Anthony Pinn

Anthony Pinn

Anthony Pinn was the first African American to hold an endowed chair at Rice University (Houston) as the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies. He is a leading thinker in liberation theologies, black religious aesthetics, and African American humanism, and director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL), an institute committed to fostering greater connections and collaborations between Rice University and the larger Houston community.

Adam Rome

Adam Rome

Dr. Robert Wilson

Dr. Robert Wilson

Adam Rome teaches environmental history at the University at Buffalo. A leading expert on the history of environmental activism, he is the author of the prizewinning books The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (2001) and The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation (2013).  He also is co-editor of Green Capitalism? Business and the Environment in the Twentieth Century (2017).

 

 

 

 

Dr. Robert Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Dr. Wilson is a historical geographer and environmental historian and the author of Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscapes of the Pacific Flyway. His current project, Forging the Climate Movement, examines the demonstrations, organizations, and individuals involved in the North American climate movement.

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