United for Climate

September 8th is a global day to rise for climate action. Activities and demonstrations are planned in more than 70 countries to end the era of fossel fuels and building 100% renewable energy for all. In Germany alone, more than 25 events are planned.

Also here on the Marshall Islands and other Pacific Islands, they are preparing for the 8th of September. Under the slogan #RiseForClimate and #RiseForPacificPawa (“Pawa” – Pidgin English for “Power”), the many small island states unite to support each other, letting the world know: we are not drowning, we are fighting. They fight for the protection of the climate, for the survival of their islands and for their cultural identity. We filmed the preparatory meeting of the environmental organization Jo-Jikum, which is our local partner and part of the global climate movement 350.org. This year’s campaign symbol is Kikonang, a sort of palm leaf windmill. It stands for movement, for renewable energy such as wind and solar energy, for the arts and crafts, which has an important cultural significance here and many reminds them of their childhood, as it is a popular toy on the island states.

Last year’s symbol was a flower behind the ear #Haveyoursei, symbolizing the cultures of the Pacific. The following video from the Marshall Islands was also shown at COP23 in Bonn, Germany.

It is important to tackle the climate crisis globally. There is no industry in the Marshall Islands, and people are the least polluting people due to greenhouse gas emissions. But they are at the frontlines to be affected by the impacts of climate change. For more information visit:

https://riseforclimate.org

https://350.org

https://350pacific.org

Perspectives

In this article we want to show you two unusual perspectives on the Marshall Islands: the view from the air and the view under the surface of the water.

During the Second World War, the Marshall Islands, due to their geographical location in the Pacific, were the scene of numerous armed conflicts between the USA and Japan. Even today the traces of it are visible. On and around the various atolls you can find the remains of bunkers and control centers, sunken shipwrecks and crashed planes. The upper photo shows the ruins of Japanese tankers on the island of Tarawa in Maloelap Atoll. In the video you see an American aircraft wreck (probably a small bomber) lying on the bottom of the Majuro lagoon. It has become an artificial reef for a variety of living beeings. Irony of time.

 

We stay around the lagoon of Majuro and take a look at the island Kolol En. It is currently low tide. But at the various high flood levels, the brownish, unvegetated areas of the atoll are again or again partially or completely in shallow water. The green, overgrown parts rise only slightly higher than the brownish ones.

You can easily imagine what happens here when the sea level rises – even only slightly.

Kolol En is sparsely populated and a popular destination of the Marshallese People. We have selected this video for you because buildings and protective structures can not obstruct your view of the essentials here. There is green. There is brown. Now is low tide. Soon comes flood. You just have to look.

Opposite the small island of Kolol En, on the other side of the lagoon lies – no taller than the green parts of Kolol En – the large Majuro City, a modern world with many people, homes, kindergartens, schools, two universities, an international airport , Radio stations, office buildings, shopping malls, factories – all this has been protected by “seawalls” that are raised from time to time.

The entire state territory of the Republic of the Marshall Islands consists of shallow coral atolls. There is not a single mountain island. No room for retreat.

What would you do?

 

 

Camera is running and running and running

We went to Rita. From here you can not drive on. Majuros main road ends here. From this point you can look over to the next islands of the atoll, which are arranged around the lagoon. Our workshop participants Hanson and Ronny chose the location for their interview. Both grew up here in Rita, but now live in the town-center of Majuro.

We set up the tripod, set up the big Canon and check the sound. Ok, are you ready? “Audio picks up.” “Camera is running.” Let’s go.

The third workshop week has started. We have a total of 46 participants in 6 different workshops over the week and things are developing fast.

At the beginning of every workshop a theoretical input is given on the fields of technology, audio, camera work, image detail, interview and other aspects in documentary film. Then it goes directly into the practice, we go out, looking for places for interviews, the workshop participants interview and film each other first. Like detectives, we embark on a search for true stories. Together, we consider who is eligible as an interview partner (outside of our circle) for the film about the Marshall Islands. The participants are beginning to make their own decisions with more and more confidence and they notice how much they already know about the handling of the equipment, but above all about their own history and culture, which they continuously communicate to us. In addition to the voices of personalities from politics and society, education and science, we are particularly interested in hearing and recording the voices of the so-called “normal people”.

But today we are in Rita. Hanson interviews Ronny, who speaks partially in the interview rather in Marshallese. We actually understand some chunks, because some words are taken from English. Words like “plastic” and “Climate Change”. But it is not much what we can make out.


Interview of Ronny and Hanson in Rita.

Nevertheless, it is important to us that the English language is not a barrier. We keep saying that everyone is free to speak English or Marshallese. It is important that the interviewees feel comfortable if they want to tell us something. Anyway, we plan to work with translators on the material together and the participants speak Marshallese, which also helps.

We do not know everything what Ronny had to report that day in Rita. But we saw his facial expressions and gestures as he spoke Marshallese. They were insistent. That’s the way people talk, who have something to tell. We are curious to find out soon what it was.

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Majuro_Satellite.PNG

Map of Majuro. The paved road leads from “Laura” to “Rita” and of course back. The names come from the time of the US-American stationing, the soldiers namend the two settlements after the actresses “Rita Hayworth” and “Lauren Bacall”.


We have 13 participants from Laura Highschool in our regular Monday workshop here.

They are our youngest group.