This Sunday, Earth Day, the Indie Spirit Film Festival will feature a film produced by a Colorado Springs native - filmmaker Dave Gardner. The real local interest angle of this film, however, is that the film offers a critical look at the efforts of Colorado Springs to be a thriving, successful, prosperous city. This serves as a launching pad into some very crucial issues for all communities, and the world.
GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth explores such questions as, "How do we define success? What is prosperity? Is perpetual growth possible?" Certainly Colorado Springs has its share of boosters who believe the city must grow, that growth is good, expansion is essential, and that we have a choice to either "grow, or die." Gardner challenges that philosophy with a thoughtful film featuring both the story of his efforts to wean Colorado Springs from its "growth addiction" and interviews with world-renowned experts about the issues raised.
In the film, Gardner questions the "pot of gold at the end of the growth rainbow." His premise is that growth is no longer delivering on its promise. The citizens of Colorado Springs, like the citizens of the world, are not getting richer - let alone happier, more fulfilled lives - from growth. Former World Bank economist Herman Daly, in the film, notes "In an empty world, it was a safe bet that growth was making us richer, but we no longer live in an empty world. We live in a full world."
The film deftly ties together Colorado Springs' local growth and prosperity questions and global issues of economic growth, population growth and sustainability. "We can't have a sustainable world full of communities that have unsustainable goals of perpetual economic growth and population growth," says Gardner. In fact, while the film is of intense local interest, its exploration of global issues is making it a worldwide phenomenon. The film screened this past week in Taiwan and Germany and at New York City's Soho International Film Festival. Next month it hits festivals and conferences in New Zealand, Canada and Los Angeles. Last month it screened in every capital city of Australia.
The film features such luminaries as Jane Goodall, Gus Speth (President Jimmy Carter's environmental advisor), Robert Solow (President John F. Kennedy's economic advisor), Bill McKibben, Dennis Meadows (headed MIT's Limits to Growth study in 1972) and Paul Ehrlich (author of The Population Bomb). Ehrlich has said GrowthBusters "could be the most important film ever made." Dave Gardner is quick to add GrowthBusters is far from perfect; it was made on a shoestring. But he does believe it is an important film. At the end of the day, according to Gardner, "GrowthBusters asks the most critical question of our time: How do we become a sustainable civilization?"
Springs area residents will recognize their friends, local elected officials, and maybe even themselves, in the many scenes filmed here in Colorado Springs. The film runs Sunday at 2:15 at Armstrong Theater on the Colorado College campus. Dave Gardner will be present for a discussion after the film.