"Resist Toxic Fracking Infrastructure" Skillshare/ Networking/ Screening

Date(s) - Wednesday 11/18/2015 - 11/19/2015
6:00 pm - 3:00 am

Resistance to fracking and fracking infrastructure converges at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, as media makers, activists, scientists and just plain folks join forces to organize for family, health and home.  An afternoon skillshare will offer numerous informational sessions, followed by the opening of a gallery show on Indigenous resistance to fracking in Canada, a community potluck, and an evening screening with environmental filmmaker Jon Bowermaster.  

What is the role of media, arts and activism in the struggle for environmental justice?  Meet Jon Bowermaster (writer, filmmaker, adventurer), Mike Bonanno (of The Yes Men), refugees from the Marcellus fields, student organizers, and activists struggling against fracking throughout the Capital Region and beyond, in this community arts event!

Fracking isn’t banned in New York–learn about toxic infrastructure threatening the state.  Join this community exchange designed to pool resources, share best practices for effective organizing, and network!  The evening will end with a brief check-in with proposed affinity groups:

  • Strategizing for Creating a State-wide Coalition to Fight Fossil Fuels
  • Blued Trees
  • Yes Men! Against NY Fracking Infrastructure
  • Students United Against Anti-Fracking Infrastructure
  • TBA

Co-sponsored by iEAR Presents!, School of HASS, RPI, Frack Action, Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline, Save Burden Lake, Working Films, Citizen Action, PAUSEMothers Out Front, St. Rose Environmental Club, RPI Students Sustainabiity Task Force, Environmental Club at Union, Ecologic, Environmental Club of Union College and other local and regional environmental groups!


SESSION 1 1:00- 2:30pm 

*Phenomena of Gasfield Refugees: Reports from the Battlefields West Virginia and Pennsylania, with Dr. Dorothy Bassett, Dr. Yuri Gorby, Dr. Kathleen Nolan and Ray

SESSION 2 2:30-4:00pm 

*Anti-Fracking Environmental Student Think Tank with RPI, St. Rose, Union College and more

* Non Violent Direct Action with Daniel Micah Morrisey, Pete Looker, and artist Aviva Rahmani’s “Blued Trees Symphony” with Professor Kathy High

SESSION 3 4:00-5:00pm

 *Making Media Spectacle! Planning an Action Against Fracking Infrastrure, with Yes Man! Mike Bonnano

SESSION 4 5:00-5:30pm “Water Warriors” Art Reception with photographer Andrew Stern

COMMUNITY POTLUCK with Info Tables 5:30-6:30pm 

EVENING SCREENING 7:00pm Anti-Fracking with Environmental Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster! View excerpts from “Dear Presisdent Obama, Americans Against Fracking In One Voice,” 2015 and more.  

What is the role of media, arts and activism in the struggle for environmental justice? Join in a conversation with JON BOWERMASTER, Writer, Filmmaker and Adventurer, who will share excerpts from his films and share stories with audience members who are struggling against fracking in NY State and beyond!


SESSION 1 1:30- 2:30 Phenomena of Gasfield Refugees: Reports from the Battlefields, with Dr. Dorothy Bassett and Dr. Yuri Gorby

Dr. Dorothy Bassett is a community environmental advocate and seasoned administrator who combines practical, up-to-date knowledge of the health and environmental impacts of unconventional natural gas drilling with strong leadership and educational program development skills.  

For nearly 10 years, Dorothy served as Dean for the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. 

For the past five years, Dorothy has been an independent advocate for shale field communities where she organized community educational seminars to inform residents about health impacts related to unconventional extraction and processing of shale gas and oil.  During her time in the field, and from emissions from the well pads and compressor stations near her home, Dorothy now suffers from hypersensitivity, blood pressure instability, and other common physical and psychological manifestations experienced by others living in the gas fields.  Indeed, Dr. Bassett may likely face the same fate as many and add her name to the growing numbers of “gas field refugees”.

Photo: Duquesne University Team Carries Water-purifying Pots to Ghana, (Dr. Dorothy Bassett, center).

A year ago, Ghanaian students and professionals studying energy and environment issues during an exchange at Duquesne University made water-purifying pots in Braddock.  This summer, when a team of 20 North American energy professionals and students visited Ghana as part of the exchange, they carried pots with them-providing a means of obtaining safe drinking water to villages where water struggles and health issues are part of daily life. Some of the Ghanaians involved selected two impoverished villages in the Volta region, Mepe-Adudorn and Mafi-Seva-Agbadzi Kope, to receive the health-giving gifts of five water-cleansing colloidal silver pots. 

MarcellusProtest.org is an information clearing house about Marcellus Shale gas drilling and activism and related issues. Although this website’s primary geographic focus is Western Pennsylvania, MarcellusProtest.org also includes content pertaining to the fives states in which the Marcellus Shale is located – as well as other Shale gas formations across the U.S.A. new social movement is in the making, and it’s going national.

Dr. Yuri Gorby: A professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, Yuri Gorby’s background is in microbial physiology and ecology with particular expertise in anaerobic microbiology, including those organisms that produce hydrogen sulfide…a toxic and corrosive gas that is problematic to the shale gas and oil industry. During 15 years as a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy at Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, WA, he investigated bacteria’s influence on transport of heavy metals and radionuclides (like uranium and chromium) in contaminated ground water. 

Dr. Gorby strongly supports the “scientific method”—observations generate hypotheses leading to experiments that produce data shared in manuscripts peer reviewed and eventually published.  Given appropriate time and resources, scientists and engineers could effectively predict the fate of heavy metals, radionuclides and organic contaminants released from shale and tight sand formations through the process of high volume hydraulic fracturing.  However, scientific assessmentscould easily require 10 years to complete—time that we do not have to effectively avoid environmental disaster unfolding before our eyes.

Gorby believes it is essential to immediately address documented health impacts for unfortunate people living or working near well pads, flare stacks and compressor stations. He states “Many of you live within a 1-mile radius of these industrial sites and have suffered from toxic gases and contaminated fluids released from these industrial sites.  For governmental and industrial officials to dismiss health effects as ‘anecdotal’ or isolated incidences is nothing short of criminal.  It is essential to continue to draw national and global attention to these transgressions in order to protect people from harm, both acute and chronic.”

Dr. Kathleen Nolan: Dr. Nolan is a pediatrician and bioethicist, with training in epidemiology and research design. She serves as Senior Research Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper, where her work has focused on articulating the health impacts of high-volume horizontal fracturing, promoting trail construction and outdoor recreation, and moving toward a net-zero carbon future. She is also a co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York and co-author of CHPNY’s Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.

Dr. Nolan graduated with honors from Saint Louis University and received her Medical Degree, along with a Masters of Studies in Law, from Yale. She serves as an officer for Physicians for Social Responsibility – New York and in an advisory capacity to the Ulster County Department of Health on matters related to chronic illness.

She came to the Catskills in 1989 to pursue residential training at a Zen Buddhist monastery and in 2003 she became Executive Director of Tibet Aid in Woodstock. In 2009 she founded Catskills Live! Trails and Wilderness Association. Dr. Nolan serves on the Ulster County Tourism Advisory Board, the Ulster County Trails Advisory Committee, and as an officer for the Catskill Heritage Alliance and the Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Dr. Nolan lives near the stream in Shandaken, where she can watch eagles ride currents up the mountains.

As an important resource, Dr. Nolan requests you check out the Compendium, a fully referenced compilation of the significant body of scientific, medical, and journalistic findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking. Organized to be accessible to public officials, researchers, journalists, and the public at large, the Compendium succinctly summarizes key studies and other findings relevant to the ongoing public debate about unconventional methods of oil and gas extraction. The Compendium should be used by readers to grasp the scope of the information about both public health and safety concerns and the economic realities of fracking that frame these concerns. The reader who wants to delve deeper can consult the reviews, studies, and articles referenced. In addition, the Compendium is complemented by a fully searchable, near-exhaustive citation database of peer-reviewed journal articles pertaining to shale gas and oil extraction, housed at the PSE Healthy Energy scientific literature database.

Catskill Mountainkeeper: Catsklll Mountainkeeper is a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the unique and irreplaceable Catskill Region of New York State.  We are equally committed to vigorously fighting threats to our region and pursuing opportunities for sustainable growth.  We are focused on maintaining our region’s capacity to provide pure unfiltered water to over 17 million people; growing the important farming community that provides local, healthy food to the entire NY metro area; and protecting our authentic wilderness so that it can be enjoyed by all.

We represent the citizens of seven counties in New York State – Albany, Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster as well as both the Upper Delaware and Susquehanna River basins which reach from Cooperstown well into Pennsylvania and include the vast forest preserve of the Catskill Park.
Catskill Mountainkeeper was created to provide the Catskills with a proactive advocate, as an organization who is not afraid to protect against threats or do the work necessary to achieve sustainable development. We make no apologies for passionately pursuing this mission and building a network of likeminded people to help us achieve our goals.

Catskill Mountainkeeper is a 501(c)(3) public charity. We rely solely upon charitable donations to further our mission. (845) 417-6489

Ray recommends us to check out Gas Vets.

Gas Vets

SESSION 2 2:30-4:00pm  *Environmental Student Think Tank
with RPI, St. Rose, Union College and more

The College of Saint Rose Environmental Club is a group of environmentally conscious students from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in local and global issues and taking action to make the world cleaner, safer, and healthier for all of its inhabitants.

Sarita Farnelli grew up in Dimock, PA, in the most densely fracked region of the Marcellus Shale formation, where she and her family experienced the harmful effects of shale gas development. She has worked as a steering committee member of the Energy Justice Shale initiative as well as numerous other environmental resistance groups as a frontline community member and impacted resident. Currently, she is a junior at The College of Saint Rose studying sociology and environmental affairs, and is president of the Saint Rose Environmental Club.



RPI Sustainability Task Force is a student-led organization devoted to promoting sustainability throughout campus by collaborating with various clubs, faculty, staff, and administration. We work to integrate sustainability into all aspects of campus life, including education, research, operations, and culture. 



Amelia Grimm Blauw is the current secretary of the Student Sustainability Task Force at RPI. Originally from the Chicagoland area, she has a keen interest in water quality and stormwater management. Currently, she is involved in air pollution governance research on campus and is always excited to learn new ways to promote environmentalism and sustainability.




Arie Heim is SSTF’s first Eco-Interior Designer who will be cleaning, furnishing, and maintaining a facility on RPI’s campus with all eco-friendly and mostly homemade products. She originates from Pennsylvania, where fracking is common. Her passions include food politics and policy, animal rights, environmental law, and sustainability. She is a senior Science, Technology, and Society major at RPI.


Environmental Club at Union is a fully student run organization that focuses on environmental education, activism, and stewardship. We frequently work with the local Schenectady community in sustainability projects, attend protest for climate action, and organize service days to clean up nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries. We also work closely with the environmentally theme house, Ozone, to provide opportunities for the Union Student body to learn about sustainable living and current environmental issues. 

Maya Whalen-Kipp is a senior Biology and Visual Arts major at Union College, and president of Union’s Enviro Club. Originally from Queens NY, the inequality created by environmental health hazards on local and global scales is my call to action. I have done research in Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand, and Panama all to generally understand the effects of climate change on a wide range of ecosystems and human societies.

Siena College

* Non-Violent Direct Action Training: Escalation Against Infrack Structure

with Daniel Micah Morrisey, Pete Looker, and artist Aviva Rahmani’s “Blued Trees Symphony” with Professor Kathy High

Daniel Micah Morrisey

Pete Looker








The Blued Trees project, by eco-artist, Aviva Rahmani, is working with a group of New York State residents to stop the abuse of eminent domaine by creating a copyrighted work of art that can be duplicated along proposed pipelines. This effort is called the Blued Trees Symphony.  Trees slated to be chopped down to install pipelines are marked with a sine wave, a musical note, in non-toxic buttermilk paint. Together, the “notes” form a symphony, which is copyrighted and afforded legal protection under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA)

The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), 17 U.S.C. § 106A is a federal law granting certain rights to artists.  Under VARA, works of art that meet certain criteria cannot be destroyed by moving.  Creation of a Blued Trees Symphony in our area will test the rights of corporations to take land through eminent domaine in the name of “public good” and could impede the proposed Kinder-Morgan NED pipeline.

If you are along the route of the Kinder-Morgan NED pipeline, HELP MAKE WAVES!  The more trees that get painted, the more visible and powerful this artwork will be. Already, others have started painting trees on their property. Any willing landowner may join the Blued Trees Symphony, by painting a sine wave “note” on one tree or more.  At the very least, this will make a very visible public statement.


SESSION 3 4:00-5:00 Making Media Spectacle! Planning an Action with Yes Man! Mike Bonnano

About Yes Man! Mike: Mike Bonanno has run several crowdfunding campaigns that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in total – including $145,000 in one Kickstarter campaign for his last film The Yes Men are Revolting, which had its US Premiere at the Sanctuary last November. He is eager to help you learn anything he knows about it!Y

SESSION 4 “Water Warriors” Art Reception 5:00-5:30 with photographer Andrew Stern.

About Water Warriors: An intimate look at a Canadian Indigenous community in New Brunswick daring to challenge a powerful adversary, Water Warriors is a documentary exhibition by award winning photojournalists Andrew Stern and Michael Premo. Water Warriors is produced by Storyline Media and Working Films.









EVENING SCREENING with Environmental Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster 7:00pm – 10:00pm,

 with screening of short video “Complete it Cuomo!” by Christine Macpherson and Jill Malouf

About Jon Bowermaster: A six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council and award-winning writer and filmmaker Bowermaster was recently named one of a dozen Ocean Heroes by the NGS. His website and blog (‘Notes from Sea Level,’ www.jonbowermaster.com) continues his reporting on the world’s coastlines, the people who live along them and issues of importance to anyone interested in and concerned about the planet’s one ocean.

Author of twelve books, his last was a companion to Jacques Perrin’s DisneyNature “Oceans,” in 2010.

Jon’s most recent documentaries are “Antarctica 3D, On the Edge,” ““Sink or Swim, Learning the Crawl in the Maldives,” “After the Spill” and “Paradise Is There,” a collaboration with partner Natalie Merchant.

“Dear President Obama, Americans Against Fracking In One Voice,” 2015.