Film to celebrate Earth Day, Maathai

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GUILFORD — This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day and what would have been Wangari Maathai's 80th birthday.

Wangari Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a reforestation program which planted millions of trees in Kenya. She was also a friend to Brattleboro, having planted trees at both Oak Grove School and Guilford Community Church.

Her life was a series of firsts: the first woman to gain a Ph.D. in East and Central Africa; the first female chair of a department at the University of Nairobi; and the first African woman and the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (2004).

Honored throughout the world for her work for the environment, democracy, and peace, Professor Maathai was the author of four books including her autobiography, "Unbowed," and the subject of a documentary film, "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai" by local film-makers, Lisa Merton and Alan Dater.

On Sunday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m., Guilford Church will host Merton and Dater for a showing of the film and discussion of the political and climate challenges issues still plaguing Kenya. The film has won countless awards and is both an inspiration and a call to action.

This event is the first in a series of films and presentations hosted by the Guilford Church to honor both Maathai and the Earth Day anniversary. Jim Antal, a climate activist whose book "Climate Church, Climate World" has just been published, will speak on Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. On April 5, 350VT and Everyone's Books will co-host a book signing for John Willis, who has spent years developing relationships on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Willis will present his new book "Mni Wiconi: Honoring the Water Protectors," a book of photographs and reflections on the 2016 Standing Rock Protest.

Finally, on May 3 at 4 p.m., Damian Costello will present his research on the life of Black Elk, sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council.

All these events are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, call Lise Sparrow at 802-257-2776.

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