Green Navigators screen Dear President Obama

By Jesse Goodwin, Staff Writer

Do you care about our environment? If so, you should join UMass Dartmouth’s Green Navigators, a group of student leaders who work on projects across campus that reduce our university’s impact on the environment.

The group aims to raise awareness of social, economic, and environmental issues, and actively promote solutions to the problems faced by our society.

Each year, as part of its Sustainability Film Series, the Green Navigators screen 6-8 films that educate viewers about social, economic, and environmental issues. These screenings are held in room 207 of the Claire T. Carney Library.

On October 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the group screened their second film of the semester, a documentary titled Dear President Obama.

In attendance were two guest speakers, Wendy Graça and Scott Smith.

Graça, the test coordinator and office manager of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Access and Success, also serves as the media relations coordinator for South Coast Neighbors United, a nonprofit organization which devotes itself to educating local communities on the potential dangers of liquefied natural gas.

Through that organization, she was able to invite Scott Smith, who serves as the Chief Technology Officer and Investigator at another environmental nonprofit, Water Defense.

Water Defense was founded by Academy Award nominated actor Mark Ruffalo, who is a known advocate of addressing climate change and renewable energy.

Ruffalo later appointed Smith to his position there, and the organization began using a technology known as the WaterBug that Smith had devised for water testing.

Smith was one of many advocates for renewable energy featured in Dear President Obama, which was produced and narrated by Ruffalo.

The film calls for the president and all other elected officials to ban fracking. Short for “hydraulic fracturing,” fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth and directing a high-pressure water mixture at the rocks underground to release oil or natural gas.

It has raised significant concern among environmentalists, who have claimed, based on extensive research, that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used in the mixture can pollute groundwater around the fracking site.

Protesters against fracking have insisted that governments should invest in renewable sources of energy as a replacement for fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.

Following the screening, Graça and Smith discussed their nonprofit work and fielded questions from the audience.

Both speakers expressed disapproval of our government, which has helped fund the oil and natural gas industries.

However, they remain optimistic that millennials will work to change it. Smith remarked that our political system is “far more contaminated than the water [around fracking sites]” and encouraged the audience to vote and run for office in their own elections.

In charge of the screening was Uche Chidoro, a fourth-year Marketing major and Green Navigator. Chidoro knew little about fracking before the screening, but after watching the film and listening to Graça and Smith, he found himself opposed to it.

“Although [fracking] can provide a lot of money to the economy, there are more cons than pros,” he said in an interview with the Torch. “You can’t put profit over people.”

Other notable projects that Chidoro and the Green Navigators work on include monthly Farmer’s Markets that offer local farm fresh goods to the community; energy projects that involve collaboration with multiple organizations in order to promote sustainable behavior; and RecycleMania, a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.

Next month’s movie will be Puzzles: When Hate Came to Town. The room has yet to be determined, but it will be shown on Wednesday November 16, at 6:00 p.m.

For more information about the Green Navigators and their projects, visit

To apply to become a Green Navigator or for more information on the Green Navigators program, please contact one of its Program Coordinators:

Jen Gonet: or (508) 910-6484

Jamie Jacquart: or (508) 999-8880.

Photo Courtesy: Wendy Graca


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