How overlooked is soil?
We walk all over it. We treat it like dirt. One of its names is mud. And most of us take it for granted.
But soil the top layer of earth, which nourishes plants and is home to countless tiny organisms is our home, too.
Thats the message of Deborah Koons Garcias Symphony of the Soil, screening Saturday as part of the 2013 Olympia Environmental Film Festival. Koons Garcia, the widow of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia, will introduce the film and answer questions afterward.
We are creatures of the soil, said Koons Garcia, who lives in Mill Valley, Calif. When a woman is pregnant and growing a baby inside, those nutrients that create the babys body come from the food the woman eats, and those nutrients come from the soil. We are made of the soil. When we die, we often go back to the soil.
Soil is the ultimate zone of transformation on the planet, she said. Its the place where the cycle of life takes place most obviously.
In an exploration of soil science and our relationship with soil, Koons Garcia traveled to the volcanoes of Hawaii and the glaciers of Norway and the Palouse of Washington. Some of the most amazing agricultural land on the planet is in Eastern Washington, she said.
If soil science sounds a little dry, the filmmaker has worked hard to blend in plenty of art, classical music scored for the film, and hand-drawn animation that illustrates complex scientific ideas.
In fact, Sunset Magazine proclaimed that the film shows that even soil can be a sexy screen star.
Asked about the sexy part, Koons Garcia laughed. That is what one of the soil scientists said; he said, You make soil sexy, she said. We took the science out of the realm of the textbook and put it up on the screen.
It is sensual, she said. Putting your hands in soil, really wonderful soil, is a sensual thing to do.
Although healthy topsoil is rapidly becoming an endangered resource, Symphony is a hopeful film, offering ways that Americans can take better care of soil in the future.
Thats a common thread among the documentaries in the festival, said Olympia Film Society film programmer Helen Thornton. All of the films talk about solutions, so theyre not depressing.