“Being able to see on a daily basis … creation and order in how the food chain works, I think that’s my favourite part [of fishing],” says Cindi John. She and her husband and partner Ed are part of the Ottawa-Chippewa tribe in NW Michigan, fishing with historic treaty rights on Lake Michigan. Jason Kohl’s film 80 to 90 Ft is a gentle portrait of their work and perceptions of how it is changing, much due to climate change, in terms of water temperature and the depths at which fish swim, invasive species, and numbers caught.

What a funny, anxious moment in ecological history, to perceive intellectually and experientially the massive changes happening in the natural world, and to know that things are just going to keep getting weirder. “I don’t know what the state of the fishery is going to be like in five or ten years, there are certain things I don’t have control over, so we just play it by ear, I guess,” says Ed John with wry wisdom.

I wanted to share this film on my blog for various reasons, which are interrelated.

The first is that I feel Cindi and Ed honour an understanding of food as part of social and ecological systems.  Climate Change in its infinite complexity impacts both:  “As I’m older now I realize that…if we didn’t have our fishermen [if there were no fish], I don’t think we could be a tribe…,” Ed comments. “I don’t know how this is going to work out for tribes in general.”

This is a theme, by the way, that Adam Weymouth gets at in his article about Alaskan natives continuing to fish for king salmon despite restrictions that are put on this for reasons of environmental conservation.  Tribes all around North America seem to be struggling with food and climate issues, as well as developing powerful responses and solutions– as this blog concerned with “Indigenizing the Local Food Movement” documents.

And when I wrote about Ponca Corn and Pipeline Protest, I hoped to begin to contemplate how deeper understandings of food could strengthen our assorted climate change battles and communications, and climate change could somehow offer an opportunity to help us change some food system issues that need some work…

I also like this film because it gives voice to regular people talking about climate change in their own words, based on their own experiences, from their own authentic hearts.

If there is one salient message I took from the book about talking about climate change Don’t Even Think About It, it’s the importance of this way of communicating in the face of denial, overwhelm and apathy.  Just from where and who you are and what you do– why you believe, what you see, how your life and your children’s lives might be effected. I’m grateful to 80 to 90 Ft for giving a platform to Ed and Cindi.

Oh there’s one more thing.  The grilling and smoking of the fish that starts around 5:47.  “When people taste our fish they’re just amazed at how simple and good it is,” Cindi says.  It does look SO delicious!  Oh how I would love to have a single bite beamed out of my computer screen…

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