If a Tree Falls

PBS Premiere: Sept. 13, 2011Check the broadcast schedule »

Take Action

Research Environmental Issues and Debate Protest Strategies

In If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, the ELF turn to arson as a form of protest after they feel their environmental activism has been ineffective. Learn ways to address environmental issues and initiate a conversation about effective protest strategies and the response to activism in your own communities.

Host a screening of If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front as part of an Earth Day observance. While adults are watching the film, offer a story hour for children in which they read and talk about Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.

Research environmental issues in your local community and develop a project to address them. For ideas on possible ways to address your issue(s), you might make a quick list of the legal initiatives that you see or hear about in the film, e.g., recycling and the Wetlands bar (which hosted educational events and used the profits to run an environmental center).

Investigate the role that public relations firms like the one that employed McGowan (Burson-Marsteller) play in media reports, debates and legislation on environmental policy issues. You might start with resources from the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch.

Initiate a dialogue with local and state police about their policies on responding to public protest or civil disobedience. Include in the discussion the permitted use of pepper spray and Tasers, as well as the use of cameras (both by police and by civilians).

List all the protest and activism strategies shown being used throughout the film (letter writing, street protest, monkey-wrenching, filmmaking, disabling bulldozers with sugar in gas tanks, arson and so on). Rate each strategy on a scale of zero to five, with five being extremely effective and zero being not effective at all. Share your ratings with other group members and explain your reasoning. Then, discuss what made arson seem like an effective strategy to members of the ELF.