DOWN to EARTH is more than a film. It is a means to initiate people-powered change towards a better and more sustainable future. The Earth Keepers in the film teach us that you don't have to wait for systems or leaders to change the status quo, you can start an initiative yourself and make a difference.

Seeing the film inspired many people to act upon their thoughts and change things in their own environment or community.  The film has become a tool to work with. We have started the DOWN to EARTH social enterprise to help schools, organisations and individuals in using the wisdom of the Keepers of the Earth to create sustainable change.

Get inspired by the following initiatives and start your own


GoedVolk (GoodFolks)

GoedVolk-logo.jpg
 

GoedVolk (GoodFolks) is an initiative of a group of inhabitants of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug that wants to make a positive contribution to the sustainability of the region. Their aim is to mobilise the available talent around certain themes and projects that are important to their community.

GoedVolk (GoodFolks) is an initiative of a group of inhabitants of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug that wants to make a positive contribution to the sustainability of the region. Their aim is to mobilise the available talent around certain themes and projects that are important to their community. GoedVolk is for anyone who:

  • Is involved in the region of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug
  • Wants to participate personally
  • Has eyes and ears for the long term
  • Has eyes and ears for the communal interest
  • Wants to think about and work on a qualitative and sustainable future

On the 10th of January 2017 they organised a screening of DOWN to EARTH for inhabitants of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug in the Council Chamber of their municipality. The interest was overwhelming, with 160 people signing up and the room being nearly too small. The film was experienced as impressive, overwhelming and inspiring. Two days later, on the 12th of January, they discussed the impact of the film in their monthly open meeting of GoedVolk, and explored what the film can mean concretely for their initiatives on the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. They discussed what DOWN to EARTH meant to them as humans, as a community, and for the area in which they live, work and relax.

The film has a different effect on everybody. However, one of its main outputs is that it lets you ask yourself and others honest questions: what kind of community do we want to form and be, who can contribute what to a sustainable communal future? From which ordering principles do we want to do this?

GoedVolk works like a swarm; an organic entirety from which people fly in and out, according to their involvement in current themes or projects. In the words of GoedVolk, DOWN to EARTH has taught them that you can’t capture the future, but that lessons, values and principles from the past can give you a lot of support in shaping and establishing a sustainable future.

“Wow” – “Inspiring” – “Confronting” – “Impressive” – “Touching”

 

Grote Ontfermbermdag

 

1400 litres of litter cleared, 2000 crocus bulbs newly planted, but mainly solidarity: this was the result of the ‘Grote Ontfermbermdag’ – loosely translated as the Big Roadside Care Day – on 14 January 2017. For this initiative, DOWN to EARTH was used as an inspiration to come to new insights and create more connection, both with nature and each other.

1400 litres of litter cleared, 2000 crocus bulbs newly planted, but mainly solidarity: this was the result of the ‘Grote Ontfermbermdag’ – loosely translated as the Big Roadside Care Day – on 14 January 2017. For this initiative, DOWN to EARTH was used as an inspiration to come to new insights and create more connection, both with nature and each other.

During the Grote Ontfermbermdag, an initiative to keep the roadsides in the communities of the Duffelt, Ooijpolder and surrounds clean and liveable, thirty people took care of various roadsides through a clean-and-plant initiative. Afterwards they watched DOWN to EARTH together. During the cleaning walk, farmer Hannes Brücker talked about how the litter in the area poses a threat to his cows, and how grateful he is that actions are being taken to prevent this. Alderman Erik Weijers demonstrated how civilians can use the app developed by the municipality of Berg en Dal to report big piles of trash and litter.

Participants were surprised that people throw the most odd things onto the side of the road and don’t realise the gravity of it. But the positive feeling they got from cleaning op the litter together also surprised them. This feeling of solidarity within their community was strengthened by the answers of the Wisdom Keepers in DOWN to EARTH, who talk about the differences in the world and the outgrowth of consumer society. A message of hope for the future emanates from their stories; of a great involvement in what is happening in the world, but mostly a message of attention to what natures has to offer, of living by the seasons, of living with the generations before and after us. Joint celebrations or rituals can be healing for a bigger circle than just the individuals that partake in it; one of the participants called the film a ‘medicine’. DOWN to EARTH gave many the insight that they must restore the connection between nature and society, of which the Ontfermbermdag is a great example. They want to actively help spread the message that we are all Earth Keepers.

An important effect of the day is that the trust in informal cooperation has increased and that new connections have emerged in the community of the Duffelt and Ooijpolder.

For more information and photos have a look at the Facebook page of Ontfermberm.

 
 
 
     Arno van Poppel

     Arno van Poppel

 

VBMS is part of the renewable energy sector, we develop offshore wind farms. The biggest challenge we have in offshore wind at the moment is that we have to compete with the normal way of producing electricity, which is burning fossil fuels. To successfully compete, we have to actually reach the level of their production costs.

VBMS is part of the renewable energy sector, we develop offshore wind farms. The biggest challenge we have in offshore wind at the moment is that we have to compete with the normal way of producing electricity, which is burning fossil fuels. To successfully compete, we have to actually reach the level of their production costs. 

Currently the whole renewable offshore industry is largely fragmented. There is an optimisation going, but every time by fragment. We need to find a new way of cooperation to get to the last 40 to 50% of cost reduction. It requires a re-thinking, not only in the investment sector, but also looking at the consumption and the generation of the electricity. I strongly believe that people, if they are really assured that the power is generated by a fully 100% renewable source, that perhaps they are willing to pay price that is a bit higher. 

When I first saw the movie it really touched base on taking responsibility. We can all wait and watch what other people should or shouldn’t do, but I think that it appeals directly to your own responsibility as a human being toward this Earth. 

I organised an event where I invited all my colleagues, competitors, clients and the supply chain. As a starting point for the conference I asked Rolf Winters to show the film DOWN to EARTH. It clearly made a contribution. Like me, the people became aware of the fact that we have to take our own responsibilities. Not only towards our company and our shareholders, but also to make a real contribution to the renewable sector, to make this a better world. 

The conference ended with various parties in the renewable energy sector committing to take the industry to the next level. I can only assure you that the movie and the message in the movie really made a difference. 

VBMS specialises in subsea power cable installation, Balance of Plant maintenance for the renewable market, SURF installation for the oil & gas market and installation of interconnectors. For more information, take a look on www.vbms.com

 

Arno van Poppel

Managing director VBMS

 

The Nature of Things

        Orly Seagull

        Orly Seagull

Hi, I’m Orly Seagull. I’m the founder of The Nature of Things. The Nature of Things is a house of education, as we call it.

My story begins with DOWN to EARTH...

Hi, I’m Orly Seagull. I’m the founder of The Nature of Things. The Nature of Things is a house of education, as we call it.

My story begins with DOWN to EARTH. I spent probably some of the most life-changing hours in the cinema while watching the film here in Tel Aviv. I felt everything that was said in the film was so central and important for the understanding of what education is and what our responsibility toward the planet is. It felt like something needs to be done, and it felt like this is what I owe my children. I owe them the possibility and the privilege of education that comes from the heart, with responsibility towards themselves, their community, the nature and the earth. And so we’ve made a decision to open up our own school, so we can give our children the opportunity to understand what learning is actually about and develop to be good human beings, and finding their own truth.

There’s a change we can generate. I think it’s a matter of just doing it and understanding that we have the power to change. And I think that’s what the film gave me. There are 220 people involved in this initiative and another 120 people active in making it happen. Daily activities for the kids include building mud-houses, cleaning the dishes, exploring the nature and emotional-education classes.

 
 

Into Your Nature

Vivienne Dorenbos-Reesink

Vivienne Dorenbos-Reesink

 

On January 27 2017, Vivienne (VivU Buntu) organised INTO YOUR NATURE. The purpose of this event in the beautiful surroundings of 's-Graveland was to inspire by the wisdom of the Earth Keepers in DOWN to EARTH, have a dialogue on its impact with Rolf Winters, get acquainted with the global goals for sustainable development and connect to nature and other fellow human beings.

On January 27 2017, Vivienne (VivU Buntu) organised INTO YOUR NATURE. The purpose of this event in the beautiful surroundings of 's-Graveland was to inspire by the wisdom of the Earth Keepers in DOWN to EARTH, have a dialogue on its impact with Rolf Winters, get acquainted with the global goals for sustainable development and connect to nature and other fellow human beings.

2016 has been a challenging year in a lot of ways and has tested our ideas of the shape of the world. This has caused many people to take greater responsibility in contributing to take care of our world, whether being it from a personal or business perspective. Many people are looking for places where they can be inspired to bring out the best in themselves while at the same time connecting with like-minded others. Across different worlds (corporates, freelancers, start-ups, GO’s, NGO’s and human beings everywhere) I hear and sense this longing, and with my own purpose of ‘serving the world and humanity by connecting’ I loved to facilitate an answer to this longing this with INTO YOUR NATURE. I believe that the more people become conscious about the importance of connecting to their own nature, the more we can make a difference in taking care of the world and each other. 

After the film and dialogue we went outside for a reflective walk in the beautiful surroundings, with nature providing the perfect opportunity to connect with the other participants as well. Following lunch the participants had the option to choose from three workshops: Qi Gong, a guided walk with a ranger, fishing with a local, or a transformational breathing session.

With a lot of gratitude I look back on a very special and inspiring day with a group of 70 beautiful human beings. I want to thank all the Earth Keepers present for their open minds and hearts and for connecting.

 
 

BACK to NATURE

 

On 4 and 5 February 2017 DOWN to EARTH organised its first BACK to NATURE weekend. Ten children and their parents were invited to spend a weekend in the forest near Zeist, discovering the importance of the connection between people and nature in a playful way.

On 4 and 5 February 2017 DOWN to EARTH organised its first BACK to NATURE weekend. Ten children and their parents were invited to spend a weekend in the forest near Zeist, discovering the importance of the connection between people and nature in a playful way.

During this weekend Native Americans Duane and Van accompanied us. Having first made an appearance in the film, they now joined us in the Netherlands to contribute to BACK to NATURE by teaching us some of the wisdoms of their culture. They taught the children to drum in their way, combining old songs of their community with contemporary tunes like ‘Spongebob Squarepants’.

BACK to NATURE offered the possibility to step out of the whirlwind of modern society and discover the values of the Keepers of the Earth in a practical and fun way. Participants experienced it as an entertaining and exciting weekend with a focus on the connection with nature and each other. The concept of ‘one parent, one child’ created space for a deeper attention for the child, which sometimes gets lost in daily routines and worries. For many the weekend felt like ‘a gift to yourself’.

We will organise more BACK to NATURE weekends. Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page to stay updated.

 
 

Het Wilde Westen

  Annemiek Hormann

  Annemiek Hormann

 

Showing the film in my own neighbourhood for friends, neighbours and children: this is what I wanted. Rolf Winters brought me the idea at the end of the Happinez event, when he invited everyone to think along how they could spread the message of DOWN to EARTH. After seeing the film I was touched deeply by the strong image it evokes. A western society with all its abundance that can learn from the wise Earth Keepers that live close to the source in simplicity.

Showing the film in my own neighbourhood for friends, neighbours and children: this is what I wanted. Rolf Winters brought me the idea at the end of the Happinez event, when he invited everyone to think along how they could spread the message of DOWN to EARTH. After seeing the film I was touched deeply by the strong image it evokes. A western society with all its abundance that can learn from the wise Earth Keepers that live close to the source in simplicity.

The neighbourhood I live in, Oog in Al, is a wealthy one. My friends, neighbours and I are people that live in nice houses, are mostly highly educated, and experience a high degree of social awareness. Just like me, they search for ways to give this shape. The film is an invitation to feel and search for ways to live a meaningful life.

To show DOWN to EARTH in my neighbourhood, I approached Het Wilde Westen (the Wild West). This is a cultural spot in West Utrecht. They invite inhabitants of the neighbourhoods of Oog in Al and Lombok to connect. It is a place full of life and creativity, starting from societal connection. Dorothe Lucassen, who works at Het Wilde Westen, was enthusiastic immediately. The beautiful theatre hall was perfect for a screening.

On 22 January 2017 we screened the film in the theatre hall, with ‘a little extra’. At Het Wilde Westen, it’s important that everything that takes place in the theatre hall is communicated to the neighbours. We focused our publicity towards those that already visit Het Wilde Westen regularly, but also those that don’t, but should be allowed to know this is also their place. This worked well: the tickets sold out quickly. On the 22nd I gave a personal introduction. Tal Canneti, a cellist from the neighbourhood, played a beautiful piece of music to get into the right vibe: Bach prélude in G. 

After the music we started the film. The hall was filled with neighbours, many familiar faces of friends, and people who know each other form run-ins in the park, the local supermarket or the school playground. The film was followed by an interesting and exciting dialogue. People expressed their worry about the direction the world is heading in, and how to handle the environment and economic growth differently. How can you change things yourself? People were also moved and touched. They shared experiences of their own travels.

The conversation continued in the cantina in smaller groups. People expressed criticism on our society, and worry about how to move on. The conversation kept on returning to the same questions: what can and do I want to do, and what do you want?

I organised this event with great pleasure. I still run into people who have seen the film in the supermarket who start talking to me. They tell me: “I want to consume less, but it’s so hard to really stop and think about what I really need.”

How do you do this?

I think this is a beautiful question, that I still ask myself every day.

 

Annemiek Hormann

 
 
 

Trees for All

 

Trees for All is a foundation and acknowledged charity with CBF certification. With contributions from donors and companies, we invest in planting trees, the construction of new forests and the protection of existing forests. These projects in several countries provide extra income for the local population and contribute to the recovery of nature and environment. Furthermore, Trees for All enables afforestation in the Netherlands.

Trees for All is a foundation and acknowledged charity with CBF certification. With contributions from donors and companies, we invest in planting trees, the construction of new forests and the protection of existing forests. These projects in several countries provide extra income for the local population and contribute to the recovery of nature and environment. Furthermore, Trees for All enables afforestation in the Netherlands.

Iris Gardien, programme manager at Trees for All, saw DOWN to EARTH and immediately thought: “This is great for our organisation. The link that is made between both the magical and the useful of trees and forests is special.” It was a confirmation for her that she wants to continue committing herself to creating a better world through Trees for All. Iris organised a programme together with the Louis Hartlooper Complex in Utrecht. Employees of the organisation were invited to come watch the film, as well as business relations like ASR and ANWB.

After a word of welcome by Iris the film was introduced by DOWN to EARTH facilitator Ada Knol.In the film, fragments are shown of the Winters family visiting the Ashuar, an indigenous tribe in the jungle of Ecuador. The beautiful images of nature confront us with the fact that each day 80,000 acres of forest are cut down. Furthermore, 50.000 plant and animal species are threatened by extinction each year. The children ask their father: “Why dad? Why are they spoiling it for us? Can’t anyone stop this?” A poignant question that connects to the mission of Trees for All to stop deforestation.

DOWN to EARTH animates people to take action. By donating trees through Trees for All people can help the afforestation of our Earth. Together, by realising more trees and forests, we deliver a big contribution to a greener world – for now and for later.

You can contribute in several ways: 

  • Donate a tree or give one as a gift
  • Compensate your aircraft or household emissions through creating forests
  • Realise a company forest
  • Connect your product or service to forests or trees

“Trees are positive”, says Sjaak de Ligt, director of Trees for All. “A tree is a symbol of hope, of a fresh start, rebirth en eternal life. You do not plant a tree just for you, but for the future.” Trees provide in basic needs as oxygen, food and protection. And did you know that just a half-hour walk in the forest each day will make a person feel happier?

After the film, Ada Knol facilitated a dialogue. The reactions were diverse: How do you translate this message to everyday practices? Is it a matter of ‘just doing’, or is that not realistic? All over, reactions were positive, “very much worth it”. The event closed with a lunch at the Louis Hartlooper Complex. We definitely see this as an event we, and other companies and organisations, can use more often.

 
 
 

Trash as Treasure

       Natasja Essers

       Natasja Essers

On a cloudy Saturday in October my partner and I met Rolf Winters and his family through the white screen at the Happinez event. The message of DOWN to EARTH had long been hidden somewhere in the depths of our minds, and the film seemed to lighten up this essential spot in our brains: humanity is in such big danger that our existence in balance with nature is threatened. We have work to do!

On a cloudy Saturday in October my partner and I met Rolf Winters and his family through the white screen at the Happinez event. The message of DOWN to EARTH had long been hidden somewhere in the depths of our minds, and the film seemed to lighten up this essential spot in our brains: humanity is in such big danger that our existence in balance with nature is threatened. We have work to do!

After the screening we, and the rest of the audience, had a conversation with Rolf. After a walk through the woods we came together around a fire where shaman Steve led a ceremony to connect with mother Earth, the winds, the sun, our ancestors and each other. The warmth of the fire and the event stayed with us for a couple of days. It seemed that a kind of metaphysical connection had come into existence between the visitors of the event, Steve, Rolf, the singers near the fire and the Earth Keepers from the film – a lovely bubble to float in.

After the heat of the fire of those first days had cooled down, the bubble suddenly burst and we were both attacked by uncertainty and sadness. What was happening here?

The inspiration flowed away, and we started scrutinizing every act in our daily lives. We couldn’t stop seeing ourselves as wasteful consumers. It was good to share our worries and we decided: let’s not drive ourselves crazy, but let’s feel the responsibility and deal with it at our best. Let’s see what we can do. It's great if we succeed in doing something different for the good, if not, then at least we tried and maybe we’ll take that step in the future.

And then we ordered new mattresses. We had chosen for mattresses made of almost purely organic materials that becoming mostly biodegradable after ten years. But when the mattresses were delivered we were shocked: Both mattresses were packed in big, thick plastic bags and around the bag was a big cardboard box. After unpacking we watched the garbage dump we had just produced. Slowly the inspiration we felt from DOWN to EARTH came back to us. I suddenly saw a how these giant cardboard boxes could turn into canvasses to paint on. I remembered how a friend, who is a teacher at an art school, had told me about the new studio at her school. I texted her pictures of the ‘garbage’ and asked her if it was useful to her and her students. “Wow, those are great materials to use in our new studio!”

Two days later we were at a parking lot, carrying the cardboard ‘canvasses’ from my car to hers. “Do you like Dionne so much you’re giving her your garbage as a present?” our mates joked. Full of self-confidence about this tiny but effective contribution to the ‘Earth Keeping project’, I answered happily: "Just watch DOWN to EARTH, you’ll understand…"

 

Natasja Essers

 
 
     Lette van Bussel

     Lette van Bussel

Yes We Can Clinics

When I first watched DOWN to EARTH I was inspired by the link between the film and my work in a clinic with youngsters that struggle with addiction and behavioural problems. Their issues are to a high degree connected to our current society and excessive use of social media. I wanted to show the film to these kids in combination with a lecture, in which they could think about the message of the film in an interactive way.

When I first watched DOWN to EARTH I was inspired by the link between the film and my work in a clinic with youngsters that struggle with addiction and behavioural problems. Their issues are to a high degree connected to our current society and excessive use of social media. I wanted to show the film to these kids in combination with a lecture, in which they could think about the message of the film in an interactive way.

On 8 and 9 April 2017 the 48 adolescents, split into two groups, experienced the lecture and the film. The lecture, which took place during the first half of the day, focused on our society of consumption, social media and what its use implies. We had an interactive discussion and the group got the chance to think about several theses. Amongst other things, we discussed our high material needs, the true costs of our consumption society, and the term ‘socialbesity’: an addiction to social media, under which other achievements (school, work) suffer. We ended the lecture with the question of where we can find our balance again.

During the second half of the day we watched DOWN to EARTH. We discussed the film extensively, during which the youths voiced their ideas, fears and recognition, and came up with new questions. Many mentioned that the film brings them back to the essence of life; that we sometimes forget what really is important and that DOWN to EARTH helps them to remember what that is. We discussed the cultural differences between the peoples in the film and us. This was known territory to some, but completely new to others.

The kids said they would like to see the film again because it contains so many wise life lessons. Seeing it left them with a good and inspired feeling, and at the same time made them think about their position in life – not only in their personal situations but also in society as a whole. One said it reminded them of this quote:

“If you want to build a ship, do not send people to find wood. Do not tell them what the ship must look like, but make them long for the sea.”