It’s no surprise to many of us here in Manitoba that a recent survey has found a potent liver toxin, contained in blue-green algae, infects many of our lakes, and could potentially have dire consequences for human health.
The toxin is called microsystin and can be found in lakes that are heavily loaded with nutrients from agricultural runoff and urban development. Lake Winnipeg is at the top of that list.
In recent years, large community efforts have mobilized citizens to “Save the Lake”. Just this past weekend, the Lake Winnipeg Foundation held one of its annual Lake-A-Thon fundraising events called, “Walk for Water”. Crowds of people concerned with the Lake’s health came out to raise money and awareness about one of the most pressing environmental issues in our province. This year’s event was held in the communities of Matlock, Black’s Point Grindstone, Victoria Beach and Gimli.
There is no shortage of efforts in this so called rescue mission. Scientists, fishers, community groups and environmental organizations have been compiling data and anecdotes that now serve as a reservoir of information they hope will prompt governments and the general public to pitch in and do whatever they can to contribute to a healthier lake. Even Winnipeg composer, Andrew Balfour, got involved a few years ago when he spent several months traveling across Lake Winnipeg, writing the music for a 45-minute orchestral work called Voice of the Lake. Balfour said it was his way of trying to heal the lake.
It is in this vein that CNC features the following animated short film created by local playwright, Scott Douglas. The piece offers the viewer some food for thought on the issue of Lake Winnipeg’s health.
You can enjoy Scott Douglas’ unique and inspiring animated story by clicking here:
The cartoon, written, animated and performed by Douglas, came out of a weekend artists’ retreat/symposium organized by Bob Haverluck as part of the Arts of Water Project. Haverluck is a member of the River on the Run collective (four artists who explore our relationship to water in their work – http://riverontherun.ca/?pageID=674167 ), and the retreat was a way of expanding to include other artists (poets, sculptors, fabric artists, videographers, storytellers, etc.). In February, 2011, the group journeyed to a retreat centre in Pinawa and spent a few days talking about water, learning about issues affecting the lakes and watershed, and creating art about water.
Scott Douglas writes:
“I’m a playwright, so what I did was write a little scene/monologue. It was partly inspired by some of the work that Haverluck’s been doing about our covenant with nature, which got me thinking about what’s the difference between a covenant and a contract, how do you negotiate with nature, and what might motivate a person to want to get their relationships nailed down and spelled out. So, that’s where the scene came from. I kind of liked it, but realized that the lake is an important character in the scene. It’s not a monologue; it’s a dialogue where the other person doesn’t speak. So I decided animation might be a good way to go with it. Which meant I had to learn how to animate. (And then learned that Bob and Sam Baardman were organizing a concert/performance that May, so I had to learn FAST.) Over the past year I did a bit of tweaking and polishing on it (OK, not a lot of polishing). Often when I’m presenting it at a public venue (a concert or fundraiser), I project the video and do the vocals live.”
Douglas says people often ask when Part 2 is coming out. By calling it “Part 1” it pretty much committed him to having at least another part. He says he’s been kicking around some ideas for it, but hasn’t started working on anything yet.