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Winter 2011 Issue of the Finger Lakes Sierran

Empowered Documentary

by Annie Koreman
Vice Chair, Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group

Tompkins County, NY is one of the cloudiest, least windy places in the country, and yet its residents are proving that we can meet our energy needs through totally renewable resources. From solar and wind to veggie oil and geothermal, Em­powered tells the story of one community's role in the energy independence revolution.

Empowered is an independent, locally-produced feature-length documentary that showcases the many ways in which Tompkins County residents are embracing renewable energy. Director Shira Golding Evergreen (Frac Attack) and Producer Suzanne McMannis have collaborated to illustrate vividly in Empowered that it is our friends and neighbors who are pioneering alternative energy.

In the heart of the Finger Lakes, many residents of Tompkins County have already taken the leap to a sustainable future, and in Empowered they enjoy the opportunity to tell their stories to the public: what inspired them; what first steps they took; how things are working. Viewers will get the stories behind numerous residential and public installations that utilize solar, wind, geo­thermal and even veggie oil. They'll also get a glimpse into the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving new community wind, bio­diesel, and solar cooking projects.

The film was shot entirely on location in Ithaca and the surrounding area and features original animations by Ari Evergreen. Featured in the film is the home of Annie Koreman, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group.

"We've been working on this film for over a year and can't wait to share it with the community," says director Shira Evergreen. "We're hoping people will watch the movie and then start thinking of concrete ways they can integrate these strategies into their own lives. It's going to take a grassroots movement to push this country towards a renewable energy future and Tompkins County is at the forefront."

Over 130 people turned out for a rough cut screening of the film at the end of September at Cinemapolis in Ithaca and another screening is scheduled there for December 7th at 7pm. This. screening kicks off a NY state tour co-sponsored by Finger Lakes Bioneers and Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group. The Dec. 7th screening is also co-presented by the Ithaca Green Building Alliance (lGBA) and Sustainable Tompkins.

We want to get this film shown throughout the Finger Lakes and beyond. If you are interested in helping set up a showing in your area for the general public or a for a group of folks please contact Annie Koreman, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group at 607-387-4147 or or Shira Golding Evergreen 607-821-0654 or

For more information about Empowered go to