Film and photo festival highlights importance of sustainability in Appalachia

Paige+Steimel+and+Victoria+Shukis%2C+sophomore+sustainable+development+students%2C+hosted+Filming+Life+and+Advocating+for+Mother+Earth%2C+or+Flame+Fest+at+3rd+Place+on+April+11.+Photo+by+Hayley+Canal
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Film and photo festival highlights importance of sustainability in Appalachia

Paige Steimel and Victoria Shukis, sophomore sustainable development students, hosted Filming Life and Advocating for Mother Earth, or Flame Fest at 3rd Place on April 11. Photo by Hayley Canal

Paige Steimel and Victoria Shukis, sophomore sustainable development students, hosted Filming Life and Advocating for Mother Earth, or Flame Fest at 3rd Place on April 11. Photo by Hayley Canal

Hayley Canal

Paige Steimel and Victoria Shukis, sophomore sustainable development students, hosted Filming Life and Advocating for Mother Earth, or Flame Fest at 3rd Place on April 11. Photo by Hayley Canal

Hayley Canal

Hayley Canal

Paige Steimel and Victoria Shukis, sophomore sustainable development students, hosted Filming Life and Advocating for Mother Earth, or Flame Fest at 3rd Place on April 11. Photo by Hayley Canal

Mericlaire Williams

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In the first days of April, bright red and yellow blossoms begin to bud on the branches of the flame azalea bushes that line Appalachia. Flame azaleas are native to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and two App State students are promoting sustainability to protect their natural habitat through the influence of photography and film.

Paige Steimel and Victoria Shukis, sophomore sustainable development students, hosted Filming Life and Advocating for Mother Earth, or Flame Fest at 3rd Place on April 11.

Flame Fest showcased photography depicting Appalachia from local photographers and short films about sustainability, social justice and recreation in the region. Three films featured regions outside of Appalachia because Steimel and Shukis want to extend the learning to other communities.

“We love everything that we are learning,” Shukis said. “People who aren’t sustainable development majors might not get the chance to be invited in that sort of talk, so we wanted to extend that invitation to be inclusive into sustainability.”

Planning for Flame Fest started in September with Steimel and Shukis watching sustainability short films. They hoped to break down the hierarchy of professionals lecturing on sustainability by bringing conversation and encouraging change directly to the members of the community. They said they believe giving voices to community members will unify Boone and create an inclusive environment that sparks passion in protecting the environment.

“A big goal is seeing new faces come out,” Shukis said. “I think it’s really cool when people break barriers, and there’s that opportunity to build more relationships, especially in terms of growing as a community.”

An interactive corner will allow people to express their feelings about the event.

“We didn’t want to be preaching at people; we just wanted it to be these things that are already available in photography and films from Vimeo, and a place for us to gather and enjoy it together,” Shukis said.

Shukis and Steimel said everyone can promote sustainability, which makes it important to incorporate local artists like photographer Nick Fiori, sophomore environmental science major. Fiori started photography so he could go outside and take advantage of nature.

“(Coming to Boone) has connected me to like-minded people who want to get outside and see the pretty things,” Fiori said.

After the premiere, Shukis and Steimel will plan a second event in August to experiment with more ideas.