Film Poster Symbiotic EarthOn Earth Day weekend, Hawthorne Valley will host a sneak-peek preview screening of John Feldman’s soon-to-be released feature-length documentary, “Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis Rocked the Boat and Started a Scientific Revolution.” The screening will take place in Hawthorne Valley School’s Assembly Hall from 1-3:30 p.m., and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring distinguished guests including: Conrad Vispo, co-founder of Hawthorne Valley’s Farmscape Ecology Program (moderator), John Feldman (filmmaker), Gidon Eshel, and James MacAllister (see below for their bios). Donations at the door are welcomed and will go toward efforts to distribute the film.

Symbiotic Earth explores the life and ideas of Lynn Margulis, a brilliant and radical scientist, whose unconventional theories challenged the male-­dominated scientific community and are today fundamentally changing how we look at our selves, evolution, and the environment.

As a young scientist in the 1960’s, Margulis was ridiculed when she first proposed that symbiosis was a key driver of evolution, but she persisted. Instead of the mechanistic view that life evolved through random genetic mutations and brutal competition, she presented a symbiotic narrative in which bacteria joined with one another to create animals, plants and all other organisms which together form a single multi-­dimensional living entity that covers the Earth. Humans are not the pinnacle of life with the right to exploit nature, but part of this complex cognitive system in which each of our actions has repercussions.

Filmmaker John Feldman traveled globally to meet Margulis’ cutting-­edge colleagues and continually asked: What happens when the truth changes? Symbiotic Earth examines the worldview that has led to climate change and extreme capitalism and offers a new worldview that encourages a sustainable and symbiotic lifestyle.


Panel Member Bios

Moderator: Conrad Vispo, PhD Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin; MS Wildlife Ecology, Indiana State University; BS Wildlife Ecology, Cornell. Conrad is a co-founder of Hawthorne Valley’s Farmscape Ecology Program (FEP) a small research and outreach program dedicated to encouraging an informed compassion for place. They do this by exploring the relationship between human culture and the rural, semi-agricultural landscape of Columbia County.

Before returning to Columbia County, where he grew up, Conrad conducted ecological research on a variety of organisms, including mammals, birds and fish in a variety of places, including the woods of northern Wisconsin and tropical Venezuela.  Conrad’s recent focus is on agroecology – what habitats can farmland provide for native species and, in turn, what can those native species provide to farming? Conrad’s passion is understanding historical and modern patterns of animal (including human) ecology on the land.

Filmmaker: John Feldman is a critically-acclaimed writer and filmmaker. His works cover a wide range of genres, including independent dramatic feature  films, documentaries, educational films and films for business.  His feature films include Alligator Eyes (1990), Dead Funny (1995), Who the Hell is Bobby Roos? (2002), The Thief of Love (2006), EVO: Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask about Evolution (2010) which won a CINE Golden Eagle in 2011, and his forthcoming film, Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis Rocked the Boat and Started a Scientific Revolution (2017). Considered a pioneering digital video production, Who the Hell is Bobby Roos? won the coveted “New American Cinema Award” on the occasion of its world premiere at the 2002 Seattle International Film Festival. He believes strongly in the power of film and video to explain, teach, and motivate.

Gidon Eshel is a research professor of environmental physics at Bard College and runs the website He is best known for his work quantifying the geophysical consequences of agriculture and diet. Most recently, he has compared various livestock in terms of land and water use, fertilizer-based water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions per unit product and compared the global-warming consequences of different beef-production strategies (including grass- versus trough-fed beef). His widely varied scientific interests also include the development of algebraic tools for simultaneous optimization of health and environmental outcomes through dietary choices, climate physics, and measures of time scale–specific ecosystem stability.

James MacAllister is an evolution geographer and a volunteer archivist for the Lynn Margulis Archive at Scholarworks, W.E.B. DuBois Library, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. As a student and colleague of Lynn Margulis from 2004 – 2011, he documented Margulis in photos and video.  James is the webmaster for the Environmental Evolution website dedicated to Margulisian science ( which functions as a clearinghourse for news and information. Previous to joining Margulis’s Lab, James worked as a filmmaker for over 25 years specializing in medicine and science programs

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Date(s) - 04/23/2017
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School