An update from Valerie, a junior majoring in studio art and journalism, with a minor in French, who is interning at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos:

Last Thursday at SMU’s campus in Taos, my Communications Studies class had the pleasure of hosting a documentary called “Call of Life.”  It was shown with the help of Izilwane, an organization determined to help us see the interconnectedness between humans, animals and the environment. Professor Flournoy invited Izilwane’s executive director, Tara Waters-Lumpkin, to speak in our class a few days before. Her devotion and passion for biodiversity and spreading the word about the human impact on the environment were inspiring. She urged us to take this message to other students. The “Call of Life” film screening provided a step toward that goal.

The film focuses on the extinction of species and the rate of human consumption of the Earth’s natural resources. As I’m from Australia, the concept of extinction and endangered species is nothing new to me. My home country hosts many native plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and if we Aussies are not careful, they won’t exist at all. So for me, the film was very eye-opening. I had no idea the rate at which the Earth is experiencing unprecedented global biodiversity loss. The facts are alarming. I watched the film wondering how many people are aware of what is truly going on?

That’s why Izilwane, founded by Waters-Lumpkin in Taos in 2009, is so important. Using a unique multimedia online platform, the organization highlights pressing global environmental issues and aims to inform the human population that by making changes and monitoring these issues, we can help. The organization does this all on its website, through storytelling, reporting, academic papers, blogs, social media, and by promoting documentaries like “Call to Life,” which bring to the forefront a very real issue: human survival and healthy eco systems go hand-in-hand.

After the film viewing at the SMU-in-Taos Dining Hall, I left wanting to know more, especially more about what I can do. I think a lot of SMU students felt the same way, at least I hope so. What can we do that will make an impact on the realities of global warming and the subsequent environmental threats? Our generation has a unique opportunity to make a difference. With more exposure to the facts, through organizations like Izilwane, maybe we can. Please read about Izilwane.