“Can You Dig This” film screening advocates food justice
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The freshman class of 2020 saw the award-winning documentary “Can You Dig This” in Roussell Hall Sunday, Aug. 28, to kick off the First-Year Common Experience focal point of food and environmental justice.
Premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last year, “Can You Dig This” is a film that follows the stories of four gardeners in south Los Angeles who aim to transform their impoverished neighborhoods by restoring them with fresh foliage and growing their own food to sustain themselves and their impoverished neighbors.
The documentary uses juxtaposition in its photography, contrasting the gritty, rust-colored streets of Compton and Watts against vibrant squash and tomato plants and all manner of lush, leafy greens. One gardener, Ron Finley, receives a citation from the city council for converting his municipal space into a hugely bountiful garden, but continues growing for the greater good of sustainability. The film uses anecdotes from these renegade planters to advocate food justice in struggling urban communities.
The screening was only open to Loyola students and was required viewing for first year students as part of the First Year Experience. Sue Mennino, organizer of the event and head of the First Year Common Experience, explained that the film was chosen to visually engage the students in the food justice theme of this year’s program.
“We decided that any sort of required reading over the summer wouldn’t have the impact of a powerful documentary, and it’s exciting to start off the year this way,” Mennino said.
“Can You Dig This” highlights areas of Los Angeles known as “food deserts” that the USDA defines as parts of the country “vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods,” and then goes on to champion the activism of gardeners living within these disadvantaged pockets.
Political science sophomore Rula Thabata explained that the film was especially relevant to Loyola freshman living in the city for perhaps the first time.
“We live in New Orleans, and this city has a lot of food deserts, so students got to be introduced to environmental justice and how it spans things like money and socio-cultural boundaries,” Thabata said.
Psychology freshman George Nicolas Rodriguez said the screening was very topical, coming after a recent call to action by Pope Francis for individuals to play an active role in sustaining their environment.
“I think since we’re in such a key part in our lives where we can step up and make a difference in our world,” Rodriguez said. “Then it’s very important to be exposed to these topics.”