Longing for the rural past,
hoping for a brighter future.

About “Behold the Earth” | Could a Journey into Creation Determine the Future of the Church?

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.” –Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, chapter one, titled A Fable for Tomorrow

Many of us Americans share a vision of the rural past, which goes something like the fable at the beginning of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.

Once upon a time, we lived in close proximity to the outdoors, to what biologist E.O. Wilson and many others refer to as nature or –alternatively- the Creation. Food was grown in nearby fields, hunted in nearby woods, or fished from nearby waters. Children played outdoors. A rich bounty of birds, mammals, plants, fish, and insects invited curious minds to observe, organize, and understand what life is. The open land and waterscapes inspired dreams of what all our own lives -and those of all our descendents- could be.

Today, many Americans share unease about our relationship to Creation. Our children, known as “digital natives” – and we – seem to spend less time outside and more time with indoor virtual amusements. We look about and within our own day-to-day activities and feel distress about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the accelerating pace required just to get by. We’re disturbed by the degraded bounty of life on earth, a result of imbalances that we’ve introduced. Some of our communities have been disproportionately degraded to the point of alarming insecurity and intolerable injustice.

BEHOLD THE EARTH provides an original opportunity to re-examine and expand the community of U.S. environmentalists, charting steps into the future that builds on Rachel Carson’s discussion of destructive trace toxicity in the 20th century, with the addition of a destructive climate in the 21st century. Carson inspired a wide range of rising young scientists of that time, people like E.O. Wilson and Cal DeWitt and Theo Colborn, to better understand how the natural world works, so as to better track human impacts within it.

Many of these scientists were also raised as Christians. Concurrent to their scientific work, they examined life on earth in terms of the living Creation and biblical scripture. Cal DeWitt helped launch a movement called “Creation Care,” a moral imperative that builds on theology deeply seated within the last 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition.

At the beginning of the 21st century, a new generation of scientists and Christians is coming-of-age, people like Katherine Hayhoe and Ben Lowe and Corina Newsome. They are standing on the shoulders of Cal DeWitt and others inspired by Rachel Carson. Can these emerging leaders and the next wave of Creation Care conservationists reduce the human degradations of the living planet, wrought by trace toxins and a destructively warming climate? Along the way, can they revive the reach and relevance of both environmentalism and Christianity in America?

Film Director and Conservationist David Conover boldly began this highly original film 12 years ago, as an inquiry into America’s divorce from the outdoors, before-and-after the arrival of those known as the digital natives. He is neither scientist nor Christian. He draws upon some of the same talented field staff behind the spectacular natural sequences in his series Sunrise Earth and Big Picture Earth. Four time Grammy-award winning musician Dirk Powell leads the arrangements of traditional American tunes and hymns, with Rhiannon Giddens and Tim Eriksen.

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 Edward O. Wilson

Edward O. Wilson is a renowned biologist, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, and Pellegrino University Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is the author of over two dozen books, including The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, and is the recipient of over 100 prizes, including both of the teaching prizes voted by the students of Harvard College. In 1995 he was named one of the 25 most influential Americans by Time magazine, in 2000 one of the century’s 100 leading environmentalists by both Time and Audubon magazine, and in 2005 one of the world’s 100 leading intellectuals by Foreign Policy.

Cal DeWitt

Cal DeWitt is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and President Emeritus of Au Sable Institute. Advocating that the Christian community must proclaim the truth about the environmental crisis, DeWitt has provided leadership in creating practical environmental policy based on biblical principles and scientific analysis. He is considered by many to be a formative influence behind the Creation Care movement.

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change. An expert reviewer for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, her life’s work has been dedicated to discovering and communicating the realities of a changing climate to those who will be affected most by it. As a professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, Katharine develops new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. Together with her husband Andrew Farley, lead teaching pastor of Ecclesia, she wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, a book that untangles the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming. Her work as a climate change evangelist has been featured in the PBS documentary series The Secret Life of Scientists, and in articles including “True Believer” that appeared in On Earth magazine in 2012, and “Spreading the Global Warming Gospel” that appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 2011. In 2012 she was named one of Christianity Today’s 50 Women to Watch. In 2017, she was named one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders.

Corina Newsome

Corina works as an Ambassador Animal Keeper at the Nashville Zoo, where she specializes in animal training, environmental education, and outreach. Corina earned her Bachelor of Arts in Zoo and Wildlife Biology from Malone University in 2015. During her time as a student at Malone, she co-chaired the Sustainability Committee on Student Senate, served as the Student Director for Multicultural Student Services, and founded a student-led wildlife outreach education program, later named the Malone University Zoo Crew. Corina grew up in downtown Philadelphia and has always had a desire to participate in, and advocate for, the protection of wildlife and wild places. Her goal is to draw city-dwellers into the great outdoors, in the same way that her educators and mentors have done for her. Outside of her work, Corina enjoys playing piano, dancing in the Nashville Ballet’s community division, and chasing her next potential “life bird.” She also serves on the Steering Committee for YECA (Young Evangelicals for Climate Action).

Ben Lowe

Rev. Ben Lowe was born and raised as a child of missionaries in Southeast Asia, where he experienced firsthand the impacts of poverty and pollution. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Ben is the author of Green Revolution, Doing Good Without Giving Up, and The Future of Our Faith (coauthored with Ron Sider). He serves in various capacities with Evangelicals for Social Action, the Evangelical Immigration Table, and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. Ben is ordained in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and is currently pursuing graduate studies in Tropical Conservation and Development at the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Tim Eriksen – Musician

Tim Eriksen “is among the most influential figures” writes Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe, “…rejuvenating American traditional music. Best known for his haunting music for the film ‘Cold Mountain,’ he helped ignite the string band revival with his darkly quirky Western Mass. group Cordelia’s Dad, and focused fresh attention on 19th-century shape note singing with Northampton Harmony. A former punk-rocker, his musicianship is confidently state-of-the-art, but his intent is never to modernize or gussy up the old music. Instead, he uses savvy arrangement and recording techniques to focus modern ears on what is most raw, earthy, and above all, human in ancient ballads and fiddle tunes.”

Dirk Powell – Musician and Song Composer

Dirk Powell has expanded on his Appalachian heritage to become one of the most prominent traditional American musicians of his generation. He’s recorded and performed with artists such as Loretta Lynn, Sting, Jack White, Levon Helm, Jewel, T-Bone Burnett, Ralph Stanley, and Linda Ronstadt. He has created and performed music for many film projects, including Ang Lee’s Ride With The Devil, Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, and Edward Burns’ The Brothers McMullen.

Theo Colborn

Theo Colborn co-authored the 1996 book, Our Stolen Future, which brought worldwide attention to the fact that common contaminants can interfere with human fetal development. Dr. Colborn was an environmental health analyst and author of studies supporting the “Endocrine Disruptor Hypothesis,” which states that synthetic chemicals, created and released into the environment by humans, are mimicking hormones in our bodies and essentially “neutering the population.”

Amelia & Sophie Powell – Musicians

Amelia and Sophie are young Louisiana-based musicians continuing a heritage of Cajun and Appalachian music passed down to them by their parents and grandparents. They have performed as far afield as Scotland and Ireland, at major festivals and on traditional music television programs in both locations, and have been part of many recordings, including Rhiannon Giddens’ latest, Freedom Highway. At 15 and 13, they have a long future ahead of them, continuing the heritage passed down by their grandfather, Cajun “cultural ambassador” Dewey Balfa, and their parents, musicians Christine Balfa and Dirk Powell.

Rhiannon Giddens – Musician

Rhiannon Giddens is best known for her work in the Durham, North Carolina-based band Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose 2010 debut, Genuine Negro Jig, garnered a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album and breathed new life into old-time African-American string-band music. Giddens, a serious student of black American history and a fan of Langston Hughes, grew up in Greensboro, NC, and studied opera at Oberlin College. She was first drawn to old-time music after attending a contra dance while at Oberlin, and soon after picked up the banjo and fiddle. In addition to her work with the Drops, Giddens has also released two solo albums, Tomorrow Is My Turn (2015) and Freedom Highway (2017). In 2017 she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and was nominated for the 2018 UK Americana Awards International Artist of the Year.


David Conover – Director, Executive Producer

David Conover was born and raised in a New England family with strong ties to the sea and a tradition of active storytelling. Both grandfathers were amateur filmmakers in the 1920′s and 30′s.  Upon graduating with a degree in comparative religious studies from Bowdoin College, David worked as a professional seaman—and then as an outdoor educator with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Maine and in Florida. This was followed by a Master’s Degree in Education at Harvard, with a focus on moral development.  His production company Compass Light has produced dozens of award-winning science and history programs for major broadcasters for 18 years, including the experiential series Sunrise Earth.  David recognizes any discussion of belief must rest on straight-forward understanding. His own religious upbringing was within the community of a rural Congregationalist church with a strong universalist bent, but he characterizes his adult worldview as more secular humanist than religious. For credits, visit Compass Light, Inc.

Josie Merck – Executive Producer

Josie Merck has been a Board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council for six years, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and earned an MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art. She exhibits regularly with the Atlantic Gallery in New York. For many years, Josie has worked to support green building, to protect Eastern Forest Ecosystems, and to fight against global warming. For the last 15 years, she’s been involved in environmental education through film and art; co-producing several short films about the Block Island community in Rhode Island, and supporting the feature documentaries King Corn and A Sense of Wonder.

Sian Evans – Producer

Sian Evans has been making documentaries for thirty years. She is most proud of Potter’s Field – on New York City’s burial of its unclaimed dead; Home is Where – an experimental documentary on what makes a sense of home; Borrowed From Our Future – an early global environmental alarm call for the United Nations Development Program; and Bearing Witness – a feature-length documentary on women war journalists in Iraq, made with Barbara Kopple / Cabin Creek Films.

Manette Pottle – Producer

Manette Pottle is Senior Producer at Compass Light Productions in Camden, Maine, following several years at the Camden International Film Festival, where she served as Producer from 2013–2015. Manette was born and raised in Ithaca, New York; after studying Chinese, critical theory, and photography at Yale University, she managed a landscaping business in Appleton, Maine for many years, with a strong emphasis on sustainable land use practices and community education. She has served as Children & Youth Minister at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Camden, and as Board President for the Rock Coast Rollers, a women’s roller derby league in Rockland, Maine.

Don Grady – Score Composer

Don consulted and helped David imagine what this film could be, but unfortunately died before he could fully apply his talents to the work at hand.  He is much missed, both for his graciousness and his fine sense of music.  Don wrote 56 minutes of original music for Disney’s Platinum Edition two-disk DVD Set of Beauty & The Beast.  Since then he wrote music for over 40 DVD’s, including The Lion KingEmperor’s New GrooveAladdinLilo & Stitch, and Harry Potter 4.  Don’s first major television score was The Revolutionary War. He scored the documentary Why Dogs Smile & Chimpanzees Cry, the theme for The Phil Donahue Show, and was music composer / conductor / director for George Lucas’ Live Adventure with the London Symphony Orchestra. His most recent composition for Compass Light Productions was the Discovery Channel documentary, Quest for Captain Kidd.

Phil Cormier – Director of Photography

Phil Cormier is a director of photography with extensive experience in documentary and narrative filmmaking. In addition to working on Behold The Earth, Phil has recently worked with Compass Light on 4 Shorts, One Future, a series of promotional videos about Maine’s lobster fishery for the Island Institute and the Maine Lobsterman’s Association.

Dyanna Taylor – Director of Photography

Dyanna Taylor’s earliest photographic influences came from her grandmother, Dorothea Lange. Dyanna has been in the film business since 1972. Her primary emphasis has been on directing and cinematography. She has shot feature narratives around the world including Yellow HandkerchiefStop LossNorth Country and The Missing. Her feature documentary credits include The Killer Within by Mackey Alson, What I Want My Words To Do To You by Eve Ensler and Inspirations by Michael Apted.

David Wright – Director of Photography

David was born in the United Kingdom, and after spending extended periods in Australia and Norway, finally made the United States home. He started in the film business shooting wildlife stories at Oxford Scientific Films (OSF) before going freelance. He has worked in over 50 countries and his clients include BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and PBS. David has earned numerous awards, including two Emmys and a BAFTA. Career highlights include working on the BBC shows Life in Cold Blood and Frozen Planet. He also works as a producer on expedition stories that he shoots, many of which bring him to diverse locations—from across the Australian Outback to the wilds of Arctic Svalbard. David produces content independently as Planet Earth Pictures, but began a significant long-term association with Compass Light when he shot episodes of the series Sunrise Earth. Most recently, he worked as Director of Photography on Compass Light’s 20-part 4K series Big Picture Earth for CuriosityStream. When not working on a film project, David enjoys hiking, teaching expedition film/photography workshops, continuing to hone his multilingual skills (English, American and Australian), and being the guinea pig for new recipes created by his chef wife MiMi.

Darryl Czuchra – Sound

A native of Connecticut, Darryl graduated from University of Connecticut and began a stint in the music business, working as a recording engineer by day and drummer by night for the alt band All the Voices. Eventually, his creative energies turned towards visual storytelling. After two seasons filming outdoor adventures for the PBS series Trailside, Darryl moved to Maine to help develop another PBS award-winning series, Anyplace Wild. As a producer and director for four seasons, he led the expedition team into some of the world’s wildest locations. With a broad range of skills, including producing, shooting, audio recording, and editing, he has since collaborated on hundreds of hours of broadcast television programs for Discovery, Animal Planet, History, Nat Geo, BBC, HBO, and more. Darryl has worked with Compass Light since 2003, producing Sunrise Earth, Cracking the Ocean Code, Creating Synthetic Life, and Big Picture Earth, as well as dozens of short films. When he’s not packing or unpacking Pelican cases, Darryl enjoys time in Maine with his wife and their two sons.

Daniel Quintanilla – Editor

Daniel Quintanilla is a documentary filmmaker and editor whose work spans formats including feature length, virtual reality and endangered language documentation projects. As a feature film editor, his work includes Behold the Earth (Compass Light, 2016), The Most Unknown (VICE Media, 2018), Captive Beauty (Radical Media, 2011), and Language of America (Speaking Place, 2010). Daniel has also worked on various NEH/NSF funded projects documenting endangered languages in Northern New England and Southern Mexico. Leading a course titled Community Self-Documentation, Daniel taught people how to use video and audio to document their own community and language. Most recently, Daniel has ventured into virtual reality storytelling on the project A Shared Space (2017), an interactive documentary about the Somali-American community of Lewiston, Maine.