On Sunday, September 12, Frack Outta Brooklyn is hosting their first Radical Youth Film Festival at the People’s Garden located on Broadway and Greene Avenue. 

The outreach event, which starts at 4 and ends at 8 p.m. later that evening, will feature three short family-friendly films that, according to activist Pati Rodriguez, “are about the need to protect Mother Earth and…go back to our Afro-Indigenous roots, ancestral knowledge and medicine.”

Frack Outta Brooklyn is a Black, Brown and Indigenous-led effort that resists Brooklyn pipeline construction and infrastructure based on extractive resources. As Rodriguez explained, the coalition is composed of many other Bushwick grassroots organizations including Mi Casa Resiste, Earth Strike, CN Brooklyn, the Indigenous Kinship Collective, the New York Boricua Resistance and Mayday Space, which shares many common organizers with Mi Casa. The Brownsville Green Justice committee has recently become involved in actions, including federal complaints, according to Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez herself is a co-founder of Mi Casa Resiste and Frack Outta Brooklyn, which were founded in 2015 and 2020, respectively, and has been a Mayday Space collective member since 2014. 

“We all got together to make this happen,” Rodriguez told Bushwick Daily. “It’s a great way to talk to our neighbors about the need to fight for our own well-being, for the dignity to live in peace and healthy conditions. Everyone should have that right no matter their income.” According to Rodriguez, this would require the National Grid to evolve to create green infrastructure for renewable energy. 

Currently, the coalition is fighting against the North Brooklyn Pipeline, which would transport gas obtained through fracking from Pennsylvania to North Brooklyn. Plans to further develop the seven-mile pipeline have been halted at present.

The option remains to continue the project in the future, however. Much of the pipeline has already been built under homes in Bushwick, Brownsville, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg without people’s knowledge, according to Rodriguez. National Grid told the Guardian it did community outreach in neighborhoods that would be affected. 

“It’s going through Black and Brown neighborhoods, lower-income neighborhoods and all working-class neighborhoods,” said Rodriguez. “It is a danger to the community because it presents the threat of an explosion or a leak that will spread toxicity into the environment, which causes things like cancer, asthma — which we already have a high percentage of in these areas of Bushwick and in Brownsville,” she continued.  

Karen Young, media representative for National Grid, commented that the North Brooklyn Pipeline is a necessary project to meet the city’s increasing energy needs and will ultimately be a benefit to the communities it serves, as reported by The American Prospect. “It doesn’t introduce any new gas,” Young said. “It ensures that the system works more safely and efficiently for all our customers.”

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the rate of adult and children asthma-related hospitalization of Williamsburg and Bushwick  is double that of Brooklyn or the city overall. In 2019, Localize reported that Brownsville had the highest adult asthma rates in the city, and a recent Sustainalytics data report shows that over the past two decades, “oil and gas pipelines in the U.S faced over 5,700 significant incidents*, causing 256 fatalities and 1,142 injuries.”

The first film is a Frack Outta Brooklyn production called “Water Protectors & Land Protectors.” There, Rodriguez and Gabriel Jamison, an environmentalist from Brownsville, read from Carole Lindstrom’s book “We Are Water Protectors.” It is based on the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota, and in it “a brave young Water Protector helps to rally her community against the Black Snake.” 

Next is “Nimkii,”  a short film written and directed by Ishkwaazhe Shane McSauby. In the film, a young girl in Brooklyn explores her power as Nimkii, which means “thunderer.”

“Papalotl-Muyus,” produced by the Semillas Collective, Dance to the People and Mayday’s Children’s KYR Theater program, is a dance film that, according to Rodriguez, highlights “the high cost of humanitarian crises on the lives of Indigenous women, children and the environment.”  

There will be arts-and-crafts kits to give away and a screen-printing section where kids can bring their own T-shirts and canvas bags to print messaging “against the pipeline and for healthy living in Brooklyn,” shares Rodriguez. 

Top image courtesy of Mayday Space.

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