Carol-Lynne goes plastic-free: a story about documentary’s social impact

This post published on April 7, 2014

“OPEN CINEMA changed my life!” Carol-Lynne Michaels’ OPEN CINEMA story.

Carol-Lynne Michaels

Earlier this year, TEDx Victoria co-founder Carol-Lynne Michaels took a bold and inspirational stand to live  plastic-free for a year. Carol-Lynne has been a longtime OPEN CINEMA attendee, volunteer and Tweetchatter . For a couple of years she’s been telling me “OPEN CINEMA changed my life!” I was touched by her desire to support our  non-profit goal to use documentary as a tool for community engagement. But I never took her words seriously….until I read this article in the Times Colonist. Then I started to understand how watching a powerful documentary at an OPEN CINEMA event inspired her to make some serious changes in her life.

Snippet of the Times Colonist article about Carol-Lynne Michaels going #PlasticFree2014

We asked Carol-Lynne to share her story…

OPEN CINEMA Clean Bin Project posterOC: How did your experience at OPEN CINEMA influence your decision to go plastic free?

CM: It was at OPEN CINEMA where I watched The Clean Bin Project for the first time. I had no idea that I would be so opened, so changed by the experience of seeing it, meeting the filmmakers and having a chance to engage with a whole room of people during an enriching panel discussion. I left knowing that I was changed. I didn’t know that I would end up changing my entire lifestyle. I took up a Plastic-Free challenge in 2012, and have gone public this year with #PlasticFree2014.

OC: How does OPEN CINEMA contribute to community building and engagement on social justice issues?

155859_465417492625_2945398_n(1)CM: I think OPEN CINEMA brings a special kind of connection to a city. People come for the movie and to see the panel discussion – but they walk away with so much more. I think people long to discuss and converse and hear what other people in their region think and do about issues they all care about. OPEN CINEMA creates a space for these learnings to happen.

The value of OPEN CINEMA’s new project Connecting the Docs is that it’s breaking the room open and bringing in people on the Internet — the whole model is blown open and communities across Cana4. Connecting the Docs Video slideda are seeing each other in a virtual room for the first time in this context. Documentary brings people together over stories and issues. OPEN CINEMA connects people in the room, on the Internet, and in a ‘sister’ city with their own online community. (Find out more about our next Connecting the Docs on April 23)

OC: How can other people find the personal motivation to make this kind of positive  radical change in their lives?

CM: Through my blog posts and news articles or radio spots, I have definitely seen some positive and action-oriented responses from people in Victoria. I love when someone’s mind is shaken up and they come out saying ‘what can I do?’. Documentary can motivate people to make changes in their lives. And my story can too. Personal motivation comes from people and stories. That’s why we’re so fascinated by the genre, we’re hooked in and waiting til our turn to change comes.

Read more about Carol-Lynne Michaels’ pledge to live sans plastique here.

Documentary + engagement = social impact.

As the documentary form shifts in the current digital sandstorm, there has been a growing need to illustrate and enumerate the genre’s social impact. Since 2003, audiences have been telling me that attending OPEN CINEMA events leaves them feeling informed, inspired, connected to like-minded others and ready for action.  Carol-Lynne’s story is a beautiful testimony to documentary’s potential to be a catalyst for social change. Thanks Carol-Lynne Michaels!

Over the coming months, we’ll be featuring some of these documentary impact stories on our website. What documentaries have changed the way you see or do things?

Please contact us if you’d like to contribute a blog post.

P.S. OPEN CINEMA has been nominated for a Social Media Award in the Excellence in Engagement – Non-Profit category.  Please VOTE for us until April 9, 2014! thanks!

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