Sourlands

Directed by Jared Flesher
Visit Film Site: Sourlands.com
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Find a map of the American Northeast and place your finger on New York City, the nation’s largest metropolis. Begin to move your finger in a straight line toward Philadelphia, the nation’s sixth largest metropolis. During this journey, you will enter New Jersey, the nation’s most densely populated state. Before reaching Philly, your finger will pass just one large splotch of uninterrupted green. Those are the Sourland Mountains, Central New Jersey’s last wilderness.

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The Sourlands are hardly what most people would deem mountains—they rise to a height of just 568 feet—but their rough terrain has helped insulate them from New Jersey’s famously sprawling suburbs. They are home to Central Jersey’s largest contiguous forest, threatened wildlife species, and a history layered with legend. John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, hid out from the British in these hills during the American Revolution. Charles Lindbergh made his home here, as did bootleggers, hobos, freed-slaves, and the playwrights George Bernard Shaw and Eugene O’Neill.

Sourlands will present the story of a place defined by ecological wealth and memorable citizenry. It is also a place that could easily lose its unique character. The Sourlands straddle two of the richest counties in the United States, where median household incomes are over $100,000. High land prices, high property taxes, and development pressure all threaten to alter the Sourlands.

Human civilization has entered an era of unprecedented challenges: peak oil, global climate change, and an exploding population. In response, communities all around the world have begun to rethink the paradigms they rely on for food, water, energy, and economic stability. The same is true of the people of the Sourlands. They have important stories to tell about their progress, as well as the work ahead. These stories, told from one notable green splotch on a map, are universal and urgent.

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Jared Flesher is an award-winning journalist, writing often about energy, agriculture and the environment. His work has been published by The New York Times Online, The Wall Street Journal Online, Grist, The Christian Science Monitor, New Jersey Monthly, and Edible Jersey. Jared’s first film, The Farmer and the Horse, aired on PBS in New Jersey in November 2010 and is now distributed nationally by Chelsea Green Publishing.

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