Hello there!  It's been far too long...

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I've missed you....

What a wild ride 2017 has been. Thank you... for holding on, holding steady, and maintaining crazy amounts of patience with me as I wade through these unknown waters. I have much to share, and want to begin by sincerely apologizing for the many months that have gone by since my last update. I'm not sure how that happened, but it most definitely did. Now let's get to the good stuff!


We are amidst a powerful time of year. Every year, November feels intense, in a way that I cherish & honor. As if the leaves falling from the trees are asking me to let go. Let go of what no longer serves me. Make space. Go inward.

Over these past two weeks I have been remembering vividly my time at Standing Rock. I was there on the day we call "Thanksgiving". On the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota, Bill, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, raised his arms to show that he was unarmed and in prayer, as law enforcement stood fully armed on top of the tribe’s sacred mountain. On land that belongs to the Sioux, on a day in which we typically and naively celebrate the massacre and genocide of Native Americans, these tribes & their allies were gathered to pray for the water. I remain utterly grateful for the opportunity to stand with them, to learn from them, and to share their stories. If you would like to watch some of the stories I brought home from Standing Rock, please visit my Vimeo page.

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In September I attended the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, (just before terrible wildfires ravaged the region). If you're interested in seeds, seed sovereignty, permaculture, biodynamics, local food, or regenerative agriculture, this is a great event to put on your radar for next year. It's like a feast for the farmer/foodie senses, and there is many a brilliant human to dive into conversation with. 

If you'd like to see a short film about the fires that devastated the region, I recommend this one by my dear friend and fellow filmmaker, Emmett Brennan...
Reflection : A California Fire Story

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I was fortunate to attend the annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael - which is a conference like no other. I left feeling full to the brim. I got to meet Amy Goodman (holy crap you guys, Amy Goodman!), and I had the immense honor of diving into conversation on camera with some greats in the water world...

Andy Lipkis - Founder & President of TreePeople, working to restore Los Angeles

Kandi Mossett - Environmental Activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the woman who inspired me to travel to Standing Rock last year

Clare DuBois - Goddess, Whirlwind of Inspiration & Founder of TreeSisters, working to plant a billion trees a year globally, encouraging each of us to give back to nature.

and last but certainly not least....
Mark DuBois - Co-Founder of Friends of the River and lifelong river advocate, well-known for chaining himself to a rock at the base of the Stanislaus River to protest the filling of New Melones Reservoir. 

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Over the past few months I've been digging deep. I've been feeding my mind, nourishing my soul, and doing research through a rediscovered love of... books, books, books! Here are a few of the titles I've devoured this year... most of them focused around water, some focused on the bodies & minds we will need to cultivate to get where we must go, all of them highly recommended.....

(and if you find yourself grubbing on this list and want more, you can keep up with my reading list on Instagram or Facebook by searching the hashtag #brittanyappbooklist)


Finally, in addition to promising you that I'll send out updates more often than every six months, (I will!), I have some reeeallllyyy exciting news to share with you... soon. To tantalize your tastebuds a bit... it has to do with post-production, and a collaboration that will have the potential to move mountains. I am THRILLED.

It's a crazy journey to be on... making this film... everything is admittedly taking longer than I anticipated, but it couldn't be moving along more perfectly. I have surrendered to a power mightier than myself, and I'm holding on for the ride. Much Love y'all. Thank you, truly, for being with me on this sacred journey...

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If you haven't had a chance to view the 19-minute sneak preview that we shared at the 2017 SLO Film Fest, we invite you to do so, and to share it far and wide.... and then keep your eyes and ears peeled for the feature-length film, coming Fall of 2018.

Best of SLO, Gratitude & Forward Momentum

2017 has been full (overflowing, in fact), and I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for your curiosity, your support, your work, your contributions towards making this planet a better place for all life. 

There is much good work on the horizon, and I look forward to sharing the filmmaking experience with you as we work through the final stages of production this summer for "Where There Once Was Water", and then into post-production in the fall. We've had a great response to the short sneak-preview, and look forward to bringing you an epic feature-length film in 2018. Onward!

Best in SLO : Best Photographer

Holy wow!  I am incredibly honored to have been voted the "Best Photographer in SLO County" by the readers of the New Times. This is an honor beyond words, as the talent runs thick here in SLO County amongst my fellow photographers. I am surrounded and inspired by so many incredible artists here, and appreciate each and every one of you for creating and sharing your beauty with the world in your own unique & perfect way. I am humbled, grateful, and honored for your love, my friends. Truly. Thank you.

We have a Fiscal Sponsor!  Where There Once Was Water is now officially sponsored by awesome local non-profit, Ecologistics (pictured above).  Thanks to their support, we can now accept larger donations on a tax-deductible basis, as well as apply for grants to help cover the costs of finishing this film. We are both thrilled & honored that Ecologistics has chosen to support us in this way. If you would like to discuss financial support of the film, please reach out to me anytime.

I'm currently featured in an interview on their blog HERE.  :)

 

As you'll see in this update, there's a lot to catch up on. And If you haven't had a chance to view the 19-minute sneak preview, we invite you to do so today! We'd LOVE to hear what you think of the focus and storyline so far....

I spent a week in Sonoma County in March, and a couple of beautiful days at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center - one day as a volunteer in the garden, getting dirt underneath my fingernails - and one day cruising around with Brock Dolman, chatting about the importance of managing our watersheds as a whole - and getting into the nitty gritty of what it really means to "slow it, spread it, sink it, store it, share it."

While up in Sonoma County, I also participated in a three day workshop with Mark Shepard & Spencer Smith, learning about Restoration Agriculture & Holistic Management, and proceeded to have my mind blown. Seriously. I left this workshop feeling inspired, empowered, curious, hopeful, urgent, and capable, of participating in the revolution that we so badly need.

My husband participated in the Big Sandy Bike Race on the San Joaquin River Gorge Trail in April, which gave us an opportunity to go back and visit the San Joaquin River Gorge in the spring, and it was jaw-dropping. Electric greens everywhere - exuberant from the wet winter. Temperance Flat Dam threatens this beautiful area.... Find out more through Friends of the River.

I spent a day with the folks from Hortau. We toured Deardorff Family Farms in Ventura, and I learned about the benefits of using Hortau's high-tech soil sensors on a commercial-scale organic farm, particularly in regards to total water use.  I filmed a celery harvest, and came away even more appreciative of where my food comes from.

In April I spent a couple of days in the field with DigDeep, a non-profit working to improve the lives of families in Navajo Nation. While driving out onto the reservation from Thoreau, New Mexico, with Darlene, the Water Lady, in her water truck, I learned about some of the harsh realities of life in Navajo Nation.  Over 40% of families do not have running water or electricity. Darlene fills up her truck every day, and delivers water to homes - for free - into cisterns, barrels, buckets. The need is so great that she can only make it to each home once a month.  If the family runs out of water before Darlene's return, they must haul it themselves, a round trip of 100 miles for some. This reality, in 2017, hurts.  We can do better than this. We need to stand up, and do more for each other, and specifically for our Nation's First Peoples. Learn more about the work DigDeep is doing HERE.

Tablas Creek, oh my goodness, Tablas Creek. I cannot wait to share all the beauty (and adorableness) that is Tablas Creek Vineyard. There's no way that you're not going to love these people and all that they do for the land and the community. (and I got to see their new baby llama!! you guys!)

The sneak-preview showing at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival was a huge success, and I remain crazy honored for the opportunity to have participated in the SLO Film Fest as a Filmmaker, even though this project is very much still in production. Thank you to the good folks at SLOIFF for your love & support - it really means the world.

I also had a great showing at the Bay Theatre in Morro Bay, CA, as a follow up to SLOIFF. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements in the future about screenings & fundraiser parties - there will be many opportunities in the coming year to participate, and we wouldn't want to do it without you, truly.

I'd like to finish today's rather long update (thanks for hanging with me, wow) with an image from the March for Science in San Luis Obispo. I've been inspired by our local marches - for a small town we've really been speaking up, and for that, SLO County, you should be proud! Let's keep it up!

(If you'd like to view and/or download images from the march for personal use, the entire gallery is available to you HERE, as my gift to you).

Her sign reads: "You will die of old age. I may die from climate change."

Sneak Preview TONIGHT at the SLO Film Fest

A sneak-preview of "Where There Once Was Water" will play to a SOLD-OUT crowd at the Octagon Barn in SLO tonight at 7pm as part of the 2017 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. As you can imagine, we are supremely excited! 

I remain incredibly humbled & grateful to every single person who has helped in this endeavor in any way... there are MANY of you. It truly takes a village, and I feel honored to be surrounded & supported by one of the best villages on the planet, truly. xo

For those who don't have tickets to tonight's show, have no fear! Due to popular demand, we will be launching this Sneak-Preview on our website on World Water Day, March 22nd. And our trusty & beloved Kickstarter backers will get their own extra-sneaky-preview a day early on March 21st. 

** A special note for our Kickstarter Backers**
Due to some new developments in the story of California Water, and our desire to tell a thorough and balanced story, we have extended our production timeline a bit.  We expect to complete the feature-length film in Summer of 2018, and will keep you updated along the way. Depending on your backer reward level, some of you will receive an invite to a private screening when the film is complete.  But for now, have no fear, you have not missed your private showing. :) This opportunity from the SLO Film Fest was a rare (and incredibly generous!) one, and it gave us a great deadline to work towards. This has resulted in a fabulous 18-minute rough-draft sneak-preview that we can now share with the world as we move forward in production towards our final film. Exciting stuff, to say the least!

Again, I thank you, from the depths of my being. I cannot wait to share a peek into this incredibly journey with you... Much Love, my friends. xo

From Drought to Floods

Time has been elusive lately... Much is changing, on our planet, within our systems, and in our hearts, and we need each other now more than ever.

These mere teenage days of 2017 have been much more than many of us ever imagined. And I believe the Resistance, the Revolution, is here. And it is beautiful.

Our Mother Earth is awake, alive, and no longer content to sit quietly, my friends. She's speaking up, and I have a sneaking suspicion she's about to get loud. My greatest hope for the coming days...? That enough of us continue wake up with her, and listen. 

Come see us at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival!

WHERE THERE ONCE WAS WATER: A California Story
California Water: where are we, where are we headed, and how can we craft an equitable water future for all life? Join the conversation with local photographer and filmmaker Brittany App, as she shares a 15-minute *sneak-preview* of this feature-length film, currently in production.

Special Event in the Octagon Barn : March 15, 2017 : 7pm
Click HERE to purchase tickets. Only 100 seats available. Tix will sell out!

You may already know that I traveled to Standing Rock in November of last year, to share the stories of the Water Protectors. Today I share Meadow's story. For some beautiful truth about Standing Rock, and the power of this movement, please take some time to listen.

Upon returning home from Standing Rock, Erin Inglish coordinated an evening of stories & conversation, "Standing SLO : The Movement Comes Home". It was standing-room only at the Guild Hall in SLO, and we were honored by a visit from Myron Dewey and the Digital Smoke Signals family. I encourage you to follow his informed Indigenous media coverage, live from Standing Rock, as the story there continues to unfold.

In January I attended and documented the Women's March in SLO, and my heart burst wide open with love and admiration for this place I call home, and the beautiful souls within it, ready and willing to stand up together, for our rights as women.

You can see a full gallery of my images from the day HERE.

In February I interviewed our mighty new SLO Mayor, Heidi Harmon, a brave climate activist, and a well-spoken & fully inspiring creative woman with a heart of gold. Heidi and I had a heart-to-heart about tangible hopes & fears around a rapidly changing climate, and how we can all participate in the conversation to create a future we can be proud of.

I attended the California Irrigation Institute Conference in Sacramento, learned a TON, and got to hear Dr. Jay Famiglietti, a climate scientist from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, speak about the serious nature of our groundwater deficiency here in California.

I interviewed the one-and-only Water Maven herself, Chris Austin, the woman behind the go-to California Water news source Maven's Notebook, and she is an absolute joy. 

I visited Folsom Lake and San Luis Reservoir, and saw a dramatic change from my previous visits. Drought followed by floods has been a blessing & a curse - the record-setting rainfall has filled both our northern reservoirs, and caused major destruction.

We must continue to think globally and act locally. I encourage you to find out about water issues in your own home town. Where does your water come from? What threats loom in your community that could affect your health, your home and your way of life? 

Here in San Luis Obispo County we are battling big oil with a couple of efforts - the proposed Chumash Marine Sanctuary, and Protect Price Canyon. I interviewed one of our local connected leaders, Roberto Monge, and his daughter Liliana, about the importance of rallying together as a community to protect our home.

It is true that we have moved from severe drought to floods. But the drought, or more appropriately, the California water crisis, is far from over. Our groundwater aquifers remain severely depleted. Our infrastructure is crumbling (see the stories about Oroville Dam?), and we have a gaggle of climate change deniers in the White House who seem intent upon destroying both our democracy and our planet, all for the sake of profits.

"Only when the last tree has died, and the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money." - Native American Proverb

Standing Rock Stories

Being present in California while my heart is on the ground in North Dakota has been a challenge. The status of camp changes day by day, hour by hour, it seems. On December 4th, in the 11th hour, President Obama & The Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would NOT grant the easement for Energy Transfer Partners to bore under the Missouri River at Lake Oahu. This was a HUGE victory for Indigenous Sovereignty.

Since that announcement, with some uncertainty still on the horizon, and with severe winter storms battering the front line camps, the focus has begun to shift towards energizing a global movement. Take the energy & intentions of Standing Rock everywhere - to every pipeline - to every polluter - to every black snake. Continue to divest from all the corporate banks funding this project. Mass Bank Exit. People Power. And so it begins...

"The shortest distance between a human and the truth is a story." - Cynthia Brix

I felt heart-called to travel to Standing Rock - to help share the story of the Water Protectors - heart to heart - human to human. I am honored and grateful for those who spent time with me and who trusted me to share their story. 

I have many stories to share with you in the coming weeks, three of them today. The first is Donna & Curly - they are Rosebud Sioux, and the leaders of Rosebud "Sicangu Oyate" Camp at Standing Rock, North Dakota. They welcomed us in from the moment we arrived. They kept us safe, warm, fed, prayerful, and protected. Please, take a moment to listen...

And then there's John from Alabama. Along with being a jolly soul with a tremendous heart, he's a Vietnam Veteran, a talented (and wonderfully wiley) photographer, and the Hurricane Creekkeeper for the Waterkeeper Alliance. When I asked him about the behavior of law enforcement here at Standing Rock, he said "North Dakota is the most lawless state I have ever seen." This, coming from a man who lived in Alabama in the 1960s, and who witnessed the way the Freedom Riders were treated. Friends, meet John. 

This is Melaine Stoneman and her sister J.C. Begay. These women are Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud, South Dakota. I met Melaine at the Women's Meeting on my first day at camp. She and her sister J.C. speak to the importance of standing united as women all over the world. Please listen & learn from the wisdom these women have to share..

YOU can help defeat this Black Snake for GOOD.  Divest from the corporate banks who are funding this monster. Join me - put your money where your heart is. #DeFundDAPL Today. Every day. Everyone. Everywhere. Let's DO this! http://www.defunddapl.org

#DeFundDAPL

Bank of America is one of many banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I just cannot be a part of that...  So I spent some time yesterday removing my money from Bank of America and depositing it into Sesloc Federal Credit Union.  And, yes, I most definitely told BofA why, complete with a personal letter to the manager. 

I hope you'll join me in taking your money out of the big banks funding this atrocity. Find a local Credit Union - invest there.  Money talks.  And if we all leave (can you imagine?!), the banks will eventually listen.

Here are some helpful tips to Close Your Accounts with Banks Funding DAPL:

1. Go to your bank and publicly close your account(s) with banks funding the pipeline: Wells Fargo, CitiBank, Bank of America, US Bank, PNC, SunTrust, Chase, BNP, RBC ... Click HERE for a complete list of all the banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Submit a letter to management stating your reason. 
You can use this prepared letter.

2. Take a picture in front of the bank with your wallet in hand and a sign saying #DeFundDAPL - then post the photo to all your social media networks, use the hashtag #DeFundDAPL , @ tag your bank, and share these links with others, encouraging them to do the same. 

3. Take your participation one step further by: contacting CEO's and/or organizing your own event at www.defundDAPL.com , and Join the Movement @ fb.com/DeFundDAPL

On the day we call "Thanksgiving"

This is Bill. He's a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His people have lived on and cared for this land for hundreds of years. I met him in the early morning hours on my first day at Standing Rock. His dog Angel introduced us, as dogs do. I was overwhelmed with the energy of this sacred place, and was walking towards media hill to acquire my press pass. I was unsure what the days ahead would bring. Bill's first words to me... "Thank you for being here." 

Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. "We need you," he said, "All of you. All of our allies, from all over the world. It really means a lot to us that you are here." And in that instant, I'm pretty sure my heart exploded within my chest. "Thank YOU for inviting us," I said, "It is a true honor", and I meant it from depths of my being.

Land sacred to these people is being destroyed. Again. This is nothing new. They stand in prayer. To protect the Water. To protect Mother Earth. Arms outstretched. Hearts wide open. 

This photo is from the day we call "Thanksgiving". Law enforcement was stationed on top of Turtle Island, a sacred site for the Standing Rock Sioux. Their ancestors are buried on that hill, and the police are stationed up there, parking, driving, walking all over it. There are snipers, there are guns, mace canisters in hand, fire hoses, all at the ready. All at the ready for the prayer & ceremony that is about to take place on the banks of the Cannonball River. 

Bill & his tribe, along with 300 other tribes, plus thousands of non-Native allies, are standing up for all of us. For Life. For Water. For your children. For Indigenous sovereignty. For peace. 

The Natives are fulfilling a prophecy - that the youth would rise up, and that people of all colors would stand together - to kill the black snake. Because the black snake brings with it great sorrow and great destruction. This prophecy is now - the black snake is DAPL - the Pipeline. This is happening in real time, and I still cannot quite find the words to illustrate the immensity of this movement. These are the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota. This is The Great Sioux Nation. This river is their relative, and they will stand and pray until the black snake is defeated.

Standing Rock Reflections

I am home, held within the sweet caress of my husband. I am warm, I am resting, and I am grateful. I am overflowing.

It all feels a bit like a dream. Standing Rock. My brothers & sisters there are now living within a winter that has arrived with a fury. Just 24 hours after our departure, a foot of snow covered the ground, and the cold there will bite you to the bone.

I have much on my mind and in my heart. Overflowing. Much to share, and not exactly sure where to begin. Many who are headed to Standing Rock are asking for advice - and I think it makes sense to write a blog post specifically geared towards addressing those questions - not as any voice of authority - but only to share what I experienced, and to aid other allies in their preparations to the best of my ability. Expect that soon. xo

The situation on the ground there is changing daily. The Army Corps of Engineers has issued an evacuation notice for the main camp, known as Oceti Sakowin Camp, for December 5th. There are currently thousands of people camping there, and they have no intention of moving. There are over 2100 unarmed Veterans arriving on December 4th to Stand in Solidarity with the Water Protectors, and to act as a "human shield" between the lawless law enforcement and the Water Protectors. Various authorities in North Dakota have 1) asked local shops in neighboring towns to refuse service or supplies to anyone who is a part of the camps, 2) stated that emergency services will not be available to anyone in the main camp after December 5th, and 3) stated that law enforcement will be ticketing & fining people upwards of $1000 for delivering supplies the main camp. 

Whether or not you like pipelines, whether or not you drink water, regardless of how you feel about this whole situation, at the most basic human level, this is WRONG. Peoples lives are in danger. This winter can kill. Cutting off supplies in the dead of winter. Forceful eviction. Violent attacks during prayer and ceremony. Treating human beings this way is wrong on every level, and unfortunately this treatment is nothing new for our Native Americans. It's time we stand up. It is time that we Listen, Learn, and Lend a Hand, in whatever way we are able.

As members of the human race, we have a right to protest. We have a right to free speech. And our Native Americans most definitely have every right to pray, on their own land, to hold ceremony, and to peacefully assemble. They are standing up for YOU. They are praying for our Mother Earth, for our water, and for YOU. If there is no clean water, there is no life. They are asking us to listen, to forge a new path, to build a new future.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for joining me on this journey. Thank you for listening as I process. Thank you for divesting your money from banks funding this madness. Thank you for calling those responsible for these crimes against humanity. Thank you for being you. 

If you would like to follow the story, as it progresses on the ground, I recommend following any/all of these folks.... Dallas GoldtoothKandi MossettIndigenous Environmental NetworkIndigenous Rising MediaJohn Wathen.

More to come. Much Love, y'all. xo