‘Flush: The Documentary’ makes a splash

BRATTLEBORO — Rich Earth Institute and the People's Own Organic Power (POOP) Project are co-hosting a film screening of Flush: The Documentary, followed by a panel discussion on Saturday, June 18, at 2 p.m., in the Epsilon Spires Community Room, 190 Main St.

According to a news release, the film tells the story of what happens after we “go,” and of a growing movement to change the way we think about waste.

“Director Karina Mangu-Ward has a hunch that the unprecedented damage from Superstorm Sandy in her Brooklyn neighborhood, the drought out West, and the future of our food supply have a lot to do with how we flush. So she gives herself a challenge: follow one flush from beginning to end. Flush: The Documentary is the story of everything that happens next, and the cultural, political, and corporate forces shaping the way we deal with bodily waste in America today.”

The film will be followed by a panel conversation of three local experts in traditional and progressive wastewater services: Christina Adams (Resource Management Inc.), Janine-Burke Wells (North East Biosolids & Residuals Association), Jamina Shupack (Rich Earth Institute).

Panelists will reflect on the current sanitary situation, discuss impending challenges around biosolids management (including pharmaceuticals and PFAS), and offer diverse perspectives on the path forward to manage human waste-and reclaim it as a resource. The POOP Project's Shawn Shafner will moderate.

In 2014, Mangu-Ward visited Brattleboro to film the Rich Earth Institute for Flush: The Documentary. Local citizens may recognize themselves from that year's Urine Donor Kick-Off, footage which has been an audience favorite since the film's release in 2017.

Since then, Flush: The Documentary has been presented coast to coast, in Egypt, at the Jamaican Toilet Summit, and later this month at the University of Kassel in Germany. This will be the film's Brattleboro premiere, though The POOP Project has participated in many Rich Earth Institute events since the 2014 filming.

The People's Own Organic Power Project, executive producer of Flush: The Documentary, uses art, theater, and education to break the potty taboo and catalyze creative conversation about sustainable sanitation for the person, planet, and world community.

Created in 2010 by artist Shawn Shafner, The POOP Project has played to sold-out crowds in the New York International Fringe Festival (award winner: Overall Excellence in Solo Performance), the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival (“The most important show in the Fringe … ahead of its time,” The Scotsman), and at the United Nations for the inaugural World Toilet Day in 2013.

Shafner is celebrating the release of his new book, Know Your Shit: What Your Crap is Telling You, published by Cider Mill Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster.

TimeOutNY magazine raves: “Shafner wants a global movement and, given his natural charm and bottomless capacity for scatological puns, he might just get one.”

Based in Brattleboro, Rich Earth Institute operates the first and largest community-scale urine recycling program of its kind in the United States. Rich Earth engages in research, education, and technological innovation to advance the use of human waste as a resource.

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