Film crews come to Kansas to document Take Charge Challenge
For the past five months, residents in Baldwin City and 15 other communities across Kansas diligently have changed light bulbs, lined up energy audits for their homes and installed programmable thermostats.
Those efforts have generated interest from across the country.
This week, two film crews will be in Baldwin City and other parts of the state to document the Take Charge Challenge, a program that pits cities against one another to see which ones can conserve the most energy.
On Monday, a group from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was in Lawrence for interviews with the Climate and Energy Project, the nonprofit organization that is coordinating the Take Charge Challenge, and leaders with Trinity Episcopal Church, which has included sustainability as part of its mission.
On Tuesday, another film crew will arrive in Kansas. This one is shooting material for a PBS documentary that will be the third in a series of three dubbed “Earth: The Operators Manual.”
“It’s a really exciting opportunity to showcase the great, great work that Kansans are doing with the challenge and how they have taken ownership of it and made it a spirited competition,” said Dorothy Barnett, who is director of energy and transmission with the Climate and Energy Project.
Both crews will be filming activities at a Take Charge Challenge community event in Baldwin City Tuesday evening.
The Take Charge Challenge is being highlighted partially because Kansas is an unexpected place to find an energy-saving program, said Erna Akuginow, who is producing the PBS documentary through Geoffrey Haines-Stiles Productions.
“We know what California is doing, what cities in the East Coast and what Portland is doing,” Akuginow said. “But we don’t hear that much about what people in the Heartland are doing.”
The PBS documentary is funded through the National Science Foundation and is part of a series of outreach programs on climate change and energy options for the future. The first in the three-part series aired in April. The second piece is in post production and scheduled for the early part of 2012.
While the first two documentaries had an international scope, the third is focusing on work in the United States.
Along with the Take Charge Challenge, the documentary will feature programs in Fort Worth, Texas, Portland, Ore., Baltimore and Alaska.
The film crew already made one visit to Kansas when they filmed a Take Charge Challenge event in Iola. The crew plans to return to Kansas later this summer.
This week, the PBS film crew will be a Baldwin City event, an energy carnival in Chanute, a ribbon cutting in Gardner and at a Final Fridays event in Lawrence.
The Take Charge Challenge is a program that provides a narrative with a clear beginning and end, Akuginow said.
“This idea of a competition gave us a hook,” she said.
The other film crew is with Berkeley Lab, which conducts scientific research for the U.S. Department of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley.
That group first became interested in the Take Charge Challenge when the Climate and Energy Project launched the pilot program two years ago. At that time, Berkeley Lab listed the program among “best practices” in a national report.
Along with featuring the Climate and Energy Project work, the crew is looking at renewable energy projects in the state. The finished product, a four- to six-minute video, is expected to be featured on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website this fall.
“Kansans are great spokespeople for why energy efficiency matters. And our premise all along for the Take Charge Challenge is that local champions are what make it successful,” Barnett said.