A new film set to premiere in Langley this weekend celebrates the expansive work of two South Whidbey environmental activists who have made an undeniably lasting impact on the island.
Titled “EVER GREEN,” the 30-minute documentary produced by Clinton filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin delves into the work of the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, commonly known as WEAN, and the founders behind it – Marianne Edain and Steve Erickson. The film will debut at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23 at The Clyde Theater in Langley. Admission is free, and the film will be followed by a discussion period with WEAN.
Partners Young and Dworkin created the film through Moving Images, their nonprofit production company. In the past, the couple have made films about South Whidbey School Farms and Growlers.
“We tend to focus on the environment and social justice,” Young said. “That’s a broad spectrum here, but we’ve worked here locally and across the country and internationally too.”
The documentary features music from Whidbey musicians and explores different parts of the island that WEAN has saved from development, such as Saratoga Woods. Young said that she herself has felt a greater appreciation for the island’s natural beauty while working on the film.
“There’s a lot of pressure here on the island to develop because we’re close enough to the city,” she said.
With a public screening scheduled for The Clyde Theater – where Dworkin has worked for over 40 years – Young is hopeful it will be an opportunity for viewers to have more engagement with the film. She has already received a sizable amount of interest.
If the demand persists, it’s likely there will be more screenings in the near future. Ultimately, the film will be available to view online after some time.
“It seemed like something we could do to help show some of the impacts of the kind of work they’ve done for decades, and hopefully inspire other people to get involved in helping protect some of the rural feeling of this island,” she said.
Edain and Erickson have not yet seen the film themselves. The viewing on Sunday will be their first time, along with the other audience members present.
“Mark and Melissa are very, very good at what they do,” Edain said. “I have a feeling they can make silk purses out of sow ears. Based on the trailer, it should be a very good film.”
As far as they know, it’s the only film of its kind out there to feature WEAN.
“Unless there’s something the FBI has that we don’t know about,” Erickson quipped.
Edain explained that their nonprofit organization is currently undergoing a transition to “WEAN 2.0.”
“We’d like to fade gracefully into emeritus status, but for that to happen, we need someone to pick up the pieces,” she said.
Coupeville resident Katie Reid Levine has been assisting WEAN through this transition, which includes digitizing over 30 years of important records, hiring staff and recruiting more board members for the organization.
“They’ve laid the groundwork to make sure the island has a legacy and protection and sort of a model to continue to protect the beauty that Whidbey Island is,” Reid Levine said.
She added that it’s about mobilizing the next generation as the founders age and get closer to retirement.
“WEAN needs to be involved with a current posse of passionate people,” she said. “The work is ongoing. The more people that are involved in it, the more work can be done.”
“There are people in the community who don’t want to see WEAN fade off into the sunset because Steve and I fade off into the sunset,” Edain said. “This is what it’s all about, is creating a genuine structure to carry it all forward.”