It’s a simple film, 20 years later, but it still has a big heart. Now you can view it for free.

Nothing like a little bit of Downeast thinking to help make sense of your needlessly cluttered life.

It only took us 8 months to assemble, but here it finally is, our new website presenting both the entire movie “Salt of the Earth: A Journey to the Heart of Maine Lobster Fisherman,” (you can now view it for FREE!) as well as 14 short video clips from our celebration evening at the University of Maine last fall. In twenty years of making films, I think this is the project I’m most passionate about. We made the film in 1991 but gave it new life last September in a tribute event at the University of Maine. Now we’ve posted the entire movie — both the short version (28 minutes) and the long version (55 minutes) for viewing on this new website, along with 14 short clips (2 to 4 minutes each) from the event.

It was an amazing evening that brought together two very different crowds with members of the fishing community mixing with the university faculty and students. Here’s to the Robbins brothers!

It’s been a feisty week for tough talk about climate action and examination of the President’s masculinity. Which is nice.

Gore talked trash in Aspen, Dave Roberts says to kick a conservative white man’s ass for the planet, and Drew Westen thinks Obama’s a wimp.


Having whined earlier this year about what I called “The Nerd Loop” (the tendency of overly-cerebral communicators to try and fix their problems by being even more cerebral) it’s refreshing to hear some profanity and taunting coming from the climate community. Is it an instant cure that will suddenly right the capsized climate ship? Definitely not. But it’s good to know there are still some humans like Al Gore and Dave Roberts up in the pulpit.

The first big visceral spasm came from Al Gore who used such horrifically offensive terms as “bullshit” and “crap” in a speech in Aspen in reference to the climate skeptics. The immediate result was climate skeptic cheerleader Marc Morano doing backflips of joy on his website, Climate Depot, using it (once again) to paint a picture of Gore as madman. Whoopdee-do. Good that Gore showed some life. I’m becoming a bigger fan of his with each year that he keeps his nose to the grindstone of this issue (even if his nose is long gone).

Then Dave Roberts of The Grist opened up his own little fire fight by taking on CWM’s (Conservative White Males — though I prefer AGW’s – Angry Grayhaired Whitemen, as someone in Colorado told me is their version for the Anthropogenic Global Warming acronym), saying we need to, “kick their asses.” I have mixed feelings on this. I grew up in Kansas with absolutely the type of guys he’s talking about. When I think of the fathers of my junior high school friends I think they need something more than ass kicking. But still, I’m with Obama overall when it comes to the confrontation issue.

Which leads to the very powerful (but I think ultimately off the mark) article written by communications guru Drew Weston (author of “The Political Brain” and major communications consultant to political groups) in the Sunday NY Times Magazine titled, “What Happened to Obama?” Lots of people were talking about this article on Sunday afternoon. He concluded the piece with this concise and powerful assessment of Obama:

A final explanation is that he ran for president on two contradictory platforms: as a reformer who would clean up the system, and as a unity candidate who would transcend the lines of red and blue. He has pursued the one with which he is most comfortable given the constraints of his character, consistently choosing the message of bipartisanship over the message of confrontation.

That’s a great distillation. But I don’t think it’s emotionally true. Obama knows what he’s doing when it comes to confrontation. Westen doesn’t fully grasp the enormous complexity of the political process. And that’s probably because in the end … he’s still a scientist (i.e. professor of psychology).

And by the way, how many boxing commentators said, “What’s he doing — why is he floating like a butterfly instead of tearing his opponent to pieces?” back when Muhammud Ali was destroying boxers with his, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” style of boxing. Obama’s got the same instincts.

Let’s say this all together now, “People listen to voices they like. People DON’T listen to voices they don’t like.” Most of communication really is that simple.


THERE’S “FUN WEIRD” AND THEN THERE’S “WEIRD WEIRD”. I kinda think Rip the Drip — the poster boy for a water conservation campaign — unfortunately steps across the line into “I really don’t wanna see this guy again” territory, which is not good for communication — just ask the Digger the Dermatophyte people. Regardless, kudos to the folks behind the “Wasting Water is Weird” campaign for at least experimenting with something different.

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#148) Shifting Famine-lines

August 2nd, 2011

There is no more powerful element in communication than storytelling. When things happen quickly they create tension, making for a good story. When they happen slowly they don’t. It’s that simple. Create a good story and everyone will get interested. But if you don’t have a good story to tell, then you end up with what’s currently happening in Somalia, as discussed today in the NY Times.

Sorry, we can’t get interested in your famine because, let’s face it, it’s just not that good of a story.

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It’s been nearly a decade since we began Shifting Baselines. As expected, many of our early performers have gone on to become substantial stars in film and music. Here’s another great one.


JELLYFISH AND BACTERIA: Long before Ty Taylor was busy leading one of the hottest bands this year (opening for Bon Jovi and Rhianna in the U.K.) he was singing his heart out for the oceans and Shifting Baselines.

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