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GrowthBusters Network Pitches In For West Coast Shoot

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco, on the final day of a ten-day West Coast filming trip. In my 30 years traveling the globe directing films for airlines, energy and chemical companies, software firms and public television, I always had a decent expense account. So this is the first time I’ve couch-surfed rather than stay at hotels, the first time I’ve dined in the car or a grocery store instead of Outback Steakhouse. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water have gotten us by.

Necessity was behind the decision to tap the GrowthBusters support network for accomodations. Since we’ve so far raised only a modest percentage of our production budget for the film, Hooked on Growth, I have to be creative to capture the material we need while spending as little as possible.

It was no surprise, but still remarkable, that relying on the generosity of kindred spirits is much more rewarding than falling back on the old habit of Hampton Inn and Starbucks. At every stop I met the most amazing people — enlightened and inspired to live a  life where less is more: less commerce and more community, less consumption and more sharing. There is a phenomenal grass roots network of people and organizations around the world waking up from our collective trance and creating new ways to live after growth addiction.


I was fortunate to have Jason Cross accompany me and serve as camera assistant on the trip. Jason volunteered his time and paid his way. Thanks to John in Seattle, a Buddhist meditation room provided accomodation the first night of our journey.


The next night one of the Vancouver De-Growth Conferenceorganizers, Irene Stupka, and her roommates Laura and Chad offered us great company and a night’s lodging in their compact apartment. We enjoyed sharing thoughts and experiences around the kitchen table late that night after the evening’s conference film screenings. The next few nights ecological economist Tom Green shared his apartment and showed us some really creative videos his students have been making about economic growth. I’ll share these in a later post.


In Portland I finally got to meet prolific longtime GrowthBusters volunteer Albert Kaufman, who offered his house as an interview location. And we stayed overnight with another GrowthBuster, Ralph Risch. Ralph, his wife Amy and kids showed us their low-impact lifestyle, which includes chickens, bees and produce in the back yard. We also connected with a new member of the GrowthBusters Volunteer Network, Nancy, who can’t wait to put her passion to work geting our film finished and seen.


Tired, hungry and parched after a long day shooting lakes, aqueducts and pumping plants, Jason and I dragged ourselves up the stairs in San Francisco to be greeted by amazing food and wine and a small gathering of young Transition activists, courtesy of our hosts, Johnny and Colin. They saw keeping us fed and sheltered as a great contribution to the film, and they were right. Finally, Kent and Mary in Palo Alto opened their doors to us, grilled me thoroughly about the GrowthBusters project, and shared a few laughs as we watched my Endangered Species Condoms video on YouTube.


Of course the Vancouver conference and the interviews we captured from Vancouver to Palo Alto were rich with insight and information. If I get the chance I’ll share some of that in future posts, but it’s a good bet you’ll have to wait and see the film to get the full benefit of my British Columbia/Washington/Oregon/California adventure.

Must close for now. I’ve got to drop Jason at the train station to head toward his summer job in Kings Canyon National Park, shoot one last interview in Oakland, miraculously pack our production gear into two 48-pound suitcases, and then wing my way back to my own bed in Colorado.

(written on 2010/05/08)



Dave Gardner is directing the non-profit documentary, Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity. For more information and to become a GrowthBuster, visit

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