By Stephanie Tokasz, April 13, 2021
A discussion of three conversations surrounding politics and the environment that spoke about the work future generations can do to help better society.

The Next Generation

24th Annual FLEFF Logo

Blog posting written by Stephanie Tokasz, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts ’24, minors in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology, FLEFF Intern, Orchard Park, New York.

As the question and answer section of the event begins, you most likely expect to see several scholars either raise their digital hand or type a question into the chat. However, at the 24th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, you may have noticed that a different array of people took over this section.


The panelists and moderators were well aware of this too. So much so that they included messages to the younger generations within their discussions.

Here are three events, in particular, that did this.

Conversation between Pedro Molina, cartoonist, and Barbara Adams (Friday, March 26th at 12:00 pm)

This conversation explored the work of Pedro Molina, a political cartoonist who fled Nicaragua as a crackdown on journalists and government critics took place.

When he began his career in Nicaragua, he found that practically everything there was centered around politics. Once he continued his career in the United States, he found that a lot of the hate that was present in his native country was also present under the previous presidential administration. This led him to the conclusion that “you cannot avoid politics anywhere.”

Throughout his time at Ithaca College, he found that many students are also creating their own cartoons and commentary that criticize the government within the nation as well as within the school. Many of these cartoons can be found on the online version of The Ithacan, some of which center around the recent layoffs at the school.

In seeing these cartoons and other critical pieces repeatedly, Molina feels that “students really care about this stuff.”

We Tell: Environments of Race and Place (Sunday, April 4th at 4:00 pm)

This talkback discussed a film that included archived media which centered around issues of immigration, migration, and racial identities that are unique to specific environments.

In discussing the film, one of the panelists, Mimi Pickering, stated how “community media is about being connected to place... people from the region being able to tell their story.” Another panelist, Kelly Matheson, found that environment and race are almost always intertwined because environmental cases are often human rights cases.

Pickering also directly addressed the younger generations in stating that they have to use art and craft in order to fight for these cases. The final panelist, Louis Massiah, believes that both rising, as well as established filmmakers and artists, must share their skills in a way to help strengthen the community by speaking for those who can’t.

Massiah noted that “we have to use our power where we are.”

A celebration of the online journal Media+Environment (Friday, April 9th at 5:00 pm)

This roundtable featured five scholars who work on the journal, Media+Environment, and they discussed their work as well as other contexts such as, histories, technologies, and infrastructures.

At the beginning of the conversation, one of the panelists, Alenda Chang, offered the idea that “we see media as both the mass media that we typically think of, but also the very landscapes that we live in.” Combining FLEFF and the journal, another panelist, Adrian Ivakhiv, stated that the two operate in the “critical zone,” a zone where alliances are built for ways of piecing together a common world.

In contemplating the future of the environment, Ivakhiv believes that a lot comes back to the moral question of how society can repay debts, and another panelist, Christina Vagt, is interested in the results of this. Janet Walker believes that coalitions must be built to carry this out.

The final panelist, Stephen Borunda, believes that it is imperative for individuals across each generation to begin to get in “contact with people all around the world to support activist movements.”


In light of the 24th year of FLEFF coming to a close, I encourage you to pass these remarks forward, to your generation as well as the future ones.