A Concerned Citizen
Civics in Action
Marine toxicologist Dr. Riki Ott, who helped fishing communities hit by the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon spills, creates a civics course to help young activists become effective.
Directed by Bo Boudart
Produced by Bo Boudart Productions
Editor: Susan Utell
Writers: Susan Utell, Bo Boudart
Videographer: Bo Boudart
Music Composer: Malcolm Payne
Animation: Bill Groshelle, Adam Palmer
[Note: Community screenings of A CONCERNED CITIZEN can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"Provides the viewer with both a history of how we got into this environmental mess, as well as a roadmap for how to move forward...Highly recommended!" Anne Miller, South Seattle Climate Action Network
A CONCERNED CITIZEN documents the work of Dr. Riki Ott, a citizen activist who predicted the Exxon Valdez oil spill hours before it happened and came to the aid of her Alaskan community in their battle to get fair compensation for their loss of health and income.
More recently Riki, a toxicologist, author, and activist, has been organizing the Gulf coast communities as they struggle to recover from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Taking the lessons she learned as an activist, she is also spearheading the campaign called Ultimate Civics, a complete civics curriculum she developed that empowers students to participate in their democracy. Recognizing the power of money in politics she advocates for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood, and to reform campaign finance laws. She lectures nationally and internationally, inspiring students from fifth grade through universities and adults to take action and showing by example how one person can make a difference.
"It is my hope that, as people's health, livelihoods, and property are harmed by these extreme oil activities, people will understand the need to shift off oil to safer energy options and take action to achieve true energy independence. This is the movement that I see growing in all regions of our country."
Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2019
Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-19-4
"We screened A Concerned Citizen to faculty members with The Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences. The responses were very complimentary and enthusiastic. In particular, viewers were really impressed with the framing of Ricki Ott's life and her efforts to go beyond the usual responses scientists make to 'what can I do?' questions (i.e. recycle and take shorter showers!). Her efforts to master the public trust doctrine and Citizens United cases were inspiring and this film captures her boldness in teaching what she has learned to young people very well. The entire film was very intelligently designed and presented."
Monty Hempel, Professor and Director, Center for Environmental Studies, University of Redlands
"A Concerned Citizen presents complex ecological problems and troubling trends. This is a clarion call for people to get savvy and reclaim democracy by speaking out. See this film; be dedicated, persevere, and be the change. We'll all be healthier if you do, including the planet."
Rob Moir, President and Executive Director, Ocean River Institute
"This film is not just about oil spills and environmental activism. It is about the critical link between the concentration of economic power, and how that has led to the concentration of political power. Every citizen, regardless of where they are in the political spectrum, needs to understand how political polarization is driven by wealth polarization. We can have a more responsive democracy by learning the lessons offered in this film."
Daniel Craig McCool, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, University of Utah, Author, River Republic: The Rise and Fall of America's Rivers
"Dr. Ott has used her voice as a scientist, activist, and citizen of the world to bring attention to the dangers of our fossil fueled society and the disproportionate health and environmental impacts experienced by people of color and low income communities. The reason why this film is powerful is because this story doesn't end with telling us about the problems we face. Instead, it provides the viewer with both a history of how we got into this environmental mess, as well as a roadmap for how to move forward...Best of all, we learn about ways that we all can get involved in creating authentic democracy. Highly recommended!"
Anne Miller, Coordinator, South Seattle Climate Action Network
"A Concerned Citizen beautifully captures the sights and sounds of the places and people that Riki has dedicated her life to protecting and educating. We see the ecosystems in peril and hear the concern of citizens, and then experience Riki's approach to empowering communities through knowledge and the confidence to act. Through testimonials and her own insights, viewers walk away inspired by her life's work and catalyzed to take action."
Jenny Wiedower, Senior Manager, K-12 Education, U.S. Green Building Council
"Excellent...Dr. Riki Ott's sense of the future follows a vector that leans toward those who will celebrate Earth Day in 2101. That vector is civics. It gives permission for youth to argue that their inheritance trumps short term gain because Ultimate Civics teaches them to give themselves permission to shape now what only they will live to see in 2101."
Don Bunger, retired teacher, Highline High School
"Riki is one of the everyday citizens who will inspire more grassroots heroes and activists in America. They are sorely needed in this day and age."
Hugh Kaufman, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"A Concerned Citizen is terrific, especially at the time of the Youth Climate Strike. This film documents the movement to curb the accumulating disaster of the fossil fuel economy and revitalize our democracy. It ranges from an eloquent scientist-activist to the accelerating student protest movement. It couldn't be more timely or informative, and is inspiring for a wide range of audiences."
Richard Tucker, Adjunct Professor, Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan
"This beautifully shot film uses one woman's story to give a powerful message about the link between threats to democracy and threats to the environment. It reminds us that each individual has a role to play and that 'science and civics...go hand in hand.'"
Susan Clayton, Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies, College of Wooster
"Riki Ott is a tireless scientist/activist/educator who has devoted her life helping people and communities across the country take back their destiny fighting corporate greed and government regulatory failure. This inspiring film captures her indefatigable spirit and passion for democracy and a sustainable planet. Let it inspire others to take up the cause she so ably champions."
David Donnenfield, Educational Technology/Filmmaker
"Riki Ott has worked, like so many activists before her, to protect us from allegedly 'safe' chemicals and 'harmless' environmental issues pushed by corporate interests and enabled by weak government oversight. But today, with our political system increasingly stripped of its democratic underpinnings and beholden to wealth, the need to address the links between ecological threats and economic/political ones has never been more pressing. This film shows us how to take that battle forward."
Brian Allen Drake, Senior Lecturer, Environmental History, University of Georgia, Author, Loving Nature, Fearing the State: Environmentalism and Antigovernment Politics before Reagan
"A must see video for anyone who wonders what he/she can do to change the world and needs a spark of inspiration. Like Riki Ott, we may begin to question one social problem (such as oil spills) and find that it leads us down a path to addressing an even bigger problem (decline of democracy), in ways that we never even imagined."
Lisa Eargle, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Francis Marion University, Editor, Black Beaches and Bayous: The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster
|Reduced rates for activist and grassroots groups. Please inquire.
DVD has SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.
Host a community screening
Ultimate Civics - A complete civics curriculum for grades 6-12
Awards and Festivals
United Nations Association Film Festival
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Big Muddy Film Festival
Friday Harbor Film Festival
Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival
Northeastern Ohio International Film Festival
Citizenship and Civics
Climate Change/Global Warming
The story of the Exxon Valdez and the 20-year legal battle to get restitution from ExxonMobil.
After the Spill
The oil and gas industry has historically dominated Louisiana politics and is largely responsible for the state's rapidly disappearing coastline.
A Sense of Wonder
Rachel Carson's love for the natural world and her fight to defend it.
Benzene-poisoned factory worker, Yi Yeting, takes his fight against the global smartphone industry from his hospital bed in China to the international stage.
Oil & Water
Two boys come of age looking for solutions to the global problem of reckless oil drilling following years of oil contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Tells the story of Tim DeChristopher's extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience drawing attention to the need for action on climate change.
A non-partisan look at the consequences of big-money campaign donations and a Capitol overrun by lobbyists.
... more Reviews
"A Concerned Citizen centers on two intertwined themes in Riki's personal and professional mission: getting the facts out about the impact of oil spills (and equally lethal chemical dispersants), and pointing out how ordinary Americans can do something about the chokehold that Big Oil has on all three branches of government...There are glimmers of hope, as viewers see Ott speaking to community groups about the necessity of linking science and civics, reminding people that having the facts will help them to confidently fight for their children's future. Highly recommended. 3.5 stars."
T. Keogh, Video Librarian
"Highly Recommended...According to Riki, activism is not about what officials (police, public health officials, etc.) can do regarding environmental disasters and human health effects, but what we can do as a community of concerned citizens to fix that."
Irina Stanishevskaya, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Educational Media Reviews Online
"'What can I do? What can I do?' That is the question constantly asked of Riki Ott, and not only does she have an answer, she has a whole curriculum about what citizens can do and have done to exercise their power to shape their own society...By framing her as a 'Citizen,' the film suggests that the wide range of Riki's activism, from the local and personal to the systemic and revolutionary, is the responsibility of all of us."
Tim DeChristopher, The Solutions Journal
"Highly inspirational...Ideal for any adult with a desire to help students become more engaged in civic affairs...The film is also appropriate for students from sixth-grade on up. They will witness a replicable formula for taking topics that they feel passionate about and following through to inspire advocacy that can lead to better public policy. At a time when young people are not only willing to engage in activism but are craving substantive roles in public discourse on environmental topics, A Concerned Citizen provides both inspiration and instruction to help them achieve their goals."
Jill Buck, Founder of Go Green Initiative, Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly