League of Women Voters film event focuses on role in soil, climate

As the threat of climate change looms larger, the solution and our possible salvation could be right under our feet.

Dirt isn’t something that most people think much about. But in the innovative documentary “Kiss the Ground,” filmmakers make the case that the soil that covers the earth could be the missing piece in the fight against the climate crisis.

“It’s a game-changer of how we can reverse global warming through the earth’s soil,” said Dee Johnson, a member of the League of Women Voters Johnson County.

The local League of Women Voters chapter wants to generate conversation surrounding the film by hosting a screening of “Kiss the Ground” on Sept. 17 at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin. The screening had originally been scheduled for April 23, but had to be postponed after a tornado and storms damaged the Artcraft.

A panel featuring land conservationists Heather Bacher and Paula Baldwin will follow the screening.

Organizers have opened the event up to the community, and they hope people come to learn more about not only ground-breaking work to counter climate change, but about what local residents can do in Johnson County to help.

“What’s so good about this film is that it’s perfect for everybody, whether you’re a student, a chef, a farmer or just a concerned citizen. It appeals to everybody, and it’s very inspiring,” Johnson said. “It’s an urgent call to action.”

“Kiss the Ground,” which was released in 2020, makes the argument that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. The film uses compelling graphics and visuals, along with footage from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to illustrate how soil can draw down atmospheric carbon.

The documentary was an official selection to the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and has won 25 awards, including prizes at the London Independent Film Awards, the Venice Film Awards and the Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival.

“It’s got really epic footage filmed on five continents,” Johnson said. “It has great visuals, and a really critical message through the voices of leading scientists, ecologists, experts that include Nobel laureates in climate.”

Members of the League of Women Voters Johnson County felt those were important messages to share.

The local chapter of the nonpartisan political organization formed in 2022 with a goal to encourage all citizens to be informed and to actively participate in the political process. As it started meeting, members discussed ways to meet its mission of empowering voters and defending democracy through education and advocacy, Johnson said.

One of the priorities they wanted to focus on was climate.

Johnson had seen “Kiss the Ground,” and presented to the group as a potential community event.

“When I watched it, I thought it was so inspiring. I mentioned it to the group, and they watched the trailer and seemed really interested in it,” she said.

A member of the League of Women Voters Johnson County offered to sponsor a screening of the film at the Artcraft, and their event was born.

“It’s really artful in how it illustrates an accessible solution to our greatest challenge,” Johnson said.

To add emphasis to the screening, organizers wanted to engage the audience further about land conservation and climate issues. The panel discussion with Bacher and Baldwin helps do that.

Bacher is the state coordinator for the Women4theLand Initiative supported by the Indiana Conservation Partnership. Women4theLand shares conservation information and resources with Hoosier women, particularly farmers and landowners, Johnson said.

The Greenwood resident has worked in conservation and public outreach for over 30 years in the fields of wildlife and bird conservation, land preservation and sustainable agricultural practices.

Baldwin grew up on Crow Wing Farms and has helped manage it for 15 years. She works with two farmer/operators who implement various conservation practices on her land, as well as their own land, that help maintain a strong agriculture presence in the southwest corner of Marion County, Johnson said.

She is on the board of the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District and has volunteered with the Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation and Development Council. She is an advocate for conservation at both the state and national level, pushing for conservation funding for the Clean Water Indiana program and promoting conservation in the federal Farm Bill.

In addition, students at Whiteland Community High School helped stuff additional environmental information into reusable bags provided by the Johnson County Recycle District, Johnson said. Those bags will be distributed to the first 100 attendees.

“We hope that people take away that this is really encouraging and hopeful. It’s such a simple solution,” Johnson said. “We want people to take away that they can make a difference here locally. It’s not so big that it’s out of our control. We can make a difference.”


”Kiss the Ground”

What: A screening of the inspiring documentary, which focuses on the role soil may play in creating a healthy climate. After the 85-minute film, in a panel discussion about what can do.

Who: Organized by the League of Women Voters Johnson County

When: 2 p.m. Sept. 17; doors open at 1:30.

Where: The Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St., Franklin

Admission: $10 general admission, $5 students

Information: lwvjcin.org