Writers’ Workshop Presents Ian Cheney

Ian Cheney
Ian Cheney

A filmmaker whose work brings to light the hidden stories behind people, the world they inhabit, and their effect on that world, will present the second lecture in the four-part 2015 Writers’ Workshop Series on September 29.

Ian Cheney, an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, has turned his lens on such topics as the link between corn and obesity, green buildings in Boston, and the history of Chinese-American food through one of the most popular dishes: General Tso’s chicken.

“Bluespace,” Mr. Cheney’s most recent work, bridges such seemingly distant topics as polluted waterways in New York City and the terraforming of Mars.

Mr. Cheney blogged about a trip he took to the Sargasso Sea for the film, and his subsequent horror upon discovering that what he imagined to be the “vast blue sea, still wild and unknown,” was actually littered with microplastic.

“’For God’s sake,’ I thought, ‘We’re in the middle of nowhere. This would be like landing on the moon and finding bits of Evian bottles and scraps of plastic bags. How did this get here?’”

Mr. Cheney, whose film “The City Dark” chronicled how light pollution was changing the night, then noted the parallels between the human impact on the sky above and the water below.

“Like light pollution, plastic marine pollution is preventable, it’s lamentable, it’s a tragedy of the commons, but most of all it’s a design problem,” he wrote. “With lights, you cap them, point them only where you need them. With plastics, you make things that biodegrade.”

Mr. Cheney, who received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yale University, is a co-founder of FoodCorps, an Americorps national service program, and a visiting professor at the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Italy. In 2014, he was a Knight fellow at MIT.

Mr. Cheney will speak at the Williston Northampton School at 7:00 p.m. on September 29 in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center. As with all Writers’ Workshop lectures, the talk is free and open to the public.

The Writers’ Workshop Series was created by celebrated authors and Williston parents Madeleine Blais P’00, ’04 and Elinor Lipman P’00. During the series, which takes place each fall, four well-established writers visit campus to give public lectures and offer hands-on instruction with students.

This year, the Writers’ Workshop Series will also feature talks by memoirist Debra Monroe on November 3 and novelist John Katzenbach on November 9. Author David Maraniss began the series with a talk on September 24.

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