Earth Service Corps raises funds for PNW environmentalism

Wildfires call attention to climate change for Seattle students


Courtesy of Ralph Bloemers

Evan Sadler, Staff Reporter

In September 2022, the Cedar Creek Fire in Central Oregon turned Portland’s sky orange as smoke from the fire erased the sun. The smoke’s effects persisted as far as the Seattle area. Just the next month, forest fires raging in the Cascade Mountains combined with weeks of unusually dry, warm autumn weather caused the Air Quality Index (AQI), to reach peak values of 220 in the Ballard area, marking Seattle as the city with the worst air quality on Earth for days straight.

After this concerning wildfire presence in the greater Pacific Northwest area, Ballard’s Earth Service Corps presented the documentary, “ELEMENTAL: Reimagining Our Relationship with Wildfire,” on Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Earl Kelly Performing Arts Center. 

Earth Service Corps’ social media and communications manager, junior Madeleine Koenig, described what pushed them to bring awareness to this cause.

“These problems should not just be relevant to people in environmental concern clubs, or people wanting to better their environment, but everyone in Ballard and our world,” Koenig said. “Sports were cancelled, pools were closed due to ventilation issues, and the air was difficult to breathe.”

The doors opened at 6:00 p.m., and the screening started at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Q & A with Executive Producer Ralph Bloemers and wildlife biologist Maya Khosla. All of the fundraiser’s proceeds will be donated to the film’s wildfire education efforts and RE-Sources, a PNW-based environmental non-profit. 

Filmed in Oregon, Washington, California, Montana and Colorado, “ELEMENTAL” takes viewers on a journey with the top experts in the nation to better understand fire.

The film itself focuses on the roles of firefighters, native peoples and homeowners in wildfire-prone areas. It places emphasis on both the inevitability of wildfire and the ways fire is beneficial to forests and carbon-neutrality. The film ends with a hopeful outlook on the ability of homeowners to fire-proof their homes, so humans can live in tandem to wildfires in light of the inability to suppress them.