By Patricia Lynn Henley
it's a gas gas gas
Milk cows outside Petaluma are generating enough energy to run their farm's creamery. The power comes from a methane digester. Cow poop is collected in a tarpaulin-covered "lagoon." In this sealed, oxygen-free environment, the manure breaks down and is converted into methane gas, which is then collected, cleaned and stored. The poop from the farm's 250 cows generates 40 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power the onsite creamery. All this occurs at St. Anthony Farm, part of a free drug and alcohol rehab program. "The idea of sustainability is very much part of what we do as an organization," says St. Anthony spokeswoman Francis Aviani. "We approach people holistically and we look at the universe holistically. The biodigester fits nicely into that." The poop-into-power program was created with the help of PG&E, which recently honored 19 of its employees for their efforts to make the biodigester a reality. On their behalf, PG&E donated $5,000 to Sustainable Conservation. The company also recognized the individual efforts of Marin County employee Rex Bell, who played a key role in creating free, local and convenient ways for California residents to recycle everyday household items. For Bell's award, PG&E donated $5,000 to the Marine Science Institute.
'shock' at sundance
A movie filmed in Napa and Sonoma counties on a 30-day shooting schedule last August will be filling screens at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January. Under a cast headlined by English actor Alan Rickman (the Harry Potter films, Die Hard), Bottle Shock takes a light-hearted, fictionalized look at the 1976 blind taste testing that energized California's emerging wine industry. The movie's creation was profiled in these pages ("Quiet on the Set," Aug. 15, 2007). Local producers Marc and Brenda Lhormer, who run the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, say they were notified Thanksgiving morning that Bottle Shock will be shown at Sundance. It was a welcome surprise. "We knew we had a shot, we made a good movie—but you never expect these things," Marc Lhormer explains. After finishing filming at the end of August, it was a tight turn-around to have a rough cut ready by the Sundance Film Festival's October deadline. "Director Randy Miller worked with an assistant editor and they did an amazing job putting together something that could be sent to Sundance," Llhormer explains. "We heard Randy didn't sleep for weeks." The screening schedule hasn't been announced yet, but Lhormer says he expects Bottle Shock will be shown three to five times during the festival, which runs Jan. 17–27 in Park City, Utah.
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