The transformation and revival of New York City from 1990 to 2013 is one of the most remarkable stories in urban history.
Many are oblivious to New York’s true history – a failing city that by 1990 had over 2,200 murders, 93,000 violent robberies and 147,000 car thefts annually with a declining middle class, depressed property values and embarrassingly low educational attainment.
But then something happened. It was not the result of broader social or economic forces. Instead, it was an intellectual paradigm shift and revolution that only came about because of political leadership, a new set of ideas about governing and established tradition being questioned and changed at the grassroot level.
Today, the world sits at a unique moment in urban city history. Cities are falling apart. Rampant homelessness, increasing crime, mounting drug use, unaffordable housing – once a beacon of innovation and success, today many cities are failing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. New York City faced worst challenges in its past and managed to overcome them.
More than ever, the world needs to know the story of New York’s revival and to understand how this happened. As the 400th anniversary of New York approaches in 2024, we find out what was behind the Fall and Rise of New York.
Groundswell Rising shows how Fracking – an untested energy extraction process – has contaminated drinking water and jeopardized health. We meet scientists, doctors and farmers across the political spectrum engaged in a David and Goliath struggle against Big Oil and Gas, decrying a process that puts profits over people.
Homeowners near wells suffer from respiratory ailments and property devaluation. A former industry employee shows skin lesions and edema, a result of working on drilling rigs, while others witness mistakes (5% of all wells leak) and explosions, against a back drop of rising ill health, as more and more suffer, from nose bleeds to asthma.
But there is cause for hope.
Local mothers groups unite to win some protections, while lease holders outraged by the corporations strong-arm tactics win local bans. Common Cause uncovers corruption as corporations buy influence to evade environmental protection laws, and the movement begins to gather momentum as actor Mark Ruffalo and singer Natalie Merchant support—and sometimes lead—their efforts.
Grassroots efforts have achieved bans, moratoriums, and referendums on Fracking, giving hope to others worldwide faced with the same nightmare. Transcending the genre of environmental film, Groundswell Rising’s passionate stories inspire and empower.
“Groundswell is ultimately a rousing, convincing rallying cry that the little guys, working in numbers, can triumph” LA Weekly
“But however you stand on the issue, you’re likely to be moved by the film’s portraits of grassroots activists managing to make their voices heard despite the opposition of major corporations and the big money at their disposal.” The Hollywood Reporter
Until recently, many of us thought we were safe online and that the Internet provided a safe haven to share ideas and democratise information with the security of privacy. But then headlines emerged with stories of Wikileaks, Snowden and the NSA.
Guardians of the New World introduces us to the world of hacker culture. Emerging from the 70’s counterculture around conceptions of personal freedom, decentralisation of power and sharing, hacking really came to prominence with the emergence of the Internet as a ubiquitous public forum from the late 90’s onwards.
Hackers have emerged as both a threat to government and civilian security, or its saviour, often depending on your point of view.
Governments are starting to see the dangers presented both from outside their borders and within from this subculture of devoted keyboard warriors and are responding with force. In the USA the authorities do their best to keep up with those suspected of online subversion, while other governments have threatened to switch off the Internet all together. Far from being safe behind their screens, the new digital revolutionaries are being thrown behind bars, or in some countries like Syria tortured, while hackers in other countries do their best to support them, and keep their networks secure.
Guardians of the New World gives context to this often misunderstood subculture. For behind closed doors, in bedrooms and living rooms across the world, a war is being fought that will affect us all, and the battlefield is online.