A Draft Scene from Trash Life

Clips from student interviews

Trash Life

Trash Life” A PIE Student Film Release: March 28th at 5.30pm at Cinema Detroit

Out of sight, out of mind, but not gone forever-- once it leaves our fingertips, how does trash resurface in our lives? How do the choices we make about what to do with our trash affect our communities and our world? These are the questions teaching artist Matthew Daher, classroom teacher Kelly Rickert, and a joint class of 1st & 2nd graders set out to address in the film “Trash Life”. In 2017, Daher collaborated with Rikert and “The Painted Turtles” – the collective name of the students’ joint class at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School — to explore the trajectory and politics of waste in communities.

In fact, the Boggs School is located just blocks away from the incinerator/Detroit Renewable Power, a waste to energy facility. A conversation about that proximity ignited questions among The Painted Turtles about pollution, trash, recycling, and community. How flawed or efficient is Detroit’s waste management? What are alternatives to how trash is conceptualized in our world? Who are the key stakeholders in this issue and what are their respective roles and opinions?

The Painted Turtles explored, researched, and studied to address these questions and others, eventually bringing it all together in a dynamic work of art. Repurposing trash for anything from characters to costumes, the team created what Daher calls “a wildly entertaining film that communicates complex… information to help audiences make informed choices around what they do with their waste.”