Mark Dowie, a prizewinning investigative journalist, was talking about the need to revamp American environmentalism long before the Reapers declared it dead. His Pulitzer Prize-nominated 1996 book Losing Ground cast a critical eye on green activists’ failing tactics, and his more recent work — encapsulated in a film short below — focuses on myopic environmental philanthropy and the struggles of local and regional groups to get a slice of the funding pie.
The 25 largest environmental organizations in the U.S. get a whopping 70 percent of the $3.5 billion doled out to green groups each year, Dowie points out in the short film “Empowering the Grassroots,” created by Randy Olson of Shifting Baselines. That leaves the 15,000 or so smaller environmental nonprofits in the country scrounging around for leftovers. Dowie takes big green funders and foundations to task for unduly favoring gigantic conservation groups, and challenges them to more effectively seed the grassroots and reinvigorate a moribund movement.