What happens when a small farming community starts to collapse from drought? “When a Town Runs Dry,” a short documentary directed by Joris Debeij, follows three nameless narrators as they describe the long drought’s hold on the people of Stratford, Calif.
The logic of drought is unrelenting: The lack of rain means a lower crop yield; a lower crop yield means less work; and less work means less money for workers to spend at the local grocery store. Plenty of other business in Stratford have already had to shut down.
The slow-moving dust bowl images are poignant, giving you a good sense of the drought’s far-reaching consequences, without being too sentimental. The documentary features men only, so we learn nothing about the toll on Stratford’s women. Still, it’s worth eight minutes of your time to watch “When a Town Runs Dry” and familiarize yourself with some of the challenges faced by one of the towns most vulnerable to California’s devastating drought.
Get Grist in your inbox