A Thank-you Note to Kent Lacin, Filmmaker

By Susan Herre, October 14, 2021

Kent Lacin understands the environment. As a member of 350 Sacramento, a local grassroots organization committed to a sustainable future, he applies his filmmaking art and craft to such issues as climate change. In spring of 2021, Kent and his filmmaking partner Steven Steinberg, completed Environmentalists of the Year 2021, a film celebrating ECOS’ four award winners. During prior years, Environmentalists of the Year (EOY) was an in-person award event, held annually. Because of the pandemic, the EOY event went virtual, and Kent generously donated his time, talents, and physical resources to the making of this film.

I asked why.
“It’s something I know how to do. It’s in my wheelhouse. I’ve been making media since I was a kid, telling stories, sharing ideas. Yes, it takes effort and concentration, but the process is very familiar to me. You know, most artists are masochistic, meaning they enjoy dealing with the resistance in the medium itself to get the images they want.”

What was the process of making the EOY film?
“The Environmentalists of the Year film isn’t really a documentary but a portrait to honor and appreciate the four people. First you decide where to meet, considering lighting and sound. You try to draw them out, find out their concerns, and get them to trust you so they become conspirators in the making of the film.”

How do you get them to trust you?
“Oh, I don’t know. You are transparent. If you have a problem, you say it. If they aren’t talking about things the way you want, you tell them. You stay in the moment with them. And technically, as a filmmaker, you have to know what you are doing, or they will lose confidence. I appreciate that people are willing to open up, because I am pretty nosy. I keep digging and digging.”

Back to the process….
“You don’t have a voiceover script, so you need your subjects to tell you the message. When people watch a film like this, they watch it the same way they watch other movies – they expect a story and to get lost in it a bit – so you have to keep going with the filming and dialogue until you get the sound bites that tell a compelling story. Together you write the script on the spot. And on a film like Environmentalists of the Year, you show your subjects the final cut to make sure they are comfortable with it.”

Kent got his start in the “strangest way — my first job was to produce media. This was in about 1972 during the first wave of portable digital media.” He wanted to be an artist, didn’t think about money, and went on to get his MFA at UC Davis. He said it all worked out. By 1978 he was on his own doing media with corporate clients like Seagram’s, the American Banking Association and Paul Masson Winery. Three years later after some “burnout” he shifted to still photography exclusively and stuck with that for nearly thirty years.

Although Kent is now officially retired, he is back making media. On Sept 30, he set up a video campaign in which individuals would “act” in a short clip about the Sacramento County Climate Action Plan, and then post their clip to their own social media accounts. A Sacramento advertising group called FATHOM also donated its help. It was a fun campaign addressing a serious issue. Pretty cool, huh?

ECOS is truly grateful to Kent for making our Environmentalists of the Year film, and for his work to fight against climate change and for the Sacramento region.

Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels

Tree-Mendous Tips for Watering Your Trees

July 2021 | Be Water Smart

Do you LOVE trees? Do you get nutty over walnut trees? Weepy at the sight of a willow? Want to cuddle with a conifer?

Be Water Smart wants YOU to make sure our urban forest stays with us for generations to come, even as climate change is projected to bring more frequent drought years.

Here are some tips for efficiently watering your trees when the weather is dry, and be sure to visit sactree.com to learn even more about caring for trees!

Here are a few of the Be Water Smart videos that can help get you started!

Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

ECOS Board Member Rory Pilling Wins Watershed Contest!

What can you do to improve your watershed?

Safety For People Means Safety For The Environment

Rory Pilling and Rae Jacobson are proud to place first in the 2021 Caring for Our Watersheds contest for their proposal to raise awareness about the social and environmental issues surrounding homelessness. Specifically, the group will advocate for the passing of the Right To Rest Act to ensure that homeless people can live in the main parts of Sacramento- allowing access to sanitation and trash disposal, as well as proximity to transport and job opportunities. Their hope is that the Right to Rest Act will protect homeless individuals, but also alleviate some of the waste and environmental impact from homeless encampments along Sacramento waterways.

For first place in the contest, Rory and Rae won $1,000 for themselves and $1,000 for their school, George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences. In total, students compete for over $6,000 cash rewards and participating schools are eligible for over $11,000 cash rewards. Nutrien also provides $10,000 in funding to help implement students’ ideas.

Check out the top finalists here.
View photos of the event on Facebook here.

Caring for Our Watersheds California, 2021

Where is Your Watershed?

Do you have your facts straight about your local watershed? The Sacramento River Watershed is a beautiful place to work, live, and play. Learn more about our watershed and how you can help protect it here.

Environmentalists of the Year Film Premiere!

ECOS is excited to share with you our 2021 Environmentalist of the Year Awards film, made in lieu of the annual in-person event. Enjoy the film below!

2021 Environmentalists of the Year

Environmentalist of the Year

Dr. Michelle Stevens

Dr. Michelle Stevens, a professor in the Environmental Studies Department at CSUS, has been leading the Bushy Lake Restoration Project along the lower American River Parkway, which protects, studies, and restores Sacramento’s riparian ecosystem. Michelle was able to “sell” this idea to the local community, a myriad of stakeholders, regional professionals and experts, and fellow colleagues. Michelle started with planting a few plants that are important to native peoples in the region, and nurtured it until it grew into a grant-funded restoration plan involving CSUS students and volunteers. Her work is informed and guided in uplifting the historic indigenous practices and culture of traditional ecological knowledge, and provides a hands-on opportunity for college students through CSUS and volunteers. In 2019, this project won an award at the annual CSU-wide Student Research Competition.

Environmentalist of the Year

Brandon Rose

Brandon Rose was ECOS President 2016-2017. During his tenure, ECOS put on a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) workshop, which helped to attract and train volunteers. ECOS supported Sacramento’s plastic bag ban and ethics reform ordinances. Under his leadership, ECOS also helped the City obtain a $44 million “Green City” grant to construct electric vehicle charging stations and acquire electric vehicle fleets for car sharing programs in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Also during Brandon’s board presidency, ECOS worked with Wilton Rancheria to locate their proposed casino within the County of Sacramento’s Urban Service Area, rather than a rural area. In 2017, ECOS sued Caltrans over its approval of extra lanes on US 50 without considering the environmental impacts of increased traffic, which led to a settlement providing funding for transit. Later that year, Brandon was elected to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) board, which has since committed to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Early Career Environmentalist

Moiz Mir

Moiz Mir was the president of the Environmental Student Organization at CSUS, 2017–2019. As an intern at the Sacramento Mayor’s Office, he organized youth summits to include students’ voices in the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, and served on the Commission’s Community Health & Resiliency and Equity Technical Advisory Committees. He co-won a statewide “Best Practice in Student Sustainability Leadership Award” for organizing the CSUS Student Summit on Climate Change. As a student, Moiz worked with Michelle Stevens, supervising student plant experiments at Bushy Lake. With Sunrise Movement Sacramento, Moiz is engaging youth in climate justice action. Moiz recently became the first staff at 350 Sacramento, where he developed a new after-school student climate organizing program.

Climate Hero

Anne Stausboll

Anne Stausboll chaired the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, which presented its recommendations in June 2020. She obtained a unanimous vote on a very progressive set of recommendations, which took two years to develop. The goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in Sacramento and West Sacramento, by 2045. Anne made sure the Commission reviewed and considered everything through a lens of racial and income equity. She is inspiring us to be active with the City of Sacramento to ensure that these recommendations are incorporated into the Cities’ Climate Action Plans, and into appropriate ordinances and other city actions. As Anne says, “it is a crisis situation, and we need to act now. We want the city to start seriously adopting and acting on the recommendations. Now. It’s not something that can wait.”

Thank you Awards Sponsors!

A big THANK YOU to all of the individuals and sponsoring the Environmentalist of the Year Awards this year!


Andy Sawyer & Carol Bingham
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
SKK Developments
Rob and Maureen Burness
Vista Properties
Ralph Propper
Robert and Anne Meagher
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000
Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento Chapter
Sierra Club Sacramento Group
Sacramento Natural Foods Coop
McCord Environmental, Inc.
Kuvara Law Firm
Earl Withycombe
Fair Oaks EcoHousing

Each sponsorship is an investment in the ongoing success of ECOS, as well as the recognition provided by the Environmentalist of the Year Awards.