Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 1996.


The presentation of the EPIC Sempervirens Award for Lifetime Achievement has become a time-honored tradition within the Annual Meeting and Fall Celebration of the Environmental Protection Information Center. Past recipients of the award have included Karen Pickett of the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, Richard Gienger, EPIC’s forest advocate and the foremost independent restoration policy mentor on the North Coast, and Patty Clary, the Executive Director of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, one of the plaintiff organizations on the Richardson Grove defense work.

This year the EPIC Sempervirens Award goes to Darryl Cherney! We have chosen to recognize Darryl for a full lifetime of contributions to forest protection in our bioregion not only because of his long trajectory as a political organizer and his catalog of fun and thought provoking recordings, but also for his current work as the producer of the soon-to-be released film Who Bombed Judy Bari?

Darryl will be joining us to receive the Sempervirens Award at the Mattel Community Center on Friday, November 4, for the 34th EPIC Annual Meeting and Fall Celebration. We hope that everyone can make it out that night for dinner and music to celebrate Darryl, and EPIC, and this wonderful place that we are all working so hard to protect. As part of our preparations for the November 4th party, we had a chance to catch up with Darryl to ask him a few questions about his work and what the award means to him. It is really interesting to learn of Darryl’s perspective on the film, and on EPIC as an important organization for our community.

How has it gone for you making the step from being a musician on stage with a guitar to being a producer pulling together all the loose strings of a documentary? Are they totally different arts, or do you see similarities?

It’s been said that movies incorporate all the arts: music, dance, theater, painting, drawing, and so on.  And I’ve been a stage performer and a playwright, so this wasn’t a huge step.  Further, I don’t regard myself so much as a film maker as an activist/musician who was compelled to make a film.  In reality, this is simply another campaign for me to organize–it’s a project.  My next project might be an operetta or just archiving the thousands of tunes I’ve written and recorded on cassette into some kind of order.  The goal, with any of my projects, is defending Mother Earth.  In that sense, the movie provides complete continuity with my life work.  And it has been an opportunity to put a big punctuation mark at this juncture of my life.  The film both completes a phase and begins a new one.  I hope at some point that the opportunities to speak in public both life and through the media increase exponentially because of this movie.

What will be the most compelling element of the upcoming documentary? Things are getting close to the finish, when do you think it will be released?

The movie will be released sometime between mid-November and January.  There have been so many last minute things to fix, from sound issues to getting the credits right.  Don’t want to forget anyone, right?

The most compelling aspect of the movie is Judi Bari, lying on her deathbed, giving her testimony under oath.  The strength and courage of this working class single mother of two providing us this legacy as one of the last things she does on Earth is inspirational and moving.  The other compelling aspect is what one of our friends described as the “blueprint” nature of our movie.  The project barely leaves out anything in the long list of how to win a campaign.  This story incorporates many victories, from Headwaters to beating the FBI in court and others as well.  It’s not often we see a documentary that is so filled with humor and victory in the midst of the furious battle.

Do you have thoughts about what type of impact you would like to have with the film? What kind of influence or inspiration would you like the film to provide to the audience?

The goals of the film are to inform people on the tactics and strategies available, to inspire us all to take action, and to educate the public as to who the historical figure Judi Bari was/is.  Oh, and we want to inspire a renewed interest in solving the case of Who Bombed Judi Bari.  In short, we’d like to educate and inspire people as to how we can save the world.  I’d like to see the film run on e