November 15, 2010

Congratulations to the 2010 Purpose Prize Winners!

TEM would like to congratulate this year's Purpose Prize winners! What an extraordinary group of individuals! From helping homeowners avoid foreclosures in Ohio, to reducing pollution in West Oakland, to improving the lives of children in Tanzania, each of the winners of the 2010 Purpose Prize is a changemaker and social entrepreneur. Now in its fifth year, the Civic Ventures' Purpose Prize recognizes adults over 60 who make extraordinary contributions in their 'encore careers' to better their communities and the world.

October 8, 2010

Denied Screening in Cambridge, MA

DENIED, our short film about one woman's struggle with breast cancer and her even bigger challenge to survive without insurance, will screen Monday October 11th at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA as part of the 2010 Media that Matters film festival series. DENIED was awarded the Jury Award for this years festival.

If you're in the area, please stop by and support not only our film, but the great work of Arts Engine and the Media that Matters festival. 10 short films will be screened throughout the night, and some of the filmmakers will hold a Q&A afterwards. Tickets are $10 with discounts for students, Brattle, and Chlotrudis members.

More information can be found by clicking here.

If you make it to the screening, let us know what you thought of the films!

August 26, 2010

ER Wait Times via Cellphone

A new trend is unfolding: ERs across the country are posting their wait times online, via text, and even on a flashing billboard. With ER usage at a record high, hospitals are struggling to keep the wait times down, and this is one effort to dissipate the patient load.

According to an article by the Associated Press, "There are no statistics on how many hospitals advertise wait times, although they tend to have multiple ERs in a region, usually the suburbs. The idea: People with less urgent conditions — maybe they need stitches for a cut — might drive a bit farther for a shorter wait, possibly helping a hospital chain spread the load without losing easier cases to competitors."

Hospitals are trying everything from "team triage" — where patients are met by a doctor, nurse and paramedics at the front door — to "hallway medicine," where patients on guerneys are divided by the severity of their condition and given nursing attention in hallways.

These measures all point to a shortage of hospital in-patient beds and a poor system for directing non-urgent cases to appropriate places for care. Perhaps it's time to redefine "ER" so we preserve this valuable resource for true emergencies.

August 13, 2010

New JAMA report highlights America's ER crisis

Los Angeles is definitely not the only city experiencing a crisis in emergency care. Our film Firestorm captures this national trend, but for those who remain skeptic about the severity of this issue then check out The Journal of the American Medical Association's recent report on national ER visits.

One of the report's findings: the number of patient visits in emergency rooms nationwide rose from 95 million to 117 million in 10 years. You may think "But ER visits will obviously increase with the growth of population, so what's the big deal?" The big deal is that while the number of patient visits grew 23%, only HALF of that increase can be attributed to the population growth. AND as the demand for ERs grew by this surge in visits, the number of ERs dropped by 5%.

So, still not convinced our nation
has an emergency medical care problem??

Learn more about the JAMA report in this LA Times' Health Care blog post: Emergency rooms are getting more crowded everywhere, study finds

August 4, 2010

Congress Passes Landmark Oil, Gas & Mining Transparency Law

Two weeks ago Congress took bold steps to increase transparency in the gas, oil and mining industries. In countries all of over the world, the people who live in areas that are rich in natural resources are often the least likely to benefit. The new regulations, which were included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed by the House and Senate, will require companies to publicly disclose payments for the extraction of oil, gas, and minerals on a country-by-country and project basis as part of financial statements that are already required by the SEC.

We might not be able to control how foreign governments compensate local communities, but we can require our accounting system to make publicly available the value of oil, gas and mining contracts. It's a first step toward ensuring that the wealth generated by these industries is more equitably distributed, and that local communities are armed with information that will allow them to demand a fair share.

We've been working with Oxfam America to shed light on this issue and to support their campaign called "Right to Know, Right to Decide." Our short animation, Follow the Money, helped generate tens of thousands of signatures to support reform.

According to Oxfam's president, Raymond C. Offenheiser, "Congress has made an unprecedented commitment to financial transparency and good governance in a sector that not only affects American wallets, but also some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. Secrecy of oil, gas and mining company payments to governments fosters government corruption and violent conflict in resource-rich countries that are home to more than half of the world's poorest people. Instability in these regions poses a long-term threat to national security, foreign policy, and economic interests in the United States."

This is issue is close to our hearts, having witnessed the gross inequities in the Niger Delta, one of the world's leading oil suppliers where the majority of the population lives on just $1 per day.

To learn more, click here.

July 14, 2010

FIRESTORM available on DVD!

TEM's newest feature film, FIRESTORM, is now available to purchase on DVD for institutional use, community screenings, or personal viewing. To buy a DVD online through TEM please click here.

In other exciting TEM news: DENIED wins the top award at the Media That Matters Film Festival, and our Oxfam America video "Follow The Money" makes an impact! Click here to read our July Newsletter and learn more.

July 7, 2010

The Passing of Aging Expert and TEM Friend

Talking Eyes Media sadly acknowledges the passing of geriatrics pioneer and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Robert N. Butler, who died on Sunday from leukemia at the age of 83. Dr. Butler was a visionary in the field of aging and longevity, and TEM is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. [Dr. Butler wrote the Preface to Julie Winokur and Ed Kashi's book Aging in America: The Years Ahead, published in 2003.]

In addition to coining the term "ageism," Dr. Butler founded the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, advocated for the aging before Congress and the United Nations, and helped create the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the Alzheimer's Disease Association and the International Longevity Center.

He made great contributions as a geriatric researcher, challenged long-held misconceptions about aging, and showed Americans that aging can be a "positive thing" and doesn't have to be feared. Dr. Butler will be remembered with respect and great admiration.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Butler and his accomplishments, please click on the following links:

June 16, 2010

NYU Symposium on Monday June 21 with Nina Berman, Larry Towell and Ed Kashi

The lecture season continues for me and I'm very excited to mention an upcoming event next Monday, June 21st at NYU, with myself, Nina Berman and Larry Towell. Please see link below to find out more. It will be a stimulating and lively discussion about photography's ability to impact human rights.

June 15, 2010


Tune in today at 9am PST or 12pm EST to the Mind Body Health & Politics radio show on the NPR affiliate KZYX to listen as host Dr. Richard Miller highlights our film FIRESTORM in his discussion of the nation's health care crisis.

Dr. Miller will interview FIRESTORM director Julie Winokur, paramedic and EMS District Captain Dave Pimentle, and ER doctor and Regional Medical Director for Emergent Medical Associates Dr. Lee Weiss. A patient who saw firsthand what happens when you don't have access to health care and have to call 911 when sick will also be interviewed.

You can also listen to the show live by clicking on the following link:

Have any thoughts, comments, or questions in response to the broadcast? Post them here and start a conversation!

June 2, 2010

DENIED showcases at Media That Matters Film Festival

DENIED, our short film about one woman's struggle with breast cancer and her even bigger challenge to survive without insurance, has been selected for the Media That Matters Film Festival (MTM) and will be screening tonight in NYC at the School of Visual Arts Theatre at 7 p.m. Following the screening of DENIED, filmmaker Julie Winokur will participate in a Q&A.

The MTM Film Festival is a project of Arts Engine, a media production company that promotes the use of independent media by advocates, educators and the general public to "spur critical consideration of pressing social issues." Every year, the MTM Film Festival selects 12 short films to showcase at theaters across the country, online and at community screenings. The festival launches in New York City tonight, with a World Premiere and an Awards Ceremony at HBO where each filmmaker is honored and many receive cash awards. Arrive early to take part in the impACT salon with some of MTM's presenting partners for Take Action opportunities, have a chance to meet the festival filmmakers and enjoy free ice cream cones generously donated by the Raw IceCream Company.

Click the link below to learn more about MTM and to buy tickets for tonight's world premiere of the 10th annual MTM collection. (The Center for Social Media community is receiving a special discount; enter the code MTMSPECIAL at checkout and receive $2 off the regular ticket price of $13.)

May 17, 2010

Audience Engagement 2.0

Yesterday was an exciting day for TEM as the staff was deployed across the country to support the broadcast and screening of some of our work. (That means we covered 4 major markets). During the KQED broadcast of FIRESTORM, we teamed up with filmmaker/paramedic Thaddeus Setla and hosted a 3-city simulcast Meetup. We connected the screening party at Gordon Biersch in San Francisco with locations in Chicago and Philadelphia through webcams and Ustream.

Our goal was not only to watch the film with pre-hospital professionals, but to gauge their impressions by capturing the ensuing conversations on camera. Some archived video of the webcam can be viewed at the Ustream site. Setla has fully integrated social networking tools into his filmmaking and outreach. He uses twitter and facebook, etc. to galvanize his audience and keep his content fresh. We enjoyed collaborating with him on this process and look forward to sharing the results.

An attendee of the Philadelphia Meetup, dubbed MedicSK, posted this review on his blog. It's gratifying to have the endorsement of EMTs and Paramedics.

Yesterday I was in Washington, D.C. for the GI Film Festival where our short, The Inner Wounds of War, screened with a block of 4 other shorts. Inner Wounds of War traces Retired Sgt. Juan Arredondo's recovery process from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the impact on his family. Festival co-founder, Brandon Millett said that roughly 70 percent of the films in the festival touched on mental illness. Every short in our block featured a story in which PTSD was a major component.

The other films in the block were eye-opening, in-depth examinations of what happens to the warrior on the homefront and explore whether we as a society are prepared to intervene or offer support. A remarkably executed narrative short, "Head in the Sand," directed by David Baldwin, was an alternately gritty and touching portrayal of a young boy whose dreams of being a soldier in battle come true.

After the screening the filmmakers participated in a Q&A where we fielded questions about the inspiration for our work and whether the Veteran's Administration is doing what it can to address the problems.

USA Today has cited a Department of Defense report that says mental health is the leading cause of military hospitalizations, outpacing pregnancy or injuries. As the Department of Defense has opened up to acknowledge the issue and media attention stays focused on the problems and available resources, the VA is also expanding services. But the mounting costs are quickly overwhelming the DoD budget. From the article:

"Four mental health issues — depression, substance abuse, anxiety and adjustment problems such as PTSD — cost the Pentagon 488 years of lost duty in 2009. That's "the equivalent of 488 soldiers spending an entire year in the hospital for mental disorders," said Army Col. Robert DeFraites, director of the office which produced the study."

But as Dr. JJ Garcia says in Inner Wounds, "You can't fix this with just social workers...nurses...or doctors. Everyone in a community has to be involved if we're going to be successful." Next year maybe the festival will receive a slew of films showing the prevalence of community support systems for the wounded warrior.

May 7, 2010

New Health Law Supports Preventive Care

As the details of the new health law become clearer (thanks to those who can wade through 1200 pages of policy speak), we're pleased to hear that there are significant provisions for preventive care and community health centers.

Today's New York Times' Prescriptions blog ran a piece detailing some of the provisions that will guarantee people health screenings and flu shots at no extra cost above insurance premiums. It also provides for primary care visits for Medicare enrolees. There is also money in the law to boost community-based wellness initiatives.

One of the biggest boons to fixing the current dearth in access to care is an $11 billion investment in Community Health Centers, which are federally subsidized clinics for the underserved.

While the law isn't a magic bullet, it definitely moves us in the right direction.

January 11, 2010

"Follow the Money" live on Oxfam America

The TEM produced short, "Follow the Money", is now live on Oxfam America's front page. The 2 minute call-to-action video showcases animations from leftchannel and still photos from Ed Kashi.

"Standing at the pump, watching the numbers tick away, do you ever wonder where the money goes? You’re not alone: People on the other end of the pipeline are wondering too. While we feel the pinch in our pockets, citizens of oil-producing countries are often not seeing the profits."

Oxfam is asking everyone to take the extra step and get involved by telling Congress to open the books on mining and drilling. You can lobby your local representative by filling out a form letter on Oxfam's site here.

Share with your friends and family, and urge them to get involved as well.

January 7, 2010

Final essay from Strayer University

The Strayer University essays continue. Below, sociology student Windy Clemmons discusses how the film Losing Herbie personally impacted her.

Why can’t I remember you, the one I use to love? How can we help our love one’s remember those special moments and what will happen when they reach the point of no return?

After watching Herbie I immediately felt this sense of despair. What would happen to me if I were diagnosed with Dementia? Could my children handle caring for me each and every day as Herbie’s did? The anxiety struck me beyond belief. I have no affairs in order if I were to become gravely ill or die. This would place such a strain on my three children in so many ways. I have no home that I own, so care taking would have to fall on my children, unlike Herbie’s in home health-aids. I quickly began jotting down all the things I needed to do before anything happened to my health, and putting the plan in motion.

I started thinking about my relationship with my children, my fiancée and my family. Would they really be there for me like they always say they will be if anything happened to me? Herbie and Ruth had been together for 11 years, (a very committed relationship I think), yet when Herbie’s health started deteriorating Ruth made it very clear she wanted no part in caring for him. Ruth would call and casually come by once a week, say hello and away she went. I couldn’t shake the thought that I could be Herbie. Dementia does run in our family, and we just had grandma placed in a home three years ago. Me, the care taker after all these years, living with my son or one of my daughters, and relying on them to care for me. I know my family loves me, but knowing firsthand what it takes to care for someone with this disease I can’t help but question how long they could handle it.

Having Dementia and reaching the point where I would be dependent on family or caretakers for almost everything, brings about many strains such as the financial, emotional, and physical aspects. Having a family and being married makes it even harder. I thought to myself would I be able to pick up on the stress and fatigue my presence and illness was causing? Would I be able to feel guilty for requiring so much time and attention that it took away from my very own grandchildren and where would I end my final days if I became too much on their marriage? If they placed me in a home how often would they visit, and would it slowly lessen as time passed? Would I pass away in a cold empty room alone because my family couldn’t get there in time, or was away for the holiday or a family vacation? I was struck with such emptiness; Herbie was surrounded with family at home. I don’t think anyone wants to die alone, especially me.

Finally it all hit me, love. That’s really what it’s all about. Just like Herbie’s family said they signed up for a sprint and got a marathon, but the important thing was they never quit running. Through the good days and the bad, raising children, working, and marriage they stayed true to their word. I admired the bond Herbie and his daughter had as well as the way the grandchildren interacted with their grandfather.

I have saved this video not just for me but for my family, friends and others in this situation as well. Herbie passed surrounded by love, memories, and respect. He reached the point of no return with open arms and a smile on his face, returned to lost memories and eternal love. Who could ask for anything more? Memories may be lost, but love lives on forever.

- Windy Clemmons

January 5, 2010

Strayer Univ. student connects with "Losing Herbie" film

Tegan Webb, from Professor Abramson's "Intro. to Sociology" class at Strayer University, writes a personal essay on Losing Herbie and her personal experience with caregiving.

When I first saw the title of the video, I knew it was going to be about someone dying. Watching this video hit home for me because I was caretaker for my mother before she died. She died in December 2007 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS. Losing a loved one is never easy, but taking on the responsibility of caretaker can be even more challenging. After watching the video I would say the three things that struck me the most would be how much of a burden it was for his family, the obligation his daughter felt to be caretaker, and the joy his grandchildren brought him while he was there.

A burden can be referred to as some kind of responsibility or duty to be performed. When the video begins, you can see it in Herbie’s daughter and son-in-law’s faces that the responsibility ahead of them was more than they expected. I remember in the video how Julie Winokur, Herbie’s daughter, stated that it was putting a strain on her family. She was forced to juggle everyone’s needs and demands. Her husband felt neglected, putting a strain on their marriage. The children fel
t neglected, by their mother missing out on important events in their lives. Herbie’s granddaughter was upset with her grandfather, she stated she wished he could “do it himself.” A burden can take an emotional and sometimes physical toll on you. I could see with my mom sometimes how exhausted my father and I would be. You ask yourself how much longer can I endure this, but you keep pressing on, just as the Winokur’s did.

Many of us have th
e benefit of growing up with our parents. They see us through from beginning to end. As we grow older, so do they. At a point in our lives we have to decide what is in our parent’s best interest. Does it become our responsibility to take care of them? Some people would agree that it is; others may think differently. Julie truly believed that taking care of her father, was her obligation. He committed his life to take care of her and she is returning the favor. Whether the decision she and her family made was a good one, she knew as she stated “we’ll see this decision through to the end,” and that’s what she did. I would agree with Julie in this aspect. My mother carried me for nine months and nurtured me until I was able to care for myself. I could only hope that during the time I cared for her, she was proud of me.

In my opinion, children carry such a sweet spirit. Some children’s spirit is disrupted with negligence they receive from their parents or caregivers, abuse, or any other traumatic experience they face. From the video I could tell that the Winokur’s children were not neglected of love. The love that they received from their parents, they expressed and shared with their grandpa. At times when he may have felt alone, or unaware of his surroundings, they were there to support him and remind him who he was. With their hugs, kisses and laughter he would be assured of who he was. The loved he received I believed kept him going. When I lost my mother I was 4 months pregnant with my son. I know if she had the opportunity to have met him, he would have had the same impact on her, as did Herbie’s grandchildren with him.

Dementia does not have a cure. When a family is told that their loved one is diagnosed with this disease, they know they face a long journey. The Winokur’s got to see it first hand everyday all day with her father. I believe even though she was glad for him to be alive, she was probably more relieved when he passed away. Caring for someone with this disease can be a burden on you. But as children we feel an obligation to be there for our parents when they are in need. We can only hope that through this time they get enough love from us or their grandchildren, and it helps to ease them through.
“Losing Herbie” was a very touching video, and made me be more aware of my own father and pray that I won’t have to be in Julie’s place.

- Tegan Webb

January 4, 2010


Happy New Year to all. I'm off today to Phoenix to show a clip of FIRESTORM to the board of the National Association of Emergency Physicians. I'm excited to share the film with such a distinguished body, who we are hoping will help us deploy the film to help address the many problems plaguing our emergency medical care system.

In October I spoke to the board of the NAEMT - the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. We taped the discussion that followed the screening and I've posted a clip of excerpts from that discussion below.

NAEMT invited us to join them in Washington DC in May for "EMS On the Hill Day" where they will be bringing the issues important to pre-hospital professionals to the attention of national leaders and lawmakers. We're also thrilled to be a part of this effort.

Student reflects "Losing Herbie" film

Losing Herbie helps Strayer University student Shanna Averre realize that she may need to make future plans for her own family. Read Shanna's essay below.

Caring for an aging parent, elderly spouse, domestic partner or close friend presents difficult challenges – especially when a crisis hits and you are suddenly faced with the responsibilities of elder care. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the number of “unpaid caregivers” is set to reach 37 million by 2050, an 80 percent increase from the year 2000 (Baldauf, 2007). “Losing Herbie” documents the struggles placed on a family when they decide to become the caregiver to their aging father/grandfather who also suffers from dementia. Three major things that stood out the most to me in viewing this documentary was the emotional conflicts placed on the family, the effect on relationships within the family, and financial aspects the family had to face.

Throughout the entire documentary the first thing that stood out to me was the emotional journey each family member experienced. Starting with the aging father we were immediately shown how bad his dementia was and when asked a question about what town he lived in, he earnestly answered “I surely cannot remember.” I was struck by his disappointment and his unwilling acceptance of not having control over his mind anymore and how absolutely devastating that must be. I forget a name of a song or a thought I want to share and it drives me mad! I admired his daughter and her husband for coming back to New Jersey just to take care of Herbie, her resolve to take care of her dad the way he had taken care of her all her life. Yet she experienced conflicting emotions as she realized the effort involved in trying to run a house, a job, be a wife, a mother, and a full-time care-giver to her father. She experienced overwhelming love for her father but frustration, depression, and guilt as the task sometimes was overwhelming. The husband and children also experienced conflicting emotions, the joy and love that Herbie brought to the family and the resentment from him always having to be the number priority in the house.

The second issue I noticed was the strain put on the various relationships in the house and the importance of having a strong loving family that communicates with each other. The husband and wife mentioned that Herbie had definitely put a strain on their marriage. Getting caught up with all the responsibilities they didn’t have time for each other. The children also expressed some resentment in the fact that when trying to have one of their parents’ attentions it always was short-lived, as something would happen with Herbie that would pull their parents away. The kids, even in their disappointment, knew however, that Herbie did require attention and it wasn’t his fault. The kids have to grow up so fast in dealing with aging, sickness and death. The parents mentioned being scared that one day the kids would not come talk to them about something important thinking that they were too busy with Herbie. However, I also notice that the family seemed to grow closer in sharing the responsibilities of helping and providing love to Herbie.

Lastly, the financial strain the family faced definitely caught my attention as I realized that one day I might be in a situation where my parents need full-time care. Herbie’s family chose to provide home care rather than place him in an elderly home. Caring for someone with dementia is one of the most difficult challenges facing caregivers as people with advanced dementia requires 24-hour surveillance. The Winokur family had to hire two nurses to help care for Herbie. In order to cover the cost they had to sell their father’s home. The cost to place a loved-one in an elderly home or assisted living facility is even greater and is often not even a considerable option for most families.

Watching “Losing Herbie” I realized the importance of having a plan for aging loved ones. It is important to talk to your family members early on while they can be part of the decision process. It is important to talk to your family members about personal goals, housing issues, who they trust to make decisions for them when the time comes, sorting legal documents, discussing healthcare issues, and exploring financial options. The emotional aspects of providing care for an aging loved-one are difficult enough; you shouldn't have to worry about the financial and planning aspects as well. With some foresight, planning and a little help, you can be assured of making your loved-ones last days as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.


Baldauf, Sarah. (2007). 15 Ways to Take Care of Your Elderly Parents. US News and World Reports. Retrieved December 1, 2009, from

- Shanna Averre