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Alan Dater and Lisa Merton have been working together on the production of documentary films since 1989, and were inspired to make Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai after meeting Wangari Maathai back in 2002.

We were drawn to this vibrant story of the journey she took to save her community and it’s environment, and we were drawn to the complexity of links between poverty and development, and environment and good governance.

These two filmmakers felt compelled to tell her story of humility and strength in the face of trials and tribulations, and set out to bring her tale to millions of people. For them and for us at GreenHeroes, Wangari’s story should be a model for humanity.


By Lisa Merton, Director of Taking Root

This summer I had the amazing experience of showing our film Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai in Kenya just weeks before the referendum on the new constitution.

Kenyans who are under age 30 do not really know about the struggles, sacrifices and courage of Wangari Maathai.

For them, seeing Taking Root was especially eye opening. They knew that she had “fought the government” but had no idea at what personal and professional cost; nor did they know that the roots of this “fight” took hold with the simple act of planting trees, an effort on Maathai’s part to meet the needs of rural Kenyan women whose daily problems stemmed from living in a degraded environment.

For older Kenyans who had lived through the Moi years (President Daniel arap Moi had a strangle hold on power from 1978-2002), seeing the film was deeply moving, and reminded them of what they had gone through to reach the monumental moment they were about to have: a referendum on a new constitution, which passed overwhelmingly.

For over 30 years Wangari Maathai has fought tirelessly for the protection of the environment, human dignity, social justice, human rights, and the protection of democratic governance.

The hundreds of communities that have benefited from the Green Belt Movement (GBM) are not only mobilized and trained for tree planting, they are also empowered through civic and environmental education seminars (CEE) to promote advocacy for environmental protection and human rights.


Ruth Wangari Thungu, one of the mothers involved in the 1992 Freedom Corner protests in Uhuru Park for the release of political prisoners, looks at herself in the film Taking Root with co-producer/director Lisa Merton, July 2010

Because of the GBM’s holistic approach to change documented in Taking Root, organizations and individuals from all over the world have asked us to translate the film into their languages.

They feel that it is an inspirational film to show in nations that are facing rapid deforestation, threats to human rights and good governance.

Therefore, we have embarked on a bold initiative to translate and dub the film into 22 languages. Thanks to film festivals, Taking Root has already been translated into 7 languages; we’ve just completed the Haitian Creole version (dubbed as well), and Kiswhili is almost finished!

Stay tuned and do visit our website at www.takingrootfilm.com and the GBM website at www.greenbeltmovement.org


Purchase a copy of Taking Root here.

Learn more about Wangari Maathai and start Talking Climate Change by visiting our campaign page!

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