Earth Engine Fueled by Students

In a renovated bank building annexed to the Church Street Mall a small but growing group of University of Vermont students from varying majors gather to work on a private project with enthusiastic marketing guru Seth Zimmerman. The project, appropriately named Earth Engine, is an alternative news website dedicated to impartially addressing ecological issues through student produced videos. Subjects range from alternative energy and green technologies to culinary arts and ethical dairy farming.

Mr. Zimmerman, along with longtime friends and business partners Ron Schneider (manager of the Beatles and Rolling Stones) and Todd Stevens (producer of Joey and Friends), first became acquainted with the University as guest lectures at UVM’s Summer Integrated Media Studies Institute.

The Summer Integrated Media Studies Institute (SIMSI) was a month long film production class in which thirty-two students were split into four person teams and produced social documentaries based on personal interests. Impressed by the quality documentaries and enthusiastic students, Seth Ron and Todd decided to recruit from the class. “I love it,” says Zimmerman. “It makes me feel 20 again. It rejuvenates me. There are so many fresh ideas, and in ecological terms you don’t find more conscious students than at UVM. When I was their age I had mentors – Jimmy Miller, producer of the Rolling Stones, Jim Nelson, lighting technician for the Fillmore East, Sid Burnstein, the promoter who brought the ‘British invasion’ to America – many of my influences were activists for social and political equality and they expected me to pass that torch of activism onto the next generation when my time came. That’s where my love for American history comes in. America was founded by activists.”

Seth, a strong proponent of social justice and ecological consciousness, sees his co-op with students as a way to express their mutual concern for world-wide well-being and believes that this is an opportune time to do so. “In recent history McCarthyism and the Nixon administration provided a platform that allowed the sixties’ generation to find their voice. I feel that we are at a similar point now in terms of trends -activism has once again become popular. However, I can’t stress enough that we are not affiliated or part of any political organization. The bottom line is promoting socially responsible and environmentally friendly change. We’re not about politics, we’re about truth. We want to promote ecological awareness to the right as well as the obvious left.” is scheduled to launch publicly sometime this September. Eco-conscious students interested in gaining film and marketing experience can e-mail [email protected] for more information.