BY KATE OCZYPOK • NOVEMBER 13, 2023
“Common Ground,” the sequel to the documentary “Kiss the Ground,” is currently screening in over 100 markets. It is here in Washington, D.C., for a three-day run at the Miracle Theater on 8th Street SE.
This evening will include a panel with filmmaker Josh Tickell, farmer Rick Clark, and leaders from Indigenous and Black farming communities. Actor turned activist Ian Somerhalder (“The Vampire Diaries”) will also be on hand, as he executive produced “Common Ground” and “Kiss the Ground.”
“Common Ground” looks at our food system and the money, power and politics that surround it. The film profiles white, black, and indigenous farmers who are using regenerative models of agriculture that they’re hoping will balance the climate, save lives and the country’s economy too.
Somerhalder and Tickell, who went to high school together, both grew up in poor farming areas in Louisiana. Tickell’s wife, Rebecca, who also served as director and producer alongside her husband, is a sixth-generation farmer.
“Presented super simply, regenerative agriculture is just literally the use of planned grazing methods,” Somerhalder said in an exclusive interview with The Georgetowner. “Living, growing plants, literally at scale, sequester enormous amounts of carbon dioxide.”
He went on to explain that when you participate in regenerative agriculture, one feeds all the “little microorganisms in the soil, so when you have healthier soil, there are healthier plants.”
The healthier plants then lead to a healthier planet and revitalized freshwater systems.
“We are literally building the largest carbon capture food economy in the world and that comes from regenerative ag.,” Somerhalder added. “Regenerative agriculture means higher profits for farmers.”
It also could mean doing away with wasteful government subsidies, taking toxic high fructose corn syrup out of our food systems, which will then start to diminish the $447 billion dollar per year diabetes industry, he went on to explain.
Somerhalder and Tickell were in D.C. last month, talking to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Somerhalder called the conversations “productive and positive.”
“We are so divided, but Josh told me this years and years ago: soil is our only common ground,” he said. “I think where you get some of this really powerful bipartisan support is conservative members see this as a way to build those communities and their districts.”
He continued: “On the other side of the aisle, they see it as amazing ways to build climate mitigation models… We’re talking about actually building a profitable carbon capture food economy… How are you going to argue with that?”
Somerhalder walked away from the film and television business four years ago to raise his children, build up his companies (Brother’s Bond Bourbon anyone?) and get these films released. After “Common Ground,” there is one more film in the trilogy, called “Ground Swell.”
“Ground Swell” examines the international understanding of how this can scale globally. “It’s a serious undertaking, what Josh and Rebecca and our team have been able to do getting these two films out,” Somerhalder said. “This is our life’s work, I don’t know where traditional film and TV fall back into that.”
Somerhalder and the Tickell still have around two more years of just “going and going.” After that, Somerhalder laughed, Josh and he “will be two old, gray men who will probably be sitting on a rocking chair somewhere in Louisana sipping some tea or some bourbon.”
“As Rebecca said, we don’t ever want to be the parents who look at our children and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” he added. “We’re going to be the parents who look at our children and say we did something, and it worked, it’s still working and you’ll have a bright, healthy future.”
In addition to Somerhalder, the film is narrated by A-list actors like Laura Dern, Jason Momoa, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover.