As we reflect on the success of the massive Global Climate Strike that culminated last Friday with almost 1 million people marching here in Canada, we want to celebrate how hosts have used Hoovie to engage their communities around the urgency of the climate crisis – and even raise money for youth strike organizers.

When Fiona and I started out, we thought Hoovie was first and foremost a film solution: an equitable distribution stream that connects amazing films with amazing audiences, in a more meaningful way than going to the theatre or streaming online at home.

However, with each Hoovie movie experience our hosts put on, we discovered that in fact we had it backwards.

More than anything else, Hoovie is a social platform – a tool that uses film and technology to empower people to gather offline and engage with others around the issues that matter. Hoovie builds community.

This past month, we had the privilege to see Hoovie being used to build community around the most pressing issue of our time – perhaps even of all time.

Using Hoovie’s uniquely social cinema model, business leaders and orgs like Earnest Ice Cream, Nada, Matchstick, Chambar, Sunset Labs, Be Love, Gibsons Public Market, Dogwood BC and Surfrider raised their hands to convene community conversations in the lead up to the Global Climate Strikes.

Each of the Hoovie experiences they created offered folks the opportunity to watch a film and learn more about what local youth climate strike organizers are doing – and how they can plug in, as individuals and businesses, to support. For many, it was a revelation.

Ticket proceeds were donated to the strike organizers, including the Sustainabiliteens in Vancouver, and for the first time ever, we allowed guests to add an additional donation at check out.

The result: $1,500 was raised for Vancouver and Victoria strike organizers over four events!

There could be no better film to highlight the urgency of the climate crisis than Chasing Ice, a Sundance award-winning documentary about a National Geographic photographer documenting the mass extinction of glaciers around the Arctic.

Over two weeks, the film was screened at Nada, Sunset Labs, Matchstick and Gibsons Public Market. And without fail, after each screening as the credits rolled, guests sat in stunned silence, absorbing and processing the enormity of what they’d just witnessed. Then, the lights would go up and folks would eagerly perk up their ears to hear what actions they could take.

In some cases, guests had the opportunity to talk about the feelings and thoughts unearthed by the film. Tears flowed from pained eyes; sometimes anger flashed through troubled words.

There were also huge smiles. That was something beautiful to behold! To see the transformational power of film + conversation + like-minded souls in spaces conducive to human-to-human interaction, to see the deeply troubled emotions next to the hope and optimism from sharing space with others – wow, it was powerful.

And it was fun!

There can be great joy in the struggle to reconcile what we understand about human-caused climate change – when we do it together. The Fractured Land screening at Chambar offered real proof of this wonderful truth.

Chambar owner Karri Schuermans wanted to bring folks together the morning of the Climate Strike march for a film and some nourishment, so she invited Chambar fans (of which there are many) to “Eat, drink, watch and climate strike” with Hoovie.

Arriving early for coffee, mimosas and a decadant brunch, guests leaned their protest signs in one corner and got friendly with table mates before settling in for the film, which brought an Indigenous voice to the issue of fossil fuel development and conservation. Afterwards, Fractured Land co-director (and Hoovie co-founder) Fiona Rayher shared an update from the film’s protagonist, Caleb Behn, before guests discussed among themselves and then hit the streets bound for City Hall.

Inspired by Chambar’s example, Gibsons Public Market on the Sunshine Coast also hosted a morning Hoovie, across the water, before heading over to Persephone Brewing for their own local action.

Then we marched. We joined hundreds of thousands of kindred spirits in the streets of Vancouver, along with millions across the globe, to stand up for climate action.

And here’s the cool thing, the thing that is just so magical: marching among the throngs of people, we ran into countless guests who we’d watched movies and bonded with over the last two weeks! We’d find each other in the crowd, hug like old friends and then we’d march together, side by side. It was amazing.

Our community is rich and it is growing, and we’re so deeply grateful to be able to empower our hosts to use Hoovie’s model to build community through cinema.

Want to host your own screening + fundraiser with Hoovie? Click over to hoovie.movie/host to learn more.