The film, High Tide in Dorchester, aims to foster a conversation about climate change and related impacts of sea level rise and erosion, and leverage that conversation into action. The focus, Dorchester County, MD, is already experiencing the future that increasingly faces coastal areas worldwide. This low-lying county on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay is the fourth largest of Maryland’s 23 counties by land area, but it is destined to drop to the 14th largest by 2100 — or sooner — as waters rise and erosion worsens. Dorchester is the coal miner’s canary; ground zero for the Chesapeake Region.
High Tide in Dorchester is a wake-up call: It’s time for a retreat from the shoreline, of which the Chesapeake estuary has some 11,000 miles. Historically, millions of people have sought to live as close to that shoreline as possible, but few communities are doing adequate planning to meet the imminent challenges of restraint, retreat and adaptation to living on the edges of a rising tide.
Rising seas also threaten many species of waterfowl and other birds that nest in Dorchester’s extensive wetlands — 45 per cent of Maryland’s total tidal wetland acreage. It is imperative that we give these wetlands space to migrate upland as they are flooded in the lowlands. The film looks closely at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, where scientists and managers are already dealing with the impacts of the rising tide.
Tom Horton, Sandy Cannon-Brown, and Dave Harp merged their talents in 2015 to produce Beautiful Swimmers Revisited, an hour-long documentary film inspired by William W. Warner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay. The trio’s newest collaboration is a hyperlocal film about the ravages of climate change and sea level rise in Dorchester County, MD, which is ground zero for the consequences. High Tide in Dorchester will premiere in the fall of 2017.
Tom Horton covered the environment for The Baltimore Sun for 35 years. He has written eight books about the Chesapeake Bay. His honors include the John Burroughs Award for the best book of nature writing, the David Brower award from the Sierra Club, and other awards from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Audubon Society. Governor Martin O’Malley honored Horton as an Admiral of the Chesapeake. He currently is a Professor of Practice in Environmental Studies at Salisbury University and a contributing writer and columnist for the Bay Journal.
Sandy Cannon-Brown, founder and president of VideoTakes, Inc., is an award-winning environmental filmmaker whose work has taken her to Central and South America, West Africa, the Northern Great Plains, and the Everglades. She was an associate director for the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, honored as CEF’s first senior scholar in 2013 and named AU’s adjunct professor of the year in 2011. Among her other honors, Women In Film & Video DC honored Cannon-Brown as a Woman of Vision. She served as WIFV’s president 2011-12.
David Harp has published five books of photography on the Bay with essays by Tom Horton. His stunning photography has graced the pages of the New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, Audubon, Sierra, Natural History, Islands, Travel Holiday, and Coastal Living Magazine. He was the staff photographer for the Hagerstown Morning Herald and the photographer for The Baltimore Sun Magazine during the 1980’s. He is currently the photographer for the Bay Journal. He was awarded the Andrew White Medal by Loyola College of Maryland in 2004 and is past president of the American Society of Media Photographers.
Bay Journal Films
Bay Journal Films is an initiative of Bay Journal Media, a 501©(3) nonprofit dedicated to informing the public about issues and events that affect the Chesapeake Bay. The flagship product of Bay Journal Media is the Bay Journal, published monthly except for midsummer and midwinter and distributed free of charge. Print circulation is 50,000 with many more readers online.
Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal, executive producer of Bay Journal Films, and executive director of Bay Journal Media. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991, winning numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the 2001 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation; in 2006 he became the fourth person to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Before the Bay Journal, he was a reporter at the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News, and the Saginaw (MI) News. He is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in journalism.