Patrick Barnard does his share in helping the environment and making a difference with his video documentaries
by Bianca Brais
Dawson English professor, Patrick Barnard, 67, member of the Green Coalition in Montreal and Quebec, has been working on his YouTube documentary videos, The Pimento Report, for the last two years, focusing on environmental issues such as the current attempt to save Meadowbrook.
So far, there have been 20 Pimento Reports and they are all approximately 10 minutes long.
“The video topics are related to parks, the environment, green spaces and health. That’s the core, but I’ve covered the 2008-2009 economic crisis and Canadian involvement in Afghanistan,” Barnard said.
One of Barnard’s main projects was to stop the southern part of Westmount Park from being covered with synthetic turf. In 2006, a group of citizens formed an action group, Save the Park, an organization that joined the National Association for Olmsted Parks in Washington, D.C. Barnard explained that 1,000 people signed the petition to save the natural grass in Westmount Park.
“I was involved in the fight to keep natural grass in Westmount Park; the fight to keep the $12.5 million dollars per year budgetary allocation for three years for the City of Montreal’s Natural Spaces Programme and I am now involved in trying to help Les amis de Meadowbrook fight to save the Meadowbrook green space.”
With the previous projects being successful, Barnard hopes the Meadowbrook fight will be a success as well.
Meadowbrook is a green space in the southwestern Montreal region and consists of ancient trees and two of the only remaining streams in Montreal. It acts as a natural air filter and provides a place for birds and other animals year round.
The dilemma is that starting this year, the City of Montreal is planning on building 1500 condos in Meadowbrook, depriving residents and their children of the use of this vastness of greenery. On April 19, at the Montreal City Council Meeting at City Hall, a protest was held to make it clear to Mayor Tremblay that citizens want to save Meadowbrook.
The Pimento Reports are short documentary videos based on current environmental issues. They are featured in English and there are a few videos in French, but by the end of the summer, Barnard intends on making a video in Spanish.
Producing The Pimento Report is something Barnard enjoys.
“I make no money off of them; they’re social objects belonging to everyone. I love doing it,” he said.
Since the videos are posted on YouTube, anyone can see them whenever they want. It’s an open source.
“YouTube is a visual archive, there’s no technological reason that the videos will disappear,” Barnard said.
Since YouTube is free, anything can be put up. Barnard tries to make all his videos accurate so if anyone wanted to broadcast them, the facts would be precise.
Before settling down and teaching at Dawson, Barnard was a journalist for many years.
Everything is done with a $300 camera, a $35 wire microphone and Final Cut Pro is used for editing.
“I’ve used videos which I’ve recorded with my iPhone as well as digital cameras with video capacity,” Barnard explained.
Technology is so advanced that anything is possible. Anybody can start reporting if they wanted to.
Barnard produces The Pimento Report without any professional help, except for editing where he has a friend do that for him.
Apart from editing, he does everything from reporting to filming. However, by the end of the year, Barnard would like to be able to edit his own videos without any aid. Editing his own work would make the cost of producing his videos much cheaper
“What’s interesting about The Pimento Report is that it’s open-ended. I’m not sure where it’s going, which makes it interesting,” he said.
Barnard’s goal is to continue working in freelance journalism, using different types of new media. He plans on using still photo, video, print, radio, audio interview and film. Barnard already has experience with film; he produced Fennario’s War in 2008.
Barnard was born in England and moved to Canada in 1967 where he later on started teaching at Dawson in 1991.
“I have divided my life between radio, teaching at Dawson College and at University as a teaching assistant,” Barnard said.
Working as a freelance radio journalist, Barnard has worked for CBC radio, Radio Canada, Radio Netherlands and WBAI New York. He has also contributed to print journalism in The Nation, Commonweal, New York Newsday and The Gazette.
The name Pimento was chosen because Barnard and his wife grow the vegetables. They’re red and green, which represent social justice and the environment. Barnard believes that these two topics are linked.
“I think it’s very important for Montrealers to wake up. Montreal ranks at the bottom of major Canadian spaces for the amount of green space per inhabitant. It’s time to defend the green spaces and demand them from politicians.