The Spark follows two stories asking the same questions: What does it truly take to fix the world’s problems? What must you sacrifice? What must you endure?
We begin with Dr. Marcin Jakubowski on a farm in rural Missouri. His staff with Open Source Ecology lives there, in shacks off the power and water grid. They are attempting to build the Global Village Construction set, the 50 machines necessary to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The team is designing and testing these machines literally day and night, and when they are ready, the plans will be released for free on the internet. The possible implications of its impact are huge, and the project has already received world wide attention. When we find the team, they are in preparations to release a “Christmas Gift to the World”: the unveiling of the first four machines. Despite their momentum, winter is approaching and morale is waning. Discontent is brewing; the project is threatened. Without the money necessary to fix the living conditions and maintain a crew, can it happen? And if an idea this powerful can’t succeed, what can?
This story is intertwined with that of a New York school teacher named Nat Turner, who drove a blue school bus to New Orleans with a dream to help the lower 9th ward. He transformed a hurricane-wrecked grocery store into an alternative school for the city’s at-risk youth, many of whom have dropped out of high school. He teaches and pays them to grow food at the school, which he then sells to local restaurants to keep the school running. Like Jakubowski, Turner is hoping to create a new, sustainable economic model, but just as with Open Source Ecology, there are serious challenges along the way. Turner must face dissension and aggression among not just the students but staff as well, local restaurant owners fighting for their bottom line and a community suffering from the physical and emotional wounds of Hurricane Katrina.
The Spark looks at the biggest challenges of our time – environmental abuse and human poverty – and the underground attempts to combat these diseases. The crusaders we follow in the film are by necessity coming from outside the system, and yet it is that outsider status that hinders their ability to succeed. We wonder, is it possible to fix what’s broken? And what is that spark that drives people to try, despite how hard it is?
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