Inundation District

A Documentary Film Discussion

Occurred on March 19, 2024

INUNDATION DISTRICT, the newest film from David Abel and Ted Blanco, explores the implications of the City of Boston’s decision to spend more than $20 billion on building a new waterfront district — on landfill, at sea level. The film raises awareness about an era of rising seas and strengthening storms and the impacts on coastal communities. 

Unlike other places imperiled by climate change, this neighborhood of glass towers housing some of the world’s largest companies was built well after scientists began warning of the threats, including many at Boston’s own renowned universities. The city, which already has more high-tide flooding than nearly any other in the United States, called its new quarter the Innovation District. However, with seas rising inexorably, and at an accelerating rate, others are calling the neighborhood by a different name: Inundation District.

You were invited to watch the documentary in advance, and then joined us for a discussion of this vital film with our guests: director David Abel and Rev. Rob Mark of Church of the Covenant Church in Boston. The conversation focused on the emotional, spiritual, and justice-oriented aspects of the film’s themes as we imagine new possibilities for our cities and communities.   

View a trailer of the film here

View the discussion below, recorded on March 19, 2024:

Meet Our Guests

David Abel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covers climate change for The Boston Globe. He is also a professor of the practice at Boston University. Abel’s work has won an Edward R. Murrow Award, the Ernie Pyle Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Reporting. His most recent film, “Entangled,” which was broadcast by PBS’s World Channel, was nominated for a 2022 Emmy, won a Jackson Wild award, known as the Oscars of nature films, and Best Feature Film at the International Wildlife Film Festival, among other awards. Abel previously co-directed and produced “Sacred Cod,” which was broadcast by the Discovery Channel. He also directed and produced two films about the Boston Marathon bombings, which were broadcast on BBC World News and Discovery Life. His other films include “Lobster War,” which won “Best New England Film” at the Mystic Film Festival, and “Gladesmen: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboys,” which won the Miami Film Festival’s Knight Made in Miami Award. Abel, who began learning to make films as a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, is INUNDATION DISTRICT’s producer, director, writer, and cinematographer.

Rev. Rob Mark (he/him/his) serves as Lead Pastor of Church of the Covenant in the heart of what is now known as downtown Boston, in the ancestral lands and waters of the Massachusett People. With degrees in Divinity and Geology, Rob is passionate about spirituality, people, equity, and climate jubilee-justice.

Having grown up in the Quinobequin (settlers renamed: Charles) River watershed, and lived and worked in Illinois, DC, New Hampshire and South Africa, Rob has a Masters of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology, and is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Prior to his current position, Rob worked in congregational, university chaplain, non-profit housing justice, and outdoor ministry settings. Rob volunteers to coordinate the ecumenical Eco-Stewards Program that helps inspire young leaders in their 20s who are passionate about faith and the environment.

Rob is passionate about Spirit, the earth, and the poor, and has a special deep love of the liberation-laden Celtic Christian theologies that see God’s image deep within not just each other, but within all that has life — every person, every peak, every penguin, every pine cone. When not at Covenant, you can likely find Rob and his spouse loving the wild ride of stewarding the gift of their child.

Rev. Joshua Lazard (he/him/his) serves as Associate Pastor of Church of the Covenant, a vibrant United Church of Christ / Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation in the heart of Boston. Ordained in the National Baptist Convention, and having grown up at the famed Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Rev. Lazard previously served as the C. Eric Lincoln Minister for Student Engagement at Duke University Chapel. 
A Chicago South Side native, Rev. Lazard is a graduate of Fisk University and the Johnson C. Smith Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Early in his professional career, Joshua worked at Dillard University in the Office of the University Chaplain, providing spiritual leadership and discernment to undergraduate students while also serving as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Practical Theology at Boston University.