Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Documentary
Written by: Nikoleta Morales
About the Film
From award-winning filmmaker Julie Sokolow comes this loving portrait of Mark Baumer, an environmental activist, avant-garde writer, and vegan, who hiked barefoot for over 100 days through America to draw attention to climate change. In a voice The New Yorker praised as “reminiscent of Andy Kaufman”, Baumer narrates his offbeat take on life and how we all can make a difference. Skillfully edited from Baumer’s own self-recorded videos, along with interviews from family and friends, it’s a moving portrait filled with laughs, tragedy, and inspiration. A movie about a man who loved life, loved the world, and it showed in everything he did.
During our interview Baumer’s father remarks that climate change is the existential threat of our lifetime and it is not going away. From raging wild fires to severe storms, we are seeing in real time the impact that humans are having on the planet. We are no longer at the stage of just talking about it. Flying around the world to just speak about climate change at conferences is one option. Yet, people like Mark that really do approach it in a more in your face and radical manner are actually doing something about it to help bring people together who have common ground and truly make a difference.
View the full interview on our main cover page under 'Cultured Focus Television'.
Mark Baumer, The Environmentalist
Mark Baumer (December 19, 1983 – January 21, 2017) was an American writer, adventurer, and environmental activist.
In 2010, he walked across the United States in 81 days. In 2016, he attempted to walk barefoot across America, in order to raise awareness about climate change. He was struck and killed by an S.U.V. on the walk, while in Florida.
During the summer of 2010, Baumer walked across the United States in 81 days. The trip started in Tybee Island, Georgia and ended in Santa Monica, California. He chronicled the trip in his self-published book I am a Road. Baumer went through several pairs of shoes on the trip, and wrote about the excruciating pain he experienced.
Inspired by Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run about the health benefits of barefoot running, Baumer started to adapt a barefoot lifestyle. After months of training, he vowed to walk barefoot across the United States. He left for his journey on October 13, 2016 from his home in Providence, Rhode Island.
On the walk, Baumer strove to raise $10,000 for FANG, an activist collective based in Rhode Island. He also sought to protest climate change.
Each day of the walk, Baumer posted a video to Youtube documenting his trip. He also posted poems, diary entries, and photographs on various social media sites, leading The New Yorker to call him “a compulsive social-media diarist”.
On January 21, 2017, Baumer was struck and killed by an S.U.V. while walking barefoot in Walton County, Florida. The crash occurred at about 1:15pm. “He was wearing a high-visibility vest at the time, and walking against the traffic, in accordance with safety conventions,” according to The New Yorker. Mark died on day 101 of his barefoot walk.
The Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund
Baumer was born in Hammond, Indiana, the only child of Jim and Mary Baumer. To keep Mark Baumer’s legacy alive, his parents started the fund and it exists to fund important community projects that raise awareness about the environment, promote social justice, as well as involving under-served populations directly in renewing their communities.
For more information, visit: http://markbaumersustainabilityfund.org/
While our emphasis is on sustainability and Earth-related causes and issues, Mark was also an activist and directly involved in actions related to social justice. Because of that, we’ll work to partner with other groups and organizations that are involved in similar work, such as supporting under-served populations and renewing their communities. Your gift to the Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund helps build a world for everyone, not just those in power.
Julie Sokolow is an award-winning film director, musician, and writer. She directed the feature documentaries Woman on Fire (2017) and Aspie Seeks Love (2015). Woman on Fire follows Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in NY. The film received praise in IndieWire and the Village Voice and first aired on Starz in November 2017. Her film Aspie Seeks Love chronicles David V. Matthews, an offbeat writer on a quest to find love after a late-in-life Aspergers diagnosis. The award-winning film has played festivals worldwide and gained acclaim in Vice, Salon, and the Huffington Post.
Sokolow’s short films have been featured by TIME, Vimeo Staff Picks, BuzzFeed, Gawker, Upworthy, and Huffington Post. In 2014, The New York Times profiled Sokolow and the documentary series she created: Healthy Artists. The series highlights the lives, talents, and struggles of over 40 uninsured artists in America. That same year, her short film Street Doctor went viral and received over one million views. Street Doctor follows Jim Withers, the legendary doctor who hits the streets at night to provide medical care to the homeless. Sometimes Sokolow's writing appears in Salon or Huffington Post. You can listen to her music album Something About Violins on iTunes and read about it in Pitchfork. For more visit: https://www.juliesokolow.com/