PRESS RELEASE: Palo Alto Art Center to Host Screening of Environmental Justice Film “The Smell of Money,”

October 18, 2023

PALO ALTO, Calif. – The Palo Alto Art Center will host a film screening and discussion of the environmental justice film “The Smell of Money” on November 12, 2023, at 2:30 pm.

The 82-minute documentary film chronicles the fight of Elsie Herring and her community in eastern North Carolina against the world’s largest pork company, Smithfield Foods. At stake is the desire of Herring and her neighbors to breathe clean air and live in a place free from foul odors, contaminated water, and elevated rates of disease.

Four environmental organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond have joined forces to present this in-person event: Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet, SolPods, 350 Silicon Valley (Menlo Park Climate Team), and Menlo Spark.

“We owe it to ourselves and the land we steward to be more informed about the environmental and social injustices happening within our food system. Through this film, we have an incredible opportunity to show people actions that can be taken to protect the health of marginalized communities.” said Lauren Weston, Executive Director of Acterra.

“This powerful film highlights a frontline community’s struggle against industrial animal agriculture in the fight for access to clean air and water,” said Amy Farrell, co-Founder & Executive Director of SolPods. “Their decades-long struggle shows how we can use our collective power as consumers, as voters, as investors and as employees to hold multinational corporations accountable for their actions.”

“The Smell of Money” follows Herring and her community’s lengthy legal battle against Smithfield, exploring the environmental and social impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and the struggle for justice. The film also introduces other important leaders supporting the fight, including a clean water guardian and a hog-farming insider who eventually takes sides against the industry.

In the state of North Carolina today, about 8 million hogs are raised, mostly in concentrated herds on “contract farms” that work for industrial animal agriculture corporations. In Duplin County, North Carolina, where Elsie Herring’s family resides and has owned land for more than 100 years, hogs outnumber people almost 40 to one and their presence clusters around low-income communities. Crude waste disposal methods that were adopted by the hog industry in the 1980s — the creation of giant lagoons of waste — have barely changed over the decades despite the outcry from communities that live nearby that their homes are severely impacted by unsanitary conditions.

The film raises the question, “Who pays for what we want?” — ultimately, tying the fate of the Duplin County community to our own consumer choices and power.

After the Palo Alto screening, audience members can stay and discuss their responses to the issues raised by the film. Guest speaker Jamie Berger, the film’s writer and producer, will attend via teleconference to answer audience questions. 

Register for the event at (registration is required). The screening of “The Smell of Money” is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. for networking in the Sculpture Garden. The Palo Alto Art Center is located at 1313 Newell Road in Palo Alto, and the auditorium seats 180. View the film’s trailer at smellofmoney.doc. For event inquiries please contact

About the Speaker

Jamie Berger is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and activist born and raised in North Carolina. Her writing has been featured in Vox, The Guardian, USA Today, NowThis, The News & Observer, and more. Throughout her career, she has used writing and visual storytelling to draw attention to issues ranging from environmental racism to the climate crisis to other injustices wrought against people, animals, and the planet. “The Smell of Money” is her first feature-length documentary.

About Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet

Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet ( is a San Francisco Bay Area 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofit based in Palo Alto. Its mission is bringing people together to create local solutions for a healthy planet. Through education and policy advocacy, Acterra helps to accelerate the electrification of homes, businesses, and transportation; support more climate-friendly food choices; and empower youth to understand and take action on the climate crisis.

About SolPods

SolPods ( is a female-founded nonprofit dedicated to connecting change-makers across the globe. Focused on education to inspire action, SolPods offers workshops, podcasts, a curated job board, weekly eco-challenges, a networking community and sustainability training.  SolPods is a fiscally sponsored project of Inquiring Systems, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.

About Menlo Park Climate Team

350 Silicon Valley (, formed in 2013, is a volunteer-led nonprofit dedicated to fighting for climate justice. It works to mobilize residents of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties for a speedy and just transition away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy. Its work operates under the umbrella of 350 Bay Area, a 501(c)(3) organization. The Menlo Park Climate Team is one of many city teams housed within 350 SV.

About Menlo Spark

Menlo Spark ( is a nonprofit collaboration of local government, businesses, and residents helping Menlo Park adopt a suite of measures by 2025 that are necessary to reach zero carbon by 2030, to advance equity, economic vitality, and community health.

About the Palo Alto Art Center

The Palo Alto Art Center is a non-profit arts organization that presents exhibitions, classes, and events for all ages. The Art Center is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive space for people to experience and create art.

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