PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Curt Ellis, FoodCorps founder and documentary filmmaker, will deliver the 11th annual Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture at Brown University on Friday, April 8, 2011. His talk, titled “Ask Not What Your Country Can Feed You — Ask What You Can Feed Your Country,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Stuart Theatre. This event is free and open to the public.
The lectureship, sponsored by Brown University and the Goldway-Shearer family, was established in memory of Casey Shearer, a promising young writer and aspiring sportscaster who died in May 2000, days before he was to graduate from Brown. Previous speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg, ESPN anchor Chris Berman, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, ABC analyst Cokie Roberts, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, film director Davis Guggenheim, and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
Prior to the lecture, the winners of the annual Casey Shearer Memorial Award for Excellence in Creative Nonfiction will be announced.
Ellis is a documentary filmmaker and passionate campaigner for changing the way America eats, builds, and lives. He is the creator of the documentaries King Corn and The Greening of Southie. In 2009, as food and society fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Ellis produced and directed the sequel Big River: A King Corn Companion. The Peabody Award-winning King Corn follows Ellis and his best friend Ian Cheney on a year-long odyssey to understand where their food comes from by planting and harvesting an acre of genetically modified corn in Iowa.
A 2002 graduate of Yale University, Ellis founded the award-winning documentary and advocacy company Wicked Delicate, and is currently working on developing FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps school garden service program slated for national rollout this year.
Ellis travels around the country speaking at colleges and conferences about what he describes as America’s diconnection from the fundamentals — food, water, and shelter. He has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC and NPR, and in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Men’s Journal, and is profiled in the upcoming book Growing Roots. Ellis is currently working under grants from the W.K. Kellog Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Casey Shearer, a member of the class of 2000, was a vibrant and talented member of the Brown community. An economics concentrator, he also studied Spanish, political science, and literature, and helped revive Brown Student Radio (WBSR). He was best known on campus as the station’s play-by-play sports announcer and as the author of the weekly sports column “On the Case,” published in the College Hill Independent.
Shearer was born and raised in Santa Monica, Calif., where his mother, Ruth Goldway, once served as mayor. He graduated from high school in Finland, where his father, Derek Shearer, an Occidental College professor, served as U.S. ambassador. A top student at Brown, Shearer was a member of the economics honor society and received his magna cum laude pin the Friday before he was to graduate. That same day, during a regular pick-up game of basketball, Shearer’s heart stopped and he collapsed. Four days later, he died of an undetected heart virus, two months before his 22nd birthday.