All posts in Interview

Mountain Caribou Initiative

David Moskovitz was supported to undertake work to help conserve the Mountain Caribou. The following is an update from David on his work.

Please also see this Lost Explorer article.

Mountain Caribou 2

Film: We are starting work on production for a 20 minute documentary on mountain caribou, the inland rainforest and BC’s continued efforts to liquidate a large percentage of the remaining old growth of the region. We are aiming to have the film ready for release in late spring 2017.

Photography: Images from the project appeared in the New York Times. High Country News also published a photo essay and article by myself on the plight of mountain caribou.

Book: I have a book contract with Braided River Press for a photography book on this story, schedule for publication for fall of 2018.

Education: We are working on developing educational resources which will accompany all of our major content pieces for the project to make it easy for teachers and community groups to use our content for structured educational purposes

Community Conversations: Our team has delivered our first slideshows for the project, all here in Washington State. One of our current tasks is to reach out to communities on a larger scale to bring the story in person to people within the region and beyond.

Continuing Field Work: I am planning on another 3 seasons of field work for the project as I work to nail down some of the most challenging and important images for this story.

Policy: The Canadian and USA federal governments are both currently reviewing their management of mountain caribou. Canada should have revisions to the current plan out in early 2017. Early reports are that the new plan will be stronger then the existing plan including important additional habitat protections. We are poised for these announcements to drive public engagement for official comment periods and to help hold government accountable.

Social Media: We have an active social media presence on Facebook and Instagram. We have been quiet the past several weeks since the USA elections as we have been dealing with more urgent conservation and social justice issues but will be gearing back up after the new year. Every major content release for this project will be paired with a coordinated social medial campaign.

As we roll into our final year of field work and and production of our most ambitious content pieces its good to see a growing number of individuals and organizations giving us support and encouragement along the way!

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT. We appreciate your support for the project.

Ed Stafford talks to Steve Backshall on BBC Radio 4

In a new series of BBC Radio 4’s ‘One to One’,  Steve Backshall meets StFF beneficiary, Ed Stafford, the first person to walk the 6,000-mile length of the Amazon River over a two-and-a-half year period.  Backshall’s aim is to discover what drives his guest to attempt almost superhuman challenges.

During the interview, Ed talks about being an adventurer and describes his formative years, to profound and fascinating effect.

We hear about his not-particularly-happy time at public school, a rebellious period as a young man and his thoughts on being adopted. He’s a pleasure to listen to, full of wisdom but never self-important:

To put yourself through hardship now is just a way of constantly making sure you evolve.

Ed Stafford

See Chris Gardner’s full review for The Radio Times

Listen to the full interview on BBC iplayer:

 

 

 

 

Slow Life Symposium, Thailand 7-10 November 2013

The Slow Life Symposium convenes business leaders, scientists, NGOs, renowned thinkers and policy makers to help accelerate progress towards environmental sustainability.  Participants discuss global issues and seek practical solutions that can be applied within a local context.

StFF Founder and Chairman, David de Rothschild, is a participant.  See pre-event interview here.

David de Rothschild, StFF Founder & Chairman

Check David’s tweets from the Symposium on our front page

From Trash to Treasure: Plastic Bottle Schools

The following interview with Josh Talmon is reproduced from a MUZE post dated 8 February 2012.

In Guatemala, a nonprofit is helping communities turn plastic bottles into schools.

It takes a village to raise a child. In some areas of Guatemala, it also takes thousands of plastic bottles. By building schools lined with plastic bottles and inorganic trash, Hug It Forward is addressing two prevalent problems in Guatemala – a lack of safe infrastructure for schools and a growing mountain of trash. The model works like this: Guatemalan children and adults collect the many plastic bottles within their community, stuff them with discarded plastic bags and wrappers, and together they build a school insulated with those very bottles.

With 15 schools completed, 2 in progress, and many waiting to be funded, Hug It Forward is working to spread its Bottle Schools across the globe. Muze recently sat down with three “full-time volunteers” and founders of Hug It Forward – Josh Talmon, Zach Balle, and Heenal Rajani. Together we talked about convincing people that they’re not crazy, their “100% Non-Profit” model, and how they plan to bring a Bottle School to a country near you.

Muze: It seems as if whenever I read articles or watch videos from the press about this project, it’s described as a “crazy idea.” Was there resistance to this project at first? Did people think you were crazy?

Josh Talmon: Yeah, sure, at first it might seem crazy. They might think, wow, these guys are saying that we should collect all this trash – why would we pick all this trash up? Why would we put it in bottles? How the heck is this going to turn into a school? I think when they see an example and when they see that other communities have done it before them, then there’s a lot less skepticism. It helps, too, for people to talk to those other communities and see the school in use and the kids in the classrooms and, hey, look at that, the building made with bottles isn’t falling over!

Muze: You describe your business model as being “The 100% Non-Profit Model.” What does this mean and why do you think it’s so important to highlight this aspect of your organization?

Zach Balle: What that means is that 100% of public donations goes directly towards building Bottle Schools. If you donate $50, every dime will be spent in communities that need a school. This 100% Non-Profit model is sustained thanks to conscious businesses that help cover our overhead. We’ve also started offering one-week “voluntourism” trips through our partner organization, Serve the World Today, which gives anybody the opportunity to come help build a bottle school and discover the rich culture of Guatemala. It costs $1000 to be a “voluntourist,” which covers all their expenses except for flights. Additionally, we also ask these volunteers to raise $500, often through a site called StayClassy, and 100% of that money goes directly towards building Bottle Schools.

So in that way, our model is a little bit different in that we don’t have a traditional fundraising model. Our volunteers are really doing all the work for us – they’re raising the money, they’re coming down here, they’re telling their friends, and that helps us out so much since we don’t have to go and spend big money on big events and fundraisers. We have them, our army of volunteers, raising the money and spreading the word for us!

Josh: Yeah, it’s important to realize that we’re merely facilitators for our volunteers. We just help people have the opportunity to come down here, have an amazing experience, and then go back home and share it with their friends and family.

Muze: How would you describe the communities that you are helping in Guatemala?

Heenal Rajani: Most of them are remote communities in the mountains and volcanoes of Guatemala. We’re working in a lot of underserved areas where they’re gone years without recognition from the government or traditional NGOs.

Josh: We’ve met some really incredible, friendly, and motivated people. The Guatemalans that we work with might not be wealthy, but they’re incredibly rich in culture, in family, in community, and they’ve been so welcoming and appreciative.

Muze: What do you believe is the greatest challenge or obstacle for Hug It Forward?

Zach: Unstable governments. This is the only thing that will stop us from building more Bottle Schools and expanding the program to other countries. Also, natural disasters – hurricanes, mudslides, volcanoes, etc.

“It’s important to realize that we’re merely facilitators for our volunteers.”

Muze: And on the flip side of obstacles and challenges, what do you think is the key ingredient to the program’s continued success?

Zach: I think getting the information out to anyone who can use it is the key ingredient. The idea is to constantly update our Bottle School manual, which teaches people how to build a school, so anyone can use it, whether it’s in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, or South America. It’s not sustainable for us to fly around the world and bring this idea to different places on our own. It’s not about us as people, but what this idea can do to change the world.

Muze: It seems that the goal of the organization is to step aside and really let the people in these communities take control and ownership of this project. Why do you feel that this is important and how successful has this been?

Zach: It’s been extremely successful and I think it’s key for a long term, sustainable program. If we were to just roll in there and build it our way, flip them the keys, and say, ‘Here’s your school!’ then I don’t think it would be as successful. If the people in the community have put in their own blood, sweat, and tears and somebody else comes along and terrorizes the school or vandalizes it, there’s going to be ramifications and that person will be held accountable. They really own this thing. This is their school.

“If you donate $50, every dime will be spent in communities that need a school.”

Muze: You must meet all sorts of amazing and inspiring people while working on this project. Can you share a story of someone you’ve met who has inspired or motivated you?

Josh: There’s Marcos Xe. If you watch the video on our website about the second Bottle School that we built, you’ll see Marcos. He was one of the community members there that really helped out. After the school in his community was built, he reached out and developed a relationship with a nearby community, about 30 minutes away, and invited them to come check out his village’s Bottle School. The visitors were impressed, so Marcos was really encouraging and said, yeah, start collecting your bottles! Let’s start putting inorganic trash into those bottles! Then this other community started clearing land themselves to build their own school. That’s the grassroots and kind of organic feel that we’re going for here. And that just happened on its own, without any of us from Hug It Forward getting involved. Now that this other community is getting established, though, we will be helping them with funding, but what’s really cool is that Marcos and this other community took the initiative on their own. That’s what it’s all about!

Muze: What’s the next step? Where do you see Hug It Forward going in the future?

Josh: For us, our next steps as an organization in 2012 are to really focus on the Bottle School manual. We want to get to the point where someone can just find this document online and do everything themselves to build a bottle school– from empowering the community and collecting bottles and trash to raising funds and construction details. It would also be great to have an online forum where anyone from Peace Corps volunteers to community leaders can answer each other’s questions about how to get these school’s built.

We’re also hoping to expand into other countries. Construction’s already started for a bottle school in El Salvador and we’re hoping to help start a school in Guyana by June.

Mike Irvine is a researcher and writer at Muze.

- See more at: http://muzes.org/stories/from-trash-to-treasure-plastic-bottle-schools-2/#sthash.ZGtzX0bu.dpuf

Food Revolution Day – 17 May 2013

jamie_4Jamie Oliver’s second annual Food Revolution Day will take place on Friday 17 May 2013.

MYOO interviewed him on the eve of the inaugural Food Revolution Day on 19 May 2012:

Meet the man who’s revolutionizing how we eat, cook, and think about food

Chef and food activist Jamie Oliver is not one to mince words. From telling McDonalds to “f*ck off” on late night television to warning parents that “your child will live a life ten years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we’ve built around them,” he is refreshingly blunt in the face of a growing crisis – we’re not eating right and its ruining our health.

Jamie recently took a moment to answer a few of our questions about his upcoming worldwide day of action, Food Revolution Day. Set to launch on May 19th, the the goal is to bring people together, share cooking experience and knowledge, and help people start eating smarter.  Never a dull interview, he touched on everything from the importance of teaching the next generation to cook to what he thinks of the government’s role in our diets and the atrocious amount of time we spend in front of the television.

On the Food Revolution Day website, it states: “For the first time in history, being overweight is killing more people than being underweight…This has to change, and it’s down to us. We need to get back to basics and start thinking about where our food comes from.” What is the connection between obesity and understanding “where our food comes from?”

For me, Food Revolution Day is all about food education. I’m so, so amazed and grateful to the people all over the world who are taking part because this is truly a global problem. Every day I’m seeing tweets from places like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Portugal and so many other countries so it’s clear that this is a problem which is affecting people everywhere. The connection is simple; the best way to demonstrate it is to think back to the Food Revolution television series on ABC and the sections where I ask high school students – kids of 13, 14, 15 – simple questions about food and they don’t know the answers. Like the guy who answered “Bears?” when I asked him where honey comes from. It was shocking, but it wasn’t his fault. For him, honey was just something which arrived in his house and tasted good. So if people don’t know the very basic information, how are they supposed to make informed choices about what to feed themselves?

Can you explain what you mean by “real food?” And how do you address the perception that local and organic products are only accessible to the wealthy?

Real food for me is fresh ingredients used to create beautiful, nutritious meals. Not pre-packaged food with ingredients you can’t pronounce and not take-away food every day or every other day. I’m not against take-away food completely because of course it has a role to play, but a big part of the problem is that for too many people, take-away food is no longer a treat, it’s the norm. Because they have no options. As for the other question, throughout history the least expensive products have always been the local ones but it depends where you shop. I’m constantly amazed when people say they can’t afford to eat fresh food because “it’s expensive” and then they’ll spend twice as much money on take-away pizza. I can make a better pizza for a third of the price.

Mark Bittman wrote in The New York Times that “it’s the farm bill that largely shapes [American] food and agriculture policy, and…ultimately supports the cynical, profit-at-any-cost food system that drives obesity, astronomical health care costs, ethanol-driven agriculture and more, creating further deficits while punishing the environment.” What do you think of this scathing critique of the American government’s food and agriculture policy?

I think Mark is right in much of what he writes, but my focus is very much on food education so that people can make informed choices and have the knowledge to feed themselves and their families better.

From banning trans fats to possibly restricting people in theSupplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  from purchasing soda, there’s a lot of debate about the government’s role in people’s diets. As a healthy food advocate, do you believe in these restrictions or should the goal be to educate people and allow them to make their own decisions?

I understand when people say they don’t want governments “nannying” them, but when it comes to a global crisis like this, I think a bit of guidance is necessary. In the UK, the government’s answers to the problem of our topping the obesity statistics of Europe is essentially to say to people “it’s your fault – go and do some exercise and eat less,” which doesn’t help anyone. I think an amazing start would be to teach all our kids to cook throughout their schooling so that at least this generation has the basic life skill they need.

According to recent statistics, the average American watches 4 hours and 39 minutes of television per day, but most people also say they don’t have time to cook. How do you explain this disconnect?

There’s a huge argument to be made for linking obesity to television habits and you can read research stating that people eat more when they’re watching TV rather than eating at a table talking to their friends and families. But that’s an amazing statistic. It takes minutes to get a beautiful, nutritious meal on the table.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just thanks to everyone for supporting Food Revolution Day all over the world!

See the Plastiki – inside and out

DALLAS – Something extraordinary is making waves in Fair Park! Anchored in the middle of the Esplanade Fountain near Centennial Hall is The Plastiki …  learn more at:

http://www.wfaa.com/video/featured-videos/Instant-Live-8-All-Aboard-the-Plastiki-201932291.html

Follow: @wfaaweathertoo

wfaa.com

 

 

A Young Voice In The Climate Change Debate

parrys

17 year-old Parrys Raines is part of a new generation redefining Environmentalism.She was climbing glaciers at the age of 10 and involved with the UN by the age of 12. At only 17 years old, Parrys Raines has spoken to thousands of young people about reducing consumption, curbing waste, and leaving the planet a cleaner place. She’s travelled all over the world and has friends on almost every continent. What she wants is pretty simple: for people to be safe, to be healthy, and for the next generation to inherit something better, not worse, than what came before them.

Do you feel there is a disconnect between activism and youth?

Being told that you are too young to understand the world’s problems is totally frustrating. I work hard at trying to understand serious social and environmental issues and I would like to be part of the solution.

You’ve been a United Nations Environmental Protection (UNEP) youth delegate three times, attending conferences in Indonesia, Norway, and South Korea. Any reason you enjoy going, and why might other young people consider it?

I like to hear first hand from other kids about what is happening in their country and what positive actions they are taking to help the issues. When kids talk to each other they don’t tip-toe around the issue; we just explain what we see and what needs to be done. All delegates are selected on the basis of their involvement in environmental projects and it’s inspiring to learn what kids in developing countries are doing.

What kinds of problems have you seen?

Through my travels with my environment work I have seen the shrinking glaciers in Europe, I have been to Borneo to learn about orangutans and see deforestation for myself, I have seen sick turtles that have swallowed plastic from the ocean and I have seen poverty. So much waste and pollution making the planet and us humans sick.

What is the answer? Appealing to high powers? Politicians?

We cannot rely on politicians to do the right things for the future as a political cycle is very short. But we have to keep putting pressure on them to make positive changes for the long term sustainability of the planet. I have found that people doing greater things for the planet are not politicians. The reality is the planet doesn’t need us, but we need the planet!

Why are these issues so important to you?

I care when my friends from Brazil send me emails asking for help to save the Amazon.  I care when my friend from Nepal tells me there isn’t enough drinking water in her village because there has been less snow and ice last winter. I care that my friend from Botswana is trying to raise money for mosquito nets for poor villages in her country so children and pregnant women don’t get Malaria and she knows with climate change Malaria will get worse.

I care a lot about our oceans and marine life, too. In some parts of the ocean there is more plastic than zoo plankton which is really disgusting. Our oceans provide us with so much— we need to do more for them.

Any beautiful moments along the way?

The closing ceremony at UNEP was incredible. Delegates were dressed in full traditional costumes and there were performances from around the world. The highlight for me was that everyone in the hall—1400 delegates, chaperones, media, Government officials, UNEP officials and staff and local organisers—were given a musical instrument called an Angklung. A beautiful Indonesian lady stood on the stage and gave us all instructions on how to play it and then by only using hand signals she instructed us to play songs. The hall filled with music from our Angklungs. The people in that hall came from so many different countries around the world, speaking their own native languages, but for a short time no speech was needed. We were united as one through music.

What are the messages to other people your age?

To young people, I would say be responsible for the impact you make on the planet, everyday. Learn as much as you can and share what you have learned with family and friends. Don’t under estimate your power to influence your parents, your teachers, and some politicians.

One thing I have learned is that you have to find the right person to help bring about change. We have to move away from the “out of sight out of mind” philosophy and that get out of that “someone else will look after it” mode of thinking. That train of thought is old school. As we grow up we must all be environmentalists without exception.

Also, please think about consumption. You don’t need to have the latest gadget or phone. Technology evolves so quickly so there are always new models coming out so wait until you really need a new one and then pass on your old “stuff” onto some who will appreciate it.

Get amongst nature more often. Ride, surf, climb, run: try anything but get outside more and see what great fun you can have.

And the message for adults?

To adults I would say, include young people in decisions so that we may have the knowledge and tools to deal with the problems we are destined to inherit. Young people have lots of enthusiasm and we are generally more optimistic about finding solutions and tackling problems. You never know, we might surprise you and even inspire you!

Check out Parry’s website here or follow her on Twitter.

2nd Food Revolution Day – 17th May 2013

jamie_4


Jamie Oliver – revolutionizing how we eat, cook, and think about food

Note: First published by MYOO.com in 2012

Chef and food activist Jamie Oliver is not one to mince words. From telling McDonalds to “f*ck off” on late night television to warning parents that “your child will live a life ten years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we’ve built around them,” he is refreshingly blunt in the face of a growing crisis – we’re not eating right and its ruining our health.

In May 2012, Jamie took a moment to answer a few of our questions about his worldwide day of action, Food Revolution Day, which launched on 19th May 2012, with the the goal of bringing people together to share cooking experience and knowledge, and help people start eating smarter.  Never a dull interview, he touched on everything from the importance of teaching the next generation to cook to what he thinks of the government’s role in our diets and the atrocious amount of time we spend in front of the television.

On the Food Revolution Day website, it states: “For the first time in history, being overweight is killing more people than being underweight…This has to change, and it’s down to us. We need to get back to basics and start thinking about where our food comes from.” What is the connection between obesity and understanding “where our food comes from?”

For me, Food Revolution Day is all about food education. I’m so, so amazed and grateful to the people all over the world who are taking part because this is truly a global problem. Every day I’m seeing tweets from places like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Portugal and so many other countries so it’s clear that this is a problem which is affecting people everywhere. The connection is simple; the best way to demonstrate it is to think back to the Food Revolution television series on ABC and the sections where I ask high school students – kids of 13, 14, 15 – simple questions about food and they don’t know the answers. Like the guy who answered “Bears?” when I asked him where honey comes from. It was shocking, but it wasn’t his fault. For him, honey was just something which arrived in his house and tasted good. So if people don’t know the very basic information, how are they supposed to make informed choices about what to feed themselves?

Can you explain what you mean by “real food?” And how do you address the perception that local and organic products are only accessible to the wealthy?

Real food for me is fresh ingredients used to create beautiful, nutritious meals. Not pre-packaged food with ingredients you can’t pronounce and not take-away food every day or every other day. I’m not against take-away food completely because of course it has a role to play, but a big part of the problem is that for too many people, take-away food is no longer a treat, it’s the norm. Because they have no options. As for the other question, throughout history the least expensive products have always been the local ones but it depends where you shop. I’m constantly amazed when people say they can’t afford to eat fresh food because “it’s expensive” and then they’ll spend twice as much money on take-away pizza. I can make a better pizza for a third of the price.

Mark Bittman wrote in The New York Times that “it’s the farm bill that largely shapes [American] food and agriculture policy, and…ultimately supports the cynical, profit-at-any-cost food system that drives obesity, astronomical health care costs, ethanol-driven agriculture and more, creating further deficits while punishing the environment.” What do you think of this scathing critique of the American government’s food and agriculture policy?

I think Mark is right in much of what he writes, but my focus is very much on food education so that people can make informed choices and have the knowledge to feed themselves and their families better.

From banning trans fats to possibly restricting people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  from purchasing soda, there’s a lot of debate about the government’s role in people’s diets. As a healthy food advocate, do you believe in these restrictions or should the goal be to educate people and allow them to make their own decisions?

I understand when people say they don’t want governments “nannying” them, but when it comes to a global crisis like this, I think a bit of guidance is necessary. In the UK, the government’s answers to the problem of our topping the obesity statistics of Europe is essentially to say to people “it’s your fault – go and do some exercise and eat less,” which doesn’t help anyone. I think an amazing start would be to teach all our kids to cook throughout their schooling so that at least this generation has the basic life skill they need.

According to recent statistics, the average American watches 4 hours and 39 minutes of television per day, but most people also say they don’t have time to cook. How do you explain this disconnect?

There’s a huge argument to be made for linking obesity to television habits and you can read research stating that people eat more when they’re watching TV rather than eating at a table talking to their friends and families. But that’s an amazing statistic. It takes minutes to get a beautiful, nutritious meal on the table.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just thanks to everyone for supporting Food Revolution Day all over the world!  The second Food Revolution Day takes place on 17th May 2013.

NOTE:

Read the facts from the first Food Revolution Day here.

 

 

Oldest Living Things In The World

oltw

See Rachel Sussman’s new essay on Art, Science & Story for http://Nature.com ‘s Spot On series now live! 

You can read in full here.