What came out of last night's viewing of the Rise of the Eco Warrior for me is this. When it comes to the Environmental Movement - the Message - needs to be Magical. And this is what the creators of this film achieved. The message was simply that - magic. I am so much more inspired to do something about palm oil since watching this film.
The Eco Warriors spent 100 days in Sintang and Tembak, Borneo (Indonesia) and were split off in to separate units - EarthWatcher, Deforest ACTION, propagation of seedlings for reforestation, prepping the orphaned orangutans for socialisation and release in to the forest (Forest School), Education, Mapping of logged vs intact coupes, and possibly other units, as well. All bases were covered for saving the precious last native tracts of Borneo from logging.
I was particularly interested in the work the Education unit were doing to inculcate a love for their land in the Indonesian school children. There were many visits to local schools and lots of creativity infused in to the education campaigns to keep the children engaged and entertained. After all, it's the young who will one day be the owners of this land who will be pressured to sell it off. Without the land-owners' commitment, the campaign is futile!
One campaigner wrote a song, some dressed up and performed for the schools dramatising what happened to the orangutans in the forest, there was a photo tree, a Photographic Exhibition, from memory, crafty activities for the kids, dancing routines, and just about anything you could think of to open up these children's hearts to the importance of the forests. But most importantly, there was a love in everyone's hearts for the land and the wild-life which resonated and radiated amongst everyone, and the children felt it as much as ever. This is what this film brought out, and emotion is so important in any campaign.
I particularly love the scene where they are jumping around on the rain forest floor literally like they're on pogo sticks. You see the peat all along the forest floor is very spongey and filled with a lot of air and huge amounts of CO2s are released in to the atmosphere when it is disturbed.
There was a small remote control plane which would surveille the forest to track down illegal logging and industrialists marking off trees for future removal. Despite Borneo not having the most advanced internet coverage, these Eco-Warriors really made the most of all technological capabilities at their disposal.
Apart from love, another resounding theme in Rise of the Eco Warriors, is HOPE. I have watched Green - The Film, An Orangutan's Story, which is like the representation of environmental realism on the film-maker's canvas. This film although an important piece of film-making in conveying the realities of rainforest destruction, did leave me feeling flat and that feeling of 'what can I do'? I'm not sure that a silent film actually works. I didn't feel at all flat after watching Rise of the Eco-Warriors. Quite the contrary, it's a film that galvanises the audience to want to do something.
What many don't know about the palm oil industry but would have learned from this film -
1. Palm plantations are mono-cultures which means high levels of fertilisers and pesticides are needed - hence groundwater will be contaminated for generations. When native forest is culled, the orangutans are basically left with no food source, and no habitat.
2. A mono-culture means that animal and plant bio-diversity is virtually non-existent. After 20 years when the palms are no longer bearing fruit, the land is left depleted and barren.
3. Logging is illegal in Indonesia, but still legal in Malaysia (which is quite another story altogether!). The local Indonesian people need to be encouraged to enforce the laws to prevent illegal sell-offs to palm oil producers.
4. Tens of thousands of seedlings (including sugar palms) are currently being propagated and replanted to replenish the land so that the local people can generate an income from a more sustainable industry.
This film is on limited release, but the creators are asking people (parents, teachers, campaigners) to look up this Facebook page and request its viewing at schools or in their local cinemas.
Another point that came out of the feedback after the session was that supermarkets can be pressured in to providing greater transparency when it comes to their Palm Oil free Products.
At Q and A time, I piped up without a microphone (it was a full cinema) and commented that hopefully the film can have Chinese sub-titles added. After all, the bulk consumers of palm oil - are those who use it for cooking as occurs in China, so we really need to appeal to our Asian friends to appeal to their relatives back home to find an alternate source for cooking oil.
This is the second post in the series of what kind of environmental messages work effectively to draw in the widest possible audience. I had to start with a photo of the gorgeous Jackie Eco, eco comedienne looking fabulous. Jackie I'm waiting for you to get back to me with a campaign I can add in for 2013.
The last post concerned some tips for making your environmental tweets, or captions more captivating! In this post, I am putting together my list of some of the TOP GREEN CAMPAIGNS well from my perspective for 2013, in terms of their creativity, and not merely their ability to convey information.
1) Banksy's Siren of the Lambs
Whether you are a carnivore (such as myself!), whether you are child or grown-up, this video of performance art by Banksy - street artist carries a potent environmental message. Sirens of the Lambs is powerful in its message because of the simplicity in the way it is executed - a truck driving around Manhattan emitting a gentle squealing sound - which is the plaintive cry of the animals on the way to their abbatoiresque doom. It is powerful because it fires up our senses, and every emotion (despair, hope, and the animals heads bobbing up and down is kind of funny too), rouses you to think about whether you might eat the odd vegetarian meal (or embrace Meatless Mondays!), and is a real campaign conversation starter. I already wrote about it on my Converse Conserve blog last year.
This highlights the importance of the visual image in conveying ideas about the environment and behaviour change which brings us to the next campaign.
2) The Art of Visualising Climate Change
This is a video that highlights the ways that scientists and artists can use Infographics to create a more compelling visual story through font size and font emphasis, to conjure up the right imagery, and convey the effects of climate change. For eg in one caption the words are shaped to look like ice or the cracking ocean. Words are conveyed using appropriate fonts, depending on the meaning that's intended. The commentator refers to the process as 'taking the data and bringing it to life visually'. Then there is discussion about 'the polar game' that deals with sea levels rising and preventing a major city from becoming submerged. It's designed in such a way as to make climate change a more engaging topic. Great stuff.
Another one well worth a viewing.
3) Follow the Frog
This video doesn't need to be elaborated upon in great depth except to say that it's released by Rainbow Alliance, and is reminding the average viewer (plus the extreemie greeenie) that you don't need to quit your job, and go off and do a whole lot of excessive things - to save the rain forest whereupon you'll probably end up in a jail without your passport ... you just need to Follow the Frog - by buying products with the Rainbow Alliance frog logo - showing they are approved rainforest friendly, products. It's very memorable, and effective and definitely deserves to be in the top 5 creative campaigns.
4) A Brief History of the 5 Cent Bag Tax
This is another clever video that lifts the very boring topic of a tax on plastic bags out of the doldrums and by incorporating some slapstick and humour helps the average viewer realise the worth of something as simple as a small tax to help people remember their reusable bags.
5) Make it Possible Video
This is probably the most powerful of all of the videos I've seen in terms of engaging our emotions - so none of these are campaigns are named in any particular order. The singing animals do stir you to want to do more for this cause - either eat less or no meat, or to eat only free range produce or RSPCA approved. Certainly it would make most people want to always avoid battery hen (cage raised) eggs, or pork from stalled sows.
6) How to Scare a Shark
This one by Rohan Chakravarty - master environmental cartoonist from India, is wonderful for its simplicity in the cartoon message and I also love that Rohan always gives a heartfelt explanation beneath his cartoons. It never occurred to me that sharks can't swim without their fins - not that I've ever been one to swim with sharks, or a shark fin soup fan.
Keep them coming Rohan and continuing to educate us.
7) Bank Watch
This is Bill Oddie (of the Goodies ilk) and he weaves a witty and insightful commentary around the phenomenon of HSBC, the banking institution which according to Oddie, has been the financier behind all manner of deforestation projects in Sarawak/Borneo, Malaysia. It's an entertaining video which would prompt a lot of us to sign the 38 Degrees petition which can be signed here.
8) The Water Cycle Boogie
I just had to add one in for the littlies, who generally like to jiggle about and sing a song. This one doesn't bear any further commentary, as most of us have had rules about water wasteage, drummed in to us.
So what do all these eco-creative videos have in common? They were all released in 2013 and are all in my view informative and entertaining. They all hold out some form of emotional appeal to a wider audience, and don't saturate the audience with too much information.
9) Last Stand of the Orangutan
I belatedly discovered this wonderful video of the In your Palm campaign. Pardon the pun , but the message in this video speaks for itself, in that there is an orangutan speaking in sign language with a young girl also signing about what foods they eat and orangutan habitat destruction. It's an inspiring and touching video, worthy of checking out.
Australian eco-creatives, I only see you mentioned once amongst this list at Number 5)! So it's time us Aussies lifted our game! It's time to appeal to some local comedians and film-makers to up the ante - and get more eco-creative in our campaigns.
Please feel free to post a comment with any campaigns that you think deserve to be on this list and I will look at adding them.
Contributors to Converse Conserve.Com
Nicolle K., Peter Nesbit, (cartoonist) Chris Palmer (film-maker), Jackie Eco (comedienne),
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