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.
How telling green campaign stories draws out empathy in our audience
· Stories are satisfying as they involve a beginning a middle, and an end.
· They help the audience identify with the characters and their situations.
· Stories play a dual role: conveying information whilst also arousing an emotional response, but the story-telling keeps the information at the general audience’s level of understanding
· Stories aren't laden with facts! This is ideal where the audience aren’t receptive to lists and tips, facts and moral strictures!
· With stories, we can raise the characters up to hero-status, which makes the audience think: I want to be that person, I want to do and be like that person (mirror neurons).
. Stories work really well with children (and those of us still in the process of growing up!) Weren't we like sponges - soaking up new stuff when we were children, and story-telling allows us to drop our guards, and be right-brain receptive. Stories work in inspiring environmental change as they arouse sympathy, as well as making sustainability fun, working on our sub-conscious minds and ultimately building up trust, empathy and purpose to convert to action.
150th anniversary of the wonderful Melbourne Zoo has lured the ABC radio announcers out of their broadcasting caves and today they are out at the Zoo, monkeying about with the orangutans, pottering about with the penguins, and chatting with the zoo keepers who sound like geniuses when it comes to their various animal genuses. John Faine and others were heard reminiscing about all the animal inspired TV shows we used to watch which would instil in viewers a sense of wonder and love for our natural environment. Some of the characters mentioned on air this morning were Flipper, Mr Ed - The Talking Horse, My Friend Flicker, Skippy, and these certainly brought back memories, for those of us who grew up in the 70s.
In shows, such as Big Brother where humans are seen literally parading about and behaving in a manner really befitting a human zoo enclosure (a lot of the time), we could have a Big Brother for animals entitled The Big Critter, where the animals compete to outdo each other - eg the giraffes compete to see who gets the most attention from the zoo-keepers (who's prepared to stick their necks out furthest) and the male tigers compete as to who has the cleanest teeth. The male birds would also get to flaunt their amazing plumages for the benefit of the females, of course. The animals and birds could compare notes about their skills ... who is fastest/flies the furthest, and the trees could even compete as to who gives out the most oxygen, and takes in the most CO2S, the plants that perform the best in terms of bio-filtration. This would be a fun animated quiz show.
Perhaps, tone it down, Nicolle, you are getting too carried away, again with your ideas for environmental media. There is bound to have been a satire done of Big Brother in this way! And a far more intelligible discussion of green humour occurs here.
Burt: Where'd you flit off to Berth?
Two bugs in a cartoon: Burt Beetle and Bertha Butterfly.
They are standing under the one solitary tree left in their new backyard (err … the term is Outdoor room) ..... and they are pictured saying:
‘Errchkem …. You’ve built your room. We’re just wondering where you put ours?’
I am inspired to write about outdoor rooms as the main contributor to bloomingandbold.blogspot (where gardens and the wider land intersect).
Forgive me, but I may have posted these videos in the past, but the cold weather here in Melbourne means all the blood is trying to get to my extremities, and not so much going to the brain:
These are a couple of my favourite green campaign Ads:
(from the Outsmart Invasive Species Project)
(from Green Peace: Until the Sun Shines out of your xxx (censored to be polite), use an energy efficient light bulb, instead’ - Warning – Video may cause offence!!
What I like about these Ads is that they are amusing or light-hearted, they are introducing a green topic in language most people can understand, they therefore get the message across effectively, they tell a story, and having characters we can either identify with or like, they arouse empathy. The second one is particularly catering to young people who are amused easily where bums, body parts or anything rude is concerned!
Contributors to Converse Conserve.Com
Nicolle K., Peter Nesbit, (cartoonist) Chris Palmer (film-maker), Jackie Eco (comedienne),
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