Posts Tagged ‘CHRIS PALMER’

THE NEW SOCIAL JUSTICE GAME CHANGERS

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

 

 

 

 

THE NEW SOCIAL JUSTICE GAME-CHANGERS:


TWELVE SMALL ORGANIZATIONS AND FOUR INDIVIDUALS 


WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD


 


What a difference four years makes!

 Back in February of 2008 when I first conceived Action Now Network, the geopolitical forces of the world seemed wildly out of control, and I as a responsible global citizen, felt a serious weight on my shoulders.  I had already become an active supporter and Board member of Jewish World Watch a leading voice in the fight against genocides that occur in our lifetime.  But most of the world seemed either apathetic or bewildered, uncertain as to what impact they could have, if any, in the grand scheme – and far more interested in the goings-on of their own lives than in making the world right. 

Don’t get me wrong –It’s not that there weren’t plenty of venerable organizations out there that were doing great work – there were.    But the public consciousness had not truly awakened to social justice issues as national –or personal priorities.  Woody Allen brilliantly described our state of mind in this famous clip from Annie Hall:
 
 




When I finally launched in 2010, (hoping to move readers beyond a Woody Allen frame of mind), I wrote the following statement as the lead-in to the website’s raison d’etre, which was (and is) to inspire readers to take action in defense of a planet that seemed about to implode:
 
 “…. our planet is in trouble: perilous geopolitical tensions, global warming and the destruction of our environment, flagrant and egregious acts of cruelty inflicted by humans upon fellow humans and animals alike, hunger, poverty and homelessness, absent or woefully inadequate health care– the list goes on and on. For most of us, it is mind-numbing to think of what needs to be done to make even a small impact, let alone to solve the overwhelming problems of the world.”

The bad news is that four years later, the paragraph above still rings true.  But the good news is that there is an important difference now.   The internet and social media have changed our perception of what is possible – they have empowered us to believe that we can make a difference.    Our personal worlds, to borrow Woody's image, have expanded, but in a good way.  Organizations, new and old have a visibility and reach that has never before been possible.  Not only are we more aware and more willing to become engaged, but we are more optimistic about our ability to make an impact.  There is a peak energy in knowing that we are in this together and that we are working toward a reachable goal.

And it's not only the large, well funded organizations and foundations that have found new and far-reaching audiences.  In the last few years, dozens of smaller groups and individuals, as well, have entered the "social good" radar.   These are the real game changers:  In most cases, on shoestring budgets, these smart, committed visionaries are making a quantum difference in the lives of people, animals and the environment, AND they are educating us at the same time.  (With apologies to Woody's screen mother), they have made it very much our business, to get excited and involved.  
 
So, with these thoughts in mind, I have spotlighted 12 small organizations and 4 individuals who have broken the "impact barrier": they are making an immeasurable change in the lives of people, the environment and the future of our planet.  To be sure, this is not an exhaustive list, but an Action Now+Network inaugural group representing some of the best and the brightest out there, who with great determination and humanity are changing the world.  –ED 



 ORGANIZATIONS BY CATEGORY
(CLICK ON ORGANIZATION TO GO DIRECTLY TO DETAIL)
 
 
ACCESS TO EDUCATION
 
DREAM A WORLD EDUCATION, INC.  Opening the world of possibility for our youngest school children.
 
INCENTIVE MENTORING PROGRAMCreating a revolutionary family-style support system to usher at-risk youth through high school and college

SAVONG FOUNDATION (THE)Bringing education and community health services to the people of rural Cambodia.

 

FEEDING THE HUNGRY

TAGUM CITY FOOD BANK, Feeding the malnourished children of Mindanao, Philippines.
 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
BEYOND DIFFERENCESCreating a movement in which teen social isolation becomes a thing of the past.
 
DARFUR UNITED, Bringing hope to survivors of the Darfur genocide.
 
SOLAR COOKER PROJECT (THE), Protecting and empowering the women and girls of Darfur

 
CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING
 
MIT CLIMATE COLAB, An ingenious crowdsource system to elicit innovative solutions to climate change.
 
SANERGY  Two MIT MBA students turn human waste into a sustainable energy resource.
 
TRANSITION U.S.A., Preparing communities for the impact of climate change.
 
 

PEACE BUILDING
 
HAND IN HAND CENTER FOR JEWISH-ARAB EDUCATIONNurturing the next generation of peacemakers in the middle east.
 
NEWGROUND: A MUSLIM-JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGEA bold and brilliant strategy to build working relationships between young professional Muslims and Jews.
 

SOCIAL JUSTICE MEDIA

American University School of Communication, Department of Environmental Filmmaking (see Chris Palmer, below)

 
 

FOUR EXTRAORDINARY INDIVIDUALS
 
 
ANALEE BRODIE, Godsend for homeless animals and for the Los Angeles homeless and low income community who need veterinary care for their companion animals
 
ELLIOT KATZ, DVM, Founder of In Defense of Animals and The Guardian Campaign: creating a seismic shift in the way we view and treat animals — with a goal of eradicating animal cruelty around the globe.

LAURA LEIGHA formidable warrior for our nation's last wild horses
 
CHRIS PALMER, Pulling back the curtain on ethics in wildlife filmmaking
 

 
ALPHABETICAL INDEX: ORGANIZATIONS
 

CREATING A MOVEMENT IN WHICH TEEN SOCIAL ISOLATION

BECOMES A THING OF THE PAST

 

 

Beyond Differences is a student led organization and youth movement that engages middle and high school students, as well as educators and parents, to understand and ultimately to eradicate the sources of social isolation in their communities.   
 
Beyond Differences was founded by Laura Talmus and Ace Smith in memory of and as a tribute to their daughter, Lili Rachel Smith.  Lili was a dynamic and talented young woman born with Apert Syndrome, a rare genetic cranial-facial disorder, characterized by malformation of the skull, face, hands and feet.  Lili’s strength and determination in the face of social challenges at school was an inspiration to her family and to all who knew her. 

THE FACES OF 'BEYOND DIFFERENCES'

 
 
Laura Talmus, Founder and Executive Director
 
Laura Talmus has deep experience in political fundraising and marketing, and has honed her skills both in major Democratic political campaigns and as a consultant to advocacy organizations in the Jewish Community. 
 
In addition to serving as Executive Director of Beyond Differences, she is the Western Regional Director for American Jewish World Service.
 
 
SECRET WEAPON
 
 
Beyond Differences Teen Board of Directors
 
The Teen Board of Directors is a specially selected and trained group of teens who run school assemblies which focus on teen social isolation, why it happens, and how it can be stopped.  Over 3000 kids have participated in the assembly programs since 2010.
 
This year, and additional 40 students joined the movement as members of the Leadership Advocacy Training Program (LATP), which will participate in a year-long curriculum on leadership in their communities as well as starting Beyond Differences Clubs at their schools in order to advocate for social change against isolation. 
 
 
LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

“No One Eats Alone”, an initiative of Beyond Differences, has launched with a mission to reverse trends of social isolation by asking students to make sure that no one at their schools has to face eating alone at lunch. 
 
GET INVOLVED!

CONTACT
 

415-256-9095

336 Bon Air Center, #436 Greenbrae, CA 94904


 


 
 

 

BRINGING HOPE TO SURVIVORS OF THE DARFUR GENOCIDE

 

 

Darfur United (a project of i-Actis an all refugee soccer team comprised of Darfuri genocide survivors now living in Eastern Chad, Africa.  i-Act Founder and Executive Director, Gabriel Stauring scoured the twelve existing refugee camps in eastern Chad for the best soccer players to create a team that would compete in the 2012 Viva World Cup Championship in Iraqi Kurdistan.  It has been an emotional and heartwarming journey.  Not only did the members of the team compete for the Viva World Cup, but they have inspired pride and a new joie de vivre within the refugee camps of Chad.

 But even more than that, the team has inspired a movement, “to bring hope, inspiration, and joy to the displaced people of Darfur.”

Supported by the UN High Commission for Refugees, among others, this team has brought the Darfuri refugees out of the shadows of the living, as one refugee put it, back into the world.

THE FACES OF 'DARFUR UNITED'

 

 

Gabriel Stauring
Founder and Executive Director of i-ACT
 

Grassroots activist Gabriel Stauring graduated from California State University at Dominguez Hills with a major in Behavioral Science. He became involved in the Darfur Genocide out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes in the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, to bring about meaningful, positive change.  He has visited the refugee camps on the Chad-Darfur border numerous times and has developed long standing and deep relationships with many of the survivors living there.

 

SECRET WEAPONS

Mark Hodson,
Darfur Untied Head Coach (volunteer).

 

 

Alex Nuttall-Smith,
Darfur United Physical Trainer (Volunteer)

 

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

Played in the 2012 Viva World Cup Championship games in Iraqi Kurdistan

 

GET INVOLVED!

DONATE: http://darfurunited.com/support/

FACEBOOK:  http://facebook.com/darfurunited

See also: One Man's Mission to Keep Darfur on the World's Emotional Radar: A Conversation with Gabriel Stauring, Founder of i-Act (Stop Genocide Now)



 

OPENING THE WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES FOR 

OUR YOUNGEST SCHOOL CHILDREN

 
 

 

Dream A World Education, Inc. uses arts education programming to teach critical thinking skills and cultural understanding for children in grades K-2.  It approaches learning on a global level with programs that teach children to better understand the world and the universal principles that join us as a global family.  

The unique Secrets Of The Heart arts residency program for grades K-2, uses music, dance, theatre arts, and visual arts to teach friendship, kindness, imagination, and gratitude, while integrating the arts with language arts, vocabulary, geography, life skills, and values. 

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

Approximately 1700 children have graduated from the Dream A World Education, Inc. programs, all from Title I Schools, with populations that live below the poverty line.


THE FACES OF DREAM A WORLD EDUCATION, INC.
 
 

Bunny Hull, Founder and Executive Director.  
 
Bunny is a Grammy® award-winning songwriter and vocalist who began working with children in 1994. She has created all of all curriculum, original music and is author of the books that are used in Dream A World Education’s programs.
 
 

 
Anindo Marshall, Program Associate.
 
Anindo began her music and dance career in her homeland of Kenya as a vocalist, dancer and percussionist.  Her responsibilities include scheduling, contributing to curriculum, and working as a performing and teaching artist with Secrets Of The Heart and our continuation program, Passport To The Heart.
 
LATEST PROJECTS
 
Since our inception, through our Secrets of the Heart residency programs and followup program, Passport To The Heart, we have served 1706 students in Title I Schools in the Los Angeles area. These are schools with populations that live below the poverty line.

SECRECT WEAPONS
 



Diane Kabat
Vice-President, Board of Directors.  
 
Diane has been instrumental for both marketing and fundraising for Dream A World.  She’s connected us with schools, worked as a photographer, volunteer coordinator, and steps up to the plate regularly to fill any need from helping write text for a flyer to taking a meeting with a school superintendent.  Diane is one of a kind.   

 
 
Dr. Michelle Windmueller
Instructional Director for the Intensive Support and Innovation Center,
Los Angeles Unified School District
 
Dr. Windmueller has naturally evolved into our most valuable talking head. Her knowledge about and belief in our programs and the way she articulates our mission has put a face on what we do from the inside looking out.  
 
 
GET INVOLVED!
 
 
CONTACT
 


 

 
 
NURTURING THE NEXT GENERATION OF PEACEMAKERS 
 
IN THE MIDDLE EAST
 

 

 

Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education was created to build partnership and coexistence between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel through the creation of integrated bilingual schools. Hand in Hand operates three such schools, helped establish a fourth one and is now working to open two additional schools. In total, over 1,000 Arab and Jewish children and youth are enrolled.

Additionally, Hand in Hand carries out a broad array of programs outside of the classroom and works to build "shared communities" of Arabs and Jews. In a context where these two communities have lived in conflict with one another for so long,

Hand in Hand stands out a beacon of hope and optimism.

 

THE FACES OF 'HAND IN HAND CENTER FOR JEWISH-ARAB EDUCATION'

 

Shuli Dichter

Executive Director

 

A long-time civil-society activist in Israel, Shuli Dichter has been involved at a leadership level with progarms and initiatives for Jewish-Arab partnership for over 20 years.  He joined Hand in Hand in January 2011.  Previously, he was the co-executive director of Sikkuy, The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, a Jewish-Arab advocacy organization. There he worked to advance equality via government-policy change, municipal cooperation and mobilization of public opinion. His op-ed articles and essays on equality and Arab-Jewish relations are frequently published in Israel and abroad.

 

Dr. Inas Deeb
Education Director

 

Inas Deeb supervises program development, curriculum development and teacher training at Hand in Hand's four schools. She holds an undergraduate degree from Haifa University and advanced education degrees from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and St. Joseph University in Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D.from Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.

Most recently, she worked as a teacher, counselor and language advisor at the Pedagogical Center of East Jerusalem, and has served as an assistant professor and chief research coordinator at Bar-Ilan's Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center.

 

Lee Gordon, Co-Founder, Hand in Hand
Executive Director
American Friends of Hand in Hand
 

Lee Gordon lived in Israel for two decades, where he was actively involved in Jewish-Arab dialogue. Originally from the United States, Lee earned an M.A. in social work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and graduated from the Mandel Institute's prestigious School for Educational Leadership.

Lee is a veteran social activist and community organizer, having worked and volunteered for numerous educational and community organizations. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children, where he builds a network of international support for Hand in Hand.


LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

in June of 2012 Hand in Hand graduated its second class of high school students. It is now receiving a major grant from the U.S. government to expand and open new schools in Haifa and Tel Aviv.  In addition, mixed groups of Jewish and Arab parents from numerous towns throughout Israel have approached Hand in Hand interested in building schools in their communities.

GET INVOLVED!

Donations to Hand in Hand in the U.S. are tax-deductible and can be made online through its website (www.handinhandk12.org) or by sending a check payable to Hand in Hand.

CONTACT INFO:

 www.handinhandk12.org

 info@handinhandk12.org

Snail Mail:

Hand in Hand
PO Box 80102
Portland, Oregon 97280

Related articles: , Inching Toward Peace: A Lunch With Two Student Ambassadors From Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education


The Award Winning Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education: Nurturing the Next Generation of Peacemakers



 
 
INCENTIVE MENTORING PROGRAM
 
A REVOLUTIONARY HOLISTIC  FAMILY STYLE SUPPORT SYSTEM

TO USHER AT-RISK YOUTH THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE

 

 

Incentive Mentoring Program engages underperforming high school students who confront significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. Using a family style model and support system, it fosters students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient and responsible citizens.

Latest Accomplishment: 100% of IMP students have received a high school diploma or equivalent degree and have been accepted to college, and over 700 IMP volunteers have gained invaluable leadership experience, professional development, and personal growth.

 

THE FACES OF IMP:

 

Sarah Hemminger, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and CEO
 

Co-Founder Sarah Hemminger has extensive experience in nonprofit management and in the development, expansion, and replication of innovative, paradigm-shifting models of mentoring. She also draws on a deep understanding of the challenges that face students in successfully completing high school and accessing higher education.

In 2010, Sarah received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.  She received the prestigious Siebel Scholars Award for outstanding work in the field of technology and engineering and has lectured internationally on her work .  

 

 

Tong Zhang, Ph.D.

Chief Operating Officer

 
 

Tong Zhang’s role in IMP has evolved over the years from supervisor and role model, to founding Director of the Technology Service. In 2011, she joined IMP as staff as Chief Innovations Officer, a role in which she recruited, trained and supported Directors to provide programs, services, and infrastructure development for the organization. In her current position as Chief Operating Officer, she is working to codify the IMP model to enable further scaling and replication of the program at future sites.

Zhang received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 

Garima Bhatt
Site Director
 

Garima began her work in urban education as an undergraduate in Washington, D.C., where she co-founded D.C. Today…D.C. Tomorrow, an after-school service learning club for high school students in Southeast D.C.  She was responsible for writing and teaching a service learning curriculum; working with partner organizations to set up and chaperone service trips for the students; and facilitating all volunteer trainings. She continued her work in urban education as an elementary school teacher in Baltimore through Teach for America.


Garima has also served as a Baltimore City Mayoral Fellow and she has worked for the Central Office of Baltimore City Public Schools. She holds an MA in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University.
 
 

Marquett Burton
Site Director
 

When working in Juvenile Services in Oakland, California, Marquett Burton became interested in the way young African American males view education and formal employment.  At University of California, Berkeley, he won a George A. Miller scholarship to research the historical development of African American attitudes toward public education, and in addition, he studied the attitude of mainstream hip hop music toward formal and informal work identities.

At IMP, Marquett has played a critical role in establishing a mentoring partnership with Union Baptist Church to provide his students with technological training and resources, college readiness field-trips, mentoring and tutoring.

Marquett holds a Masters in the Arts of Teaching from the Johns Hopkins School of Education and has served as a Mayoral Fellow in the office of the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.

 

 

Kathleen Lee, M.D.
Program Director
 

During the past five years, Kathleen Lee's contributions as a volunteer have been critical in IMP's evolution from a student group to a thriving non-profit. As a co-founding Director of the Academic Affairs and SAT Preparation Programs, founding Director of the Health Service, and creator of two annual reports she has exemplified IMP’s core values.

Prior to joining IMP, Kathleen served as the Coordinator of the Princeton University – GetSET Program, an after-school program for elementary school students in Trenton, NJ.

Kathleen has a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, and has received numerous awards for her service to the community. 

 

SECRET WEAPON

Kevin Huang,
Director of the Academic Affairs Program, Homewood Site
 

Kevin has spent countless hours supporting tutoring for IMP students and collaborating with ACCE High School leadership. He is always eager to help in any way he can and follows-through even if it means walking to ACCE High School in one-hundred degree heat to get report cards or visiting every teacher to collect exam review materials. He consistently goes above and beyond without seeking any recognition.

 

GET INVOLVED!

Volunteer:  http://incentivementoringprogram.org/volunteer

Donate: http://incentivementoringprogram.org/howtohelp

 

CONTACT INFO:

www.incentivementoringprogram.org

PO Box 1584

Baltimore MD 21203

information@incentivementoringprogram.org

Related article: Incentive Mentoring Program: A Revolutionary Holistic Educational Program Ushers At-Risk Youth Through High School and College

 



 

MIT CLIMATE COLAB 

(A PROJECT OF THE MIT CENTER FOR COLLECTIVE INTELLIENCE)

 

AN INGENIOUS CROWDSOURCE MODEL

TO ELICIT INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE 

 

The research team at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence is interested in the way the internet allows collaborative work on a scale that accommodates small contributions from individuals, exemplified for example, by Wikipedia.  In 2006, they came up with an ingenious new approach to problem solving that engages a grass roots base with a contest model as key pieces of their system.
 
The brainchild of Center Director Tom Malone and research scientist, Mark Klein, the Climate CoLab devises contests designed to mobilize the public – primarily students and concerned citizens– to come up with innovative solutions to climate change.  Inspired by the UN’s 2009 recent climate change summit in Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban and the Rio+20 Earth Summit of this year, the Climate CoLab has designed public contests on a national and global scale.  
 
Winners are invited to present to organizers of global climate conferences and to congressional committees. This year, the Climate CoLab is pioneering a new approach, which seeks on , to break out the large complex problem of climage change into more manageable sub-issues and also to work with partners like Carbon War Room (an initiative of the visionary Sir Richard Branson) .
 
LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

In August, the Climate CoLab project launched this new approach, which will involve  running larger numbers of more highly focused contests.  Six contests will kick off the Climate CoLab’s new approach.
 
       Building efficiency, physical actions
       Building efficiency, social actions
       Profitably reducing emissions from cement (in collaboration with Carbon War Room)
       Local Solutions (in collaboration with Transitions US)
       Transportation efficiency
       Decarbonizing energy supply
 
 

THE FACES OF' MIT CLIMATE COLAB'

 

Tom Malone
Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management
Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

 

Mark Klein
Principal Research Scientist,
MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
 

Rob Laubacher,
Research Scientist and
Associate Director, MIT Climate CoLab
 
 
 
Mike Matessa
Community Development, U.S.
 
 
 
James Greyson
Community Development, U.K.


SECRET WEAPON:

Advisors include community members with input from a distinguished group of experts in climate science and policy who also help to judge the contest contributions by community members.

CONTACT INFO

EMAIL:

Rob Laubaucher: rlj@mit.edu

The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
MIT Building NE25, 7th Floor
(5 Cambridge Center)
Cambridge, MA 02142



 

BUILDING DYNAMIC WORKING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL MUSLIMS AND JEWS

 

 

 

NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change was founded in 2006 to create a national model for healthy relations, productive engagement and social change between American Muslims and Jews.

To transform the landscape, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and  Progressive Jewish Alliance joined forces to create a fellowship for emerging Muslim and Jewish leaders to change the tone of the conversation.


Today, NewGround is an independent group fiscally sponsored by Community Partners and housed at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.


LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

With the support of 14 communal leaders throughout Los Angeles, NewGround is currently spearheading the launch of the first annual Muslim-Jewish High School Leadership Council.

Eight Muslim and eight Jewish teens have been selected to participate in a one-year council experience which will begin with a fall retreat to build relationships and educate students about Islam and Judaism in America.  

 

THE FACES OF 'NEWGROUND: A MUSLIM-JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGE'

 

 

Rabbi Sarah Bassin,
Executive Director
 

Rabbi Sarah Bassin worked at Princeton University’s Hillel before entering the rabbinic program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), from which she graduated in 2010 with a dual Masters degree Jewish Non-Profit Management. 

Since taking the helm at NewGround she has developed and enriched the Young Professional Fellowship Program, which brings together young professional Muslims and Jews in Los Angeles to build relationships and skills, and often fast friendships, which allow them to collaborate on key civic programs that affect both cultures.  Her program has attracted worldwide attention, and serves as a model for peace building in the U.S. and internationally.

 

Edina Lekovic
Board Chair

As MPAC's Director of Policy & Programming, Lekovic leads the MPAC team of staff and volunteers on strategic initiatives in government relations, media outreach and interfaith collaboration, while also coordinating the organization's approach to domestic and international affairs.  

As a spokeswoman for the American Muslim community, she has appeared on national media outlets, including CNN, BBC, MSNBC, and the History Channel and her work has been featured in several leading newspapers.  Named one of the Top 500 Influential Muslims in the World in 2009, Edina is a proud graduate of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute.

 

SECRET WEAPON

 

Suzy Marks
NewGround Advocate

Suzy Marks and her late husband Wally were among the seed funders of NewGround back in 2006. Today, Suzy continues to be one of NewGround's biggest advocates.  She also serves as an informal mentor to the executive director to help guide decisions and aim for the most significant impact.   

GET INVOLVED!

DONATE:  Select "New Ground' from the drop down menu".

EMAIL


CONTACT INFO.

Rabbi Sarah Bassin- muslimjewishnewground@gmail.com.

Website: www.muslimjewishnewground.org

Related article: A Bold and Brilliant Strategy to Build Working Relationships Between Young Professional Muslims and Jews




 
TURNING HUMAN WASTE INTO A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY RESOURCE
 
Two ingenious MBA students at MIT's Sloan School of Management were interested in how to bring dignity to the sanitation experience in urban slums of the developing world.  SANERGY was born — and they ultimately figured out a way to turn human waste into biogas and organic fertilizer.   The goal within five years, per MIT News is to bring sanitation facilities to 500,000 Africans, provide 7.5 million kilowat hours of electricity, and produce 11,000 tons of fertilizer.  An absolutely amazing story and something we are sure to hear much more about in coming years.



 

BRINGING EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICES

TO THE PEOPLE OF RURAL CAMBODIA



The Savong Foundation helps to improve the lives of people in northern Cambodia.  It supports the Savong School (a free language school with over 600 students), the Savong Orphan Center (which is home to 35 children) and the Savong Student Center (a home for the older students attending high school or university).  Although the focus is education, it develops other community projects such as the fluoride rinse program. 
 
None of the administrative positions at the Foundation are paid.
 
 
THE FACES OF 'THE SAVONG FOUNDATON'
 
 
Phil Caldwell, CEO, COO
Phil Caldwell, trained as a veterinarian, has lived and traveled all over the world. On his many trips to Cambodia, he fell in love with the country and especially with the people in the rural areas. He was struck by the grossly inadequate education and health care services available, and became determined to use his skills to better the lives of the people he had come to know.  
Inspired by Svay Savong, who started the first English language school in the area, Phil turned his focus to founding and building the Savong Foundation, and spends most days  fundraising and in program development for the Foundation. 
Because his work for the Savong Foundation is unpaid, Phil has kept his day job as a much beloved veterinarian based in Sherman Oaks, California. He travels to Cambodia once a year, to oversee the projects there.
In addition, there are three advisors to the board who help guide decision making and develop new projects in the area.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
Savong Foundation started a fluoride rinse program which will improve dental hygiene in the local schools.  With the help of the Angkor Hospital for Children, it is importing the fluoride into Cambodia.   With the appropriate training, The Savong Foundation hopes to serve at least 5000 students in 10 schools each year. 

SECRET WEAPON
 
Dr. Dilshad Sumar is an American pediatric dentist who is currently an advisor to the Board of Directors.  She has donated significant time and money to the dental program at the Angkor Hospital for Children and has worked hard to make our fluoride rinse program a reality.  
GET INVOLVED!
 
Volunteers are welcomed, especially in areas of fundraising, marketing and social media crowd sourcing. Interested people can contact me atPhil@savongfoundation.org.    
CONTACT INFO:



 

PROTECTING AND EMPOWERING THE WOMEN AND GIRLS OF DARFUR

 

 

The Solar Cooker Project (a project of Jewish World Watch) is committed to protecting refugees, who have fled the genocide in Darfur, from rape and other forms of violence.   These women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rape and attack by local Chadians and roaming militia while performing the critical task of collecting firewood for cooking.
 
The mission is to reduce the frequency of these crimes by providing an alternative cooking option: the solar cooker.  Solar cookers, using only the energy of the sun, enable women to remain within the relative safety of the camp by reducing their dependency on wood.

THE FACES OF THE 'SOLAR COOKER PROJECT'
 
 
 
Rachel Andres
Director of the Solar Cooker Project.
 
Rachel Andres has built a national interfaith coalition raising awareness and funds to provide simple equipment that dramatically reduces the risk of violence for Darfuri refugees.  She is the recipient of the 2008 Charles Bronfman Prize which celebrates the vision and talent of an individual whose humanitarian work has contributed significantly to the betterment of the world.   



 
Brie Loskota
Chair, Solar Cooker Project (SCP) Advisory Committee,
Board Member, Jewish World Watch.
 
Since the creation of the SCP, Brie has offered her expertise, guidance and support in shaping strategy, performing evaluations and securing funding. Professionally, she serves as the Managing Director of The Center for Religion and Civic Culture at University of Southern California (USC).

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
 
The Solar Cooker Project, working with UK based Cord, began operations in our fourth refugee camp.  In working with Cord, we realized that an added benefit to the Solar Cooker Project is that we help girls stay in school.  Without solar cookers, girls were missing school often due to the enormous amount of time it took (often 10 hour trips outside the camps) to search for firewood.  We plan to start a new Solar Cooker Project in early 2013 in a fifth camp home to approximately 18,000 refugees.  
 
Hot off the Press: The Solar Cooker Project produced a “Best Practices Manual and 11 minute mini-documentary” to document the work with refugees in Chad in order to expand solar cooking by helping other NGOs and international organizations.

SECRET WEAPONS:
 
 
Diane Kabat, Board Member, Jewish World Watch

The multi-talented Diane Kabat is one of the superstars in the fight for our cause. As a JWW Board member, Diane Kabat has been involved with the SCP since it began.  Her generosity of time and spirit and leadership skills have helped to build the Solar Cooker Project into an international success story.
 

GET INVOLVED!

A gift of just $40 provides 2 solar cookers to a refugee woman to cook for her family, stay safe and keep her daughters in school.

To get involved or create your own fundraiser for the SCP, contact the Solar Cooker Project at solarcookers@jww.org  or 818-501-1836 ext. 250.  We will help you brainstorm ideas for a project or event, send you our “Event Planning Kit” to get you started, and update you on the status of the project.
 
DONATE:   www.solarcookerproject.org


CONTACT INFO:
 
www.solarcookerproject.org
www.jww.org
solarcookers@jww.org

Rachel Andres
Director, Solar Cooker Project
Jewish World Watch
Rachel@jww.org
818-501-1836 ext. 250

 
 


 
 
 
 THE TAGUM CITY FOOD BANK
 
FEEDING THE MALNOURISHED CHILDREN OF MINDANAO
 

The Tagum City Food Bank restores severely malnourished children to healthy weight thru weekly feedings, nutrition classes for the Moms and distribution of rice. The childrens' weight is tracked weekly using the BMI index.


THE FACES OF TAGUM CITY FOOD BANK
 
 
 
Chef David Wasson
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Tagum City Food Bank

Chef David Wasson, Founder and Executive Director of the Tagum City Food Bank, is a  local legend in Mindanao.  After a successful career as a chef in Seattle, Washington, he arrived in Mindanao, two years ago, hoping to retire.  What he found shocked him:  hungry children — hundreds of them, some whom he determined to be malnourished and others, severely malnourished.  So — instead of retiring, he did what he had to do: he partnered with the Chef and Child Foundation and the Tagum City Rotery Club to open the Tagum City Food Bank.  
 
The Tagum City Food Bank now serves as a lifesaving resource for the local population.  In addition to providing regular weekly balanced meals, Wasson offers nutrition classes for the parents as well as free rice distributions to supplement his weekly meals.  Wasson has even been known to dip into his own pocket to pay for medical correction needed for children with clubbed feet and cleft palates.  
 

SECRET WEAPON(S):

Helen Reclusado, Head Barangay Health Worker

Emele Caboratan, Manager 

Attny. Luel Mundez

Dr. Glenn Pono


LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

In the last two years, Tagum City Food Bank has restored to health 327 severely malnourished 0-6 year old babies.

 

GET INVOLVED!

Donate Here: http://www.tagumfoodbank.org/

 

CONTACT 

David Wasson CCC, CCE, chef.wasson@gmail.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tagum-City-Food-bank/141204399234728

Tagum City Food Bank


Related articles:  Chef David Wasson and the Tagum City Food Bank: One Year Later



 
 
 
 
 
 
PREPARING COMMUNITIES

FOR THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

 
The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and "environmental" groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience. –Transition website

LATEST PROJECT
 
The 360 Home & Garden Challenge: A diverse coalition of groups, including over 40 school, church, business, non-profit and civic partners,  organized toward an ambitious goal: get 350 gardens planted in Sonoma County over the course of one weekend. Ultimately, 628 gardens were planted or revitalized, and the participants used the event as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of local food production, water conservancy, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, supporting local business, and community resiliency.  See article on the 350 website for more info. 
 
 
THE FACES OF 'TRANSITION U.S.'
 
 
 
Carolyne Stayton
Executive Director
Transition U.S.

Carolyne Stayton has successfully galvanized communities around various social issues and has particular expertise in program development, participative leadership and "learning" organizations.  She has served as Director of New College's North Bay Campus for Sustainable Living, an innovative educationoal institution that promoted advanced studies in leadership and community-building and developed the nation's first "green" MBA program. 
 
Carolyne has a master's degree in Nonprofit Administration, resides in Sebastopol, California, and is passionate about stewardship and protection of the natural world.
 

SECRET WEAPONS

Every volunteer, the lifeblood of the Transition movement.


GET INVOLVED!

Donate here.
CONTACT INFO

Facebook



 
INDIVIDUALS MAKING AN IMPACT

 

Los Angeles Attorney, Mother-of-three and Godsend for the Los Angeles homeless and low income community who need veterinary care for their companion animals

 

Analee Brodie
 
 
Los Angeles attorney Analee Brodie did not set out to become an animal activist.  She practices full time in Los Angeles, and she is a wife and a mother of three small children.  By anyone’s standards, her plate is more than full.  
 

She began helping companion animals of the homeless when she passed the Occupy L.A. site on her way to work one morning, and noticed a small kitten playing in the garbage.  On closer inspection, she saw that it’s eye was squeezed shut from infection and it had a hard tight belly – filled with worms.  Once she determined that the kitten was a stray, she took it to work with her, then to the vet for treatment. That’s when her conscience wouldn’t let her rest.  “If there was one kitten that needed help there, I knew there had to be more”, she said. 

 
So, back she went the next morning to the Occupy site and found slews of animals that needed care.  “All of them needed to be fed, spayed and neutered," she said, "and there were scores that needed treatment for infections of one kind of another.”  In the next two weeks, she managed, with the help of other animal activists, to arrange transport for many of them to the vet for care.  Before she knew it, she became one of the most visible figures of what was then called "The Occupuppy Project."  
 
The Occupuppy Project may have faded, but Analee's passion has not.  She continues this work on her own time, driven purely by her love and compassion for animals.  “The message here is that there is an enormous underserved animal population in the homeless community. 
 
IN HER OWN WORDS
 

I help homeless and low-income-earning people get veterinary care for their cats and dogs, especially spaying/neutering, vaccinations and microchips.  For many people, basic vet care is financially out of reach, and as a result their pets suffer. Recently, I raised several thousand dollars from kind strangers to obtain eye surgery for two kittens born with a painful blinding eyelid deformity. 
 
But on a good day, I arrange transportation for companion animals of the homeless community to a free or low cost vet for spaying/neutering, and I try to raise money to pay for vet services that are not free: flea treatment, abcesses, care for injuries or illness.
THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW
 
It is much easier to PREVENT suffering than to alleviate it!  Spaying and neutering your dogs and cats is so important as long as there are countless unwanted animals in shelters and on the streets.  Even basic vet care is financially out of reach for many people, so the cycle of disease, abandonment, and suffering continues.  
 
And please support any local vet or organization offering free or low-cost spay/neuter, such as 1-888-SPAY-4-LA, a state-of-the-art mobile clinic that offers FREE spay/neuter in downtown Los Angeles.
 
GET INVOLVED!
 
Contact Analee to donate transportation, money, pet supplies, or if you are a veternarian, or veternarian staff who can offer free or discounted services to homeless and almost-no-income pet owners.

Contact info:  Analee Brodie (909) 730-0675 or

analeebrodie@gmail.com



 
WORKING TO ERADICATE ANIMAL CRUELTY IN OUR WORLD
 
 
 
Elliot Katz, DVM
Founder, The Guardian Campaign
President Emeritus, In Defense of Animals
 

 
 
Dr. Elliot Katz began his second career in animal advocacy, when as a young veterinarian in in the 1970's, he successfully challenged the University of California at Berkeley for the deplorable conditions in which they kept the dogs in their research labs.  In 1983 he founded In Defense of Animals, which has grown into one of the premier animal advocacy organizations in the world today. 

The Guardian Campaign is an outgrowth of his life's work, which attempts to instill a sense of respect, responsibility and compassion for the animals with which (whom!) we share our lives and our planet.  It works through a substitution of one word that defines our relationship with them: rather than "owners", we must be "guardians", or  protectors of the animals in the orbit of our lives.
 
Dr. Katz now a national figure and the activists of The Guardian Campaign have made inroads into changing the perception of our relationship with animals.  They have partnered with organizations committed to spreading the word about The Guardian Campaign, they have developed curricula for teachers, they have worked with city officials to develop new language for resolutions and ordinances.  Thus far, more than twenty U.S. cities are identified as "Guardian communities" –they have included the term "guardian in their bylaws which reference treatment of animals — and more than six million Americans and Canadians have taken the "guardian pledge".
 
In a prior Action Now+Network article we wrote, "This campaign not only has the potential to significantly reduce animal cruelty and abandonment, but also to redefine the boundaries, to expand the definition of compassion, and to rewrite the script for treatment of animals in a way that has not been accomplished before."   This is true now, more than ever.
 

Email emk@idausa.org
 


A FORMIDABLE WARRIOR FOR OUR NATION'S LAST WILD HORSES


Laura Leigh
President and Founder

 
 


 
Laura Leigh has devoted her life to documenting the plight of the wild horses; she has taken it upon herself to patrol the plains of Nevada, living out of her truck, in an effort to stop the clock from signaling the end of the wild horse on our prairies. 
 
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) according to Leigh, is clearing the land of wild horses  in favor of grazing and drilling rights for corporate ranchers and for other private interests.  In the process, they are not only in violation of The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 which sought to create multiple use areas on the land but they  are destroying a national treasure and heritage which  belongs to us all.
 
Leigh has traveled to multiple states and has witnessed more roundups and management areas in the last two years than any other person including government personnel.  And – more importantly – she has used the U.S. Court system to go "head to head" with the government –advocating, often successfully, to put an end to inhumane roundups on the Nevada plains.   
 
IN HER OWN WORDS

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I advocate for wild horses. I document horses from the range through (their) holding (period) or adoption. I utilize that documentation to take pertinent issues into the Courtroom and news media and attempt to work with BLM toward finding solutions.

WHY?
 
A convoluted set of amendments and laws have been set in place to weaken any protection these animals have. You are their only voice.
 
We have created five wins in the Court system in the last two years.

Last month I won two more Court decisions. In Jackson Mountain, the Bureau of Land Management used a small area where drought conditions existed, to try to roundup an entire Herd Management Area during the "prohibited foaming season".   We were able to hold them to the area of emergency during foaling season.

We also won another victory in the battle to achieve a humane care policy. During a roundup last summer I shut down a roundup after catching the helicopter pilot hitting a horse. We were able to extend that verdict beyond the end of that single roundup. That victory was achieved based on new case law based on a First Amendment suit that won on Appeal in the Ninth Circuit (note: I wrote a good portion of that Appeal).

Both the First Amendment suit and the Humane care suit have become active again as we prepare to head into discovery.

THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW:

This is your land and these are your resources. Right now your tax dollars are being used for private interests which profit off the land.  In that process…a living symbol of your Freedom is fast disappearing.

GET INVOLVED!

EDUCATE yourself on the issues.  

Visit our website, subscribe to the action alerts, volunteer and donate.  We are a small organization and are able to exist only through your generous donations.


CONTACT INFO:

 wildhorseeducation@gmail.com

http://wildhorseeducation.org/
https://www.facebook.com/WildHorseEducation

SEE ALSO:

Advocate Laura Leigh and the Battle Royal to Save the Nation's Wild Horses



PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN ON ETHICS IN WILDLIFE FILMMAKING   


 Chris Palmer, Ph.D.
Distinguished Film Producer in Residence
American University School of Communication
Director, Center for Environmental Filmmaking
 
 
 

 

Chris Palmer has had a long and illustrious career in wildlife filmmaking.  He has worked with the industry greats, from Ted Turner to National Geographic, and he has received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including two Emmys and an Oscar nomination.

In 2010 he shook the wildlife film industry to its core when he published Shooting In The Wild, An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom, an expose in which he revealed to the world how the films are made, financed and edited and distributed, with rarely a thought to ethics or conservation.

Palmer joined the full-time faculty at American University in August 2004 as Distinguished Film Producer in Residence and founded the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at the School of Communication, which he currently directs and from where he now happily mentors the future wildlife documentarians.  He is also President of One World One Ocean Foundation, located in Laguna Beach, California.

IN HIS OWN WORDS:

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I run the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University in Washington DC, and I’m the president of the One World One Ocean Foundation in Laguna Beach, CA. Through these organizations, I devote my life to conservation, to producing films that make a difference, and to educating the next generation of environmental and wildlife filmmakers.

My goal to win wider support for treating animals and the natural world with respect, care, and love.

WHY?

If we don’t do these things, then the world is going to continue to spiral downwards, propelled by over population, climate change, loss of biodiversity, toxic pollution, and a dozen other major problems which are ruining this beautiful planet. And I do it because films are an effective way to give animals and nature a “voice” that they themselves don’t have.

WHAT SHOULD THE PUBLIC KNOW?

Please don’t support films that harass or goad animals, that involve unethical deception (for example, by surreptitiously using rented animals from inhumane game farms), or that carry anti-conservation messages (for example, that sharks are man-eating monsters).

Contact information:  palmer@american.edu.

cell 202-716-6160; office 202-885-3408; home 301-654-6137
Center website: www.environmentalfilm.org

President, One World One Ocean Foundation
President, MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation
 
SEE ALSO:
 
 

 

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PEOPLE TO WATCH: AWARD WINNING WILDLIFE FILMMAKER, CHRIS PALMER

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

 

 


AWARD WINNING WILDLIFE FILMMAKER CHRIS PALMER

AUTHOR OF 

“SHOOTING IN THE WILD: AN INSIDER’S ACCOUNT OF

MAKING MOVIES IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM”

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YOU’LL NEVER VIEW WILDLIFE SHOWS IN THE SAME WAY AGAIN

 

 

Who hasn’t been held rapt by animal shows that bring the dramas of the natural world into our living rooms?  Who hasn’t held their breath when watching a cheetah, sprinting at full speed, close in on an unlucky gazelle, a lioness stalking her prey with the precision of a military strategist, the majestic elephants grieving for days over the bodies of their dead, or the dolphins and whales making perilous journeys around continents in their epic efforts to feed or give birth.

The wildlife shows on the major networks have made a big business of creating storylines that captivate us, pull at our heartstrings.   With the animals as central characters, we become absorbed, emotionally invested, we identify with their primal instincts to survive in their environment.   We watch, enthralled as they mate, give birth, hunt for food, raise their families, perform rituals, and face down predators in the daily life and death dance of survival in the wild.  We are convinced, from these shows that what we see is what we get, and that they allow us to witness the travails and miracles of the animals’ lives as events unfold before our eyes. 

 

Brady Barr and his crew filming the unique locomotion of a king cobra in the Western Ghat Mountains,

on the west coast of India. Simon Boyce films.  Photo by Brady Barr


Moreover, we are confident in the viewing, that these are stories filmed by people who care.  They care about the animals and how they live; they care about the environment and how the human and animal worlds can meld peaceably together.  That’s the raison d’être for these shows, right?

Well, wrong! 

Veteran wildlife filmmaker Chris Palmer has blown the lid off the sanctity of wildlife filming with his new book Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom.  In chapter after chapter, Palmer gives us the lowdown on how the films are actually made, financed and edited, with rarely a thought to ethics or conservation when filming or packaging a film for distribution. 

What a shock for the animal lover and avid follower of the network shows to find that many of the scenes described above are actually staged – in some cases animals are taken from wildlife farms, some are filmed in zoos.  In some of the more appalling instances, animals are manipulated, manhandled by entertainers like Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin, or even killed to get a sensational shot.  

Chris Palmer doesn’t pretty up the tough questions in his book.   What is the purpose of a wildlife film?  Does it matter that audiences are deceived by what they see in the final edit, or that the animals are harassed or even injured during the shooting?  Does anyone really care about conservation?  What is the responsibility of the filmmaker to address the conservation issues and does the audience even listen to a conservation message? 

 

As Graeme Duane films, Brady Barr pulls a crocodile into the boat. This "nuisance croc" had attacked and killed residents

of a small village in Sofali Province of central Mozambique, and would be relocated. Photo by Brady Barr

 

Palmer has had plenty of experience from which to tell his tale.  An award winning wildlife filmmaker, he has led the production of more than 300 hours of original programming for prime time television and the giant screen (IMAX) film industry.

He has been Founder/President and CEO of National Audubon Society Productions and of the nonprofit National Wildlife Productions (a Division of National Wildlife Federation), where he directed the NWF launch into broadcast, cable, IMAX, and other media markets.  His films have been broadcast on the Disney Channel, TBS Superstation, Animal Planet, Home and Garden Television, The Travel Channel, The Outdoor Life Network, the Public Broadcasting System, and in the global system of IMAX theaters.

Palmer’s films have received two Emmys and an Oscar nomination.  In 2009, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the International Wildlife Film Festival, and recently he received the Environmental Film Educator of the Decade Award at the Green Globe Film Awards in LA.

He joined the full-time faculty at American University in August 2004 as Distinguished Film Producer in Residence and founded the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at the School of Communication, which he currently directs.

 

Marine cinematographer Tom Campbell shooting high-definition footage of a 15-foot great white shark off South Africa, 2001.

Photo by Dennis Coffman © SOS Ltd.

 

Action Now+Network recently had the opportunity to talk frankly with him about his life in filmmaking, his rise in the industry, his commitment to conservation and to environmental filmmaking education, and about his reasons for pulling the plug on the wildlife film industry at this point in his career.

 

ACTION NOW+NETWORK:  You started out your professional life with degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture.  Your last degree was from the Harvard JFK School of Government. How did you segue from Mechanical and Ocean Engineering and Public Administration, to Wildlife photography and filmmaking?

CHRIS PALMER: Up to my mid-30’s I was involved in different things, but I always wanted to devote my life to something worthwhile and noble.  Early on, I was interested in environmental policy.  In 1974, I became chief energy adviser to Senator Charles Percy, and worked as a political appointee for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) under President Jimmy Carter.  Later, I lobbied Congress on energy and environmental issues for the National Audubon Society.

One of my great television inspirations was Henry Winkler, as The Fonz.   I was impressed with one episode of Happy Days when he signed up for a library card, and millions of kids followed suit.  The Fonz really changed lives through the medium of television.    At around that same time, I met Ted Turner –a great environmentalist, with whom I eventually partnered, who gave me a lot of money to make environmental films.  It was a different era in television at that time.  There were only a few channels in the industry.  Cable was just beginning.

 

 

Three sealing vessels wait for the opening day of Canada’s commercial seal hunt—the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world.  

This harp seal was most likely clubbed for his skin during the hunt.  Photo © Kathy Milani/The Humane Society of the U.S.


A.N.N.: Your anecdotes about the animals are particularly moving.  You describe scenarios in which there seems to be an inter-species connection, an understanding that is unexpected, such as the leopard that adopts an infant baboon after killing it’s mother, and  protects it from certain death by the hyenas.  You also describe encounters with a sperm whale and a Right whale.  And we have all heard stories about animals of all types that connect with humans, such as dolphins and whales, lions, elephants, and famously, Jane Goodall with the chimpanzees and Dian Fossey, with the gorillas. 

What do you think this says about the animals?   We know that animals have emotions and feelings and that there is a great temptation to anthropomorphize – but what should the viewer correctly take from filmed sequences like these?

CP:  What it tells us is that animals are far more like people than we ever realize.  they have feelings, emotions and social lives.  We have to be much more sensitive than we have been in the past because they are sentient beings.  Their suffering matters.  Anthropomorphizing is acceptable to some extent because it helps people to understand them and make a connection with them.

 

Doug Allan films a humpback whale mother and calf in the Vava’u Islands, Tonga, during the making of Planet Earth. Photo © Sue Flood.

 

 

A.N.N.: In your chapter “Sins of Omission”, you state that most wildlife filmmakers aren’t interested in protecting the animals or the environment, that there was a 9th segment of Blue Planet (Deep Trouble) that never got aired.   You also talk about your work with National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society to create an outreach program with an encompassing educational experience.

How successful was this model that you created in sending a message to the industry about conservation?  Do you see the zeitgeist changing in this regard?

 

CP: There is a distinction between programs produced by environmental groups vs. freelance producers trying to make a living.  Many filmmakers say openly, "Why should I worry about conservation?  I'm a filmmaker.  If I want to make a film that exploits animals, then that's my business.   I need high ratings in order to make a living and pay the rent."

The condition in which a conservation message is most likely possible, is when someone like Ted Turner owns the network.  I was lucky to work with him: he was willing to make profit a secondary goal.  As I said in my book, he wanted not only to make a successful network, but to create a forum for conservation and world peace. 

 

As cinematographer Bob Poole films cheetahs in Ndutu, Tanzania, one hops onto his Land Rover for a better view of the plains.

Photo courtesy of Bob Poole.

 

With regard to the animals: There are too many people out there bothering the animals.  If you see a cheetah on film, there might be fifteen land rovers surrounding it off camera.   We need more discussions and standards for filmmaking pertaining to animals.  We need to raise awareness, to encourage people to write letters to the networks to protest films that aren’t environmentally conscious or that endanger animals.  The networks need pressure from the public to keep them honest.  You need permits to work in national parks, but many areas outside the parks don’t require a permit.  And even the Parks need to be more vigilant.   They should ask filmmakers where they are going, what they are doing, how close they will get to the animals, and will they disturb them. 

 

A.N.N.: You talk about the “guerrilla” 1  filmmakers in your book, Paul Watson, for example, and others.  These filmmakers have a “take no prisoners” reality show style.   In Watson’s case, he skirts the law, and certainly creates sensation and drama to make his point.  However on the positive side, he is committed to the animals.  He wants to bring attention to and stop the illegal whaling industry.  In your book, you mention Watson, but you don’t comment specifically on his filmmaking ethics.

CP:   You’re right, I don’t comment on his ethics, because I am torn on this issue.   Killing whales is terrible and I applaud him for trying to stop the slaughter, but his methods worry me.  The role of cameras need to be investigated.   Does the presence of cameras influence what he does?  I worry about the impact of TV cameras on Watson’s decision making.    Are people’s lives put in danger for ratings?  In some cases, he is very close to being violent.

 

Kim Wolhuter filming hyenas at a Cape buffalo kill for the National Geographic TV special Predators at War,

Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa.  He’s able to get so close without peril because the hyenas do not see him either as a threat or as prey.

Photo © Barend Van Der Watt.


 

A.N.N.: Is this type of filmmaking effective – does it accomplish the goal of raising public awareness, and potentially creating policy change?  Or does it turn people off?

What about films like The Cove?  This type of graphic in-your-face wholesale slaughter and capture for captivity is excruciating to watch,   but it makes its point to the public.

CP: I am a great admirer of The Cove, but the slaughter is still going on.  So it is legitimate to ask, “Has the film had an impact?”   The Japanese don’t want to be bossed around by Americans.   We need to expose the slaughter, and, at the same time, make the Japanese think that ending the slaughter is their idea.   Rick O’Barry,  overall, is doing an excellent job.

 

A.N.N.: There is a parallel issue in Africa and Asia for which conservationists have just begun to find their voice, which is the decimation of the elephant and rhino populations by the poaching cartels that torture and brutally slaughter the animals.   It is difficult to be gentle with subject matter like this.

How would you advise your students to tackle subject matter like this? 

CP: They should wade into it forcefully.  This is a battle.  They need to be there.   This is where film can really make a difference .  But you have to be careful.  If you show too much grim and bloody slaughter, people get turned off.   If they turn away, then you lose them.

 

Marty Stouffer with his Arriflex HSR camera and a remarkably tame mountain goat  near Mount Evans, Colorado, not far from Idaho Springs. 

Photo by John King, courtesy of Marty Stouffer Productions, Ltd.

 


A.N.N.: This question is related to the one above:   You say that conservation filmmakers must embrace showmanship because the work is too important not to be entertaining.    Clearly the filmmakers have to make the emotional connection with the animals as well – to get the audience to care.  At the same time, it has to be honest and real.  

What is the best way for young filmmakers to get started in wildlife filmmaking, assuming they are deeply committed to conservation and want to maintain their integrity while making films?

CP:  Find mentors.  Find nurturing people who care about conservation.   Volunteer to work with such mentors.  There there are good filmmaking schools in Bozeman, Montana, and at the University of Otago in New Zealand,  as well as where I teach, at American University.  There are good people in the business.  Find them and learn from them.

 

A.N.N. Should it be an environmental filmmaker's goal to effect policy change through film?

CP:  We have a responsibility to conserve the resources that we are exploiting to make a living as filmmakers.   We should try to influence public policy as well as personal behavior.  Wildlife films are a powerful tool.  They should be part of a multi-layered conservation campaign involving extensive outreach.

 

A.N.N.: You have had an extremely rich and varied career working with the greatest legends in conservation, wildlife biology and filmmaking.   Your films have won Emmys and an Oscar nomination.  You know the ins and outs of this business and have been extremely successful at navigating it. What made you want to blow the whistle at this point in your career?  Was there an epiphanous moment or event? 

CP:  There was no epiphanous moment.    It was more of a gradual dawning that I needed to take this action.  I am 63 years old.  I’ve been haunted by what I’ve learned in last 30 years.  In the early years, I was enthralled by working with the glamorous people, the film stars, and by the celebrities. ….and then I began to think:  Do these films have an impact?  Are they hurting the very animals the films are designed to protect?   I began to worry about these things and decided that it was important to discuss it more.


Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic explorers-in-residence, filming lions at a buffalo kill,

Duba Plains in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Photo © Wildlife Films.

 

A.N.N.: Your book very clearly describes the multiple challenges that filmmakers face, to fund their films, to get what you call “the money shot” and to create a profitable venture.     Along the way, they may have to make major compromises.  They may have to accept funding from sponsors who have antithetical agendas, goad the animals or stage the environments to create additional drama and salability etc. 

You have a chapter on The Money Chase, but given that at least part of the goal for the films is education, do you foresee an alternative to the “money chase” for young filmmakers?

CP:  Networks networks are money driven.  They  have no interest in conservation.   Their goal is to outcompete their competitors and to focus on ratings, branding, profit and revenue.  Their bottom line is to capture high ratings, top branding, and to be profitable.  So the money chase is only going to get worse. 

What’s the solution?  We must all apply pressure on networks and educate film students to be more conscious of ethical issues in their careers.

 

A.N.N. : A question about your School of Communication at American University:  You have created the very prestigious Center for Environmental Filmmaking at the AU School of Communication where you now hold the position of Distinguished Film Producer in Residence.  What types of students are you looking for in your program? 

CP: Students who are curious, determined, bright, innovative, honest, who have a social conscience, and who want to make films that make a difference and have an impact.  Our program offers a B.A., an M.F.A. an M.A. and a Ph.D.

 

 

 

A.N.N. :What advice can you give to high school students and undergraduate students who want to prepare their portfolio for admission to your Center? 

CP:  I would advise them to work hard at whatever they are doing.  They should go out of their way to meet and work with people who have high standards.  They should learn all they can about environmental and wildlife issues by volunteering to work in a zoo or with a filmmaker to get hands-on experience.  And they should dig deep into themselves to find their passions.     Be prepared for compromises, but don’t let the compromises deflect you from attaining high ethical standards.

 

PURCHASE “SHOOTING IN THE WILD: AN INSIDERS ACCOUNT

OF MAKING MOVIES IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM” 

 


Foreword by Jane Goodall

 

Facebook Page

Website: SHOOTING IN THE WILD

Chapter Breakdown 


CONTACT:

 

Professor Chris Palmer

Distinguished Film Producer in Residence

Director, Center for Environmental Filmmaking

School of Communication, American University

4400 Mass Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20016-8017

palmer@american.edu

cell 202-716-6160; office 202-885-3408; home 301-654-6137

www.environmentalfilm.org

http://www.american.edu/soc/faculty/palmer.cfm

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Shooting-in-the-Wild-by-Chris-Palmer/209826136795?ref=ts

http://bit.ly/a4L3LU

 

President, MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation

cpalmer@mffeducation.org

www.mffeducation.org

 

Chief Executive Officer, VideoTakes, Inc.

chris@videotakes.com

www.videotakes.com

 

 


[1] Note the term “guerrilla” filmmaker is used by the interviewer, and is not Palmer’s description.

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