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Spring is a busy time for Green Heroes everywhere! With the celebration of the United Nation’s World Water Day on March 22nd and Green Hero David Suzuki’s 80th birthday on April 4, organizations are now revving up for Earth Day festivities this Friday, April 22nd.

A global network of Earth Day organizations is kicking off an ambitious campaign to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person on the planet, by 2020. Canada’s contribution to this worldwide goal is 35 million trees. Join Earth Day Canada’s #Rooting4Trees campaign which is committed to planting 25,000 legacy trees for Earth Day’s 25th Anniversary in 2016.

Every year, tens of thousands of Canadians participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean up presented by WWF and Loblaw Companies Limited. It is one of the largest direct action direct action environmental programs in Canada and the third largest cleanup in the world. To find out how you can get involved, go to: http://www.shorelinecleanup.ca/en/take-action/get-involved

Gala events bring people together to celebrate environmental acts and heroes and to fundraise for future activities. The 5th Annual Waterkeeper Gala will be held on April 21st at the Canadian Broadcast Centre in Toronto. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper was created by Green Hero, Matt Mattson and Krystyn Tully, with the support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his global Waterkeeper network. Although the April 21st gala is sold out, Earth Day Canada’s Earth Ball still has tickets available. This annual event, held each Earth Day, hosts more than 400 business and environmental leaders and is held at the Mill Street Brewery in Toronto’s Distillery District.

Also for Earth Day, For Our Grandchildren (4RG)  invited Toronto high school students to creatively envision a healthier environment on earth by designing projects for reducing climate change and lowering carbon emissions, leading to a non-carbon future. Team projects will be presented at an event called: Speak Up For The Planet, at the Ontario Science Centre, on Friday April 22nd from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. More information about For Our Grandchildren and its programs is available @ www.forourgrandchildren.ca

It’s good to see retailers taking part in Earth Day events too. If you missed the 10th anniversary of The Green Living Show at the Metro Convention Centre Toronto April 15-17, you can still visit and learn more about exhibitor’s green products and services from the Green Living website.

Planet in Focus, Canada’s longest running environmental film festival,  screened some of their festival favourites at the Green Living show and is now accepting submissions and planning for their 17th annual environmental film festival to be held in Toronto from October 19th to October 23rd. With school field trips and world premieres, it’s a not-to-be missed event for both film-lovers and tree-huggers alike.

On Earth Day, and all year long,  fill your desire for great environmental stories by tuning into TVO, for Green Heroes TV shows and other environmental documentaries.

cinefocus_final-logo colourIf not for the creation of CineFocus Canada 25 years ago today, Green Heroes would not exist today, along with numerous other titles that have made a difference and raised awareness on key issues since the company’s formation in 1991.

When founding members John Bessai, Carl Bessai, David MacDonald and Joan Prowse released their first video they didn’t expect it to become a national discussion piece or be the genesis of a company that’s gone on to create more than 50 videos and 20 hours of documentaries and TV programming for a host of  environmental, labour and social justice clients and broadcasters around the world.

Highlights and friendships are too numerous to name in a short post so check out the company’s news page that chronicles some of the highlights over the years.

CineFocus has so many people to thank, who have helped to build the company and its incredible catalogue of programs that aims to tell Canadian stories worldwide and make a positive impact on people’s lives and causes here at home and abroad.

Twenty five years later, CineFocus continues to make inspiring and insightful videos, documentaries and TV shows and to evolve the platforms where they can be seen. Watch for a new web site and on-line channel in June, and for their urban renewal documentary set in Lawrence Heights, now in production. Also in June CineFocus is celebrating winners of the Transformative Change award, with a series of video profiles they are producing for their original and long-standing client, the Association of Ontario Health Centres.

For more on the company’s history and projects, check out a feature article on founder Joan Prowse in the new on-line publication Liisbeth starting February 22.

Join in CineFocus’ on-line celebration by posting a memory on Face Book or tweet out at #CineFocus25. We’ll add you to the invite list for our 25th anniversary celebration this year!

 

 

Dr. Vandana Shiva says the disappearance of oak forests near her hometown in India was her wake up call! Back in 1991, she founded Navdanya to protect and promote biodiversity. They work at multiple levels to promote and protect small farmers whose sustainable practices can be applied on a global scale. As of now there are over 500,000 farmers who are part of the Navdanya family.

Dr.Shiva has dedicated over 40 years of her life to raising awareness for movements such as sustainable farming, anti-globalization and social justice. She advises governments worldwide and is currently working with the government of Bhutan to make the country 100% organic. Due to her tireless work, in 2010 Forbes listed her as one of the 7 Most Important Women in the World.

For being one of the greatest activists of our time, Planet in Focus will be honouring her with the Eco-Hero award during the 16th Annual Film Festival. She will be accepting the award in person as well as debuting a film from her new Living Farms series that focus on sustainable farming.

The series of films is produced by Navdanya with the support of Fred Foundation and they showcase testimonies of farmers, seed savers, agronomist and scientists from across India, as well as from indigenous farming cultures abroad.

So why not join us for “An Evening with Dr. Vandana Shiva” on Wednesday, October 21st at the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto and meet the driving force behind biodiversity and sustainability. Tickets can be purchased here.

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By Joan Prowse, Green Heroes co-founder

Five years ago today, in the midst of creating our first season of TV documentaries for TVO and building our Green Heroes web channel, my co-producer, John Bessai, received this text from our web developer:

Green Heroes.tv is now live!

It was an incredible feeling – after two years of development and pre-production, Green Heroes was no longer merely an idea, it was a reality. Since then we’ve gone on to tell stories and promote campaigns of 45 remarkable individuals who faced real challenges on the road to environmental success.

One of our goals was to include our audience in the conversation, at a time when social media was and crowd-sourcing was in its infancy. For example, in our first season we ran a “nominate a Green Hero” contest asking fans to upload videos and stories about someone who had made a difference in their community. The winner  was Mary Gorman, a journalist and fisherman’s wife who successfully stopped oil and gas development on the shores of her Nova Scotia home. She embodies the energy, drive and commitment to change that can inspire us all.

Watch her story here and look for her as our featured hero and campaign later this month.

In the meantime, why not take a moment and share our logo on your social media sites and let others know what Green Heroes has meant to you?

Or just wish us a Happy Birthday as we celebrate five years of saving the planet, one story at a time.

 

Mary Gorman poses for us in her 100% recycled GreenHeroes t-shirt

Mary Gorman poses for us in her 100% recycled GreenHeroes t-shirt

From left to right: Emily Hunter, John Bessai and Joan Prowse

From left to right: Emily Hunter, John Bessai and Joan Prowse

Green Heroes producers, John Bessai and Joan Prowse, and Green Hero, Emily Hunter, were selected to join 600+ Canadians for climate action training by Nobel Prize winner and An Inconvenient Truth author, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore in Toronto on July 9 and 10.

While the doom and gloom of the 2007 Academy award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, woke people up to the problem of climate change, Gore’s latest message is one of encouragement as he asked his newest recruits to spread a message of optimism and hope.

“We need to change laws, not just light bulbs. There are more people working in Green Energy than in the tar sands, but we need to get that message out.”

Gore was referring to the surprising number of Canadians polled recently (54%) who mistakenly believed half of Canada’s revenue came from tar sands development, when, in fact, the number of direct jobs created by the clean-tech sector (solar and wind are two examples) is equal to the number of jobs created by the tar sands.

Joan Prowse was impressed by the breadth of people selected to be part of the growing ranks of presenters. “I’m really honoured to have gained new insight from Al Gore, along with some amazing slides and well-researched facts I can use to help spread the word that climate change is real”, she said.

John Bessai said he “learned a surprising amount about how climate change is intensifying and how the facts we were shown correlate with news report about climate disasters – like the recent fires and drought in western Canada – that come at a great personal and economic cost.”

As Canadians head toward a federal election in October and the Paris Climate talks in December, Gore’s parting words ring true:

“We’re going to win this one – but we’ve got to speed it up.”

Time to get moving…

It’s an amazing line-up of movies this year. With so many to choose from, it was hard decide which to see and which to wait until their theatrical or Netflix release. I did count myself lucky to be among one of two packed audiences at the Bloor Hot Docs theatre to see the Canadian premiere of the Greenpeace bio pic How to Change the World.

Having worked on several stories about Greenpeace and its co-founder Robert Hunter, it was particularly rewarding to see (and hear) how British director, Jerry Rothwell, used the narrative from Hunter’s eight books to bring the Greenpeace story to the big screen.

Casting Hunter as the reluctant leader of an eclectic band of early Greenpeace co-founders, the film follows these unlikely heroes through three key campaigns: The initial voyage to stop nuclear testing on the island of Amchitka, the campaign to save the whales from Russian whalers off the coast of California, and the controversial campaign to stop the annual seal hunt in Newfoundland. The documentary uses these three chapters as acts to show the inspiration and pluck, struggle and success, and eventual breakup of the founding team.

CineFocus Canada’s own film Greenpeace, A Canadian Discovery was produced in 1996 for the Discovery Channel to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary. Be sure to check out Green Heroes’ short video profile and the half hour TV episode for more inside stories of Greenpeace from Hunter’s daughter, Emily and his wife Bobbi.

More than 40 years later, it is still incredibly moving to hear the passion of the original founders and see their exploits come to life in footage of their fantastic and inspired voyages. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Watch How to Change the World when it airs on CTV in December 2015 or look for it at an upcoming film festival.

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March 3 marks the fourth annual Wangari Maathai Day which celebrates the legacy of Green Hero, Professor Wangari Muta Maathai.

Since 2012, Africa’s Environment Day has been celebrated in conjunction with Wangari Maathai Day to pay tribute to the late Nobel Laureate’s green legacy.

Please join the Green Belt Movement to honour Wangari’s visionary work by sharing your favorite quotes, stories and photos of Wangari Maathai. ‪#‎WangariMaathaiday2015‬

Below is the photo Green Heroes will share to commemorate the woman whose vision and determination inspired the U.N.’s One Billion Tree project. A story we love to share is how the project came to be named. Back in 2006, the United Nation’s Environment Program launched the project as a response to global warming. Inspired by Wangari’s response to one corporation’s plan to plant one million trees, she said “that’s great, but what we really need is to plant a billion trees!” By 2011 this number was far surpassed with over 12 billion trees being planted worldwide.

Sadly Wangari passed away in September, 2011. However she lives on in the people and the landscape she changed forever.

Wangari with Joan Prowse and Lina Cino in Montreal

Wangari with Joan Prowse and Lina Cino in Montreal

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Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival just launched their Call for Submissions to their annual Festival to be held in Toronto from October 22-25, 2015.

Here is the link to submit. The early-bird deadline is April 1st, 2015 and the standard deadline: May 1st, 2015

Planet in Focus, in its 16th year, is Canada’s leading environmental film organization showcasing and promoting outstanding environmental films and videos in all genres (documentaries, dramatic, experimental, short films, features and animation) by Canadian and international filmmakers.

Green Heroes has been part of  festival line-ups beginning with our Sarah Harmer profile in 2010, Ric O’Barry  in 2011 and  Tzeporah Berman and Rob Stewart profiles used to introduce these Eco-Hero recipients in 2014. Our TV episode, Back to Nature, was an official selection in 2013.

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In the fall of 2009, Green Heroes traveled to Miami to interview Ric O’Barry about his tireless efforts to educate the world about dolphin hunting and captivity. The interview was inspired by the success of Louie Psihoyos’ documentary, “The Cove.”

A photographer by profession, Louie used a guerrilla approach to telling Ric’s story. With covert filmmaking techniques and the latest technology he brought the world’s attention to Ric O’Barry’s previously unheralded efforts to expose the dolphin drive hunting in Taji, Japan. The film went on to win an Academy Award for best documentary.

At the Sundance film festival, Louie premiers his next documentary, “Racing Extinction.” In it, he continues in his pursuit to reveal what human beings are doing wrong to the planet and her species. Similarly portrayed with The Cove’s Bond-like style and intense pace, Louis again uses gadgets and high tech gear to reveal that we humans could be the root cause of another mass extinction, estimated to wipe out 50% of all species,  within 100 years.

A visit to the Racing Extinction website reveals an amazing video installation created by Louie and his OPS (Ocean Preservation Society) team. Projected onto the UN building in New York to coincide with the 2014 climate change talks taking place, the expression on the faces of on-lookers show the powerful impact Louie’s approach has on people and the efforts he’s made to draw attention to a problem we sometimes tend to overlook.

We are pleased to celebrate Louis and Ric’s commitment to the well being of all species living here. In fact, Louis’ philosophy aligns with Green Heroes own goal to profile people taking action, using their own talents and connections, to help save the planet. As he puts it:

Everybody on the OPS team is a little bit odd. They have something going for them in an interesting way, but they’ve been able to adapt their talent to this bigger cause. My feeling is that everybody out there has a special skill like the OPS team.”

Here are a few ways you can get inspired by Louie and follow the film as it builds momentum:

https://www.facebook.com/racingextinction

https://twitter.com/Extinction_OPS

http://instagram.com/racingextinction

http://www.racingextinction.com/

As the year winds up and we begin the holiday season, we at Green Heroes want to wish everyone the time to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the season and to find the time to reflect and recharge for the year ahead.

With a busy 2015 that includes a federal election in Canada and many challenges to the environment both locally and internationally, we want to take time to thank all of you who watch our shows on TVO, visit our web channel, contribute to our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and belong to the Green Heroes Academy. We believe we are all making a difference, each in our own way.

Shopping for gifts this year, I found how effortlessly I made my decisions based on their social and environmental impact. Much has changed in me since I pitched Green Heroes in December of 2007. Not only do I notice a growing awareness in myself but I see how we are all learning to live more sustainably. I hope you will join me in my resolution to make more decisions based on their environmental, social and community impact in 2015.

The next step in this direction is to develop a new on-line channel for programs, like Green Heroes, that inspire positive social change. Already we are pleased to announce early stage investment in this new endeavor from John Albright’s Relay Ventures.

Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus (ahead of the rest of us) and all the best for the coming year.

Joan Prowse, Producer/Director, Green Heroes

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