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I am so excited to see one of my heroes, Vandana Shiva, this Saturday at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. I admire her so much for so many reasons. For example, she is the pioneer of the non-GMO movement. She’s been fighting for farmer’s rights, seed sovereignty, the environment, our ecosystem and our food supply for longer than I think I’ve been alive! I also think that she’s such an incredible role model for all activists, but especially for girls and women. She is more aware than most people about what a frightening state our world is in, and yet she remains so optimistic and enthusiastic. I am so inspired by everything she does including how she has this compelling, yet gentle way of getting people to stop, and challenge them to think differently. I’ll be going to India very soon and can’t wait to learn more from her on how to make this world a better place. She’s made a huge, positive impact on India’s agriculture by influencing government policy…and that’s what I’m trying to do for Canada by making GMO labeling mandatory.

We know who we’re fighting against. We’re the David and they’re the Goliath. The only way our movement will be a success is if we all work together as one big, global team, which is exactly what Vandana is all about. Our organisation, Kids Right To Know is driven by two basic principles: transparency and freedom of choice. We all work so hard as a team, to educate Canadians about GMOs so that they’re made aware that when it comes to our food, things aren’t transparent, which means our freedom to choose has been taken away. But to get that back means GMO labeling must become a law. Otherwise, soon, we’ll all need PhDs to be able to detect which food is GMO and which is not. This is what we’re fighting so hard for – so that we can make clear, informed decisions about what we eat.

GMOs are the hottest topic right now when it comes to food in Canada and the United States. Polls have been consistently showing that about 90% of Canadians who do know what GMOs are want them labeled. Wherever and whenever any of us finds the opportunity to raise awareness and can influence change, we must take action and just go for it! The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is a beautiful and inspiring celebration of this kind of thinking. Let’s not be afraid to go against the grain and challenge the status quo…and better yet, challenge the big bullies!

Rachel Parent, Founder of Kids Right To Know

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Canada’s oldest environmental film festival (celebrating its 15th anniversary) opens Thursday, November 6 with Sturla Gunnarsson’s latest film, Monsoon, at the Bell TIFF Lightbox and wraps on Sunday, November 9.

Packed into four days are industry events, foodie delights, screenings (at the AGO, Rainbow Cinemas and York University) and awards for filmmaking and activism.

Two Green Heroes’ videos introduce this year’s Eco-Heroes award recipients: Sharkwater director Rob Stewart and Clayquot Sound activist Tzeporah Berman. Congratulations to you both!

The award ceremony kicks off at the Bloor Hot Docs! Theatre at 6:30 on Sunday, November 9th followed by the premiere of The Dark Side of the Chew, the latest film by Garbage: The Revolution director, Andrew Nisker.

You can check out the full schedule and buy tickets right here! piff_eco heroes_3piff_eco heroes_2

 

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Olivia Chow is our featured Green Hero this month because she is running to be Mayor of Toronto. She’s a Green Hero who might just make a good leader of a great city in this time of climate crisis. Why? Because she’s done almost everything she can to reduce her own ecological footprint and is therefore an unusual politician because she actually leads by example. Instead of just talking about what other people should do, she quietly does those very things herself. In other words, she gets her own house in order. She practices what she preaches.

While we know her as politician, she was an artist and teacher before her election as a city councilor in 1991. She had her own sculpture studio in the years before her political career and created art pieces for clients. Anybody who works in the arts knows how hard it is gain the trust of clients, make sales and commissions and run a small business all at the same time. She also taught at George Brown College – meaning she had to deal with the challenge of inspiring students. Listening to them and realizing that in order to be a teacher you have to listen and try and give feedback to your audience. But you also have to walk the walk not just talk the talk.

Beginning as a school trustee in 1985, and as Toronto a city councilor and then Member of Parliament, Olivia’s politics have addressed homelessness, public transit, and many other urban issues. She was also an early advocate of people changing their lifestyles to better suit the planet. What was so impressive was that although so many folks talked about change and dreamed about what could be done, Olivia had this practical side that was just about getting the job done.

She and her late husband Jack Layton turned their downtown Toronto home into a showpiece of environmental stewardship. She even made a little video to demonstrate how the green home improvements worked. I was so inspired by this video that I used it when I first pitched Green Heroes in 2006 to a large but skeptical audience at a media conference. I used a clip of the tour Olivia gave to illustrate how stories about people active in environmental change could motivate others to share them via the Web and inspire further action in their own homes and communities.

So Olivia was one of the first “Green Heroes” not because of anything too remarkable – she put her money where her mouth was. She fixed her home so that it wasn’t part of the problem, but part of the solution – all at her own expense. I wish more people would be like her. When people asked how she could afford the renovations, she said she had the income to support that sort of thing. Even though it did mean some investment and sacrifice, there was a payoff in lower costs down the road. She just recommended that people with similar middle class incomes do the same.

She has also, on principle, been skeptical about too much expansion at Toronto Island Airport. Recognizing that the natural wonder of the Toronto islands is for all Canadians to enjoy and experience the natural world. That it is senseless to have this treasure be overrun, as it would be, by a busy commercial airport. Now there is even talk of exposing the island paradise to jet traffic. Olivia also always went to work – rain or shine, sleet or snow, on her trademark bicycle, decorated with flowers and bright colours, Then in, 2006, she won the Trinity—Spadina seat for the NDP. In the federal election her house remained a monument to a sustainable future. A reflection of how we can make our homes and our urban centres sustainable, and beat the climate change crisis down with our own efforts. Even though we need political leadership, we also need people to start practicing a sustainable, affordable lifestyle, at home, just like Olivia. If she wins the leadership of Toronto it will be interesting to see if the city will become a place where the world can see people leading by example on climate change.

Olivia Chow1 - credit, Justin Arjune

 

On August 22-24, our featured Green Hero Shaun Majumder is celebrating his hometown of Burlington, Newfoundland with the third annual The Gathering event. And you, our Green Hero fans, have the chance win two tickets to the weekend festival!

What’s a Gathering? It’s an east coat tradition where you can listen to music from some of Canada’s greatest musicians, sample food from amazing local chefs, sleep at the on-site camping grounds and of course meet and spend the weekend with our comedian and Green Hero Shaun Majumder!

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Interested? Okay, here’s what you do to win!

1.  Join the Green Heroes Academy Facebook page (If you’re already a member, you’re one step closer!)

2.  On the Green Heroes Academy Facebook page tell us in three sentences (or less) why you want to win the prize! Yup, it’s that easy!

3. Wait while the Green Hero team chooses the lucky winner!

Remember even if you’re not chosen as the winner for the contest you still have the opportunity to go to the event! All you have to do is head over to The Gathering website and purchase tickets that best suit the experience you’d like to have!

Good Luck to Everyone! Stay Green!

– The Green Hero Team

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When: August 22, 2014 9:00 AM — August 24, 2014 7:00 PM

Gathering_PeterAndrew (13 of 79)Weekend Festival Pass:

Prize Includes:

Gathering Grounds access

Daily Music

Main Stage evening show

Chef Stations (Two Visits per Person)

Does NOT Include:

Travel Arrangements

      Camping Gear

Friday Comedy Show

    Does NOT include Chef Hikes

* Special Thanks to The Gathering for their prize donation


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Featured Green Hero Shaun Majumder quickly learned the importance of creating local, viable businesses that utilize the environment in a positive way. The well-known actor and comedian helped get his Burlington, Newfoundland community back to their grassroots by building a greenhouse that three local communities could buy into and grow their own vegetables. Through his own experiences Shaun has recognized “…why its important to have sustainability in rural communities.”

With his show, Majumder Manor, Shaun is looking to further build the sustainability of his native community by attracting tourism to his hometown with an Eco-Lux hotel. You can watch Shaun’s adventures unfold on the second season of Majumder Manor that started back in full swing Monday nights on the W Network.

If you want to get even more involved with Shaun’s causes check out The Gathering event happening this August in Burlington, Newfoundland. This three day event taking place from the 22nd to the 24th has live music from famed artists such as Sam Roberts and Dave Nugent, amazing food from award winning chefs, and a comedy show that will be hosted by yours truly, Shaun Majumder. To get tickets and more information for the event head to www.thegatheringburlington.com.

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Green Heroes got a major boost after a successful pitch by co-founder Joan Prowse to investors at the 2014 Imagination Catalyst competition on May 15. The judges (among them former Dragon Den investor Bruce Croxon) were impressed by the content of the pitch and CineFocus’ own commitment to helping develop a node of creativity and excellence using Green Heroes as a prototype for others to learn from.

 Imagination Catalyst is the Ontario College of Art and Design’s entrepreneurship and commercialization hub. Its mission is to help entrepreneurs launch new enterprises and commercialize their designs, products and services. The win gives CineFocus and Green Heroes access to office space, mentors, visiting academics and the talent base of OCAD’s students for one year.

Petra Kassun-Mutch, Executive Director of Imagination Catalyst, put the value of OCAD’s contribution at $20,000 and noted that already the hub has raised $12 million in investments for companies and projects previously selected for their incubator/accelerator program.

Green Heroes is a good fit with OCAD’s vision to focus the power of the cultural industries, creativity, scholarship and smart entrepreneurship to solve the most pressing social and environmental issues of our time.

We lost a truly great Canadian and storyteller today. Sad is too small a word to sum up the loss I felt when hearing about Farley Mowat passing away. I met him on several occasions first as a proud Canadian nationalist defending our distinct Canadian culture during the 1988 Free Trade debate and later as a producer of three biography series Lucky Breaks (2000), Northern Lights (2005) and Green Heroes (2013) for my production company CineFocus Canada.

My visit to his summer home in Cape Breton to film this segment of Green Heroes captured a man, though in his 90s, in fine form. After our interview we went to his writing room to get shots of him at work (writing still on a manual Underwood typewriter.) As we set up I said, “I bet you’ve done this a thousand times.” “Oh no, he replied, you’re the first camera to come up here.” I’m not sure if he was teasing but it certainly added to the distinct honour of being inside Farley’s writing world.

Feisty and fun loving is his how I’ll remember him. As he walked with wife Claire and dog Chester, he stopped in his vegetable garden. He lifted the one remaining squash in the late summer light and recited this famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: …It was a happy scene that day and he was a gracious host.

Farley’s stories gave me a deep love for the North, for Nature and our Native land. His outspoken activism showed me how important it is to protect all that makes this country great. We’ll remember you and carry on your fight to protect Mother Earth and all her creations. Rest in Peace Farley Mowat.

Farley Mowat with GreenHeroes producer Joan Prowse

Farley Mowat with GreenHeroes producer Joan Prowse

Premiering Sunday April 13 on CBS’ Showtime is the investigative series Years of Living Dangerously. In it, Ford and other Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to expose the dangers resulting from years of living without serious regard for our planet.  Green Heroes applauds CBS’s Showtime for airing the series in a key program slot on Sundays at 10 p.m. Green Heroes airs Sundays on TVO featuring stories of celebrity and everyday people  taking on climate change.

The first episode of “Years of Living Dangerously” features Harrison Ford as he travels to Indonesia; there he witnesses the deforestation of the country’s once plentiful jungles to support the palm oil industry. Even elephants living in state parks are at risk. Poisoned to make way for the replanting of trees, these elephants are just one of many species facing extinction.

The two other investigations done by NY Times Journalist Thomas Friedman and Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle show the direct result of increased carbon emissions on our planet’s temperature and make the connection between droughts and social-political conditions – such as civil unrest in Syria and unemployment in the bible belt of America. In both cases, people are forced to move from their homes to the city, only to face under-paid, overcrowded, and stressful living conditions.

As a warm-up to a night of climate change enlightenment, tune into TVO as Green Heroes’ second season airs with two back-to-back episodes beginning at 6:00 p.m. Biting into Change features celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy and legendary music producer Daniel Lanois. Green is the New Black tracks three fashionistas as they take on the mega beauty biz.

At the Green Heroes Academy embark on a personal journey to make a difference with a mobile app filled with fun, family focused activities. Go the extra mile with challenges like the Transport Mission and make a difference– one green act at a time.

Planet in Focus, Canada’s largest environmental film festival and leading environmental media organization, will present environmental documentaries to celebrate Earth Day in Cineplex and other major theatres across Canada from April 23 – 25. Get tickets.

Our Back to Nature episode featuring Robert Bateman, Olivia Chow, Shaun Majumder, Ta’Kaiya Blaney and others, was selected to be among the documentaries shown on Thursday April 24. Green Hero Rob Stewart‘s documentary Revolution will also be featured on April 23.

Back to Nature explores the many benefits of escaping from our indoor world and into nature. The TV episode, along with the entire second season of Green Heroes, is set to re-air on TVO with back to back episodes starting April 13 and leading up to Earth Day.

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Thanks to celebrities like Neil Young and Yoko Ono, timely issues like the annual dolphin capture in Tajii Japan and the threat of an expanded tar sands development near Fort McMurray are in the news this month.

Green Hero, Ric O’Barry’s campaign to stop the annual dolphin capture that condemns these beautiful sea creatures to a life of captivity or worse, slaughter, led celebrated peace activist,artist, and wife of the late John Lennon, to write to the government of her native country, Japan on January 20.

Ric’s campaign to end the inhuman practice began more than forty years ago. As a former dolphin trainer, his life made a one hundred and eighty degree turn when his star pupil Flipper died in his arms, a victim of neglect after the hit 1960s TV series came to an end.

Ric’s campaign finally caught the attention of photographer Louis Psihoyos. nearly thirty years later. Although Louis had never made a film, the documentary he made about Ric and his campaign resulted in an Academy award for his directorial debut The Cove.

The film’s success raised awareness far and wide and caught the attention of female racecar driver, marine biologist, and Green Hero Leilani Munter. Leilani was so moved by the film, that her racecar and racing gear now carry the film’s logo to racetracks like Daytona, where it reaches millions of racing fans.

Leilani’s campaign to protect the planet is featured on-line and in the Green Heroes’ TV episode Oil Changers. The episode, which also stars hockey defenceman Andrew Ference and Tar Sands campaigner Clayton Thomas Muller airs on TVO.

Clayton Thomas Muller is our featured hero this month for the work he has done raising awareness of the impact Tar Sands development is having on First Nations communities. His campaign gained added support earlier this month when musician Neil Young staged a series of concerts with Diana Krall to raise funds to support the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations with Neil asking the government to honour the treaties made with First Nations people and put a stop to further expansion of the tar sands in native lands.

Since then Neil’s stance has garnered further support from other artists including Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, actor Neve Campbell, author Michael Ondaatjje and Green Heroes Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie, Tzeporah Berman, Andrew Nikiforuk and David Suzuki.

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