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“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

As we know, Rob Stewart disappeared Tuesday evening off the coast of Florida. The outpouring of support and hope that spearheads his search is inspiring. Across social media on Facebook, Twitter and at sharkwater.com you can find updates and opportunities to volunteer or donate. On twitter follow @teamsharkwater and #FindRob.

The fundraising campaign continues to gather funds for air and ground searches including 13 helicopter and teams working non-stop. The outpouring of financial support is heartwarming.

 Green Heroes field producer Stephanie Silliker and I met Rob in the summer of 2009 when we interviewed him for the first season of our TV and web series.

I remember Stephanie giving me the Sharkwater DVD telling me it was a “much-see” because Rob was your quintessential Green Hero. He certainly changed my Jaws-jaded view of sharks from man-eater. In less than 5 minutes, I learned that sharks are not to be feared by rather revered for the essential role they play in balancing all life on earth.

I was so impressed at how he was able to convince me of their importance that we did the interview with him right away. He was gracious and generous, even introducing us to his pet python.

He also tipped us off that a new film called The Cove was having its commercial release that night in Toronto and that Ric O’Barry, the film’s hero, would be there to talk about it. Thanks to Rob, we got the scoop on another Green Hero, before his Academy award win, that day.

Stephanie wrote to me upon hearing of Rob’s disappearance. “ I was lucky enough to accompany you to interview one of Canada’s most influential environmentalists and documentarians. His vibrant spirit and zest for open water and the wildlife below are so inspiring. I was shocked and saddened to hear that news that he has gone missing. I am sending positive vibes in the hope he will be rescued safely.”

I join Stephanie and literally millions of others around the world hoping and praying that Rob will be found. Just think of Rob free-diving in the last scene of Sharkwater and you’ll agree with this encouraging message from the Sharkwater website:

“We believe Robbie Stewart is out there waiting for us to find him. We are reaching 72 hours, which is an absolutely feasible timeframe in which to find Robbie. And as we all know, he is strong and resilient and at home in the water.”

Rob with his pet python

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/

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.

The Cove Car Image from http://Leilanimunter.com

Leilani Munter is participating in yet another creative campaign to help the environment.

The racecar driver, environmentalist and GreenHero is going to drive a cool new car this week at Daytona to raise awareness about the inhumane treatment of dolphins.The theme of the car is “The Cove,” the documentary about the yearly killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

Ric O’Barry, star of The Cove and also a GreenHero, Leilani and director Louie Psihoyos will autograph 1000 copies of the documentary at the event. Leilani will drive the car, called the No. 12 “The Cove” Dolphin Awareness Dodge Charger, live on Speed television February 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm EST.

Leilani’s other environment campaigns have included helping to illuminate the Empire State Building red for dolphin hunt awareness and advocating for clean energy.

GreenHero Leilani Munter uses Youtube and other social media to share information about environmental issues she fights for like stopping the dolphin hunt in Japan and making clean energy accessible and appealing.

Tapping into the power of film, a power we know all too well at GreenHeroes, Leilani has posted many great videos, making at least some of them herself, on her Youtube Channel about her work on these issues.

You may expect that a person as popular and famous as Leilani Munter may put herself front and centre of her videos, but she doesn’t, if she is present in the video at all. Her focus is completely on the issues. They are emotional videos, as you can tell by the music and and images. This one is a good example, depicting her trip to Japan last year to try to end the annual dolphin slaughter there.

Leilani Munter also shares her message on Twitter.

Courtesy of Lincoln O'Barry

Planet in Focus, an environmental film festival, has announced that it will give our GreenHero Ric O’Barry the festival’s 2011 International Eco Hero award for his 40 years of activism for dolphins. Ric will be present at the festival on closing night to accept this award.

The GreenHeroes video short, produced by CineFocus Canada, will introduce Ric to the audience at the gala event.

Planet in Focus is in its 12th year and will take place in Toronto from October 12-16, 2011.

Read our newsletter to learn more about a recent press conference to announce the line-up of this year’s festival and the 2011 International and Canadian Eco Hero award winners.

GreenHeroes has been following the news from Leilani Munter on her efforts to halt the dolphin hunt in Taiji.

Leilani is an environmental activist and race car driver. If this seems paradoxical to you, watch our webisode on her. Leilani was inspired to fight for dolphins after watching The Cove, a documentary based on Ric O’Barry‘s work in Taiji.

She’s also a gifted writer, as we’ve seen in her blog posts for SaveJapanDolphins.org and the Huffington Post in which she updates us on the dolphin hunt and her activism on behalf of other environmental causes.

“If only they would turn these dolphin hunting boats into dolphin watching boats,” Leilani Munter, The Cove Continues: Diary From Taiji, Huffington Post, 9/14/11

She also wrote a guest post for GreenHeroes.

Leilani is very active on Twitter. Follow her for updates on her work.

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