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Art is a compelling tool for green change.

GreenHeroes Annabel Slaight and Mark Mattson shared this insight with GreenHeroes producer Joan Prowse in a one-hour conversation at the Green Living Show last week.

Annabel Slaight

Ladies of the Lake, which Annabel co-founded to clean up Lake Simcoe, has been very successful largely because of $400,000 in sales from the Ladies of the Lake calendar. Annabel credits this success to the photographer whose artistic skills captured the beauty of the Ladies and the scenery, in which they posed nude. He made them feel comfortable, so they looked natural. This seed money they used to raise over $50 million in government funding to restore Lake Simcoe and its shoreline.

Mark shared similar thoughts about the importance of having artists on board an environmental cause.

“Artists have a different way of explaining the love and connection to water.”

Mark Mattson

Mark co-founded Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, an organization that works to make Lake Ontario safe and clean.

He has collaborated with musicians such as Gord Downie and Sarah Harmer (also GreenHeroes) to raise funds and awareness to protect Lake Ontario. But, Mark explained, the musicians do more than play their music at events. They study the issues. They are passionate about the issues.

The issues have affected the artists personally, in their own communities. This impact is often the catalyst for environmental change. Mark said that the best LOW clients have been the ones who were “strongly connected to water.”

Annabel also expressed the need to connect citizens to the lake and bring them into the decision making process on Lake Simcoe activism. The lake “belonged to the people.”

After Mark described the LOW Swim Guide, an app that informs users of the safety of beaches in Lake Ontario, Annabel suggested that Ladies of the Lake could build on the work that others are doing, like the guide.

We thank Annabel and Mark for sharing their understanding of what makes environmental activism successful. We anticipate that their wisdom will motivate others to champion their own causes.

We also thank the Green Living Show for facilitating this panel. It was a thrill to be a part in such a successful show!

With a record attendance of over 37, 000 people, demand for innovative products and services is definitely growing – and showing! “Very soon, I think, we’ll be dropping the Green and just call it  “The Living Show” says Joan after visiting the 450 exhibitors, all approved by Green Living and seeing visitors drop off some of the over 49, 000 pounds of e-waste to be recycled. You can find their products year-round at the Green Living Marketplace. Coming soon to the Marketplace – GreenHeroes T-shirts and DVDs for purchase there.

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