Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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For as long as Tom Heintzman can remember, he has felt a personal commitment to the environment. The President and Co-Founder of Bullfrog Power, Canada’s 100% green energy provider, believes his appreciation of nature stems from early family canoe trips, and the hours spent exploring the outdoors as a child. Tom’s first memory of protecting the environment involves recycling with his grandmother, back during a time when municipal programs were not in place. In varying capacities, Tom has woven environmentalism into all stages of his life and work.

Over the years, Tom has felt a growing concern about the impact humans are having on the planet, and he has developed a strong desire to find alternate actions or solutions homes and businesses can implement to help reduce their footprint. Starting a renewable energy company was the logical continuation or next step in his personal story. Through Bullfrog Power, Tom and his business partner, Greg Kiessling, offer Canadians green energy choices for their homes and businesses. By choosing green electricity and green natural gas through Bullfrog, Canadians are able to reduce their environmental impact, support the development of new renewable generation in Canada, and help influence change in Canada’s energy landscape.

Often Tom is asked where the name “Bullfrog Power” comes from. According to Tom, Bullfrogs represent “green” without being too literal. Also, frogs are an indicator species and among the first to feel the impacts of climate change. The personality of the bullfrog also fits the company brand: bullfrogs are small but they each have a big voice. Ultimately, the meaning behind the name reflects attributes of bullfrogpowered customers. They are individuals making a big difference for the environment and energy landscape in Canada.

The energy industry is a place that can use a visionary GreenHero such as this campaign’s Tom Heintzman.

Tom Heintzman is the co-founder and current president of Bullfrog Power Inc., Canada’s only 100% green energy provider to homes and businesses across the nation. This GreenHero helps people across the nation decrease their carbon emissions while providing a service we all use everyday. He shows us that one doesn’t need to endanger the earth or compromise our commitment to green living to have the things we need.

This company enjoys wide patronage. Some of their better-known clients include; Tragically Hip front-man Gord Downie, former Toronto mayor David Crombie and Margaret Atwood.

Mr. Heintzman reflects that as early as 14 he displayed a passion for renewable energy when undertook an environmental class and wrote about his concern for the future of energy supplies. He hasn’t stopped since.

Our GreenHero is always looking for new ways to green the energy industry. The newest product to come out of Heintzman’s Bullfrog Company is Canada’s first completely green natural gas. Using emissions harvested from combinations of organic, decomposing materials such as landfills, the gas is processed and provided to clients as a clean alternative to mined gas. The more we use, the less the need for traditional fuels. With innovations such as this, Tom is an inspiration to us all not to accept the staus quo. If a product or practice is harming the earth, there must be another, greener, gentler way live, you just have to keep on going until you get find it.

Photos from Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life, courtesy CineFocus-Paquin Pictures

Groundbreaker, artist, musician and activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s powerful song, No No Keshagesh, adds award-winning clout and passion to Tzeporah Berman’s webisode and campaign.

Keshagesh means Greedy Guts. It’s what you call a little puppy who eats his own dinner and then wants everybody else’s.” Buffy explains about the song title.

Buffy’s accomplishments include everything from being the first person to receive the APCMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award to winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her song  Up Where We Belong, the theme song for An Officer and a Gentleman.

If you haven’t checked it out, CineFocus Canada, the company that created GreenHeroes, also produced a one hour documentary on the legendary singer/songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life. While making the documentary, Buffy told director, Joan Prowse, about the song and its environmental “call to action” message. When creating the webisode on Tzeporah, Joan paired the two activists together remembering the apt message of Buffy’s song.

No No Keshagesh is on “Running for the Drum”, co-produced with another GreenHero musician Chris Birkett. The album gave  Buffy Sainte MarieJuno award for Best Aboriginal Artist,  an Aboriginal’s People Choice Music Award (APCMA) for Best Folk Album, Best Female Artist at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and Best Single & Songwriter  for  No No Keshagesh.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, speaking up for our environment matters. Share the story of how you are spreading the word about an issue that is destroying our planet by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

Arbor Alma

By John Bessai

In many cities and towns across Canada and around the world, the trees that we see along the boulevards or in parks form a backdrop that we can take for granted. I like to think  of urban tress as part of an invisible forest.  My short film Arbor Alma, made for BravoFact!, pays tribute to the tree you pass by every day. They are kind of invisible unless you take a second look. Then you think about them a little bit differently and appreciate them more.

Click on the image above to watch Arbor Alma now.

Arbor Alma (‘The Giving Tree’) is a four-minute film that explores the possibility that identity can be formed out of a dialogue between people and how they understand their environment, in particular the role of trees. Viewers are encouraged to reflect on their own relationship with trees and challenged to take notice of the “invisible” forest around them – the trees that are everywhere in the city but are often barely noticed.

The film includes a montage of images – photographs and footage of Canadian urban green spaces as well as displaying iconic forests and trees painted by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson held in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The natural beauty of our urban trees and forests is highlighted in the movie. The footage, paintings and stills are accompanied by unique musical compositions and contemporary digital photography that are composed as “tree portraiture” and reflect on the importance of trees in our lives.

This film is produced by CineFocus Canada and is available for purchase.

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From the Airwaves

Tzeporah Berman is a featured hero in the Green Heroes episode The Tree of Life, airing again on Saturday May 28th and Monday May 30th on TVO. The episode also features Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and Not Far From the Tree founder Laura Reinsborough. Maathai began Kenya’s Green Belt movement, in which women earned money for planting trees. And Reinsborough is a local food pioneer whose organization prevents rotting fruit from being thrown away. The episode can also be viewed online.

And check out the documentary Harmony, narrated by Prince Charles, who has been speaking out on environmental issues for over two decades. It puts forward solutions for fighting climate change and features a number of inspiring environmental activists from across the world, including Green Hero Vandana Shiva (hyperlink to webisode), who is profiled in the episode Groundbreakers which airs on TVO on Saturday, June 11.

The film also singles out the ongoing (and often-successful) initiative to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, lead by ForestEthics. Todd Paglia and Valerie Langer, both from the organization, are interviewed as part of this segment.

Watch the trailer here and sign up for news about the upcoming DVD here.

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Thanks to Tzeporah Berman’s environmental pursuits, 65 million acres of endangered forest have been protected and companies like Staples and Victoria’s Secret have adopted more sustainable practices. As the Executive Director and co-founder of Power Up Canada, Berman also aims to effect change in federal government climate change policies and laws.

Power Up is a call to action for Canadian political leaders, urging them to take climate change seriously and demonstrate their commitment to fighting it. Power Up points out that Canada is behind other nations, like China and India, in terms of policies aimed at combating climate change, and asks that the federal government “prioritize efficiency, greenhouse gas reductions and building clean energy.” The campaign asks Canadian citizens to join in on the call to action, making it easy with a ready-made form and letter on their website.

The campaign has drawn support from Canadian celebrities like Margaret Atwood, Rachel McAdams, George Stroumboulopoulos and Neve Campbell, and is prominent enough to have warranted a “Green Carpet” gala in 2008. Staying true to the organization’s mission, the guests arrived at the Toronto event in rickshaws and alternative fuel vehicles.

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A high profile Victoria Secret ad was launched to convince the company to print its popular catalogues on recycled paper. Tzeporah used the creativity and catchy slogans of an advertising campaign to bring consumer attention to the purchasers of the forest products she sought to protect.

It was part of a strategy she developed with Greenpeace and later with ForestEthics, a company she co-founded. She would begin by “following the money” and contacting the company to begin a dialogue. If they failed to respond after several months of trying, out came the ads.

“Let your fingers do the chopping” was the slogan used to bring attention to Pacific Bell, who made their phone books out of old growth forests. “Victoria’s got a Dirty Secret” was the heading for this full-page ad that ran in the New York Times after Tzeporah learned Victoria Secret’s annual printing of one million catalogues came at the expense of old growth Boreal forests.

After Tzeporah spent six months trying to meet with them, the company instead chose to renew their contract with the paper company that used trees from the natural habitat of caribou and other endangered species. Tzeporah took action.

The ad caught the attention of Tom Katzenmeyer, then V.P. of Investment, Media, and Communication Relations at Limited Brands, owners of Victoria Secret. Tom had his “aha” moment, when the campaign spread to his own daughter’s bedroom. Seeing a poster of Tzeporah hanging on her wall, he finally relented, met with Tzeporah, and cancelled the contract. Today, the company uses recycled paper for all its catalogues.


As Tzeporah Berman told George Strombolopolis on The Hour, Everyone remembers their moment, the one that thrust them into action, and set them on a path to realizing a goal and finding a solution to a cause they believe in.

For this GreenHero, it was a summer in University when she returned to a previously lush piece of B.C. forest that had been clear-cut. The green haven that she had enjoyed the summer prior rife with streams and wildlife was now a dusty plateau.

Tzeporah Berman at PowerUP! Canada Launch with Rick Smith, E.D., Environmental Defence and actor Aaron Douglas

In response, Tzeporah mobilized. She was responsible for orchestrating one of the largest displays of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Her 10,000-strong Clayoquot Sound protest in 1993 against a massive logging organization saw her arrested and charged with 850 counts of criminal aiding and abating for which she faced six years in jail.

After being acquitted of the charges, she decided to take a different tactic and moved from blockades to boardrooms. Instead of manpower, Tzeporah invoked the sway of hundreds of voices. She co-founded Forest Ethics and got her followers to call into the head offices of companies that used paper products sourced of B.C. logging. After being inundated by unhappy members of the public, the companies changed their practices. Presently, several large companies including Limited Brands, owner of Victoria’s Secret, and Home Depot work in conjunction with Tzeporah to pursue sustainable solutions and practices for their products and packaging.

These days, she shows no sign of slowing down. Tzeporah is currently Executive Director and of PowerUp Canada the company which she co-founded and works for Greenpeace International as Co-director of their Climate and Energy Program.

Your music, at work for water

By Allie Kosela

When GreenHeroes approached me asking to do a guest post for the Take Action blog the first “action” that came to mind is probably the most fun thing you can do for the environment: listen to music.  Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has started a new groundbreaking project called Swim Drink Fish Music where water advocates and the arts community connect to support local Waterkeepers.

Musicians, like fellow GreenHeroes Gord Downie and Sarah Harmer, have a strong connection to environmental issues.  In fact, if you look at the arts community as a whole, you’re likely to find that many painters, writers, poets, musicians and dancers share a love for the environment.

We think like-minded people should connect more often!  Swim Drink Fish Music (#SDFM) was launched for you to connect you to your waterbody and to the musicians who are working with Waterkeeper groups to protect it.  The online version of SDFM launched in June 2009 and continues to grow thanks to our amazing supporters.  There is no easier way to take action and help protect your water than joining Swim Drink Fish Music.

Thanks to GreenHeroes, you have an exclusive chance to take action.  The first 10 people to email us at hello@swimdrinkfishmusic.com will get a complimentary subscription to Swim Drink Fish Music!

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. President of Waterkeeper Alliance

Robert F Kennedy in IL

Named one of Time Magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has used his legal expertise to tirelessly defend the health of natural water resources the globe over. Just like our GreenHero Mark Mattson, Mr. Kennedy shows us that people of any profession can make a contribution to saving our planet.

With an impressive list of credentials including a stint as senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council and Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, a long-running radio show on Air America and a distinguished career as a law professor at Pace University where he teaches Environmental Litigation, Mr. Kennedy is tireless in his efforts to raise awareness about this cause. Mr. Kennedy has long had a passion for water, he is an accomplished white water rafter and kayaker and often leads excursions through Canada and South America.

It was Mr. Kennedy’s ability that saw Riverkeeper prevail in the battle to save the Hudson River, soon after, the more than 190 Waterkeeper Alliance members that we know today sprung up all over the world.  It is amazing what one victory can inspire.