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Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 with an impassioned speech by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson who, at the height of protests against the war in Vietnam, asked whether money might be better spent on solving environmental problems instead. Response to the challenge was swift with the launch of the Environmental Protection and Clean Energy Acts in the U.S. and the founding of Pollution Probe and Greenpeace in Canada.

But as quickly as the environmental movement was born subsequent decades have laid claim to environmental disasters from wars to nuclear explosions, chemical spills, toxic gas leaks, and oil spills.  Questions remains such as why, 50 years after the first Earth Day, has so little headway been made to protect our precious planet? 

Furthermore, why was our early activism replaced by complacency that led to weakened environmental laws, extreme weather conditions and environmental disasters like the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Where have we failed?  Where have we succeeded? While international awareness led to innovation and campaigns to protect the planet, there remains an enormous gap of indifference from political leaders down to everyday people about the fragility of our planet’s future.

CineFocus Canada is tackling these questions in a new documentary and interactive experience, Hindsight in 2020. By taking a chronological approach to telling the story of the modern environmental movement viewers will see how world events and public policy have supported or challenged individual efforts over time and learn that there is still time to turn things around if we adopt solutions that are available to each one of us.

The onset: In 1970 municipal recycling did not exist in Ontario before a small women’s group from Burlington initiated the idea of a recycling experiment. Their major aim — once they had completed the initial research with just over 250 families — was to propose that the City of Burlington offer municipal recycling for its citizens.

The group of housewives was known as Citizens Committee for Pollution Control (CCPC) and their door to door campaign to collect bottles and cans led to the province’s first recycling program. In 1981, Burlington was the first city in Ontario to begin municipal recycling with curbside pickup of “separated at source” household waste.

The original group has undergone a recent revival under the banner “Recycling Revisited.” The goal of Recycling Revisited is to preserve the memory of an amazing citizen action, led by up to 1,000 people at a time, to inspire those who are concerned about other environmental issues to gather with like-minded others in order to implement some positive change.

Mid-point: This environmental story illustrates the David and Goliath challenge facing environmentalists around the world who want to protect natural resources, such as old growth forest, against consumer demand.  To do this we turn to Green Hero, Tzeporah Berman and her experience at Clayoquot Sound 25 years ago.

Prior to coordinating the historic blockades in 1993, Tzeporah Berman had never been to a protest in her life. She was among one thousand people arrested, marking the largest civil disobedience action in Canada’s history. She was acquitted of the 850 criminal charges she faced, marking a real tipping point in Canada on environmental issues.

In a recent Globe and Mail editorial, she writes of her experience on the blockades 25 years ago and its relationship to the the Kinder Morgan pipeline protests today.

Present Day: Each year, Earth Day creates themed events leading to the 2020 challenge to engage citizens from across the globe in action actions to save the planet. In 2018 the Earth Day campaign to end plastic pollution had significant results raising awareness and participation around the world. In 2019, Earth Day Canada is teaming up with Kamik Footwear to celebrate Earth Day by inviting families to #FreeYourPlay and make a commitment to step outside and connect with the environment through play.

According to UN research, children in Canada are losing their connection to nature due to a sharp decrease in the amount of time they spend outside. Our Green Hero Ta’Kaiya Blaney, featured in the TVO episode, Back to Nature, tells us why more young people like herself should take to the great outdoors.

For more information about the campaign and upcoming events, including resources for how to bring outdoor, unstructured play into your own community and family, visit Kamik.com/FreeYourPlay or EarthPlay.ca.

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.

Do you have an affinity for all things green? Looking for innovative ways to create positive change in your community? Yes! Then you are going to want to be at Earth Day Canada’s Beyond Green Youth Summit in Toronto this weekend, October 25-27. Participants will get to mingle with leading environmentalists, including talks by Green Heroes Tzeporah Berman, Emily Hunter and Adria Vasil.

Friday night launches with a keynote presentation hosted by TVO’s Water Brothers at the Bloor Cinema, followed by a short eco-film fest that will display new works by Emily Hunter and the Water Brothers among others.

Saturday and Sunday will consist of a myriad of workshops exploring environmental themes of everything under the sun…and beyond. Green Heroes’ producers Joan Prowse and John Bessai will be leading saturday’s ‘Green Heroes: Creating a Media Channel’ workshop from 2-3:30 pm, exploring how to launch successful media platforms that can engage a worldwide audience for positive change.

Green Heroes will also be filming more inspirational stories at the event, such as Majora Carter! Don’t forget to wish her a happy birthday this sunday!

Click here more information on Earth Day’s Beyond Green event, and may all your green dreams come true!

Twitter: #BeyondGreen


P.S:

The Beyond Green Weekend was an inspiration to everyone that attended – creating an electric atmosphere amplifying the spirits of youth and fellow eco-mentors from across the country, showing that Canadians are deeply concerned about coming up with solutions about the environmental problems we are facing today. On saturday’s keynote presentation, Canada’s tar sands was a hot topic with speakers Ben Powless and Tzeporah Berman advocating for Canadians to stand up against the destruction of its boreal forest and waterways – Canada’s innate beauty. How can you begin to stand up and make yourself heard? November’s Canada-wide action with defendourclimate.ca will put you on the front lines of keeping this country, and the world, beautiful.

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