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n the making of her webisode, we got an insightful opportunity to sit down with Willa Black and environmentalist David Suzuki, to learn more about how One Million Acts of Green came to be.

Their thoughtful words on an incredibly successful project demonstrate even their surprise at the power of the human network and the amazing effects that come in numbers. Check out ourcampaign page to learn how to act on your ideas!

You can find Part 1 of the interview here.

Photo Credit : Devin Lund

David Suzuki: People are realizing that this is something we can’t ignore. The problem is if we keep lumbering environmentalists as those treehuggers, it ain’t going to work. First of all, we have to embrace the corporate sector, which means getting in bed with some nasty people.

We are not going to make it just as individuals; if we don’t have the corporate sector working with us than we can forget it.

We also have to broaden it. If we don’t deal with chronic levels of high unemployment, if we don’t deal with people who have no opportunity of justice or security, if we don’t deal with populations that are under genocide, or terror, or war, they can’t be concerned about the environment.

Just because you are a corporate executive or a Native living in Africa somewhere, you breathe the same air, you are dealing with the same water and we’re human beings. The challenge is this: we have never had to act as a single species. We have no mechanism to respond as a species. We have to work together as a species and that’s very tough.

Nature is very vast and very complex, and maybe if we learn to pull back as we are trying to do with a million acts of green, maybe nature will surprise us and be far more generous than we deserve. Nature will reveal that there are other options. Saying it’s too late doesn’t accomplish anything except to destroy any hope that you try.

I think what we need to do is rediscover our home as the earth, and we can’t keep thinking of the environment as something out there. We are the environment. That rediscovery of our place is our biggest challenge. It doesn’t matter if you are an executive from Cisco, Shell or Walmart; first of all, you are a human being living on this planet. You need air and you need food as an animal. Those are the most important things you need everyday and I think that’s what changes the world, when you realize that.

Willa Black: Understand the potential of what you can achieve. Even the shyest and most disengaged person, everybody can do something. It’s not about being an environmentalist, it’s about being good citizenry. It’s about being role models for your children. It’s about wanting the very best for your planet. It’s about knowing yourself and knowing you can play a part in that.

When we first started talking about a million acts of green, it would have been easy to say no. I’m so glad that we had the courage and that Cisco stood behind us, and I am really delighted that we caught the attention of great global leaders like David who I respect so much, because we all come from different backgrounds. Serendipity brought us together because we all care so much about it, and it does feel good that we were able to make a little dent.

DS: My great hero was my father. He lived a full life, died when he was 85 and when he was dying…he kept saying over and over, ‘David, I die a rich man’. He didn’t have a penny to his name. He was a poor man. All we talked about was family, friends, and neighbours and what we did together, and that’s why his wealth had nothing to do with money or stuff. It’s people. Your real wealth is people and what we do together and especially with our children. So let’s get refocused on what the priorities are in life.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, act on your ideas. Share your story of how you’re ideas into action by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

In the making of her webisode, we got an insightful opportunity to sit down with Willa Black and environmentalist David Suzuki, to learn more about how One Million Acts of Green came to be.

Their thoughtful words on an incredibly successful project demonstrate even their surprise at the power of the human network and the amazing effects that come in numbers. Check out ourcampaign page to learn how to act on your ideas!

Photo credit : Devin Lund

David Suzuki: We had tried to engage citizens for several years. We called it the Nature Challenge…People would say, ‘listen Suzuki, I got your message but what can I do, I don’t want to waste time on something that is not significant, I want to change my life and I want to begin to reduce my ecological footprint’. So we partnered with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and asked, how do ordinary people impact the environment so that we can figure out how to lighten our impact?

Immediately, it was obvious that it’s what you eat, where you live, and how you move…We got a list of the ten most effective things which we called the Nature Challenge. I got the list and threw it on the floor. I said, ‘Come on, this is too easy – give up meat one day a week, leave your car at home one day a week’. But, if you get enough people doing these simple steps, UCS said, guess what – it adds up.

The importance of saying a million acts of green is that a million people actually made a commitment. I think that the fact that so many citizens chose to be engaged is a very telling thing that I don’t think politicians can ignore.

Willa Black: I certainly didn’t expect to get a million acts. I think people really had a way more vested personal interest in what they could do and the changes they could make than I ever expected. It is one thing to make people go to a website…It’s another thing to get them to register and to act. It worked for everybody, from a five-year-old child to an 80-year-old grandmother, from a business to a community.

DS: Just think, if we citizens of Canada committed to picking up one piece of garbage a day, that’s 365 multiplied by 35 million, that comes out to a lot of garbage.

My commitment was I will pick up one piece every day, and it’s been a very interesting exercise. I often find when I reach down to do it, there are four or five things, so I clean up a little piece. Just think, one person picking up one piece a day is nothing; 35 million is huge, and it’s those kinds of simple acts that can become very significant.

WB: When you hear what is happening to our world and the environmental damage that is going on, it seems so terrifying and so overwhelming. A lot of people would say, ‘Oh there is no way I can do anything about that’, and what we were hoping to do with a million acts of green, is to convince them [that they can] and it doesn’t have to be enormous.

DS: During the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, I used to run around saying, “Think globally, Act locally”. I really think in the end it turns out that was a mistake…Thinking globally tends to disempower us, making us feel totally helpless. Thomas Berry, one of the greatest philosophers, said we got to change that to think locally and act locally if we are going to have any effect globally.

It’s at the local level where you can actually see the impact that you do and you can arouse a community.

WB: That was one of the great things that the campaign did. Everybody could see what the impact of their contribution was, and they could see the green house gases that they were saving with their acts.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, act on your ideas. Share your story of how you’re ideas into action by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

Acting On An Idea
03Jan
2011

Imagine the changes we could see in the world if every person acted on their ideas. For Ciscobusinesswoman, Willa Black, acting on her idea led to over a million changes; a million acts of green to be exact.

When her workplace challenged Cisco employees to come up with an idea to bring the human network effect to life, Willa rose to the challenge, recognizing that major changes could come about by bringing together lots of people.

Willa Black

Photo credit: Devin Lund

After examining her own life and daily habits, Willa contemplated the idea of power in numbers. She imagined changing simple acts in her daily life, such as turning off lights, washing clothes with cold water, carpooling, or planting a tree, and was excited by the potential reverberations if mimicked by a street, a city, and a country of others.

Acting on the principle of Corpoate Social Responsibility, Willa turned a marketing challenge into a green opportunity, resulting in over 4 million acts of green committed, and bringing about monumental change. Got an idea to change the world? Set your ideas into action!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, act on your ideas. Share your story of how you’re ideas into action by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

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