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Besides being the inspiration for Fly Away Home, you can add another credit to Bill Lishman’s list of accomplishments.

Wait until you see what his innovative mind created in his own home, unlike any home we’ve ever seen before. We got to take a sneak peek into the unique house Bill has built underground, the result of years of comprehensive research and design.

The house is inherently eco-friendly. What makes it special is that it is submerged in a hill, which means the earth acts as natural insulation. The house requires less heating and cooling, which means major savings for the planet. These types of homes are safe from storms, and save homeowners the hassles of painting, shingling, and cleaning out the eaves troughs. They can even be covered with gardens (as Bill’s is)!

The story goes that Bill’s inspiration came from a simple idea. He built an igloo one winter, and was amazed at how warm he could be inside, just from his own body heat. So he followed the steps of a great innovator, and began reading up on building homes underground.

He settled on rounded shape, which he discovered would be able to bear the weight of the earth above it. With lots of time and effort, Bill got the job done, using vertical steel trusses and concrete, waterproof tar powder and a layer of topsoil.

The challenges were seemingly never-ending, but Bill tackled them all. From awkward-shaped doors to ill-fitting furniture, Bill used his ingenuity to overcome each hurdle. Now, he’s got a beautiful, energy-efficient home that he boasts, and he’s even offering to help you build your own!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

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Protecting Birds
15Nov
2010

Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.”
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring.

Profound words from Rachel Carson, author and biologist, who began to notice a declining bird population back in 1962 when no one else took note. Then, it was pesticides and DDT that were wiping out mass populations of birds.

Years of dedication to conservation and reductions in chemical-use brought back the calls of many birds. But it is now 2010, and millions of birds are still threatened every day.

Migratory birds continue to face challenges in their travels, which is affecting the survival of the global bird population. We were inspired by Bill Lishman’s unique contribution to the preservation of the bird population, work that helped to bring back the Whooping Crane from the brink of extinction, but millions of birds the world over are threatened by barriers to migration and habitat destruction.

You can help save global migratory bird populations by visiting our Taking Flight campaign page!

Many organizations, like the fantastic Birdlife International, are working tirelessly to preserve the paths of migratory birds. Evidently, migratory birds face difficulties worldwide; their Born to Travel campaign works to protect the African-Eurasian flyway for migratory birds from complex and multi-level problems by improving conservation policies and cooperation between countries.

In our cities, these birds are threatened by built structures in our own cities, which they fly into regularly and die. FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) is a program based in Toronto (though there are many like it all over North America) which aims to decrease the impacts of the urban landscape as an obstacle on migratory birds.

In our own backyards in Canada, we’re Taking Flight to conserve and protect migratory birds. We’re also keeping an eye on essential bird habitats, working to protect wetlands with Ducks Unlimited Canada and to keep Boreal birds near the Tar Sands healthy and safe with Nature Canada. Visit our campaign page to find out more and to get involved!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

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Would you believe that the ultra-light aircraft could be as versatile as Bill Lishman himself? Ultra-light flight hasn’t been around for too long, but it’s an incredibly promising technology if you believe in what it can do.

Ultra-light aircrafts are 1 or 2 person airplanes that are both affordable and eco-friendly. They started popping up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and as you can imagine, Bill’s first encounter with ultra-light was quite unique.

It was through a friend that he tried, and fell in love with, hang gliding, but he found the process of hauling the vehicle up the hill to be cumbersome.

So, being the innovator that he is, he attached a go-kart engine to the glider and carved a propeller. In 1978, he became the first in Canada to foot-launch a powered aircraft!

Bill’s aircraft evolved into an intricate version featuring a tail fashioned from two drag rudders, a Chrome-Molly tricycle landing gear with steerable nose-wheel, bungee cord suspension, and a reliable 3 cylinder 2 stroke Konig engine capable of producing 24 horsepower. The aircraft evolved even more, enabling him to use it in his first trip to re-establish a migratory path for the endangered Whooping Crane.

Bill’s latest venture involving ultra-light aviation is on a completely different path of its own; Air First Aid is an innovative first aid tool for emergency humanitarian crises. Find out how you can get involved with the cause by visiting our Taking Flight campaign page!

Back in 1998, Bill was impacted by Hurricane Mitch, which was striking Central America, thousands of kilometers away from him. Thousands died because there were not enough helicopters to send in supplies; Bill knew then that he had to act.

He has now developed an ultra-light aircraft that can deploy up to 200 pounds of cargo. Its strength is in its immediacy, able to deliver water, food, and medicine almost instantly during environmental and natural disasters.

Think of it like first aid of the skies; sure, it’s not a flying hospital, but it can help sustain life in triage situations until more advanced care is available. We think this is one cool idea because Bill’s taken a problem that’s been around for ages, got creative, and put his mind to work to create an innovative solution. Got your own idea to solve an environmental problem? Visit our Taking Flight page for tools to set your ideas in motion!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

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The man, the bird-lover, the innovator; Bill Lishman has got a full deck of cards. Whether creating public art, pioneering ultra-light flight in Canada, or serving as the first human to lead birds in formation, it seems that this GreenHero is always on the go with an exciting new project.

Bill thoughtfully answered a few questions posed by our GreenHeroes team from his home on the hill in Blackstock, Ontario, reinforcing the idea that it’s never too late to let your ideas take flight.

GreenHeroes: What is the importance of innovative ideas? What do you say to naysayers who doubt that your ideas can truly take flight?

Bill Lishman: Innovative ideas are the beginnings to solving problems large and small. Humanity is only at the beginning of learning how to live on the planet without destroying it. We are at a critical point in history where it will take major innovation in human lifestyles to save ourselves from destroying ourselves. Like the fifties’ cartoon character Pogo said, “I have seen the enemy, and it is us”.

It depends on the naysayer. I usually say nothing, but note the nature of the criticism. If it strikes a chord, I may change direction. Some just give me impetus to prove them wrong.

GreenHeroes: If you could be Minister of the Environment, what would you do differently?

Bill Lishman: I really don’t know what the Minister of the Environment is doing, but when I see the creativity that has gone into weapons of war, I wish that that creativity could be redirected into earth-friendly technology in everything from agriculture to architecture.

GreenHeroes: What are your favourite books and movies? Also, what memories do you have from the set of Fly Away Home?

Bill Lishman: I really enjoyed Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and writings by Alistair MacCleod. As for movies, my tastes are eclectic. I am a fan of films directed by Clint Eastwood. Most films follow set formulae, so I like films that break from the formula.

I really enjoyed being part of making Fly Away Home. I liked the energy and I really enjoyed working with the director Carrol Ballard. It was truly enlightening to gain gems of wisdom from the producer, the late John Veitch, who had produced over 500 Hollywood films. Aside from that, I had the joy of flying with geese almost daily and even got paid for it.

GreenHeroes: Why should people care about bird migration, if it’s something they don’t really know about?

Bill Lishman: 80% of all species on the planet migrate in one way or another, but it is not just caring about bird migration. People should care about all living things, for as I see it, our health, the health of the human race, and the health of the planet is dependent on a critically interconnected web of life, and the more we understand how it works, the more respect we will gain and the better it will be for all.

GreenHeroes: Do you have any words of advice for those who have bright ideas but don’t know what steps to take to accomplish them?

Bill Lishman: The only value of a bright idea is what you do with it. If you are passionate about the value of the idea, then the next thing of importance is persistence in developing the idea. The old adage about invention being 95% sweat unfortunately is true.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

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Bill Lishman’s passion for flying high with the birds took on a new meaning in the 1970’s, when the city of Pickering put in a bid to build an airport in his backyard. Residents in the area, including Bill, fought to keep the airport off their lands.

Peter Shatalow’s documentary, Last Stand, captures the community’s fight and unique methods of drawing attention to their cause and preserving the land. We were inspired by this story because of its close-to-home feel, sharing a similar battle against an airport that we faced in our own backyard.

Pickering is no stranger to rebellion. Shatalow’s film takes a look at the region’s history of uprising, pinning it up next to their present protests.

What drew us to this particular protest?

Bill was one of the leaders of the pack to speak out against the proposed development, using innovative methods to raise the voice of the community.

Rather than a typical protest, they re-enacted dramatic and historical speeches and hangings. This unusual, out-of-the-box outcry reminded us of Margaret Atwood’s innovative book tour, which threw her audiences for a loop and reinvented an otherwise predictable event.

The result of these unorthodox presentations? Mass media coverage and some much-needed attention drawn to their causes.

In 1975, the public outcry was enough to put a stop to the Ontario government’s airport plans. But over 30 years later, the challenge of a new airport arrived. Watch a clip of the must-see Last Stand, which captures these amazingly innovative means of protest and successes.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

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Tune in Tuesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. (EST) for the second episode of GreenHeroes on TVO.

Last week, we proudly launched our companion TV show to rave reviews. It was exciting to see our GreenHeroes on the big screen, flaunting their unique and risk-taking attributes and highlighting their amazing global actions.

Bill Lishman was one of those great innovators and risk-takers featured in Episode 1: Saving Species. From a simple hang glider, Bill developed a complex ultra-light glider, and used it to bring back the Whooping Crane from the brink of extinction.

Since then, he’s used his ever-inspired mind to complete many out-of-the-box projects, from his underground home to a one-of-a-kind protest staged to stop construction of an airport in his Pickering backyard. Got an idea like Bill? Transform your ideas to action by visiting our Taking Flight campaign page.

Bill’s not the only one putting his talents to work and pushing the boundaries in his local surroundings. This week’s episode “In My Backyard” showcases the brave work of many talented folks and a couple of familiar music-makers.

All three use their unique talents and their arts to effect local change: Musician Gord Downie speaks out against a polluting cement company, Singer/Songwriter Sarah Harmer composes a musical tour to highlight, and prevent, ecosystem destruction in her hometown, and Annabel Slaight shows the power of a bit of corporate know-how by organizing to save Lake Simcoe.

Tune in tonight and in the weeks to come for other GreenHeroes venturing forth to Save the Planet One Story at a Time.

If you can’t tune in tonight, Episode 2 will also be playing this Saturday at 4 pm (EST) on TVO

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes
Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns
Sign up for our newsletter
Follow us on Twitter
Become our fan on Facebook

William (Bill) Lishman is best known for his part in the film Fly Away Home. You’d be hard pressed to find him on screen though; instead, the film is about him, and his incredibly innovative solution to the problems faced by birds forgetting migration routes.

Lishman devoted years to developing a method of training the birds to follow his ultra-light glider, in spite of naysayers who thought the project would not take flight. It was one of the first examples of Lishman’s innovative spirit, a characteristic that has continued to push him to push the boundaries and develop exciting and forward-thinking projects.

Though Bill is still all about the birds, his work and research span the arts and sciences from sustainable dwellings to fighting to prevent the building of an airport. Have you got an idea that pushes boundaries? Take action and let your ideas soar; as Lishman shows, you never know what might take flight.

“I think most people get an idea and they think, ‘Oh, that’s an outrageous idea, that’ll never come to pass’…[If] you tune into those ideas, and if you’re open to it, it happens.”

– Bill Lishman

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, let your ideas take flight: Share your story of innovation and bright ideas sparking change 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.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

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