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Ric O’Barry’s first environmental act took place on April 22, 1970, when he was arrested for freeing a captive dolphin. What makes his story particularly poignant is Ric was unaware that this action would change the course of his life, taking him from dolphin trainer to dolphin protector.

During the 1960s, Ric’s love of marine life led to a position at the Miami aquarium where he trained the five dolphins that regularly appeared as Flipper on the popular TV series. When the series was cancelled and the dolphins warehoused, Ric realized the error of his ways and began a crusade to save dolphins from captivity and senseless death.

Ric’s campaign has been fuelled by the 2010 Oscar® winning film The Cove and by his determination. Today, as Japan prepares to host the Olympic summer games in 2020, Ric is calling on Japan’s Prime Minister to halt the annual dolphin capture and slaughter that takes place around the coast of the country in Taiji.

Ric is not the only Green Hero using a 2020 target date for campaigns aimed at changing government policy and individual behavior in favour of the planet.

Already underway are Earth Day events leading up to the 50th anniversary date with a goal of inspiring 3 billion people worldwide to take part on April 22, 2020.

But why wait for Earth Day? Now is a great time to reflect on ways we can protect our planet today. Here are 30 suggested ways to create a more hopeful situation leading to Earth Day’s 50th birthday. How many are you doing right now and how many more would you like to adopt during the countdown to 2020?

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The Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) is taking on a conservation challenge of epic proportions to reach an estimated 164,000 tenants living in over 58,000 rental units across the city. As North America’s second largest housing provider, only surpassed by New York’s Public Housing Authority in size, this is no small feat. But the goal is a worthy one – to create a better place for TCHC residents to live and a better planet for all.

As part of this initiative, CineFocus Canada, Green Heroes’ production company, is working with Toronto Community Housing’s Capital Engagement and Conservation Program (CECP) to create a series of on-line shareable videos aimed at reducing energy consumption (electricity, water, natural gas) and waste in residential buildings across the city.

The mission is to produce ten short videos, each one showing a particular conservation challenge and how to fix it. In order to ensure the videos reach the largest number of people living in TCH’s 2,200 high, mid, and low-rise apartments, town homes and houses, the videos include animated characters and tenant profiles to give tips of what can be done to reduce consumption with the end goal of creating a better place to live.

CineFocus Canada is working with a highly creative and motivated team of Senior Program Leaders (SPLs) who are TCHC tenants or residents from the community assigned to each building. As each SPL is familiar with their community, they are able to tap into their local networks and provide advice on how to best engage local tenants.

Already CineFocus and the CECP team have created three animated videos aimed at energy conservation during cold winter months. The Keep Warm in Winter campaign videos use two animated characters (created by Andrea Nellis and animated by Luke Murphy) one, an energy hog and the other, an energy hero, to show viewers ways how they can stay warm and minimize their environmental footprint.

Check them all out here.

Stay tuned for the spring campaign videos that focus on recycling and waste reduction.

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Canadian photographer, filmmaker, conservationist and Green Hero Rob Stewart was best known for making and directing the documentary films “Sharkwater” and “Revolution”. For four years, Stewart worked as chief photographer for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s magazines, and also worked as a freelance journalist. He held a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Western Ontario and studied zoology and marine biology in Kenya and Jamaica. Stewart died in a scuba diving incident while in Florida filming “Sharkwater: Extinction” on January 31.
Stewart’s contribution to the common human struggle to respect the Earth and all her creatures was herculean. May we continue his work with alacrity.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

As we know, Rob Stewart disappeared Tuesday evening off the coast of Florida. The outpouring of support and hope that spearheads his search is inspiring. Across social media on Facebook, Twitter and at sharkwater.com you can find updates and opportunities to volunteer or donate. On twitter follow @teamsharkwater and #FindRob.

The fundraising campaign continues to gather funds for air and ground searches including 13 helicopter and teams working non-stop. The outpouring of financial support is heartwarming.

 Green Heroes field producer Stephanie Silliker and I met Rob in the summer of 2009 when we interviewed him for the first season of our TV and web series.

I remember Stephanie giving me the Sharkwater DVD telling me it was a “much-see” because Rob was your quintessential Green Hero. He certainly changed my Jaws-jaded view of sharks from man-eater. In less than 5 minutes, I learned that sharks are not to be feared by rather revered for the essential role they play in balancing all life on earth.

I was so impressed at how he was able to convince me of their importance that we did the interview with him right away. He was gracious and generous, even introducing us to his pet python.

He also tipped us off that a new film called The Cove was having its commercial release that night in Toronto and that Ric O’Barry, the film’s hero, would be there to talk about it. Thanks to Rob, we got the scoop on another Green Hero, before his Academy award win, that day.

Stephanie wrote to me upon hearing of Rob’s disappearance. “ I was lucky enough to accompany you to interview one of Canada’s most influential environmentalists and documentarians. His vibrant spirit and zest for open water and the wildlife below are so inspiring. I was shocked and saddened to hear that news that he has gone missing. I am sending positive vibes in the hope he will be rescued safely.”

I join Stephanie and literally millions of others around the world hoping and praying that Rob will be found. Just think of Rob free-diving in the last scene of Sharkwater and you’ll agree with this encouraging message from the Sharkwater website:

“We believe Robbie Stewart is out there waiting for us to find him. We are reaching 72 hours, which is an absolutely feasible timeframe in which to find Robbie. And as we all know, he is strong and resilient and at home in the water.”

Rob with his pet python

Today, as Green Heroes.tv celebrates our 6th anniversary, we honour musician and water protector, Gord Downie on tour with his band The Tragically Hip. Media articles and reports cover his musical legacy, but haven’t mentioned his activism and love of the lake. This led to stopping an environmental heavy hitter from burning tires as an alternate fuel source on the shores of Lake Ontario, just down the road from the band’s recording studio in Bath Ontario. Gord joined forces with the local community and the environmental organization, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and became co-applicant on a case that led to changing how permits for potentially unsafe environmental practices are approved in Ontario.

“I feel more a citizen of Lake Ontario than I do of anywhere else.” Gord told us.

His love of the lake came early, growing up in Kingston Ontario, a waterfront city located at the eastern end of the lake near the start of the St. Lawrence River. But “with time and distance” Gord found he had “lost his connection with the lake” until he heard a speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. whose work on the Hudson River spawned the global Waterkeeper Alliance.

Gord said it was an empowering moment when he heard that “the lake belongs to us. It’s in the public trust. In an era when everything is owned and staked out, that really moved me.”

Watch our profile of Gord as he tells what it took to achieve victory against a large multinational and, for a more in-depth look, watch our TV episode, In My Backyard, produced in association with TVO.

The CBC carries the Hip’s hometown show in Kingston, Ont., live on its television, radio and online platforms on Aug. 20 starting at 8:30 p.m. ET. While it will be a moving event, we’ll remember Gord best for literally putting his name on the line to achieve environmental justice for the lake he loves so much.

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.

September’s contest theme features a cool idea from our Green Heroes’ Moving Green TV show and an action from our Academy’s Transport mission to put more fun and pedal power in your daily commute. The prize is really cool too. A BionX e-bike kit complete with a long-range battery that fits most bicycle configuration and stays charged for up to 65 km. The lucky winner also gets a free install. Watch this video to find out how to enter!

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Win an e-bike kit from BionX, includes a free install

Now it’s your turn! Take a photo of your daily commute and upload it to the Green Heroes Academy, For those yet to sign on, the Academy is a mobile app full of missions and challenges inspired by the Green Heroes TV series. Each month we will highlight an action from the Academy and award a prize.

Contest closes September 30th. The photo with the most comments posted to our Green Heroes Academy Facebook page via our app wins the prize!

Happy green commuting and best of luck!

Congratulations to Liz Culotti whose photo earned her two tickets to this year’s Greenbelt Harvest Picnic featuring great local food and a line-up of talented musicians led by Green Hero, Daniel Lanois.

When we told Liz about her prize she wrote: “I’m so excited to celebrate Ontario’s agriculture and hear amazing Canadian artists play music! Being a part of the Green Heroes community has taught me so much about what I can personally do to save the environment and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.”

Here is the winning photo that netted the most comments.

Liz

Fresh City Farms founder, Ran Goel, sets up an urban garden on King St West in downtown Toronto

The act of meeting a local farmer and uploading his pic, is just one of many fun activities people can do to earn points and move up the ranks from recruit to green hero status inside the Green Heroes Academy. For those yet to sign up on Facebook, the Academy is a mobile app full of missions and challenges inspired by the Green Heroes TV series. Each month we will highlight an action from the Academy and award a prize.

September’s contest features an action from the Academy’s transport mission with the prize being a BionX e-bike Power series kit – to add more fun and zip to your daily commute as we head back to school and work.

Watch this video to find out how to enter – and let’s all of us go the extra mile to keep our planet green.

Green Heroes – September Contest from Joan Prowse on Vimeo.

 

 


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justin@greenheroes.tv
@GreenHeroesTV


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