Sex, Pandas, Kittens, and Swimming with Whales: Reclaiming the way we talk about the environment

08/26/2010 01:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I have a dream of creating stories that reconnect people to the planet, and reclaim the way we tell stories about the environment. What? You say. Reclaim? Yes. Reclaim. Let me tell you why.

After nearly two years of consuming and producing environmental video and blog content for Current's Green Channel, I nearly crawled away in a deep depression about the state of the world. I suffered from too-much-eco-news-itis. So I sublet my house, and retreated to a cabin perched on a cliff on the Lost Coast to complete my novel (and escape the world as we know it). I unplugged from the Internet (as best I could), and plugged into the planet. I spent the last three months walking in the woods, walking by the ocean, and consuming information from a different source: the natural world. I've never been happier.

What happened is that I started to see a huge disconnect between my experience in the environment, and the news I consume about the environment. And then I started thinking about the key reasons about why I went into producing media: to motivate, mobilize and inspire people to be stewards for our planet.

Houston. We have a problem. Because I don't know about you, but that majority of news I read about the environment these days sucks. I am overwhelmed by the amount of bad news. So much so, (incoming: true confession), I don't want to look. I don't want to take in more news about the BP spill, endangered turtles being burned, or mountain top removal. (Please don't misunderstand, because I deeply respect the journalists that dedicate their time to telling these stories. Because these are the stories that should be mobilizing people into action. Right??) After reading the news, I'm beginning to feel like it's game over, the planet is screwed, and it's just a matter of time until the bottom drops out. And then I started to think~ HOUSTON. WE HAVE A REALLY BIG PROBLEM. Because when people start thinking it's over, it's over grover.

And then I am reminded about that story of the kids whose school bus was hijacked and buried in a coal mine. Some of the kids, against all odds, fought to get out. Some of them saw that it was hopeless and quit. Many years later they did psychological analysis on all the kids, and guess what? The kids who fought against all odds were the ones who ended up living fairly normal lives. The ones who didn't, you guessed it: permanently traumatized. Why~ because they took action on what they hoped could happen, rather than give up because of what they feared might happen. The very action of taking action, is what saved their sanity in the end.

So. The moral of this blog post: after all of these thoughts going around in my head I starting really thinking about what kind of stories motivates people to take action and mobilize? And how can I, as a producer of media make a meaningful contribution?

And hence, People and the Planet was born. A series of stories that take place all over the world about people who are healing in the presence and assistance of wild animals and the natural world. I know. It sounds crazy. But stay with me.

Here's a little video that explains the vision:

Our first story takes place in the kingdom of Tonga and is about a woman who practices aqua cranial sacral healing in the presence of humpback whales. I know. It sounds...crazy..I mean...fascinating. She checks out. I want to tell you how she heals people, and the role of these wild animals and the ocean in her healing process. I am excited to make this the first story we tell in this series: Why? Because I have done a lot of research on whales: and the majority of information out there is about people slaughtering whales. But if this animal is out there making contact with people and helping heal us...we need more of those stories. And the next time you read horrific news, or some plea to protect the ocean, rather than think, "just more bad news, can someone turn on South Park?" Maybe an image from our short documentary will surface, or a line from the story will be remembered, and you will be reminded why you care for this planet and want to protect it.