There is a disease that is infiltrating our society. It's permeating our imaginations and infiltrating our ideas from every direction via movies, news stories, even video games -- it's the vision of our future. You know what the vision looks like: People have destroyed the planet, we are completely dependent on technology, and we are longing for the natural world (which we destroyed, btw). Ok, that's fine -- who doesn't love a little science fiction? But where are the stories that counter this possibility? Where are the images, movies, books, and video games made about what a thriving future looks like once we have figured out how to live in a world where we reclaimed our relationship with the natural world, reclaimed our relationship to energy, and reclaimed our relationship to consumerism?
Some might say that we are living on earth during one of the most incredible moments in history, that we are living in a time with the consciousness that we can create (manifest if you use that lexicon), our realities, and that we are inherently responsible for our own happiness. So mix that with the never-ending stories about dooms day, and Houston, we have a problem.
I don't know about you, but when the BP spill happened, I hit a breaking point. Reason being I would be inside, reading news on my computer, and I would feel that "the environment" is a thing that is separate from myself, that it is broken, sick, and downright screwed up. In a moment of frustration, I closed my laptop and went outside. I smelled the ocean, and my mood changed because of the effect of the negative ions; I watched as the gulls surfed the wind, my hair was tussled by the breeze, my skin was warmed by the sun, and in that moment, I knew that I was a part of the environment. I experienced it as beautiful, as satiating, as nourishing. And I got to thinking, what a strange dynamic we've created: every time I read the news I feel guilt, shame, or obligation to take care of the environment, and that's not the kind of relationship I like to have with my friends or family, so why would I want to engage in that kind of relationship with the environment? As Jacque Cousteau says, "We protect the things we love," and I don't know about you, But I'd much rather act from that place than any other.
And yet, we are teaching our children, and convincing ourselves, that people are bad for the planet. When I ask why, I believe it's because we are letting ourselves off the hook. Here's why: if we believe that the world is screwed and going to hell in a hand bucket, it doesn't matter what we do. But if we believe that a sustainable future is possible, than we have to hold ourselves accountable and actually change the way we are living our lives.
While we think about the changes we might want to make, the economy is changing without our approval, and as we seek answers and solutions for how to thrive on a planet under attack, we are also trying to find happiness in a changing economy. Where is the training manual that these things are not separate, but equal, and interconnected?
Buckminster Fuller said, "We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."
Scientists, architects, and health practitioners are continuing to demonstrate that the natural world provides all the tools we need to thrive. The only problem is we don't know how to use all of them. But what if I told you that there is an army of people out there who are figuring out how to use those tools? That dolphins and whales can heal people, that mushrooms can address pollution, that fish can inform us on how to build fuel efficient cars, that trees can solve the flooding issues in LA? What if all of the tools and cures for how to live healthy and happy lives are right here, right now, and we just haven't learned how to use them (yet)?
In this moment of global reckoning, each and every one of us has the opportunity to dig deep and ask ourselves, what part do we play? As parents, are we guaranteeing our children's health and protecting them from environmental toxins? As homeowners and renters, are we choosing how and where we consume our energy? As designers, are we creating sustainable products? As consumers, are we choosing to support sustainable technologies? As friends, are we cooking organic for our communities? As the most influential species on the planet, are we insuring that that our planet is habitable to all creatures, great and small?
I don't know about you, but people are inspiring me left and right; from Alec Loorz who is mobilizing the youth climate movement, to urban artist JR who is transforming decrepit city scapes into reflective statements in Shanghai, to John Warner who invented the concept of green chemistry, to Ashel Seasunz Eldridge, who rewrote the Sex and the City theme song (which I loved by the way) into an anti-plastics anthem (see below); people around the globe are taking action. So what's my part you're thinking to yourself? (I know you are.) For me, as a media maker, the big question is, "How are my stories impacting people?" And my answer is to bring you People and the Planet -- a series of stories gathered from around the world about people who are using the tools found in the natural world to achieve health and wellness.
Now don't get me wrong, because we need the stories about where things are going wrong, and the journalists and bloggers who dare to live in the trenches of those stories should be treated like champions. But let's never forget that is only part of the larger story of our time; we also need the stories of our successes to go side by side with the stories about our failures. Visionaries can imagine a sustainable future, but most people need to see in order to believe. If People and the Planet succeeds, the online videos series will surface individuals and organizations who are paving the path to a sustainable future and are flying under the radar. The hope is that the videos will raise awareness, create opportunities to financially support the featured individuals and organizations so they can continue to proliferate, as well as encourage people to get out into the great outdoors. I"m assembling an army of angels to back the initiative and identify stories that need to be told. The invitation to join is yours.