Different thinking

May 08 2010

This week we had several great examples of the value…perhaps even necessity of different thinking. We don’t just mean different ideas, but a completely different set of skills, and perspective.. and different approach to the same problem. First Portia and I were fortunate enough to sit down with the world’s leading IMAX filmmaker, Greg MacGillvray. Greg impressed us both with his ability to look at the world through the lens of large, “experiential” film. We talked about how to deal with difficult subjects so common in conservation. Most of what we deal with is, frankly, grim, challenging and not very encouraging. He conveyed a sense of balance in helping people first remember how much there is to appreciate and value in the ocean, then get them to see the harsh reality of the issue, an then connect us with the way forward. His film “Coral Reef Adventure” with legendary filmmakers Howard and Michelle Hall is a great example. You are deeply drawn into the rich colors, pulsating life and also, the human adventure of exploration- including a no-kidding very serious tech dive to 350′ on mixed gas re-breathers. Through the eyes of local people, we then understand the horrific impact of temperature, siltation and explosive fishing on these beautiful reefs. But we are not left destitute, but sobered and motivated to engage – to go out and work on this problem. His latest film Arabia is a provocative, ground-breaking look at the people, history and soul of Saudi Arabia. We urge you to have a look at the work Greg and his family are doing- particularly through their educational films – link here.

Earlier in the week my brother, a long time big wall rock climber clued me into the “info-mercials” that Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard is producing. These are close up, personal conversations about his long business career, the outside world and his passion for restoring the earth. He proclaims himself a “dam-buster” at the foot of a now defunct but destructive old dam in Ventura County, CA. He talks about the need to contribute as you can…” if you are writer then write something, if you are good at speaking, then get out and speak, if you have free time, then volunteer…” What really struck me is his wonderfully direct line of “in order to do good, you have to DO something”. This is an important message to all of us. Many of us care and have a passionate desire to see a better world. But it is exceptionally easy in these busy days to get diverted, distracted and to assuage our desire to engage with other more pressing issues. We shop, buy that new car, larger house, clean…whatever. Yet all the while what we really care about, what really needs doing is pushed off. Even worse is an attitude that this “is really serious and a big issue….somebody should do something”. There is perhaps too much of that coming out of DC…and maybe even our young people today. Have a look at his video

Finally, our good friend Maarten Vanden Eynde, the Dutch Artist that co-led the North Atlantic Gyre trip with Sea Dragon this year passed on an interesting idea. Several European futurists/architects are proposing that we collect all the oceanic plastic debris and make artificial islands at sea. These “Hawaii sized” floating land chunks would clean up the sea and create habitat for people and wildlife. Have a look here.  Perhaps, but there would be challenges with degradation, leaching chemicals and many other unanswered questions. But I like people who think, and make a point of doing it differently from the main stream. Maybe not this, but perhaps building materials, future ships or fuel that displaces raw crude oil….

It seems to me that the age old phrase of “it takes all types” could not be more true than today. Thank you all for Thinking Different.

Ron Ritter