Stephen Best’s Bright Green Interviews
Stephen Best’s Bright Green Interviews
Stephen Best is a film-maker, environmental consultant and animal rights activist who has produced several lovely green interviews himself. Details below – but first a bit about Stephen Best.
I met Stephen Best in 1975, on the ice north of Newfoundland, where we were both covering the seal hunt. I was a contributing editor of Weekend magazine then, and Best was working for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Best went on to a distinguished career with a variety of environmental organizations, particularly in the field of animal rights. He is a ruthless realist who recognizes that the basic source of change is power, so he has spent his life gaining and using power by mobilizing people, raising funds and taking actions that force change, like the campaign that resulted in the European ban on the importation of seal products. For a deeper introduction to Best and his work, look at Farley Mowat’s Rescue the Earth! Conversations with the Green Crusaders,which includes a long interview with him.
Stephen and I have been in touch off and on ever since that memorable first meeting. When he called me recently about a project we hope to do together, I proudly showed him The Green Interview site – and he sent me the links to two video interviews he’d posted himself.
One of Stephen’s interviews is with Tom McMillan, who was federal Minister of Environment under Brian Mulroney, and remains among the most impressive ministers ever to hold that job. McMillan is now a professor and consultant in Boston, and Stephen interviewed him in 2000 because he wanted “an environment minister’s perspective on the need for the environmental protection community to become more engaged politically. As an ardent environmentalist, Tom was willing to oblige. By ‘politically,’ I mean in elections, supporting politicians with good environmental records and opposing those with poor ones. Sadly, it is still true that environmentalists tend to avoid elections, much, I would argue, to our detriment.” McMillan’s comments provide a very interesting inside look at how the environmental movement does (or doesn’t) motivate politicians. That interview can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHcdLgwc3G0
Stephen’s second interview will be part of a long documentary about the life and work of Dr. Sidney Holt, now 85, one of the great marine biologists of the last century and a major force in the protection of the great whales. Stephen Best especially praises Holt’s involvement in “the establishment of the Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the moratorium on commercial whaling, and the establishment of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. I’d go so far as to assert that had it not been for Sidney none of these would have been achieved.”
And yet, Stephen notes, despite Holt’s landmark achievements, he remains virtually unknown, even within the environmental movement. So the purpose of Stephen’s documentary is “to preserve in some measure Sidney’s wisdom. His is a remarkable, spiritual journey from being a person who developed better methods to harvest animals (fish in this case) to one who does everything in his power to protect them. I would also add that he is a truly wonderful person simply as an individual.”
The documentary is a labour of love, and won’t be completed any time soon – but Stephen has posted a 93-minute interview with Holt here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np2Eep99ohg
Enjoy. And savour one more contribution from Stephen Best, a remark he made during his interview with Farley Mowat: “If you are a parent and have dominion over your children, your job is to make their lives as full as you can – not to exploit them. And as a species, I think that’s what we should be moving towards in relation to other species that share this planet. It seems to me that one of the higher callings we can aspire to is to make our presence on the planet of value to all living things.”
Now there’s an ambition worth pursuing!