Alastair McIntosh and Yvon Chouinard — at last!
In recent weeks we've posted two great new Green Interviews, with Alastair McIntosh and Yvon Chouinard – and I haven't blogged about either of them. Mea culpa!
Alastair McIntosh is one of Scotland’s greatest social and environmental thinkers, a theologian, and the man largely responsible for the first major reforms of feudal Scottish land-owning since the Battle of Culloden in 1746. McIntosh notably fought and beat the international Lafarge Cement company’s plans to build a huge quarry in the Hebrides; today, he advises Lafarge on how to be more environmentally responsible.
The Isle of Eigg belonged to a single man, the laird, and all other residents were tenant crofters; McIntosh helped the tenants organize and buy back the whole island. A non-violent Quaker, he also lectures to the British military about peace as the ultimate security. He's the author of four challenging books, most recently Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition.
Yvon Chouinard is a reluctant, accidental and very successful businessman, the founder and owner of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. His books The Responsible Company (2012) and Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman (2005) tell how his love of nature accidentally led him to business and caused him to see how business can be a force for progressive change. Patagonia, for example, has a wildlife rescue facility at its headquarters, donates 10 per cent of its pre-tax profits to environmental causes, and gives two-month paid leaves to employees who want to work full time for environmental organizations. It also hosts workshops in civil disobedience and sometimes posts bail for activists who get arrested.
Chouinard says that we need to reform corporations dramatically, or abolish them altogether. And who will do it? Consumers like you and me.
“If you want to change the corporations, you’ve got to change the consumers, and that’s us,” he says. “We’re the problem. I firmly believe that most of the damage caused to our planet is caused unintentionally, and it’s caused by just mindless consuming.” And he's quite sure we can change things.
“Citizens have a lot of power. Look at the Arab Spring. These are citizens taking down governments. They can take down governments; they can create governments. In fact, I believe that civil democracy is the strongest force in society. That’s where everything happens.” The interview is a fascinating peek inside the mind of a one of the most extraordinary people you'll ever meet.
And finally, my apologies for my silence. I've been doing other work, and we're also developing a new documentary film project, about which I'll say more later on. But I have been posting little notes and comments on Facebook as I fly through my days. If you aren't my Facebook friend, by all means become one, and we'll keep in touch that way.
Our next Green Interview will be with Dr David Bo
yd, who has just published two books on the movement to embed environmental rights in the legal system – both the rights of the environment itself, and also your right to live in a healthy environment. Of the 193 countries that belong to the UN, 177 have some form of environmental rights embedded in their legal systems. Which ones don't? You'll be surprised.
Watch the site in case I fail to blog about the Boyd interview. We'll post it around the end of January.