Eco- warrior Emily Hunter shares the details of her newest campaign to protect the Borneo rainforest. She is on a mission to inspire 20-somethings around the world to fight for what they believe in.
What is Deforest Action?
Deforest Action is a youth driven campaign trying to stop deforestation. Its first focus is the Borneo rain forest, but then it hopes to be a model replicated throughout the world. The campaign uses a very holistic approach to conservation. It incorporates animal rights, as we are trying to protect the orangutans of Borneo. It is a social justice fight, as we are working the local Dayak people in trying to revive their economy using a sustainable approach. Also, trying to solve deforestation is a means for tackling our climate crisis, as one fifth of green house gas emission comes from deforestation. Lastly, it’s a global education project involving millions of students in schools, and providing them the means to be involved in change making.
I understand you are working as a team, but what is your role in this work?
My specific role in this work is to be part of the global education project. I’ll be working with the local schools, as well as global schools around the world, and engaging them with the issues of deforestation. I’ll be trying to find ways of allowing them to be change makers by simply using their computer. Part of the project is using advanced technology to allow students, from wherever they are, to actually monitor the Borneo rain forest. We’ll be facilitating this program called “Earth Watchers”, which allows them to alert us of any illegal deforestation that is happening.
Another component of the education project is to work on small documentaries, video blogs and various media outreach. All of the team members will be starring in a 3D documentary film called 100 Days in the Jungle, which is directed by award winning filmmakers who will be following our journey during the campaign. It’ll be like a real life Avatar because it will be 3D in a real rain forest, with real individuals trying to tackle real issues in the world. This will be a way to reach out to the global masses and teach them about the issues.
What inspired you to get involved with environmental activism?
Despite the fact that my parents were environmental activists and I grew up with environmental activism, I became inspired in my own way. I really believe that there is a generational call for 20-somethings which need and have a responsibility to tackle the great crises of our time. For me, one of the most important crises is climate change and the destruction that is happening to our very home, planet earth. What I have been noticing in my eight years of being an activist is that it’s not the old, tired forms of activism anymore. There really is a new generation with new tools and new forms of activism emerging. I’ve witnessed incredible young people from all around the world use their own skills and abilities to make change in new ways, such as the power of social media and the internet for creating mass social movements. We see this with Arab Spring, with 350.org and Earth Hour, and it is this new generational call to action is what inspires me.
If you could only achieve one thing on your trip, what would that be?
I guess I want to come away from the campaign feeling like I really did make a difference as an individual and that I really contributed something to the project. I would particularly like to inspire the local youth, as well as the youth around the world, to believe that they can be eco-warrior too! There is power in an idea, and the idea that you can actually make a positive difference for this world – that you can actually change the destructive path that we are on – is an idea that can truly move mountains and survive the 21st century if more of us believe.
Do you have any advice for other twenty-something’s that want to get involved?
If you are passionate about a particular issue, whether it be an environmental issue or social justice issue, my advice to 20-somethings is to get out there and do something about it. Don’t wait for a hero to come around and solve the issue, don’t wait for it to resolve itself or become a catastrophe. We need a generation with will, the will to act and the will to be brave and the will to take risks. We are all going to have to take a lot more risks and give up a lot more if we want to continue to live in a world where we look forward to tomorrow. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a traditional activist. You don’t need to be a vegan with dreadlocks and ripped up clothes that screams on the streets in a protest, but you do need to be willing to stand for something in a world that is coming to a boiling point. This is our time to change the world and make it what we want to see for ourselves. Be your own activist.
Please follow Emily on the Deforest Campaign. Check out http://dfa.tigweb.org/