JCL Blog

Heroes in a Complicated World


You see, its complicated.  We live in complicated times.  Even simple solutions like: use less oil, evoke a tangled web of implications and polarized constituencies.  As the mountain of data available to us grows exponentially, and the tools to analyze it repeatedly double in capability, the complexity we face only gets, well, more complicated.
In these complicated times, the value of the story teller is going up.  Boy do we need people who can weave together compelling narratives from the chaos of our world.
Last week I was lucky enough to meet a handful of storytelling heroes.  People who have dedicated their lives to sifting through the human experience to craft stories that grab us, convey understanding and compel us to do something.  These people are documentary film makers. Here are some great ones you should check out:
  • Chris Jordan went to the middle of the Pacific ocean to photograph the Pacific Gyre.  That island of floating garbage that we have all read about but have never seen.  It turns out we have not seen it because it defies the camera.  The waste is in small pieces, and spread widely enough that it cannot be seen by a person or a camera.  It can however be seen in the stomachs of sea birds dying on Midway island.  Check out the trailer for Chris Jordan's new project Midway.
  • Louie Psihoyos went to Japan to see dophins slaughtered and their mercury laden meat fed to school children.  His creation, The Cove, won an Academy Award and cut the dolphin death rate in half.
  • Chris Paine took on both Detroit and Washington with his 2 movie series: Who Killed the Electric Car and The Revenge of the Electric Car. Now he has created a web site to counter the spin about the environment in the media.  It is called CounterSpill and there you can see a living archive of 100 years of environmental events.
  • James Balog installed 31 cameras to capture the slow motion death of glaciers in "Chasing Ice".  He also has published an excellent string of books.
  • Peter Byck created Carbon Nation, the movie billed as "the climate change solutions movie that doesn't even care if you believe in climate change.
We live in a world where heroes are rare.  We have made Warren Buffet, Lloyd Blankfein and Mark Zuckerberg our heroes because we just don't know where to look for the real heroes.  The next time you find yourself frustrated by the state of things in the world, give some of your time or money to your favorite documentary film maker.  It will feel great and who knows what will come of it!