CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST II
As many of you know, I’ve been working on a film for the last few years as a sequel to CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST. The original film did extremely well to direct dialogue to the “T” word being thrown around at activists like sexual misconduct accusations are today. Hey, I was known as the eco-monk, so I have absolutely no issues there… Thank god.
Now for the subject at hand…How it all began
I’ve been involved with ocean conservation since I was a child on Cape Cod, and after I moved to California as a TV Producer and Director, I felt myself so very lucky to hook up with Paul Watson, Al Johnson, and Bob Hunter… all early eco-activists, who I immediately joined up with to essentially help create what is known as the modern day environmental movement. This was 1981. As a Producer for the number one rated NBC television program at the time, I was a perfect fit for a small group of activists hoping to save the oceans. Hell, we were there for the birth of the media world of the modern era.
By then, Paul Watson had recently left Greenpeace under some minor rule violation, thrown out by a lawyer scared by his activism. He claims the lawyer said: “You obviously do not know what Greenpeace is all about!” Therefore, Paul formed Sea Shepherd (SSCS) to be able to stay active, as was his claim, and I believe him. Let’s face it, lawyers are like bad parents, just there to tell you why not to do things and why to abide by a bunch of stupid rules that may or may not make any sense whatsoever. I was told Sea Shepherd’s Rule #1 was: No lawyers on the board of directors. The second rule that won me over was: You had to have gone on a campaign to be eligible as a director. My “active” participation was ignored by my boss, entertainment legend George Schlatter, and by the way, the man is an unknown eco-hero in his own right. George ran the first major “hero” piece on SSCS in the early 1980s.
Big deal you say? Back then 40-50 million people watched every week. George put Paul on twice and brought him on live both times. This was a huge deal, and an example of how things worked back then, and it certainly put Greenpeace in its place.
I actually got “busted” covering Paul in Japan in 1981 for George. This is a story for another day, but I became hooked at that point, and for good. It was very clear to me how useful my services could be for the growing cause of conservation.
I was very heavily involved in many of the early campaigns, and handled all media with a photographer named Mark Gaede. Gaede bought the first T-shirts, we both bought flags, and the rest is history.
Rogue Waves and Shifting Tides Within the Organization – The Beginnings of Betrayal
I resigned from the Board of Directors in 1992 along with directors Sue Rodrigues-Pasture and Myra Finkelstein when the good Captain decided he wanted to pay his then girlfriend, Lisa De Stephano. None of us could see Lisa’s talents, and we were in 100% agreement. Furthermore, what exactly was she going to be paid for and why was this crucial money being directed this way? Paul was adamant. We all three said goodbye.
I attribute this day to my never being “all-in” again.
This director’s meeting was held at Nat’s Café in Santa Monica, California. Sea Shepherd was all-volunteer at that time. In fact, many volunteers in those days would pay their way to get involved and donate to the cause.
Now, as a pragmatist, I understand basic pay for services, but I also believe the fight can’t be taken to the enemy without “nothing to lose” activists. In my many decades as an environmental activist and conservationist, I have learned there is a major difference between the passion of a true activist and the job of a paid employee. Back in the day, offices like SSCS maintains today they were for Greenpeace. They still are.
Still, I was as dedicated as I always had been to issues. I spent the next many years on my mission to save the oceans. I often say in my talks that I’ve been thrown out of the SSCS organization 4 times, until I finally officially resigned this summer. All true, and great stories for later…
I continued to help Paul with campaigns I thought important. My position with SSCS has been spotty, but Paul was like a brother. Looking back, a rather shitty brother… as he never once stood up for me, even when he, and many others knew I was right. A man who does not have his brother’s back… is no real man, but…
How could I take it, you might ask?
Well I think if you research my history in the eco-movement, you’ll find me animal and issue-oriented. I could give a damn about the politics of this group or that. I called a spade a spade and tried to win for the oceans, for the animals, for the environment, and for us all. I do this today. I will continue.
When I was recently removed as captain, and replaced as campaign leader on the 2017 Virus Hunter Campaign for being “too aggressive and uncompromising” (which just means I was playing by the rules, “old” SSCS rules I find out.) really… I have the email! Tossed off the Martin Sheen, I travelled to British Columbia and did my own thing. I will be there next year, I hope they will too.
Everyone has a duty of one kind or another, or maybe more than one
I feel it is everyone’s duty to do what they feel is important. I’ve been involved with the “salmon issue” longer than SSCS and 100% support their actions assisting Dr. Alex Morton. Dr. Morton and the First Nations warriors should get everyone’s support. They are fighting the good fight in the right way and you can learn more by visiting: www.alexandramorton.ca/
These actions will continue and I hope SSCS will continue to support Dr.Morton’s efforts to get salmon farms out of BC.
For the last few years I was lucky enough to become associated with legendry Conservationist Doug Tompkins. Doug’s untimely death set me on my own path. Doug will still be remembered in one thousand years time long after little pirates like Peter Brown and Paul Watson are forgotten. www.tompkinsconservation.org
Doug felt that some times to progress as humans, we must make a 180-degree turn… and then take a step “forward”… back to the future so to speak. The future of sustainable local food, and conservation of wilderness.
CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST – the long-awaited sequel
My new film and eco-crusade looks at the very subjects listed above. Does more money and progress win out when we become them, and allow corporate branding to quash the very innovative approach that got us this far? My 30+ year involvement in the “Branding fight” between Paul Watson and Greenpeace taught me one thing: BRANDING KILLS WILDLIFE, while enriching individual entrepreneurs, and allowing populations to be brainwashed by controlling the media and therefore the press. This is straight out of the book of FASCISM 101.
I was brought up to QUESTION AUTHORITY… and I suggest there is no better time than now. Today with groups living inside their little social media bubble, what is really getting done? Not even a portion of what could be getting done when/if we all join forces and work together.
I am continuing to develop a project I started with Doug, GAIANetwork. It is a step back to throw support to the grassroots organizations. I pitched this idea with Paul Watson years ago but he choose a different path.
Perhaps the Greenpeace way of doing not much of anything, and depending on the “feel good” money factor to let them continue to complain, sue, sell merchandise, and do what you have to, to stay in business is the answer. It seems to be the inevitable outcome when a grassroots organization becomes a mutli-million dollar business. Sea Shepherd’s new approach of signing on with, in my opinion, dubious third world governments to attempt projects the governments aren’t willing to do themselves is following along these very questionable lines. I am obviously not a fan, but this a topic for another day.
Beware the Corporatization of Activism
Much like President Eisenhower warned America at the end of his career: “Beware the industrial military complex”. As an ocean-activist, continuing a lifelong cause I say to all: “Beware the corporatization of activism”.
I have fought hard to keep the visual history of the eco-movement, free for all to use and peruse. If Sea Shepherd or any other eco-corporation tries to control “the story” -- beware.
If you want the public to believe and follow, turn on the cameras and let your actions speak for themselves. Don’t run and hide when the going gets tough. Stand up because it is the right thing to do. Good actions = good press. THAT IS WHAT THEPUBLIS SUPPORTS! Forget the exclusivity and let those who made history tell it. CONFESSIONS II: “we have met the enemy…” discusses just this. Co-Produced by young female activist Elora West, I think the discussion will lead to others seeing the light. Elora was a hero in Taiji at the age of 16 and represents a new generation disgusted with wasteful bureaucracy. We need to stand up and demand change. Demand transparency in your organizations and continue the fight where it does most good.
I guess what I really want to say that as the year comes to an end and you are looking for solid eco-donations LOOK LOCALLY! , look around you. Projects and small groups close to your home. If you want the T-shirt and all the PR material from coffee cups to beer coolers, I can’t save you… but if the group has a larger e-commerce then operations page … then I advise that you are spending more on salaries (and who knows what) than the results you’re signing up for. Look for and promote results. I’ve been promoting Dr. Alex Morton lately, for one, yet there are wonderful groups and outstanding, accountable and passionate individuals out there if you look. You might not get the cool T-shirt as seen on TV, but you’ll get the results.
For Wild Oceans!