Photo: Community Leader Mark Terry: Making films, making policy


Across Canada, people are taking initiative to make a difference in their local communities — where real change happens. We call them community leaders. They are activists, bloggers and concerned citizens committed to protecting nature and our quality of life.

Community leaders use their unique skills and talents to engage their communities and drive meaningful change.
The Foundation's Community Leader team boasts some pretty talented people and we'd like for you to meet them....

I am delighted to be a Community Leader with the David Suzuki Foundation and to take this opportunity to let you know about who I am and why I do what I do.

My name is Mark Terry. I am primarily known as a documentary filmmaker working as a producer, writer and director for more than 20 years. In recent years, I have focused on films about the environment in general, and climate change at the polar regions in particular.

My last two films, The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning and The Polar Explorer showcased the work of the polar scientists from ArcticNet and the British Antarctic Survey. Their amazing research has shed some brilliant light on the climate change issue and how discoveries here at the ends the earth will impact on all of us.

Our filmed reports contained such unique and current information that the United Nations invited these films to screen to world leaders and negotiators attending COP15 and COP16 in Copenhagen and Cancun respectively.

I had the honour of attending these conferences and was given the opportunity to address delegates urging them to introduce a resolution recognizing the accelerated rate of land ice melt and glacier retreat and how this will increase the world's sea level a lot faster than anyone had previously thought.

Today I take my films on tour, across Canada and throughout the world, to share this research with as many people as possible. Traditionally, the work of polar scientists has limited reach to the masses. Their findings are published in scientific journals and the media exposure is quite modest, despite the importance of their findings.

Ever since the issue of global warming reared its ugly head and evolved into the issue of climate change, I had always wanted to do something about it, but like so many people, I felt frustrated that there didn't seem to be any one thing I could do to make a difference. Then it dawned on me. I could use my skills as a filmmaker to bring to light the information necessary for international policy-makers to draft legislation that would make a difference.

My message to those I speak to is that if I can make a contribution—no matter how small—to solving a global environmental crisis as serious as climate change, then we all can. You just have to examine yourself to see what skills, resources and talents are unique to you that can be focused on this issue. You'll be amazed—and incredibly rewarded—for making the effort.

But it's not easy. You'll face challenges. You'll have to do some serious thinking to find your way around them. Don't despair, keep looking for the way around and you will.

Now just imagine if everyone did this.

June 16, 2011

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