Long time no see and the proposed dam in Hawke’s Bay

It’s been nearly two years since I posted here. Two years ago I had a period without paid work and focused my time on putting together some film clips and posting them on my YouTube channel.

Soon after I started a UNDP contract in Mauritius, focused on ‘Capacity Building for Development of Climate Resilient Policies’. It was an exhausting but ultimately rewarding piece of work.

2012 proved to be my busiest year ever. I had a New Zealand contract working with kiwifruit growers and others on resilience to climate change. This was very difficult work given the unfolding effects of PSA on the kiwifruit industry and I think a general (and worrying) lack of interest in climate change. As the year progressed I had to juggle this work with two separate contracts in Samoa and another UNDP contract. For the latter I worked as part of a team completing a mid-term evaluation of the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project.

Currently I’m working on another New Zealand project under the Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change programme; working with two colleagues from Landcare Research.

Meanwhile I’ve recently been interviewed by TV3 for an item on the planned Ruataniwha dam in Central Hawke’s Bay. Unfortunately, as happens with news items, they chose the sound bite that they wanted to use to fit the story they told. There was no room for some of my key messages which included:

1) The majority (more than 80 percent) of Hawke’s Bay is in hill country. So a dam that is designed to irrigate 25,000 ha of flat land for intensive dairy farming is not going to do anything to build security against current and future droughts in the region. In fact it could make future drought security worse. This needs more discussion than I’m giving right now.
2) The proposed dam is a solution without a clearly defined problem. There is no long-term strategy for the whole Hawke’s Bay region, taking account of climate change, which clearly identifies the key issues and critically looks at the different choices we have to address them. Again this needs more discussion.
3) There has been a complete lack of genuine community consultation throughout the whole process.

Further film progress and Jim Hansen’s visit

Over recent months I’ve played a relatively small role in helping organise part of Jim Hansen’s current trip to New Zealand. For those who don’t know him Jim Hansen is one of the world’s leading climate change scientists. Convinced by the science, and as a concerned grandfather, he has become a lot more active in recent years. In 2009 he published Storms of my Grandchildren in which he outlines both the science and what he believes we need to be doing. He says that if we want to avoid climate catastrophe then we need to begin acting immediately towards keeping all remaining fossil fuels in the ground, imposing carbon taxes at source, and planting forests around the world to help absorb the carbon dioxide already released to the atmosphere.

Planting forests are an important part of the solution. It’s a message that has been articulated through my work with farmers over the last decade. It is a message that came through strongly with the people I interviewed in 2007. The latest voice I can add is that of Pra Parinya, a Buddhist monk from Saraburi province in central Thailand. I wasn’t sure about the quality of the footage from our visit with him, but have put together another film clip that I feel very happy with.

A key message from a leading climate scientist, reinforced by the actions of a Buddhist monk over the last twenty years.

Third film clip uploaded

For the past month or so I’ve been absorbed in writing or contributing to various work proposals. Hopefully I will have some success with at least some of these. Meanwhile I have continued working on my film when time has allowed. Often I’ve had to put it aside completely. I have now managed to get another film clip completed. This one is mostly focused in the vicinity of the Mekong river in northern Thailand.

The more I work on this film the more I understand why I struggled for so long to get a story together. In at least two of the clips I’ve done so far I’ve learnt that there was more in my footage than I realised. It’s only by working on the film that a clearer sense of what is there has emerged for me. This more hands on approach to allowing the story to emerge as I go suits me very well.

Second film clip uploaded

I received some very supportive comments and positive feedback on my first clip, uploaded three weeks ago. I subsequently decided to work sequentially through my footage. This posed an immediate challenge as the next batch of film required me to think a lot more about a storyline for the clip. As a result I incorporated some narration from myself. This, along with sub-titles and a few other editing refinements, has led to a better clip than the first one.

I’m going to keep moving with this as much as time allows.  This material is as relevant as it was four years ago when it was filmed. Most importantly it needs and deserves an audience.

Film project update

Four years ago I began a film project to document grassroots perspectives on climate change. The journey that unfolded is documented on the Journal page of this website.

Some sporadic work has been done towards developing the documentary film that I original set out to do. It’s taken me a while but I’ve now got to a point where I am teaching myself to use Avid and am starting to create a series of clips to load onto my YouTube channel.

I’ll be posting links to the clips on my film project page as they are developed and uploaded.

Watch this space for updates. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel and you’ll receive a message with every new film clip that I upload.

Film project

A short clip from the villages of Chame and Manang in the Annapurna region of Nepal. Included is a brief interview with a local conservation officer.

This clip is a sample from the 34+ hours of film that I recorded in 2007 as part of an on-going film project. I’ve presently got a rough edited 25 minute segment of film but progress has been slow. Lack of funding has been the main impediment to completing this, so if you can help me in any way please let me know.

A letter of thanks

Dear Everyone!!

Late last year my family and I made a decision … my older sister and I had sold our Mum’s small house in New Zealand. We had a choice, either pay off the mortgage on our own home or travel and document grassroots perspectives on climate change. Of course you all know what we chose to do.

It took a huge effort to organise our journey, but we could never have done it without all of you. In various ways you all helped us along the way. I want to especially mention Khun Tuenjai and her amazing network of people in Thailand. You organised such a busy itinerary for us to start our journey, but it was such a rich experience and we met so many warm, generous people in your country… too many to name here. After Thailand we were on our own a lot more and it was very hard work at times to meet and film people and places. But we managed. Viet Nam was hard, but we have some very good friends there who did their very best to help us. Our brief stay in India was greatly helped by Andy in New Delhi.

Nepal was both challenging and inspiring … for Lena, Ali and I it was truly a highlight of the journey to walk together for 19 days and to cross Thorong La Pass (5400 metres). Amidst illness and long days walking we managed to capture a few gems on film. I greatly enjoyed meeting Ngamindra and his colleagues in Kathmandu and I sincerely hope we can find a way to work with and support you. Everything in Egypt came together at the last minute, but again we met such warm, hospitable people who did their best to help us. Thankyou to Angela and Selim, and to Prof Zakharia for compelling me to go out to the Western Desert where we again met some wonderful people at Bahariya Oasis … thankyou Ahmed and Corien.

In Italy I have to thank Marco and his small team and I sincerely hope we can keep working together and find ways to work with all of these other wonderful people we have met. And who would have imagined the connection with Katharina and Alfredo in a beautiful valley in Umbria … a place we went to because the accommodation was a good deal and it looked nice! In Milan, thankyou to Iva and Paolo for having us in your home. We experienced the same warmth again with the Galli family in Lugano. Our time in France was too short, but thanks to Remy for having a bit of time to meet and talk… and to Jean-Pierre and Claire in the south of France for your wonderful work. Unfortunately I’m not able to communicate to many of the real grassroots people we met … farmers, village leaders and others … Thankyou to those of you who helped me meet all of these people.

A special mention goes to my cousin, Michael, who has done such a wonderful job with the blog page. And to my big sister Jill for buying me such a great hat!…. and to everyone else who I haven’t mentioned by name!!

We’ve come to the end of our journey now. On Saturday, 7 July we leave London for New Zealand. Lena is staying on here until late October and has already started a job here in London. For me the last week or so has been a time to rest and reflect. I have a lot to do when I get home, not least of which is to start earning some money again!! I still don’t know yet how I’m going to produce a documentary out of all that we’ve done. But it will happen somehow.