A Q&A with eco media activist, Emily Hunter

Hunter takes after her dad, who is the subject of How To Change The World

What happens when a motley crew of Vancouver neighbours decide they want to do something to stop nuclear testing? They rent a boat, set out to sea and light a fuse in the greater consciousness that just happens to spark the modern environmental movement. How To Change The World, screening April 26 and 27 at Hot Docs (see review), relives the early days of Greenpeace and its reluctant leader, the late eco-warrior/journalist Bob Hunter. NOW chats with his daughter, Emily Hunter, about the documentary that crystallizes her dad’s legacy.

How To Change The World is all about your dad’s story. What did you think of the film?

This film is a dream come true for my family and for my father. He had wanted to tell the story of the origins of Greenpeace, of how ordinary people were doing extraordinary things to change our world for the better, for more than 35 years. He wrote manuscripts for numerous Hollywood films, worked with numerous producers, but it kept flopping. We always thought the project was cursed. And now, on the 10th anniversary of his passing, I feel like his legacy is being honoured in the most incredible way.

So how does a person change the world?

At the core, it’s always about people acting courageously. Whatever your comfort zone is, it’s not necessarily about being a hero – it’s about making courageous acts. The crisis we’re facing with climate change and a host of other environmental issues requires participation at a much higher level. We can’t just write letters to our MP or sign petitions. While those are important, we really need to elevate our level of participation if we want to transform this world. There are so many more ways, so many campaigns, tools and ways to get connected. For instance, 350.org is launching a big campaign in July for three days of action. It’s never been easier than now, so there really aren’t any more excuses.

Your dad talked about planting “mind bombs” for raising consciousness around nukes and whales. What kind of mind bomb does the world need today?

The possibility that we can still change the world – as cheesy as that might sound. It’s become so normalized, the impending climate catastrophe, losing the fabric of our democracy and having corporations rule over us. We think we’re completely powerless we’ve bought into that story. We can take the story back. We can change our world. We can be ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We have the potential in ourselves to change the world.

Your dad struggled with being a journalist and activist. Do you ever struggle with that, or did you heal the split by becoming an “environmental media activist”?

I definitely struggle with that. I’m kind of in two worlds at the same time. One person is trying to speak to the masses, and the other is this entrenched activist who would love to just get out there on the front lines and join Sea Shepherd again and ram the boat to put a stop to overfishing, or tie herself to an oil rig in the Arctic. At the same time, you want to be able to report the story to a larger audience that’s not being informed. Finding a balance is not easy. Certainly there’s a bias there, but I’m truthful about my bias: I care about the world, that’s my bias.

Is that such a terrible thing in journalism today, to show the world that we care?

To actually care, to want justice and inform people about these stories that are being so silenced today, to me that’s much more balanced and fair journalism than we’re getting in a lot of mainstream media.

What do you hope the film achieves?

[Delivering the message] that change is possible. Even flawed human beings can create ripple effects that are felt around the world. I hope young people feel that story of possibility and potential and can see it in themselves. 

adriav@nowtoronto.com | @ecoholicnation

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