Photo: Yann Jacobsen
The following four projects have been approved for Founder Producers.
ChangeMaker - Ken Balcomb
Ken Balcomb devoted his life to surveying a family of urban orcas who frequent the waters between Seattle and Canada, following their favorite prey: Chinook salmon. When Ken and his peers began to count orcas, in the 1970s, few believed that whales could be known individually, much less mapped into matrilineal families. His initial survey helped to end the era of orca capture in Puget Sound, by revealing that the population of whales was much smaller than previously understood. Ken helped to shift public opinion to understand that the fate of resident orcas and Chinook salmon, both endangered species, are entwined, just as our fate is entwined with the natural world. The legacy of Ken’s work as a ChangeMaker is not just what he revealed through a lifetime of patient observation, but the shift in perception he fostered. Human residents of the Pacific Northwest now care, passionately, about the dwindling orcas off their shores. Many marine conservation careers have been launched by the Center for Whale Research. Ken's lifelong quest ran out of time in December 2022. The question posed by the passing of this ChangeMaker: will his beloved orcas run out of time as well? This short documentary is about forging constructive change through passion and persistence, as a top ocean predator struggles to exist in waters dominated by a burgeoning human population. What needs to change for both to thrive?
Produced and directed by Jessica Plumb, Plumb Productions, Port Townsend WA.
ChangeMaker - Meg Lowman
The protection of global forests is a critical component to arresting the environmental devastation predicted with climate change. Tribal peoples who occupy the forests are raised on values of sustainability and dependent on forest biodiversity yet they have little education and market influence to impact important ecological debates in their countries. Changemaker Meg Lowman, a tropical biologist, believes she can build canopy walkways in five global forests and train local women and girls to operate canopy concessions, demonstrating what goes on in the high canopy and teaching others about the ecosystem services and biodiverse communities that live there. Her initiative will sustain local cultures while educating corporates, politicians, the media, and millions of future tourists about the economic and social values of saving tropical forests. She will demonstrate this from the canopy walkway she built in a state forest near her home in Sarasota, Florida.
ChangeMaker - Dan Rubenstein
Small-farm agriculture and ecological imperatives are being studied at Princeton University. Since the introduction of chemical and industrial farm practices in the 1940s, most American farms have been driven by their markets to produce the highest yields per acre at the lowest costs on each parcel of farm land. Today’s ecological paradigm calls for regenerative agricultural practices that restore and preserve the biological integrity of land for the long-term health of crops, animals, farm families, and their communities. Can scientific experiments on small farms (drip irrigation, chemical-free fertilization, cropping schemes, etc.) move family lands from industrial standards to regenerative standards in a generation? Will urban markets support the transition? Can supply chains be made resilient? Our Principal Investigator Dan Rubenstein, with his team of NJ farmers and graduate students, offer an Original Pursuit with broad environmental, social, and community benefits.
ChangeMaker - Stephen Leatherman
People love their beaches. Sixty percent of world populations live within 60 miles of a beach. Commercial and residential investment in beachfronts exceed many trillions, over two trillion alone in Miami where seasonal tides have begun to invade city streets. Stephen Leatherman, a Fellow of Original Pursuit, has spent 40 years studying the geomorphology and integrity of US beaches and offshore islands, many of which will be lost to rising seas, storm tides, and beach erosion caused, in part, by deadly rip currents. We plan to spend a few days on Florida beaches with Dr. Leatherman to assess the fragile state of America’s wasting natural resource and explore potential research initiatives that might mitigate harm to local populations.