Ocean Pleasant: I’m really invested in getting youth involved in sort of trying to shift the planet. Could you give a little insight as to why youth should care about the legacy they leave behind, a word of wisdom for those who might not otherwise be listening?
Jamie Redford: I think having a connection to nature, it’s not—I don’t see it as a luxury. I see it as a necessity to really have a full life. If you don’t have some connection—and you don’t have to own a fancy ranch, you can be in New York City and go for a walk in Central Park—but I think reminding that we are all a part of the same ecosystem is really important. And it sounds really hippie-dippie, but I can tell you, the times that I don’t remind myself to spend time in nature in some way or another, I lose my perspective.
As it gets increasingly difficult to do that, I think kids should be reminded of, it’s not just a matter of doing the right thing. You can look at it selfishly. It will literally make you a happier person. Some people like walking in the river. Some people like walking in the desert. Some people like the forests. Some people like the shorelines. Find something to connect to. It’s important.
OP: The truth about our water resources—it’s scary. I’m homeschooled, so I don’t know as many people as a normal fifteen-year old girl would know, but most of the girls and kids I come across, they don’t understand in full perspective the danger that we’re in. If you could just maybe shine a little bit of light on that—because sometimes it takes big voices to really be like, “Hey, we have to get involved, we have to figure out how we can turn this around.”
JR: Let’s just use health for a second. Anybody’s who’s been sick knows that the worst part, oddly enough, is when you don’t know what’s going on. Right? Even if it’s a tough diagnosis, once you know what’s going on, then you can move into trying to do something about it, which is an eminently better place to be. So if you’re a young person and you have this sense that there’s a lot of terrible things going on out there, it’s better to sort of have a deeper understanding of that and then move on to, Well, then how am I going to be with that? What am I going to do about it? How can I deal with this in a way that allows me to move ahead more positively?
Most of the things that are troubling are things that we can do something about. Regardless of the threats of climate change, and all the things there— just to what degree it affects us, and the depth of the challenge, largely depends on what we do now. The tendency is to think that it’s too late. It’s just not. It’s never going to be too late. It’s always going to be better to have a positive impact on the environment. And I think you’re better off knowing and engaging—you’ll be a happier person—than having a vague sense that something’s wrong out there.
OP: You’ve kind of already answered this, but do you have any advice or tools to recommend for youth who want to get involved?
JR: As I said before, I actually advise any young person to be selfish about it. Figure out what particularly resonates with you and follow that. Some people, issues around air quality is what drives them. Other people, it’s organics, it’s pesticides, it’s herbicides. Other people, it’s fossil fuels. Other people, it’s alternative energy, or land conservation, or land restoration.
There are so many different ways, and most people can find something. In my case, the majority of what I do is using the craft of filmmaking to decipher complex stories for the public. That’s just my way of connecting, as someone who’s staying connected to nature.
I would also say that even small things—think about the water, just being aware that every time you turn on that faucet, there’s somebody that could really be drinking that water somewhere. Just be mindful of that.
If everybody just did a little bit, huge progress would be made. Don’t feel like you have to do any one particular thing. Spend some time finding out what is most enjoyable.
OP: Mindfulness definitely plays a big role. Thank you so much.
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