What do you value most in life? What motivates you?
Right now? Sleep! But generally, the natural world is what floats my boat, from the slugs in the garden to the rainforests of the Congo. I produce wildlife documentaries for a living so I’ve spent a lot of time in some of the most remote places in the world. Being immersed in the beauty, the brutality, the intensity of the natural world has given me a passion for our crazy planet. I love the fact that it’s the small things that run the world, the insects, the fungi, the bacteria. I’ll happily watch elephants for hours, but even happier digging through some soil, or a bucket of pond water – the sheer weirdness and brilliant creativity of evolution is mind-blowing. Much more of a challenge to film too!
I love the idea of sharing it, bringing it home and trying to explain how amazing our fragile planet is, but pretty much every beautiful place I’ve been is under severe threat from human activity. There are usually people trying to protect these places, from rescuing orphaned orangutans, to fighting off logging companies. These small charities and NGOs are fighting the destruction as best they can and they all have one thing in common, they’re all desperate for money and resources.
I’ve made several short campaign films for charities alongside the TV documentaries, but came to the conclusion that I needed to do this full time so I set up my own company, Five Films, with the aim of using high quality films to promote the work of people with a good message.
Who inspires you?
Wangari Maathi was a Kenyan environmental and political activist and an amazing woman. She was imprisoned, libelled, rejected by her family, and she still made a difference, she never lost her vision. She recognised many years ago, that her people were suffering because of the degradation of their local environment, and she was wise enough to realise that the only people who could repair that environment were those same people. So she set up an organisation that saw villagers reforesting thousands of hectares of degraded land, whilst campaigning at a political level against further human and environmental injustices.
I hope my little son can see some of the things I’ve seen, that they’re not just still there for him, but protected, growing and thriving, that there’s still some wilderness left in the world and that he can have his mind blown like I did.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt?
That you need to be inclusive to make a difference, even if that means working with people you don’t like. I wish our politicians could learn that!
How do you think finance can be a force for good in the future? What would you most like to change in the way you bank?
Finance runs the world, so a bit of morality in that department would make a huge difference. It needs to be really unacceptable to put profits before people and planet, at the moment it’s still normal and society tolerates it. On a personal level, people say the right things, but collectively we don’t really do anything about it. But consumer power can work! People need strong ethical choices for spending their money, then things might start to change.
When I started my business I was really glad Triodos was there for me to bank with, I trust them to use my money in a way I approve of. I’m self-employed and now I’m a mother, so I can’t afford to gamble with my income. Since 2014 I’ve actually been making films for Triodos Bank, so I’ve got to know them much better than one would expect to know one’s bank, and the more I work with them, the more respect I have, I can spot greenwash a mile off, Triodos puts their money where their mouth is!
What issue do you really care about?
Make your garden an insect haven, all the gardens in the UK are collectively bigger than the national parks, and a much richer and cleaner habitat than the majority of farmland. Put in bee hotels, plant wild flowers for pollinators, have a pile of dead wood, and try not to mow the lawn!
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