An interview with Global Chorus Editor Todd MacLean
By Jason Robinson
OCTOBER 30, 2014
Today marks the launch date of the much anticipated Global Chorus Anthology. A mere idea some four plus years ago, today it's a reality. Jason Robinson (a contributor to the book) interviews Todd MacLean, Global Chorus Editor-in-Chief about his inspiration to create the book and the process that has led to the Global Chorus documentary by Sustainability Television.
Jason: Todd, thank you for taking the time to connect today. This book is quite an accomplishment. I have to say I am quite impressed by both the scale of the book, and that you have managed to pull together such a broad-spectrum group of people. For the benefit of our viewers, let me read a few names of some of the contributors...
Jane Goodall the world's leading expert on chimpanzees, social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, Canadian astronaut Mark Garneau, former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, singer and social activist Bruce Cockburn, Karl-Henrik Robèrt a Swedish cancer scientist and founder of the Natural Step framework, former director of UNEP Svein Tveitdal, Ashish Ramgobin the great grandaughter of Mahatma Ghandi, Van Jones, Alexandra Cousteau, David Suzuki, Maya Angelou, Keibo Oiwa, Ian Wright, Wen Bo, Craig Kielburger, Mikhail Gorbachev, I can go on-and-on...
Jason: Tell me Todd, what was your purpose/ reason for putting this book together?
Todd: I was feeling alone and bogged down in my anxiety about the ways in which humanity is living upon Earth, and I wanted to connect and talk with people about it. I knew that others have similar deep concerns about the direction we are headed as a species, and I yearned to read a global roundtable collection of concerns, ideas, insight, guidance, wisdom and hope for where we are headed in the future as humanity on Earth. I wanted to help unite, inspire and guide people toward the kind of sustainable and harmonious world that is ours to shape. So, I set out to bring together a wide variety of thinkers from all over the world, to unite their thoughts within a 365-person daily reader, and called it Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet.
But I must say, I had no idea that a mammoth anthology such as this could ever succeed in coming together. When I first thought of the idea, I estimated it would be a perfect project for a publishing house to do, or perhaps an individual with an incredible amount of environmental/political/celebrity connections...not a guy living on PEI with very few connections and virtually no experience in the literary world. But everyone whom I talked to about the idea (especially my wife) just kept nudging me along saying, "Well, why don't you just see if you can try doing it on your own?" And so, I did. And miraculously, to my astonishment and continuous excitement, the pieces kept falling into place. Every single move was a leap of faith - not knowing what the outcome could really be. And even right up until that last 365th submission was collected, I was not sure that this would succeed. But there was a sense of belief there, and I suppose that's what drove it, and what's still driving it – a strong belief that the time is right for a book like this, and a strong belief that we could all make it happen together.
As soon as I thought of the idea, though, it became very much not my own. I passed it to the hands of others right away, to let them shape it, and bring it to fruition as they saw fit. I came up with the concept, yes, and I’ve been working incredibly hard over these years to invite, recruit, compile, and edit – but mainly, it has been created with care by several hundred of the world’s most passionate and forward-thinking individuals: And what an amazing miracle it has been to watch it unfold and grow into what it now is.
The collection of pieces is truly is a treasure trove of passion, insight, wisdom and guidance that has poured in from all over the Earth. It is a definitive global roundtable for our times. Enormously inspiring. Ominous in its warnings. And yet, united in a thread of hope that could help even the most faithless global citizen to believe that we have the capacity to bring about lasting positive change in our world.
Jason: What were your inspirations, your challenges, your hopes and dreams with this book?
Todd: I know I don’t have to be a fact machine here, but we’ve all heard stats like:
1) Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4°F (0.8°C) over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2°F (1.1°C) to 11.5°F (6.4°C) over the next hundred years.
2) The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
3) At least 10,000 species go extinct every year globally, which is at least 1000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
4) 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the ocean every year. Most of it is plastic.
5) Over 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. 5,000 people die each day due to dirty drinking water.
And so when you hear all of these jarring statistics, what can you do? You can either bury your head in the sand or deny that it’s happening and go on with your life, go into a state of paralysis and fear, or you can actually try to do something about it. Even before you do something about it, what is hugely important is at least talking about it. This is something that we are entirely not doing enough of as a country, and as a planet in 2014. We need to talk about the ways in which we are living, what kind of impact we’re having on our surroundings, how we can live more sustainably, and how we can create a better future for our children and countless generations to come – human and non-human alike. All of us need to talk about it. REGULARLY. ~ Through the conversation comes the alteration.
Global Chorus has really been done in response to what I see around me as being the 3 d’s – doubt, despair, and distraction: We doubt that humanity will be able to get through the environmental and social crises of our time; we despair that we’ll eventually fall into ruin and chaos because of it; and we distract ourselves, with entertainment, tech gadgets, material possessions, etc. so that it’s easier to not think about the big questions. But if we take a step back to look at the big picture together, even just for a moment, we can bring about what I label as the 3 c’s: conversation, communication and collaboration: Conversation about the big questions and where we’re headed as a human species, leads to communication about the real issues at the heart of the matters and real solutions that can be implemented, which leads to collaboration toward the better Earth that we know we can bring about. And it’s the 3 c’s that are brought about through Global Chorus - the global roundtable daily reader, brought to you by those around the world who do think about these big questions on a regular basis, and who have so much insight, wisdom and guidance to share on the subject – and this empowers you as the reader to let you know that a) You are not alone in your concern for the world; b) You can follow this guidance offered within to live your life more sustainably and in harmony with the Earth and those around you, and to help others to do the same; and c) There really is something you can do for humanity - you can join the Global Chorus - and keep this conversation going in your mind, and with those around you, on a daily basis. It's so important that I'll say it again: Through the conversation comes the alteration. And when it comes down to it, by reading this book, and sharing your own ideas in turn, you will be participating in a project and in a movement that truly does have the ability to positively alter the world, as we work toward being a more sustainable and harmonious planet together in the 21st century.
Global Chorus took what was previously a lone voice in my head, crying out in doubt and despair about where humanity is headed, and turned it into 365 voices from around the world, singing a powerful chorus of reassurance and hope for our future. That is the internal global chorus that can take place in all of us when we read the pages of the external Global Chorus. And it is a powerful transformation.
The book is indeed a resounding chorus of reassurance, of community, of collaboration, and hope. In making it, the first part of my dream has been fulfilled, in such a heart-soaring way. But the all-the-more-important second part of the dream is to ensure that the inspiration contained with the book's pages reaches as many around the globe as possible: For Global Chorus can not only change your Life for the better, but if enough people embrace its daily wisdom and guidance, it can profoundly help to change the world for the better.
Jason: Tell me about the "Hope is Real Bench" / What is it? / Where did you find it? / What does it mean to you? / What is the message for others?
Todd: The "Hope is Real Bench" was something that may have seemed unremarkable to some people passing by it in suburban Charlottetown, but struck me profoundly right away when I saw it. So much so that I literally cheered out loud enthusiastically when I first drove by that park and saw it. Who spray painted that phrase on a bench, and why did they do it? Those answers I will probably never know for sure – but like anyone who saw what that person created on the bench, I was able to form my own basis for bringing the meaning of that phrase into my own life, and my own dreams. The timing was unbelievable, as I saw that bench just right around the time when I received the first submissions for Global Chorus, in the spring of 2011. And within days after I spotted it, I had a photo shoot arranged, for what I knew would become the press shots for Global Chorus. Shortly after that photo shoot, the city unfortunately painted over the spray paint (care taking that city workers are instructed to do without exception – and so we can't blame them) – but I am so glad that we were able to catch it beforehand; because to me, these 3 words are what we all need to have as a mantra each day when we wake up and face a new day in this world in the 21st century. The stress and seeming chaos of modern life can easily make us forget that there is a realness in hope. It is here. It is there. It is everywhere. And if you feel it, and follow it, it is so strong that you can almost taste it. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing – and it can bring humanity to where we collectively want and need to go together – and ultimately, I admit that the realization of the truth of these 3 words...this is what I hope readers will obtain through the reading of Global Chorus.
Jason: How are you feeling today? (Launch day Oct. 30th)
I am feeling immensely exhilarated on this launch day for Global Chorus. It has been four and a half years now since I initially thought of the idea for this book, and to see it now, and to hold it in my hands, it is surreal beyond belief – but it is just sheer joy and excitement at the same time – and I feel as though I am holding something in my hands that really does have the potential to inspire, unite, and guide so many people in these troubled times on our planet. Global Chorus is alive!!
Jason: What are your thoughts on the doc you're doing with Sustainability TV?
Todd: I am hugely excited about doing this Global Chorus documentary with Sustainability Television. I always thought that the project could lend itself well to being captured and presented on film, and I am over-the-moon to see that this is coming to fruition for Global Chorus. I know that it will help bring many more to the guidance and inspiration that is contained in its pages, and I really can't wait to see how all of this will turn out... The journey begins anew today!
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If you're interested in getting your hands on a signed copy of the book and meeting the editor and contributors, there are numerous book signing tour dates scheduled all across North America. Check out the links below for daily updates on the tour, and for dates when Todd and the Global Chorus are visiting your community!
To order your copy of the book go to: http://bit.ly/1tKf5WE
Global Chorus book signing dates: http://globalchorus.ca/tour/
To find out more visit: www.globalchorus.ca
*proceeds from the sale of the book in support of the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the David Suzuki Foundation.
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Support the Global Chorus Documentary
Via Kickstarter: http://kck.st/1tnw3oK
BY MAIL (Cheque or Money Order):
Sustainability Television Inc.
3665 - 439 West Georgia St.
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B3X8
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