How “work from home” has changed office real estate
An environmental documentary filmmaker about how he completely changed his life and became part of the global environmental movement
Director Mark Dixon came to Moscow for the premiere of his film. The film “Your great ecological journey” will open the IV international festival of ecological films “EcoCup” on March 1.
Mark traveled through 50 American states in 52 weeks in search of the most interesting, new, unexpected solutions to environmental problems. The film has received a number of awards at festivals around the world, and “Travel” or “YERT” (Your Environmental Road Trip) has become a real symbol of optimistic attitude and active action..
Mark arrived in Russia for the first time, and after Moscow immediately flies to Krasnoyarsk, where his film will also be shown at the regional festival “EcoCup”. A correspondent for the Voice of America Russian Service met Mark on his first day in Moscow and asked him about how his “ecological journey” began..
Anastasia Laukkanen: All your biographies say that at first you were an office worker in Silicon Valley, and then suddenly dropped everything and went on an ecological journey, realizing the scale of the ecological disaster. What actually happened between the first and the second? What pushed you?
Mark Dixon: I took a few steps towards this. Now I will try to quickly remember everything. The first happened to her in 1998. My brother is two years younger than me, when he was still in college. He took part in one international program. Within one year, they traveled around the world studying sustainable development. He left as my brother, and returned as a completely different person! We met during his trip, it so happened that in Mexico. I was on my way to a friend’s wedding. We met, he sat me down on the sofa and said: “Mark, everything you know is a mistake!” When someone says that to you, it’s usually shocking. I didn’t know what to think about it, but I trusted my brother, I knew that for sure.
A.L.: And he said what exactly was a mistake from what you knew?
M.D.: All! My whole view of the world. But we talked especially a lot about multinational companies, for example, and their impact on the lives of people around the world. We talked about things that I’ve never seen on the news. And he saw it all and met people who are struggling with it..
It was at that moment that not much changed for me. We agreed to disagree. We also decided, so to speak, to look after each other. He continued on his way in this ecological “alternative world”, and I stayed to work in Silicon Valley.
A.L.: This was the first step?
M.D.: Yes. I haven’t changed. But for me, it was as if some doors had opened. A crack appeared in the world that I knew.
The second step I took was when I moved to Los Angeles for a couple of years. My mom once talked me into going to church, All Saints Pasadena. I really love to sing, and this church has an amazing choir. But the church itself was very active and progressive, so to speak. They said that you, you alone, have the power to create the most powerful changes in this world. And it was impossible to remain indifferent to this. Everyone around you has already done something! I sat there and felt that I was lagging behind, that I was being late. Pastor Ed Bacon was also an inspiring example. Two years in this church was my second step.
The third step was acquaintance with one magazine – “Yes!”. It was a free magazine, it came out every couple of months, and the first time I picked it up completely by accident. Then he had the slogan “Journal of Positive Future”, something like that. These were studies about positive ways to deal with the mass ills of the present. They talked about the problems of peace, ecology, social justice, economics … So much energy! This magazine, like my brother, showed me that the structure of the world, as I envisioned it in school and in college, was very different. But the magazine said: there are many more global problems in this world than you think. And there are so many solutions in it! Great solutions! Here they are.
Fourth step … Don’t worry, there isn’t much left. I saw Al Gore with his presentation of An Inconvenient Truth. What later became his famous film. It was at the school of journalism in San Francisco. Seeing him live on stage was amazing. I was shocked by the quality of the information. At this presentation, he asked: “What would you say to your grandchildren about what you did if you knew how a person affects the planet?”.
I sat there and thought: “Well, of course, I can tell them something, now I will remember …”. I thought and thought and thought. But by the end of the presentation, I could find absolutely nothing, zero, nothing to say to my children. And I decided that I must find an answer, at least a little better than “nothing”.
A.L.: And now you have an answer?
M.D.: Yes! So many answers! And my film is also the answer. I completely changed my life, invested everything I had to create a film that can change the consciousness and understanding of an entire country or even the world, open people and make them believe that change is possible.
I was still working for a typical technical project commissioning company. But the last step was the eco-festival. Huge presentation about everything “eco”. Approximately 15-20 thousand participants in San Francisco. And about a thousand tables and stands, where people were sitting, and everyone said: “Look, I’m doing this! Here is my project, here is my book, ”stuff like that. I was shocked by what different people are in this “green” movement. There were so many people like me there. They had a technical background, but now they did the same thing, but with an eco-oriented bias. And I thought, “There is a place for me in this movement too.”.
I decided to quit my job. They tried to stop me, but then I said: “You can pay me more, but I want to do something completely different.”.
A.L.: You just took and turned your whole life in a completely different direction?
M.D.: Yes! I had some kind of savings: for school and home. And I put all that money into this movie project. Although at first I did not know what exactly it would be. After I quit my job, my brother told me, “Don’t make any big plans until you meditate well.” And I took a ten-day meditation course. On the 4th or 5th day, the idea of traveling by car across the country just came to my mind..
A.L.: Why did you choose this format? Why cinema?
M.D.: There are many different reasons. For example, Ben and I (Ben Evans – co-director of the film) wondered how we can best help the project? We both feel very at ease in front of the camera and in front of the audience. Since my last job, I also knew how to create and “curate” videos – take a video from a producer, select the one you want, reformat it and upload it to the Internet with all the necessary documents. I love talking to people and listening to them. I love being an organizer …
In addition, I was aware of the full power with which a video can influence, including me. Some of the movies or short videos are so powerful. Now we are not influenced that much by books, although I would like them to influence more. But, at least in America, people sit at home in front of the TV for hours! And I thought: maybe in this endless stream of television we can insert inspirational videos about positive decisions..
And I really wanted to know more about this global environmental movement, which I just discovered for myself. I wanted to talk to these people. I wanted to understand what I can do myself. I decided to look for such people and talk to them, but not only me, me and the camera, that is, everyone who wants to know something, but cannot go on a trip himself.
A.L.: What did you encounter after your trip, now that a couple of years have passed?
M.D.: Actually, for me now it is one of the biggest challenges … I will not speak for Ben, we did not discuss it like that. But for one of the biggest challenges is how to stay positive. With all that we have seen, we know and understand. With all the news that we receive every day. How to continue to carry this optimistic message that is almost the brand of the film. It becomes real work, it gets harder. At the very beginning of our journey, it was so easy! But you know what: people have always said that something needs to be done. And do it quickly. But before, no one knew exactly what to do. Or they thought that someone was up there or just someone else would come up with something. This has now changed. People are looking for solutions.
A.L.: You follow the fate of people and projects you meet while traveling?
M.D.: Oh yeah. With many we became friends. We are watching some projects with particular interest. So, for example, with solar panels, it is actively developing. We visit them every few months and shoot a lot of them. Maybe this will be the basis for our next film, but we are not sure which one..
A.L.: You are going on a round-the-world ecological trip?
M.D.: From the very beginning, we thought about “Journey 2”, international, of course! But we spent so much of our own money on the first film that now we absolutely cannot pull such a global project. But even if we had money … We would need to think over the trip so that there would be as little pollution as possible …. In addition, it will probably be a little difficult to afford for a year in a row. As you know from the movie, Ben now has a child. And now I am married. But with a family, everything is completely different..
But maybe we can send someone else on this journey? A team with similar positive energy and ideas? Maybe they can make a real sequel to our movie!
Moreover, we know for sure that the most amazing solutions and inventions do not come from America. Now all views are directed not only to Europe, but to China, India and Africa..