Friday, September 26, 2014

Oregon's Whale Wars Veteran

I am a big fan of the Sea Shepard Society, a group of volunteers, who ply the world's oceans battling  Japanese industrial whalers, the people who club harp seal pups in the Canadian Arctic, illegal tuna fishing, etc., etc.  

You have to admire people who are willing put their lives at risk to get between whales and the humans that want to kill them.  The Animal Planet TV show, Whale Wars, is about the Sea Shepard crews operating their own vessels, going to the very treacherous Southern Pacific ocean to confront Japanese whalers.   It makes for great TV.   I find it very satisfying to watch the Sea Shepard crews protecting whales from the exploding harpoons the Japanese use to kill them.

I work with a lot of good people these days on videos designed to reach the public with Move to Amend's  very ambitious and very much needed Constitutional agenda.

One of the Move to Amend supporters  I've gotten to know these past few months is a young man named Ryan Rittenhouse.  Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Ryan's background is in theater and video production. He's now working as an organizer for a non-profit called, Friends of the Columbia Gorge [FOCG].  Ryan is heavily engaged in the current fight to restrict hazardous, oil train traffic through the gorge.

Ryan in the Galapagos Islands

I asked Ryan to work with me on a video that would tie the oil train controversy to the larger Constitutional agenda championed by Move to Amend. Ryan recruited his boss Kevin Gorman, Executive Director of FOCG, to do that outreach video for Move to Amend. Ryan is co-producing that video with me. It was shot this past week and is currently being edited. I will be posting a blog entry about it as soon as it's finished.

I was having lunch with Ryan after we shot the video, when he told me that he had been a Sea Shepard crew member aboard the Farley Mowat, an old ship named after a well-known Canadian naturalist. Of all of the things I have learned about Ryan, that is the most impressive.

Ryan was quartermaster, and ship's videographer for two seasons in the Southern Pacific Ocean aboard the Farley Mowat.  He also was a Sea Shepard zodiac driver,  often putting himself and his crewmates between defenseless whales and the harpoons of the Japanese whalers. 

When it comes to life, so many people take the path of least resistance, avoiding controversy or anything that even implies some sort of personal risk. That's a big part of why it is so hard to affect positive change on a cultural scale.  Way too many people are self-absorbed and are unwilling to ' stand up'  for anything that involves any kind of assertiveness and substantive commitment.

That's not the way of Sea Shepard, whose crew members volunteer to work without pay. They are people of great courage, conviction, and commitment to Earth stewardship. They travel to the far reaches of the world's ocean's to confront the worst kind of human hubris.

Ryan Rittenhouse put his ass on the line many times over as a Sea Shepard provocateur. He is a person of character and substance. These days, he sports a bushy red beard. He likes the distinct look it gives him.   It's his style, and he has earned the right to express it, unlike so many people who are all about style, with little or no substance behind it.

Here is a link to the Sea Shepard Society...

Here is a link to Ryan's current employer, the Friends of the Columbia Gorge...

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