'The Gates' Star Rhona Mitra Rails Against BP
By Nicki Gostin Posted Jul 22nd 2010 05:28PM
How did you become involved with cleanup efforts?
I've been working in Louisiana since March of this year and obviously the spill happened and I as the rest of the world watched it all unfold. I think I wasn't as aware probably because of my youth of previous oil spills that took place like Exxon Valdez and I think as a result of being a more conscientious human being, it really sunk in what this meant globally, not just, oh this is happening in the gulf. So I signed up to volunteer on six different sites and help clean up with wildlife.
As the days passed and the weeks passed I think everyone realized that we were heading into that ambiguous territory of, how many months are we going to be dealing with this now? It just so happened that a friend of mine is a very staunch environmentalist reminded me about Matt Petersen and his group Global Green who have been and are still making great headway. Since Katrina they've been one of the only organizations to stay down there. I got in touch with them and they've had a great influence down there. I got in touch with them, heard what they were doing and went down there and talked with Billy Nungesser (President of Plaquemines Parish).
So what volunteer work do you do?
I work with Global Green. You can't volunteer that's the whole point. The corporate sheriffing that's taken place as a result of BP being put in charge of the cleanup. You can't get within I believe 65 feet of any of the cleanup there. It's totally been taken care of by BP which is something that I think generally everyone is trying to lift so organizations and the government can get a hand in there and see exactly what they are or aren't doing. The approach that we're taking and I'm now getting involved in is to talk with the communities who are I suppose, looking to alternative ways of living which involve clean energy and sustainable living, solar power and wind turbines to relieve them and ourselves of this addiction and co-dependent relationship we have with oil companies and governments. It involves self empowerment. It involves talking to the likes of Nungesser who has shown great interest and great initiative in implementing the hypothetically right now, mindset of a cleaner oil free future for his parish.
A lot of people criticize Hollywood stars for appearing hypocritical about green issues. If you got offered the lead in a Tom Cruise movie and they offer to fly you around in a private jet, what would you do?
I've been offered private jets throughout my whole career. I've never taken one. I pride myself on riding a bicycle around as many places as I can. Listen first of all I'm not a celebrity at all. I'm a working actress that some people recognize. I wouldn't dream to put myself in Tom Cruise's realm.
It's a compelling hypothetical situation ...
I know, but I'm very aware of people who want to be seen doing the right thing on the exterior so they can make themselves feel better. I have implemented things in my life that I do behind closed doors that on the outside don't look like anything. For example I'm a vegan, which is a very touchy area because when people hear you're vegan they're like, 'That's so righteous.'
At the moment I'm converting an old car into bio diesel which is much like rescuing a shelter dog so if I want to drive I can boil up a vat of vegetable oil and I don't need to go to a gas station. That relieves me of the anxiety of having to depend on the government or oil companies to supposedly do the right thing. I just want to be somebody who is taking part in not contributing to any more destruction of the planet.
What would you say the average person can do to be greener?
I think being what is dubbed a "locarian" [someone who eats only locally produced food] has such a great impact. I don't think people quite grasp how big that is. We've just become very spoilt, myself included. It's taken me a gradual few years of just being really conscientious and figuring out what makes me happy, what do I need to live not what I want and that's a value shift.
Living with the soil and giving back to the planet, this is where people go ugh but fundamentally we've lost our relationship with the soil and that's our life source. We have to look at being self sufficient and cutting an umbilical cord so to speak to these big mega corporations and governments who are tied in. You get into dangerous territory talking about whose in bed with whom but it is what it is and it's been going on for decades.
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