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How comics can save the world

My guest today on Inside Ideas is the Emmy-nominated and award-winning writer, producer, entrepreneur and environmentalist, Paul Goodenough.

Working across broadcast, comics, digital, games and publishing, Goodenough is the designer and founding member of BAFTA ALBERT, the calculator and sustainability accreditation you see appear on productions by media giants including Netflix, NBC Universal, Warner Bros, BBC, IMG,and Sky.

What comics do is you can go anywhere, any point in time and if you can draw the thing, and imagine the thing, it can be true.

On the show he talks about Rewriting Extinction, which he is the founder of. A global storytelling project, it brings together hundreds of activists, celebrities, scientists, comedians and others across the planet to create stories that raise money and awareness towards saving multiple species from extinction. The project includes notable co-creators like Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Cara Delevingne, and Jane Goodall. So far the project has produced over 180 comics.

Talking about the reasons comics are so powerful as communication tools, Goodenough told me: “I often use the story of Star Trek. Basically Star Trek has helped all of us desire a future that didn’t exist at the time. So, whether you’re talking about the diversity and inclusivity of what they achieved on the ship, or the technology and the touch screen stuff that they were using, what Start Trek did really well was that it presented a future that people wanted, and that people could then visualise.”

He added: “One of the problems I have found a lot is that the average person can’t imagine what a good, green future looks like, they don’t understand, they cant visualise what rewilding looks like at scale, they can’t visualise what it might be like to go on a safari in a traditionally quite nature-depleted country. So what comics do is you can go anywhere, any point in time and if you can draw the thing, and imagine the thing, it can be true. You can make it in a comic. That’s why I chose comics.”

The best-selling author of comics including The Most Important Comic Book on Earth, Sherlock Holmes, and How to Train Your Dragon, Goodenough said Rewriting Extinction is able to help multiple charities through the collaborative works it produces.

“We have seven beneficiary charities, which are Greenpeace, The World Land Trust, Born Free, Rewild, The Wildlife Trust in the UK, Reserva and Rewilding Europe,” he said. “And the reason those seven charities were chosen was specifically as each of them has their own speciality, their own thing they work in, that links up to a plan that actually restores not just the ecosystems and the biodiversity, but also helps with climate change too.”

He continued: “What we’ve done is that with those charities we’ve found that the places on the earth that are like fire breaks – they’re the ones that are keeping the biodiversity crisis from getting worse and stopping climate change getting worse. Generally those places have been lived on for generation after generation of indigenous peoples who call it their home and have had incredible stewardship over it but they’re under threat by illegal mining, and by their land being sold.”

Through its relationship with the World Land Trust and Reserva, Goodenough says Rewriting Extinction is able to work with indigenous people to ‘buy their land for them so they own their land’ to give them legal power to ‘resist where people would otherwise take their land’.

“So that’s one part – the protection,” he said. “The second part is systemic change which is where we’re working with Greenpeace changing the harmful laws and business practices that specifically are driving creatures and species to extinction. And the third part is restoration, which is with Rewilding Europe, Rewild, the Wildlife Trusts, Reserva and Born Free, and what those are doing is looking at individual species and collections of species in Africa, South America, South East Asia, Australia, Europe and by the reintroduction of the species you rebuild the entire ecosystem that they go within.”

Stories that inspire people change the world, and the comics and narratives created by Rewriting Extinction are inspiring the change we all want to see. So I am delighted to welcome Paul onto the show to learn more about the amazing ways comics and creatives are helping to save the world.

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Written By

Marc is Editor-at-Large for Innovators Magazine and host of INSIDE IDEAS, his OnePoint5Media video podcast show. Marc is a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, Resilient Futurist, and award-winning Global Food Reformist.


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