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AnimalsEndangered Species

Greenpeace and the True Story Behind the Film Big Miracle

Alaskan Whale Sunset

“A truly joint effort”

Campbell Plowden describes “one of the craziest weeks in his 14 years with Greenpeace” in The Story Behind the Big Miracle: Operation Breakthrough. He shares with us his work contributing to the meeting of synchronized forces as they merge in a pragmatic action successfully. “In the end, the rescue was truly a joint effort between the Eskimos, the U.S. and Soviet governments, with Greenpeace and the media greasing the wheels.” Stories such as this are what keep us idealists high in hope.

Broader Message, Deeper Wave of Work and Consciousness

There is a broader message here, a deeper wave. Plowden was pulled into the rescue due to his position at Greenpeace, but he was in the midst of an large, ongoing worldwide crisis.

“We were waging an all-out battle to stop the whaling industry in three countries, with our attention focused on Iceland, which was killing endangered fin whales as part of its so-called ‘research’ whaling program.”

In his article, even as he appreciates the help of the Soviet Government, he informs us, “It seemed too cruel an irony to contemplate that while two Soviet ships had played a critical role in freeing Siku and Putu, another Soviet ship could easily harpoon them like any other grey in the Beaufort Sea for mink food the following year.”

Sane Policies, Human Policies—This is What Greenpeace Works For

Campbell Plowden, former Whale Campaign Coordinator for Greenpeace USA, tells us his story, the story of his week during the week  starting October 14, 1988, when grey whales were spotted in some rapidly closing holes in the sea ice off of Barrow, Alaska.

Fascinating details of his life as a high-profile activist handling the drama behind the scenes become vivid. Connections within Greenpeace blend as he leads us through this experience, this work which took over his life day into night. His pursuit of ice-breaking help became never-ending until the whales were freed. Finding the people who were willing and able to cut the ice, do the job, or get the message out quickly to another who could, was all there was for the week. Finding help became the whole of the day, every day.

Informing the media, going on TV to share what was going on with the whales was incorporated into this day. Greenpeace did have such connections, luckily. Interesting points in his story highlight Greenpeace’s webs of connections. “Greenpeace, however, had its own channel into the Evil Empire. Former Greenpeace International Chairman David McTaggart had been cultivating a number of relationships with officials in the U.S.S.R. to pave the way for eventually opening an office there.” Plowden’s story is compelling and he offers his most educated conclusion, that “Greenpeace and the media were greasing the wheels” for all the others—it’s part of what they are always doing.

Plowden wishes: “I hope that Big Miracle can inspire the current generation to overcome their differences and keep working for a last peace for the whales and sane policies to protect the oceans and Earth’s entire precious environment.”

“You guys have got spine.” ~Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore identifies the character of the people who make up Greenpeace and, thus, the organization itself with this simple but loaded statement: “You guys have got spine.”

My impression is that this “spine” describes a way of moving in tune with nature. There is also a sense that the Greenpeace folks have ‘no fear’. It is their way of moving about the world: trusting and working with natural rhythms. Greenpeace combines this trust and the honor of doing what’s right in order to protect nature within a context of intelligence. It is this sensitive intelligence at the root of Greenpeace. They were well orchestrated and considerate as they greased the wheels that got the message rolling. It is wonderful that this film is emerging as another message about the natural world available to us all—pay attention, consider, become one of the quiet heroes of the day.

The film is timely as it exposes Greenpeace as the positive force that it is and will always be. It is a wonderful and constant support which is fearless in regards to the underbelly of corporate worlds. As Drew says, it has spine.

We need to focus on environment. We need to culture our children with reverence and allow them to explore the joys of nature and the support of nature. The film focuses on the locals, the Alaskan Inuit community of Barrow, with Drew playing Cindy Lowry (characterized as Rachel in the film). Enjoy.

Beyond the film, though, this story by Campbell Plowmen of Greenpeace USA is fascinating. Don’t miss the film but read his story, Operation Breakthrough, as well.

Alaskan Whale Sunset by Serendigity




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