Author: Mark Van Ness

Occupy Hollywood: How Films With A Conscience Are Invading Your Screen

What do these blockbuster films have in common?: Lincoln, The Help, Contagion, Waiting for Superman, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Kite Runner, North Country, An Inconvenient Truth, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana. Participant Media of course. And they’re expanding our thinking while entertaining us.  The challenge founder Jeff Skoll presented to CEO Jim Berk (pictured above) was impossible according to many industry pundits: Build a commercially successful media company by telling stories that both entertain and raise important issues that inspire people to take action. In only 10 years, Participant’s 50 films, 36 Academy Award nominations, and seven Oscars...

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A Lesson of Mandela That No One is Talking About

Do you wonder who Nelson Mandela would have been to the world if he had not been imprisoned for 27 years? Do you believe he would have been one of the great leaders of our world had he avoided that hardship? Given the revolutionary path he was on, and the likelihood of escalating violence intended to overthrow an oppressive regime that was not yet willing to cede control, it is likely that few would remember who this man was. It is almost as if he was sent away to mature and be groomed until just the right time when both he and the world would be ready. He is respected for who he became as a result of his hardship and incarceration. He described his 27 years in prison as a unique opportunity to work on himself, to become a better man. Everyone is likely to agree that being arrested and sent to prison for life feels like a bad thing. Is it possible that it was the best thing that could have happened to Nelson Mandela, South Africa, and even the world? I have a friend that often says “It’s aaall goood” in his charming southern drawl, and for a long time he appeared to use it at the most inappropriate times. “How are you doing?” I’d ask, and he’d reply “Looks like I may need to go...

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Our 25 Day Italian Experiment On Sustainable Travel

I love Italy! The people, the food (Eat-aly), the wine, the history and the warmth… what’s not to love? Well ok, the overwhelming shiploads and busloads of tourists that sometimes give it that overwhelming “Disneyland” feeling. My PIBAL (Partner in Business and Life) Julie and I recently set out to experience the best of Italy in 25 days and explore how the real leader inside all of us can make travel more sustainable. Many of the strategies we employed can help you in your travels, no matter where you go. I began with my travel agent of 20 years who knows my preferences well, but is no expert on eco-tourism. I honestly didn’t even think to tell him of our sustainability mission from the start. This actually worked out well, because he did what most agents do and recommended some excellent (and horrifyingly wasteful) examples of unsustainable luxury hotels. To his credit he did also throw in some world leaders in sustainability too. We agreed that four nights each in Venice, Florence, Sardinia, Cinque Terre, Amalfi, and Rome would allow us to see as much as possible without feeling too stressed about the constant moving between cities. This turned out to be just the right formula. With so much moving between planes, trains and automobiles, packing light is essential. I was able to convince Julie to limit our luggage...

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