Friday, December 11, 2009

Non-Fiction: The Green Chain by Mark Leiren-Young

Regular readers of January Magazine may already know that I’m a major fan of journalist/author-turned-filmmaker Mark Leiren-Young. I’ve been reading Leiren-Young in our mutual hometown alternate weekly, The Georgia Straight, for... well, for a real long time and he is just all the things a journalist of his ilk should be (sez me). He is smart and worldly, but not in an irritating, tweed-and-elbow-patches über-literati kinda way. His world view is sophisticated, certainly, but you imagine he wears soft clothes and that he knows how to laugh and -- more importantly, perhaps -- he knows how to make his readers laugh, as evidenced by his win of the 2008 Stephen Leacock award for his debut book-length work, Never Shoot A Stampede Queen.

It turns out that, while Leiren-Young was hatching Never Shoot A Stampede Queen, he was also working on a film (if you want to call writing, producing and starring in working, and I think you might) that has since been released into wild success. Since its debut in 2007, The Green Chain has been a sweetheart on the international film festival circuit and, when you consider, how could it not? The Green Chain takes seven fictional tree killers and has them explain why they love trees. It’s fictional and it’s fun, yet it tells the story -- from both sides, now -- exceptionally well.

In the book of the same title, The Green Chain: Nothing Is Ever Clear Cut (Heritage House) , Leiren-Young takes the idea on the road, in a way: asking 22 people who might have opinions on such things “How do you feel about trees?” The resulting book is, in many ways, surprising. Leiren-Young himself observes that when he began these interviews -- with noted thinkers, writers, activists, doers -- he imagined that he would come away depressed. But, he notes, “most of the interviewees were surprisingly optimistic. They think the solutions are out there, and now that we’re living in the age of Al Gore and green is the new black, our society might be willing to embrace the solutions. Or at least attempt them.”

Leiren-Young’s journey of discovery is inspiring. And I’m not the first to note that it’s lovely and refreshing to encounter someone who sees both forest and trees.



Blogger thecanadaproject said...

A great review, as always. Hey, January Magazine is a wonderful read. Keep up the good work. r

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 11:32:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the movie. Great to know there is a book.

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 2:30:00 PM PST  

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