VIDEO: MTV and "Avatars" follow Zoe Miles to Brookfield Asset Management
Linda Soloman, Vancouver Observer, August 13, 2010
This protest by Cortes Island activist Zoe Miles and MTV's Buried Life in downtown Toronto had an Avatar theme, and their focus was on saving the old-growth forests of BC with a particular emphasis on the old-growth Douglas fir stands of Cortes Island (which they dubbed the "Avatar Woods", not to be confused with the "Avatar Grove" near Port Renfrew). We thank them for doing this! - Ancient Forest Alliance
A flash mob of mostly young women inspired by Cortes Island resident Zoe Miles gathered in front of Brookfield Asset Management on Bay Street in Toronoto today to try to stop logging in one of the islands most beautiful and wild forests. The company owns 2,700 acres of the area around Carrington Bay, at centre of Cortes. Miles told the Vancouver Observer she came to Toronto "to have a conversation with Bruce Flatt, CEO of Brookfield Asset Management, who own 2700 acres of old growth on Cortes Island, threatened by clearcut logging."
"I came to ask him to sell me the Cortes forests, which have become known as the Avatar Woods, and to stop cutting old growth in BC. So, this morning I showed up at the front doors of Brookfield Place with over 300 beautiful blue people dressed up as characters from the recent movie, Avatar, not to mention an MTV crew, from the hit show "The Buried Life", and a number of other reporters. It was amazing. The people who joined me were unbelievably supportive, and so inspired about this issue," Miles said.
"At one point it was becoming clear that Bruce Flatt was not going to come down, and some one behind me at the moment (don't remember who, for the life of me) said.
Do you think maybe you should try to go in there?'
"To be honest, this wasn't part of the plan, and I haven't really told anyone this yet, but something came over me. I don't know how to describe it, really, other than when I heard that, I felt YES inside, and announced my new plan over the megaphone. As I marched towards the line of police at the main doors to the building, with the crowd chanting behind me, I started panicking a bit, looking around for backup...
"It's really the same thing that I feel towards Bruce Flatt - that maybe the alternative that I'm suggesting doesn't fit within his standard business paradigm - but that we can find a way to move forward that benefits us both, and leaves the forests standing. I came to Toronto with no intention of confrontation or adversity, but with a sincere desire to connect with the humanity in Bruce Flatt. The fun of the Avatar protest came because I sincerely feel that my community has tried to deal with this issue from all the other angles we can, and still there is an unwillingness to talk about a land purchase. I hope that Bruce hears the voices of the youth shouting outside his building. We are serious about protecting what little is left of the sacred old-growth forests.
"I am staying in Toronto for another few days to continue with a series of interviews. I am also willing to meet with Bruce, should he feel that my proposition is one to be taken seriously.
While we have been told by Brookfield's subsidiary that they do not sell real estate, we know that business deals are made all the time, and are willing to pay fair market value for their Cortes lands.The cops stopped us at the door, and very clearly let me know that they were under orders to arrest anyone who tried to get through the main doors. I stopped here, feeling that my place was with the young (blue!) people standing behind me, but there was a brilliant 3 minutes I spent with the police, all on film, where I craved and sought and found the humanity in the uniform in front of me, as rigid as he tried to be. So that's a snippet of what happened today. It was an excellent day, and highly successful. I connected with a young community in Toronto, who became empowered and inspired to pursue the issues most important in their lives, which is an incredibly beautiful thing to witness. And after facing the personal fears that I did this morning, I feel incredibly confidant that the rest will be easy in comparison. The next step is the continued attention to this issue, and getting the message to Bruce Flatt that a reasonable solution is at hand."
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