Realising Environmental Protection At Home & Abroad, LJM Communicates via Image

Realising Environmental Protection At Home & Abroad, LJM Communicates via Image
Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Founding Abbot of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM) , said that the future of the Earth is the future of mankind. In 2020, the LJM University for Life & Peace rolled out the ‘Here on Earth 2020’ program as a youth media project focusing on environmental protection. Young people of Taiwan, New York, and London joined the hands-on media camp to curate video documentaries and speak out for marine ecology as aspiring environmental activists. The ‘Here on Earth 2021’ project launched in 2021 went beyond an extension and developed local connections with the New York Harbor School and grassroots communities to take the education on environmental protection further for diversification as well as localization.

The spiritual ecology that Dharma Master Hsin Tao relentlessly promotes stresses that the ideology is based on all forms of being, and respect ecology is what the idea of ‘loving the Earth’ boils down to. Master Guang Guo, chief executive of the LJM Chan Space New York, endorsed the remark and added that the ‘Here on Earth’ programs with full-fledged curriculum and systematic learning modules reinforce the skills of the participants to better their expression of thoughts about environmental protection via self-produced video documentaries. The quality work by program participants thus formed an ideal interface that connects LJM and various environmental organisations, along with their respective and like-minded target audiences.

Master Guang Guo cited examples of how study groups with participants from different countries helped heat up communications and exchanges for a better understanding of the role water plays and its significance thereof in the other’s homeland. For instance, a Tainan participant shared the cultural and historical background on the An-Ping port and how local people relate to it. A Texas participant compared the two states Texas versus New York in terms of how marine ecology is protected under different policy-making. Discussions transcended borders due to a common concern for marine ecology, and participants grew to appreciate one another’s work that helped expand horizons while instilling the notion of global citizenship. The process afforded opportunities for young participants to reflect on the interrelations between man and ecology.

Touching Videos Connect the Mind & the Environment

Program Director of the ‘Here on Earth’ project, Lu Jih-Lan, shared experiences of how LJM co-worked with local groups and campuses. The New York Harbor School is the only high school in New York that is themed on oceans and it took an interest in the LJM project. With the support of enthusiasts, co-operations began with online screenings launched on New York Harbor School premises.

Harbor School Teacher Mauricio Gonzalez appreciated everything LJM did and said that many other entities make efforts to promote environmental protection, including the production of environmental films. The bulk of which, however, puts the emphasis on getting the word out and evoking ideas, and few ever shed light on the link between the environment and human mind. By contrast, the videos presented under the ‘Here on Earth’ banner are quite creative to tell stories of the ocean that strike a chord with people’s hearts, thereby connecting the viewership and the environment. Many people pollute the environment without realising that man and nature are an inseparable unity. Therefore, it is hoped that more students and the general public would have the opportunity to watch videos the Here on Earth project produced, so as to promote harmony between man and nature.

Joanne of the Frank Sinatra High School said that it was her first-ever short animation with environmental creatives that she hoped to bring Earth-loving messages to all age groups. She said the program inspired her a lot and kindled her passion for digital animation. Above all, she now has a much better understanding of the concept of environmental protection besides a clear idea of the plight and crisis the oceans are faced with.

Online screening of the ‘Here on Earth’ videos received warm feedback on the Harbor School campus, and LJM is hopeful that co-operations would expand from environmental protection to teaching programs of environmental arts. LJM is set to channel the faculty of media professionals to facilitate Harbor School’s traditional exhibition on science to double feature science and environmental protection, before growing further to incorporate the art of marine ecology into the annual campus exhibition. Expansion to other campuses will follow.

Linking Strengths of Academics & Communities to Push for Environmental Protection

Director Lu also mentioned that New York was a popular seaport more than a century ago, and water taxis were in demand to help reload cargos from ocean liners that were too big to park in the harbour. The port authorities continue to hold annual boat racing events even today. LJM, in fact, launched its cooperation with the Harbor School for the ‘Here on Earth’ initiative by sponsoring the video project of its Rowing Club and Sustainability Club, Lu disclosed.

Young people are future masters of the Earth and key partners in the pursuit of transitional justice of the environment for future generations. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) supported by the United Nations can only be achieved by virtue of diversified corporations that transcend countries, races, genders, as well as generations. Besides its professionally structured curriculum, the ‘Here on Earth’ program engaged four college students majoring in films and arts at Yale University, NYU, and Hunter College to help project participants in the making of videos themed on the oceans by incorporating different perspectives on issues impacting marine ecology. As the participants are members of Harbor School’s rowing and sustainability clubs, their preferences for video themes differed from one another with the exception to promote water sports that encourage people to like the sea so much that there grows a desire to protect marine ecology.

Master Hsin Tao often says that ‘sustainability only then becomes possible when all forms of being co-exist in symbiosis, and that sustainability falls on the shoulders of everyone.’ In the four recent years, LJM’s outreach initiatives for the environment included a beach cleaning campaign for two coastal stretches near Gong-Liao. The monthly event boasts of more than a thousand active participants who donate an hour every month to collect garbage and waste on the beach, and more than 10 metric tons of debris have been assembled . Meanwhile, LJM followers put to practice in daily life what Master Hsin Tao advocates as the ‘Nine Rules to Live By’, i.e. peace, compassion, dialogue, veganism, recycling, energy-saving, reduction of carbon footprint, water conservation, and go-green. With the ‘Here on Earth’ program maturing over time, more batches of young environmental activists armed with savvy media skill sets will emerge as front-runners to push for environmental protection, spreading the idea of the LJM signature ‘Loving-the-Earth’ campaign.