The man, the bird-lover, the innovator; Bill Lishman has got a full deck of cards. Whether creating public art, pioneering ultra-light flight in Canada, or serving as the first human to lead birds in formation, it seems that this GreenHero is always on the go with an exciting new project.
GreenHeroes: What is the importance of innovative ideas? What do you say to naysayers who doubt that your ideas can truly take flight?
Bill Lishman: Innovative ideas are the beginnings to solving problems large and small. Humanity is only at the beginning of learning how to live on the planet without destroying it. We are at a critical point in history where it will take major innovation in human lifestyles to save ourselves from destroying ourselves. Like the fifties’ cartoon character Pogo said, "I have seen the enemy, and it is us".
It depends on the naysayer. I usually say nothing, but note the nature of the criticism. If it strikes a chord, I may change direction. Some just give me impetus to prove them wrong.
GreenHeroes: If you could be Minister of the Environment, what would you do differently?
Bill Lishman: I really don't know what the Minister of the Environment is doing, but when I see the creativity that has gone into weapons of war, I wish that that creativity could be redirected into earth-friendly technology in everything from agriculture to architecture.
Photo credit: W. Lishman
GreenHeroes: What are your favourite books and movies? Also, what memories do you have from the set of Fly Away Home?
Bill Lishman: I really enjoyed Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and writings by Alistair MacCleod. As for movies, my tastes are eclectic. I am a fan of films directed by Clint Eastwood. Most films follow set formulae, so I like films that break from the formula.
I really enjoyed being part of making Fly Away Home. I liked the energy and I really enjoyed working with the director Carrol Ballard. It was truly enlightening to gain gems of wisdom from the producer, the late John Veitch, who had produced over 500 Hollywood films. Aside from that, I had the joy of flying with geese almost daily and even got paid for it.
GreenHeroes: Why should people care about bird migration, if it's something they don't really know about?
Bill Lishman: 80% of all species on the planet migrate in one way or another, but it is not just caring about bird migration. People should care about all living things, for as I see it, our health, the health of the human race, and the health of the planet is dependent on a critically interconnected web of life, and the more we understand how it works, the more respect we will gain and the better it will be for all.
GreenHeroes: Do you have any words of advice for those who have bright ideas but don't know what steps to take to accomplish them?
Bill Lishman: The only value of a bright idea is what you do with it. If you are passionate about the value of the idea, then the next thing of importance is persistence in developing the idea. The old adage about invention being 95% sweat unfortunately is true.
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