DR. MICHAEL TOBIAS
Dr. Michael Tobias is a global ecologist, author and filmmaker, and President of the Dancing Star Foundation, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation devoted to animal welfare, international biodiversity conservation and environmental education. Tobias' research has taken him to some 60 countries where he has specialized in an interdisciplinary approach to environmental history, scientific, ethical and philosophical frameworks for policy research and documentation, demographic analysis, ecological anthropology, biodiversity conservation, and non-violence activism. From the Antarctic to the Himalayas he has tracked human communities, tribal groups, and urban sectors in an effort to chronicle humanity's connection with the natural world. In 1996, Tobias received the "Courage of Conscience Award" for his commitment to animals. Tobias obtained his Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness at the University of California-Santa Cruz and has lectured widely. He was an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies & Adjunct Assistant Professor of English and the Humanities at Dartmouth College, an Associate Professor of Humanities at California State University -- Northridge, the Garrey Carruthers Chair of Honors and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of New Mexico -- Albuquerque, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies, and Regents' Lecturer, at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Tobias is the author of 30 books (including several edited anthologies, and both fiction and non-fiction). Some of his better-known works include: World War III: Population and the Biosphere at the End of the Millennium, Preface by Jane Goodall, A Vision of Nature: Traces of the Original World, Nature's Keepers -- On the Frontlines of the Fight to Save Wildlife in America, A Day in the Life of India, Voices From the Underground: For the Love of Animals, Environmental Meditation, Life Force: The World of Jainism, Voice of the Planet, Kinship With Animals, The Soul of Nature and A Parliament of Science: Science For the 21st Century.
In addition Tobias has written, directed, produced, executive produced or co-executive produced well over 100 films, TV series, documentaries and dramas, most pertaining to environmental, cultural, social or scientific issues. Some of those works include the 15-part series, "A Parliament of Minds," the 28-part series, "A Parliament of Souls," the ten-hour dramatic miniseries, "Voice of the Planet," and such other works as "Ahimsa -- Non-Violence," "Black Tide," "Antarctica: The Last Continent," "A Day in the Life of India," "A Day in the Life of Ireland," "World War III," "The Sky's On Fire," "River of Love," "America's Great Parks," "Element One," "The Hydrogen Age," "The Cost of Cool," and the two new feature films, "Mad Cowboy" and "No Vacancy," which examine such issues as Mad Cow disease, animal rights, and the impact of human demographics on biodiversity.
Tobias' work has been viewed and/or read in more than '100 countries'. In her Preface to Tobias' book World War III: Population and the Biosphere at the End of the Millenium, Jane Goodall writes "In World War III Tobias raises a clarion call. A call for aid such as in the olden days would summon knights in shining armor to fight under the banner of their king. And now we are all summoned, each and every one of us...I hope that those reading this book will join Tobias on the path toward the more sustainable and compassionate future, trying to live again as we once did, in harmony with nature, and no longer at war."
Psychology Today Magazine writes, "Tobias throws sparks like an evangelist and has the old-fashioned, wide-ranging erudition of a Renaissance scholar." And ecological historian Dr. Rod Nash says "in an age of increasing specialization, it is extraordinary to encounter an author as widely learned as Michael Tobias. Quite simply, he is among the most imaginative, creative minds working in the vital field of human experience and the natural world. He should be regarded as the Carl Sagan of the Humanities."
Tobias is currently writing, directing and producing a feature film concerning some of the most endangered species and habitats in the world -- from the Tropical Andes to Madagascar.
Dr. J. PATRICK FITZGERALD
J. Patrick Fitzgerald, holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Southern Illinois University and has taught philosophy, honors humanities, and video production at Seminole Community College for over eighteen years. He has received a large number of grants and awards including mention in "Who's Who Among Americaís Teachers", 1996 and 2002. Fitzgerald is an accomplished independent film producer having produced a wide variety of programs from important social and environmental issues to music videos and entertainment. A dedicated humanitarian and environmentalist, Fitzgerald has produced programs that promote environmental and health awareness, animal rights, local history, child development, art education and the well-being of the physically challenged.
Some of Dr. Fitzgerald's television work has appeared on PBS, HBO, USA, MTV, VH1 and Time Warner. In 2001 he produced an eighteen episode national PBS television series about philosphy, "A Parliament of Minds", with a companion book published by The State University of New York Press. KQED PBS, San Francisco has recently accepted his most recent feature documentary film, "Mad Cowboy", for national broadcast on Earth Day 2006. "Mad Cowboy" is about the life of Howard Lyman and the issues he raises regarding the plight of farmers and animal welfare. Lyman was sued, along with Oprah Winfrey, by the beef industry in 1996.
In the entertainment arena, he was video producer and manager of the Grammy Award winning rock band, A Flock of Seagulls, the most successful band from Liverpool, England since the Beatles. Beginning this past year, he has joined with I.D.E.A.S. at MGM Studios, Florida, to pursue the development and distribution of socially relevant programs.
CEO and chief story telling officer at Entertainment Production Company, I.D.E.A.S, Bob Allenís 25 years with Disney in creative entertainment and theme show development have provided him with a unique blend of developmental acumen and creative vision. His progressive leadership style seeks continual learning and invites the potential of all that share his uncompromising passion for excellence. He is known within the Florida community as an active supporter of the arts and film/ TV production industry.
As a fourth-generation family farmer in Montana for almost 40 years, I speak from a background of personal experience when I say that chemically based agricultural production methods today are unsustainable, and therefore ecologically disastrous. My experiences range from working in a large organic dairy to raising registered beef cattle to owning a large factory feedlot. I have farmed thousands of acres of grain and reproduced a herd of over one thousand commercial beef cows. In addition to raising cows, I have raised chickens, pigs, and turkeys. I have also grown crops such as wheat, barley, oats, corn, alfalfa, and grass.
I was involved in agriculture at a time when the call dictated getting bigger and better or getting out. I was educated in modern agriculture, and I can tell you from firsthand experience -- it is not sustainable. I followed all the modern advice and turned a small organic family farm into a large corporate chemical farm with a thousand range cows, five thousand head of cattle in a factory feedlot, thousands of acres of crops, and as many as thirty employees. I saw the organic soil go from a living, productive base to a sterile, chemical-saturated, mono-cultural ground produced by my so-called modern methods.
In 1979, a tumor on my spinal cord caused me to be paralyzed from the waist down. That changed my life forever. I promised myself that, whatever the outcome of the surgery, I would dedicate the rest of my life to doing what I believed to be right -- no matter what changes that necessitated.
The period before and after the surgery gave me much time to think about the changes resulting from my methods of farming. Convinced that we were going the wrong way, I decided to become a voice for the family farmer and the land. In 1983, I sold most of my farm and started working for farmers in financial trouble. This led to my working for the Montana Farmers Union and from there to Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union.
For five years I worked on Capitol Hill for America's family farmers. In that time we had some small successes, such as passing the National Organic Standards Act. But even after the act became a law, it took the administration several years to allow funds for its implementation. I became convinced that the changes needed had to come from the producers and consumers at the grassroots level. Until that alliance is put into play, the big money interest will continue to control public policy in the Congress of the United States."