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  • Writer's pictureGretta White

Environmental Storytelling: How Can We Harness Emotion?

A conversation with David Borish about his documentary, Herd.

One of the most unique parts of the human intellect is our emotions. This important part of what makes us who we are can often drive our decision making and especially in climate communications, is one of the central and crucial things environmental storytellers must understand if they want to connect to their audience and inspire action. To learn more about environmental storytelling and ways to harness emotion, I interviewed an environmental storyteller by the name of David Borish. David is the Director/Producer of the documentary Herd, a story of people and caribou, as experienced by Inuit from the Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut regions of Labrador who have been living with caribou declines and a total hunting ban since 2013.

What message do you want to lead with your audience?

David Borish: “We wanted to lead a message of empathy. At the end of the day, people don’t know what’s going on in Labrador (Canada), and they don’t know what the loss of a species means to people, when they have no connection to that ecosystem or to that animal. We wanted to put viewers internationally, in the shoes of these indigenous communities who have really felt the burden of this loss.

How did you harness emotion in Herd, not only from the people but within the caribou also?

David Borish: “That’s a really good question. I think on the people's side, harnessing emotion was balancing the positives and negatives, and seeing how they work together. Obviously there’s a lot to work on in terms of the negative emotions, people were sad, anxious, and frustrated, but we needed to find ways of bringing in positive emotions as well as the celebratory aspects between this animal and these people, the pride and joy in thinking of stories with caribou. On the caribou side, we still needed to bring in their perspective. That’s a mix of using the way we filmed them and bringing them in at specific times to use them as a character in themselves.

Check out and learn more about Herd at ​​

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