The devil is born.

“A great story! It’s a great story, Aaron… a story that really matters,” the

phone crackled from the Skype connection. The caller was Adam Brown,

my long lost friend. I didn’t need much convincing but of course we had

no money.


Long before I made my first film, I met Adam Brown. He was a baseball

player, a climber, a mountain biker, a guitar player, and always

hardcore. Our sleepy state college was just far enough from DC that

most ignored it but not us. In the car I had gotten for a tip as a bus boy,

we invaded DC raves, Dead shows, and NYC rock concerts sleeping in

the car in alleys or parking lots surviving on peanut butter and honey


When we weren’t off exploring music and culture we were mountain

biking and studying hard. Neither of us really knew what we wanted

to do with our lives, specifically, but we knew. From Virginia both of

us found ourselves drawn to the west coast. Adam studied hard, found

good mentors and founded Environmental Protection in the Caribbean

(EPIC) with the woman who became his wife.

It was no surprise to me that Adam was finding success and making

his own way. He always was a bad ass. He always worked hard. He was

always willing to push himself harder and further than most whether

it was studying, climbing, surfing, field research, snowboarding,

fundraising, or building a way of life.

We lost touch. I went on to explore my love of writing, music, social

justice, travel, events, photography, and storytelling. As time went on

my love of snowboarding, hiking, camping, and exploration of wild

places turned a corner. I started to see some of the things that people

like John Muir have described decades before my arrival. Nature became

my church. I started to see connections that had not been clear in my


As my work moved from Africa, Brazil, Haiti, Seattle and from Carnegie

Hall to the Maasai Mara on issues from fair trade, food security, global

health, poverty, microfinance, and other social issues… the idea of how

I could bring a human component to the conservation movement began

to seep in. I worked on arts education and conservation curriculum

and movies about protecting wild places. The pieces were all falling


Simultaneously, Adam Brown was going through his own

transformation. Adam had always been hardcore. His early conservation

attitude had little patience for people. We were all pretty out of touch.

So much of what has transformed even the disbelievers to see the

importance of preserving life on our planet had not happened yet. Al

Gore was still inventing the Internet and had not released “Inconvenient

Truth”. Conservation was not mainstream.

Adam’s relentless commitment to hard work and growth led him to the

Black-Capped Petrel project. Adam had been working in the Caribbean

for more than a decade but Haiti was special. If you have a heart beating

under your skin, Haiti will grab it. Fear or love or both will flood your

arteries. Adam fell in love. 15 years of work transformed his perception

of the balance of human/nature and Haiti was living proof.

When Adam came to me with a great story. It was one neither of us

would have been ready for 20 years earlier, but now it was different. It

was the story of TWO families struggling for life. One a family of Haitian

farmers struggling to feed their children and the other a family of birds

on the brink of extinction living in one of the last places on earth they

could survive. The story of how everything is connected. The story of

how we are all connected to the global ecosystem around us and in us.

We didn’t have a dime but that was just the beginning.