EXCLUSIVE: Getting Dirty with Ian Somerhalder
We love it when celebs do their part to help the earth, and Ian Somerhalder, one of our favorite eco-activists, has big things happening on that front.
After watching a video of the 2007 Let’s Do It! Movement’s Cleanup initiative in Estonia, the “Vampire Diaries” star was compelled to create a similar campaign in the United States.
It took a while to organize, but now it’s finally happening, and you can be a part of it! On April 21, The Ian Somerhalder Foundation is bringing the “Let’s Get Dirty” initiative to California, where the ISF team will join 80,000 volunteers and more than 2,000 schools to help clean the state of litter and waste. Because hey, sometimes you have to get dirty before you can get clean!
We talked to Somerhalder to find out more about “Let’s Get Dirty,” how he thinks programs like this can change the world, and what his goals are for the organization.
How did you find out about Estonia’s “Let’s Do It” initiative, and what was it about it that inspired you to do something similar?
Our amazing content coordinators posted the video on the ISF website. I’m on that site daily and saw the video. I was so inspired by the fact that these awesome people were faced with so many NOs and daunting figures and yet they still refused to accept it as impossible. They accomplished what the government could not. They energized 500,000 volunteers and created collective power…how can that not be inspiring?
Do you hope to eventually bring the “Let’s Get Dirty” initiative to other states?
Absolutely! As ISF grows, we hope to partner with like-minded organizations who are interested in creating collective change through group clean ups on a national and global level!
How do you think initiatives like this can create a shift in public consciousness with regards to the environment?
If we shift our understanding that every choice we make shapes our environment, we see that our consumer choices are exceptionally powerful. If you think about a product’s story before you consume a product, it’s easier to make sustainable choices.
ISF has partnered with Koru to create a fundraising component for this initiative, which will benefit ISF Youth Development Programs. Can you tell us a little bit about this and what kinds of Youth Development Programs are in the works?
This is truly what we are most over the moon about. Over the past 14 months, we’ve seen just how capable kids and teens are. We know that youth are far more creative, open, flexible and genius than they get credit for. What’s worse is they get little support in the form of skills, experience, mentorship and training. It’s exceptionally difficult to navigate the challenges kids are faced with when they have an idea they want to make tangible, and not just within the business/professional realm, but emotionally. We hope to provide our youth with the experience and skills so that we can change the statement “When I grow up I want to: change the world, lead, heal, help, create” to ” As I grow up: I want to change the world, lead, heal, help, create.”
Think Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and Steve Jobs (less the stereotype of crunchy granola and superiority) all rolled into one streamlined, urban and edgy program that propels kids into identifying their passions and natural strengths. We want them to create personal mission statements and visionary strategies that can be coupled into business skill development supported by real, us-usable tools to cope and obtain clarity as they navigate the emotional roller coaster of life. I only wish that when I was a kid, someone believed that I was ready and worthy of this.
You’re one of the most outspoken celebrities, in terms of conservation and protecting the environment. When I spoke to you last Fall, you said that your initial inspiration came from the delicate ecosystem of the Gulf Coast. Now that you’ve been doing this for a while, where else do you find inspiration these days?
My inspiration is literally fueled by the actions of our supporters and people who have come together with the understanding that we, as a collective, have the power to make wide sweeping change. I feel it within the ISF relationships and I’ve watched people’s strengths grow and mature. It’s impossible not to be inspired with amazing supporters that ISF is honored to have.
Where do you hope to see ISF in the next few years and what are your long-term goals for the organization?
Definitely sustainable — I think that’s the biggest struggle for all non-profits. But long-term goals in totality? To create sustainable projects that inspire and engage people, business and organizations to come together.