Actor Adrian Grenier at Misk Global Forum: Having an appetite is the key to balance

Youmna Naufal, executive director of the Lebanese Student Society, speaks with Adrian Grenier, actor, filmmaker, social advocate and musician, at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AN photo by Ziyad Al-Arfaj)
Updated 14 November 2019

Actor Adrian Grenier at Misk Global Forum: Having an appetite is the key to balance

  • ‘Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community’

RIYADH: Youmna Naufal, executive director of the Lebanese Student Society, asked Adrian Grenier, actor, filmmaker, social advocate and musician, about how he balances a rich portfolio of mixed roles and projects.

“I have a big appetite,” Grenier said at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. “I have big eyes for the world. I get excited about a lot of different things ... I want to be diversified.”

Grenier talked about how technology is making the world smaller and more connected.

He thinks that it is important to have a depth of knowledge of a particular skill and go very deep on particular things, but at the same time to have casual knowledge about a lot of different things.

“Travel is more easily available to people and you want to be able to have a working knowledge of a lot of different aspects so that you can comment and you can participate meaningfully with all the people you’re going to encounter,” he said.

Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean. He said that people could do many different things and touch many different lives. “You have to, it’s almost a necessity at this point,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean.
  • One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change.
  • At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.
  • Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.

One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change, because “today’s children are tomorrow’s environmental leaders.”

Grenier believes that a lot of things can be done to make that change — people need as many solutions as there are humans — “we need 8 billion solutions, and then all the different solutions that each individual comes to.”

He said that everybody knows what is needed in their local community, and what is needed individually and personally. Therefore, it is important that people bring their own creativity to the issue. “Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community. I have a lot of things that I personally do. One thing is starting to reduce plastic straws on all different fronts.”

At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.

Grenier said that 10 billion tons of plastic is going into the ocean every year, which is a huge problem to tackle.

Lonely Whale decided to break the problem down to one single unit of measure, he said. “One single piece of plastic and the plastic straw became that symbolic unit … we could start to actually see a difference.”

He said that this was not easy as 500 million plastic straws are used every day.

Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.

“We bring them together in a bootcamp-style experience over three days so that they can learn about plastics, the ocean, and how they can go back to their communities and start implementing change locally.”

Grenier gave a few pieces of advice throughout the session — especially to millennials. One was that they should take care of themselves, “so that you can stay committed to the task at hand and really accomplish your goals. It can’t be something that you do and then give up … So, take care of your health, take care of your body, your mind, and workout.”

He also advised people to collaborate. “Collaboration is a big part of what I do. I like to consider myself a master collaborator ... looking outside of your own self ... and being compassionate for other ideas.”

“Through new ideas you learn and synthesize both those perspectives into new perspectives. So, let’s do it together,” he said.


Arab world must tackle ‘deficits’ to create own vision: International experts

Updated 5 min 59 sec ago

Arab world must tackle ‘deficits’ to create own vision: International experts

DHAHRAN:The Arab world needs to resolve many of its shortfalls in order to “develop its own vision” for the future, an influential regional conference has been told.
Hussain Haqqani, director of the south and central Asia Hudson Institute think tank, said gender gaps, institutional and knowledge deficits were among vital issues that the region had to tackle.
“The Arab region must develop its own vision and the only way to do so is by overcoming its many deficits,” he told Arab News at the FIKR17 conference, being staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
Haqqani was among a gathering of international and political relations experts taking part in a discussion session titled, “Today’s world ... Tomorrow’s world: The transformations, challenges and visions.”
Other participants in the seminar, held in Dhahran, included Naoki Tanaka, president of the Center for International Public Policy Studies, and Frederic Charillon, professor in international relations at ESSEC Business School.
“The region has a huge deficit in terms of knowledge,” Haqqani said. “There are about 400 million people whose language is Arabic but there are fewer books written in Arabic every year than (those) written every year in Greek, which is the language of 11 or 12 million people.
“Also, fewer books are translated from other languages into Arabic every year than are translated into Danish, which is the language of only 5 million people in Denmark.”
The former Pakistani ambassador to the US added that gender gap was also one of the deficits faced by the Arab world. “Half the society is women. A society that is excluding women will be behind any society that is including women.”
Institutional deficit, or the lack of functioning institutions, he said, was another challenge, particularly for the poorer Arab countries.
“The global trade in goods and services has only five percent of input from the Arab world, whereas China has 15 percent and India has 13 percent,” Haqqani added. “There’s no reason why the Arab world cannot improve its productivity … when you have the economic means and the intellectual means you will be able to have your own vision.”
Haqqani noted that societies were living in what he described as a “revolutionary state” where interconnectedness did not necessarily mean connection. “Everybody can communicate with one another, but everybody does not necessarily understand each other.”
Decision-makers and influencers played a vital role when it came to directing societies. According to Haqqani, their power was in helping consumers to process overwhelming information and analyze it logically, and in trying to maintain society’s stability.
“It is important to try and keep the equilibrium to keep societies stable as soon as possible, instead of allowing too much dispersal of views and ideas,” he said, while pointing out that although social media connected people, it also allowed them to disrupt. “One wrong idea can go and travel very fast. Fake news can travel very fast, so influencers and decision-makers have to assert themselves in a way in which societies find their equilibrium again.”
Earlier in the same conference, Dr. Henry Awit, director of the Arab Thought Foundation, stressed that the unity of the Arab world was vital in order to shape a new vision.
Awit told Arab News that Dhahran’s King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) was a world-renowned cultural center which sponsored innovation, adopted a modernist approach and embraced creativity.
He noted that the conference was “about outlining a new Arab vision, and we are today in the Kingdom that started the vision that invites to develop, invites to improve and invites to renew.”
The aim of the Arab Thought Foundation, he added, was “to spread knowledge and serve Arab societies and their development, hence we are open to everything that contributes to our purpose and aim.”