Amazon Watch coordinator Gregor MacLennan talks about his work with communities to preserve ecosystems, and his journey since graduating from Forum for the Future’s Masters programme.
Currently: Peru Program Coordinator, Amazon Watch
Career to date
After the Masters, I went with a friend to Peru to visit a community I'd worked with previously. We discovered that the whole place had been overrun by illegal loggers, so we got involved in trying to help the community out. I founded a small, non-profit organisation doing grassroots campaigning and stayed for seven years. After that, I moved to San Francisco to work for Amazon Watch, which challenges corporations and banks over destructive oil drilling and infrastructure projects that threaten the survival of indigenous peoples.
What I plan to do next
I'm increasingly interested in participatory mapping, and how we can use maps and other visualisation techniques to tell stories and share perspectives. In Peru, I helped communities draw maps of where they lived which show that the rainforest isn't just an expanse of green, but a place brimming with history, hunting, burial grounds and medicinal plants. It's a way of demonstrating to companies that they can't just come in and destroy an area for oil. I'm pretty excited by the possibilities at Amazon Watch for exploring those techniques more.
Advice for future leaders
You mustn't feel like you have to influence the largest number of people possible – just focus on what you enjoy, and what feels right, and do that.
Gregor MacLennan was in conversation with Katie Shaw.