Inside Look Interview with Deborah Dupre

March 2009-03-09

How did you get involved with conservation, green living, alternative energy, and alternative healing?

When I was a little girl, my favorite aunt who lived on the bayou in South Louisiana, and my father who’d grown up there, taught me Native American ways. We’d walk to nearby Indian mounds on the bayou and they’d teach me green living that was natural to First Nation Peoples. These are among my fondest memories from girlhood.

As I grew, I learned to respect words of age-old wisdom such as those by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, from White Buffalo Teachings, "We see what's going to happen, what will surely happen unless we come together---we, the Peoples of all Nations---to restore peace, harmony, and balance to the Earth, our Mother." I learned that living in harmony with Mother Earth, loving people of all walks-of-life, and respecting nature were principles I needed to incorporate into my life. Fortunately, both of my parents helped me learn the importance of these.

I practiced these teachings mostly on “the bayou” and in the Girl Scouts of America of which my mother was a long-time leader. Camping, exploring, canoeing, climbing trees, and singing in a circle of friends around a campfire were my favorite past times. I smile when reminiscing of being one of Baton Rouge’s only young women still in Girl Scouts as a high school senior; not very cool but I cherished and respected this organization because it taught me hands-on conservation.

Later, through my Catholic upbringing, I learned compassion for the have-nots and importance of searching for inner peace that passes all understanding. Without this background, I may not be as active in the peace movement and serving the poor today. I may not have travelled for a year in my own makeshift peace symbol and flower-painted motor home, feeding and working with conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War.

During my Bachelor of Science degree work at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, I became fascinated with natural healing practices. After graduation, I moved to Australia where I discovered natural healing was more widely practiced than in the United States. I then studied injury prevention and community development at University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia, graduating from there with a Post-Graduate? Diploma in Continuing Education in 1985.

By 1984, my mother was very ill. I moved back to Louisiana with my two sons. After my mother’s death, I returned to L.S.U. to merge my interests in Environmental Sciences, Prevention, Vocational Education, International Development and Social Work for a multi-disciplined research and development curriculum and earned my Master of Science in Vocational Education. Since then, I’ve pursued this multi-discipline as a change agent, including my professional background as a: youth and family mental health therapist practitioner in Louisiana; Family Structured Interventionist; consultant for the World Health Organization in Least Developing South Pacific Island Nation, Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides) in the early 2000s; and research consultant in remote Australian Aboriginal communities until 2009.

I’ve learned that one of my healing gifts is performing structured interventions with people with various addictions. Structured Interventions use ancient healing techniques of sitting in a circle; using open, honest communications; telling stories in graphic details, in a calm, loving, supportive way. Today, support circles are flourishing. Revisiting these basic, effective techniques and universal values of good living passed through the ages, successfully heals the spirit and therefore the body as effectively now as in years gone by. Research and development grants afforded my opportunities to live and work with Australian Aboriginal Elders and their families who live in impoverished conditions. Together, we created and implemented empowerment programs to help restore their ancient ways of circle talk healing from which they have been deprived.

Did this have an impact on your son? How?

Many mothers who see FUEL ask me, “How did you create such a compassionate person?” Perhaps Joshua learned some of his compassion and appreciation of nature because I taught him what had been taught to me: to strive to live in accordance with nature; to learn independently; to serve the poor; to appreciate Structured Interventions.

When Joshua was a baby, I’d carry him on my hip so I could see him and talk to him about what he was seeing. Some of my favorite memories with him were walking carefree through Australian countryside and orchards, pointing out and talking to him about goannas, kangaroos, fish, birds, other animals, flowers, and trees. I tried to help Joshua learn what I’d learned in my university studies, the importance of learning “TLC,” learning to Think, learning to Learn, and learning to Create.

Joshua’s advocating against violence and war through his movie might be resultant of his early childhood experiences with me. When we rear children compassionately, they are more likely to be compassionate. Babies and children learn to do what they see adults do. I taught passivity and dialogue instead of using corporal punishment. I wanted my children to learn that violence and bullying is never OK, that compassion and dialogue are more effective in solving problems.

I’ve been a Family Structured Interventionist for nearly two decades. This carefully orchestrated type of intervention renews a spirit of family empowerment; breaks denial in a loving but graphically accurate way so people can see their harm to self and others and willingly take action to change. Perhaps Joshua learned the importance of this type of intervention and applied it to help break the global addiction to oil. His movie, FUEL, is a carefully orchestrated intervention that breaks the malaise of denial in a graphically truthful, loving way and gives the great gift of new, healthy options so that people seeing it are empowered to take action to change.

Joshua also witnessed my South Louisiana loved ones suffering from cancer. He saw me grieve after their deaths. Within 18 months, three of the most significant women in my life since childhood each died from cancer.

When I then suggested to Joshua that, for his science project, he test waterways north of New Orleans in Covington and Mandeville, Louisiana, and told him I would help by driving him to them and facilitating his working with scientists in the area, he agreed wholeheartedly. It was one of the best things we did together. He then discovered, however, not only high levels of toxins in the waterways, but also the influence of petrochemical companies on the Environmental Protection Agency.

Joshua also saw me suffer with symptoms that my loved ones had exhibited before they died. Those experiences as a young boy, after having lived in a clean, free-spirited, healthy environment in Australia with healthy people surrounding him, undoubtedly had a great impact on him.

In Fuel, Josh mentions that you were sick. What was your condition?

When I was a baby, my family moved from New Orleans to North Baton Rouge, a couple of blocks from a major oil refinery. As a child, I suffered from and was diagnosed as having allergies. Later we moved from North to South Baton Rouge. Even then, after car rides with my family to New Orleans, I’d become too drowsy to stay awake. By the time we’d arrive at my grandparents’ home, I’d have to sleep for a couple of hours while my brothers and sister would get to run and play with our cousins. Scientific research reflects a high correlation between petrochemical pollution and development of allergies. As a child, I was probably suffering from allergies resultant from oil refineries and exacerbated by the ominous, low-level, toxic, chemical clouds that we drove through to get to New Orleans and then again, to return to Baton Rouge.

Research also reflects a high correlation between petrochemicals and reproductive health disorders. The movie FUEL highlights this in an interview with an attorney and documents her working with Louisiana women with reproductive health disorders. After I had nine miscarriages, my weight dropped to 106 pounds; I experienced continual hemorrhaging and low-grade fever; and I became too weak to live a normal and productive life. My doctors strongly recommended a hysterectomy. Even after this procedure, however, my health continued to deteriorate. Doctors then diagnosed me as having Lupus and being in a “pre-cancerous state.”

I remember during that time, when I was at work, during my lunch hours and even 15-minute breaks, I’d collapse and sleep on the floor behind my desk or in my car. My entire body was in pain, my fevers increased, and my energy level dropped to an all time low. It seemed obvious that my life was ending and that I was following the same path as my mother who’d intensely suffered physically before dying at age 64.

How did you get better?

To heal, I discontinued following my doctor’s advice and ultimately moved from my beloved native state, Louisiana, to cleaner environments in Florida. It took much more, however, than just a cleaner environment. I’d probably not be here today had I not followed two disciplines:

1) For physical healing, I followed Ann Wigmore’s Hippocrates Center diet including wheat grass juice twice daily and 75% raw foods daily plus I used massive doses of Co-Enzyme? Q 10.
2) For spiritual healing, I followed the advice of one of Australia’s leading Naturopaths and author of a university textbook on natural healing. He emphatically explained to me: “You do not have much longer to live unless you stop everything you’re doing now, follow your passion, and do not let anything or anyone stop you from it.”

Giving to self as a temple and to others as part of self, are keys to healing self and Mother Earth. I moved back to Australia where I could develop and use my unique, creative gifts to garden, eat my organic food, drink and bath in non-chlorinated water, become a self-taught artist, and work with Indigenous Peoples. I’d passionately wanted all of this since I was a girl.

I knew that a holistic approach to healthcare enables us to treat the individual as a part of the whole. I became more familiar with Ayurveda, the 5000-year old science of living in harmony with forces of nature. Understanding one’s personal nature and the environment’s impact on one’s life offers us clarity of the most appropriate lifestyle applications that best serve us and the planet. This journey of holistic healing was what I needed to take to survive and be healthy.

You mentioned the connection between spirituality and conservation in our last conversation. What is your take on this?

To me, spirituality equates to compassion for each other and for the planet, living in harmony with nature. This is part of what I address in my lectures and presentation: “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Technology.”

Compassion for each other and for the planet is the opposite of greed or extracting from the planet more than we require. It’s an awareness of connectivity as explained in FUEL. Each person is physically and spiritually connected to each other, the Earth, and the heavens. FUEL, reminds us that when we look at another human being, we see the entire history of humanity because we’re all connected to all that is and what has been. Connectivity is spiritual union, Oneness, communion. The Australian Aboriginal word for connectivity is Kanyini, that by the way, is the name of the documentary I’m representing here in the U.S.A.

What people call their “passion in life” is in a healthy, positive sense their spiritual gift that may be an art form, teaching, healing, problem solving, etc. When we do not develop and share our unique gift with the rest of the world, we are actually being selfish and Mother Earth becomes spiritually ill and then physically ill. This selfishness is one of the things that we see today and what we need to reverse to heal self, others, and the planet.

The world seems to be going through a growing period where everyone is becoming more conscious. Some people call this the beginning of a higher age. Any comments?

In Abraham Maslow’s 1943 “Hierarchy of Human Needs Pyramid,” only the small percentage of people at top of the pyramid are involved in a more conscious life, what Maslow called self-actualization. In his pyramid, the vast majority of people comprised the largest and lowest section of the pyramid where basic needs for survival are all consuming. Today, we see that bottom section of the pyramid has grown. More people starve to death today than ever. The fact that twenty million people per year are dying of malnutrition, with this number increasing, hardly reflects a higher age.

I believe FUEL helps us learn that the “higher age” needs to be equally for all. I view FUEL as a vehicle for higher consciousness through the movie’s intervention implementation because it graphically documents the intertwined oil addiction and addiction to war plus it lovingly demonstrates a higher way of living through renewable energy that can be accessible to all of humanity.

What is your take on “green living” today?

Ancient wisdom that was based on peaceful life in harmony with nature has been replaced with what educator, Paulo Freire named his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a system based on what those in control want us to learn, believe and thus, ultimately how to behave to serve those in power. Such oppression negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry, the type of inquiry we need today to increase green living. In recent years, there’s been an escalation of oppression of independent thinking and learning for environmental progress plus peace, human rights, and independent scientific research and journalism, despite their peaceful activities. This oppression stifles green living, living in harmony with and harnessing nature’s abundant, peaceful energy resources. FUEL helps reverse this oppression by empowering people to participate in both the process of inquiry and implementing solutions required for green living.

Universal principles important for humanity to experience green living are based on 2 things, connectivity and compassion:

1) When I say “connectivity,” I’m referring to the principle that we are each connected to each, all Peoples throughout the world, and to Mother Earth. Green living requires that we first become conscious that what we as individuals do in our daily lives impacts the lives of everyone else on the planet and Mother Earth.
2) When I say “compassion,” I refer to both compassion for each other and compassion for the planet. Green living requires that we also become compassionate to not only those we see each day, but for all Peoples of the world since we are all connected. What we do affects everyone else and what we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, even by neglect, affects us all in the long run.

What are we missing? What needs to happen?

We’re missing fully embracing the depth and breadth of connectivity to each other, Mother Earth, and the Universe. We’re missing the deeper compassion for each other and for Mother Earth.
Without recognizing connectivity to all that is, it’s easy to not have compassion and for evil to slip into our lives personally and as a human race and conquer. We’re missing opportunities to learn connectivity and compassion, a learning gap that FUEL fills.

If we as a society recognize, respect, and engage in demonstrating connectivity and compassion, we can manifest abundance for all Peoples, and Mother Earth returns this abundance to us. Josh makes this point in FUEL when he emphasizes that if we together learn about existing energy technology to access what nature provides from the sun, the wind, the water, and if we use this technology, then “there’s enough energy to sustain every living being on Earth now and for those to come.”

Individually, we need to be active in local, state, and national political systems to hold elected officials accountable and to ensure that our tax dollars pay for what we need. We need to learn about issues through independent journalists and media sources. Otherwise, we run the risk of learning news from sources remunerated by corporations that profit from weapons manufacturing and war.

In communities, we need to begin a peaceful decentralization process, first by learning from each other in neighborhoods, sharing our stories, strength and wisdom to heal and survive together with family and neighbors. As the global economic crisis intensifies and impacts us locally, this process will become paramount for survival. It is common in Western society to not know our neighbors or work with them to solve problems in hard times. Now is the time to change this, starting with community meetings. It’s up to each of us to create these meetings. Nobody else is going to come in and do this for us.

To survive crises, some of Earth’s oldest cultures knew and practiced crisis intervention by learning and healing together. By sitting in circles, being honest with each other, and storytelling, they managed to survive. In the same way, we need to gather with our neighbors and start creating the way we can survive and be healthy together. Collectively with help from nature and technology, we each have unique, valuable resources. Nobody, however, has everything it takes to survive and be healthy. We need to cooperate more with others. We need to be gathering with neighbors to design a system based on sharing and bartering that creates what each participant needs, beginning with community capacity building and mapping.

In a mapping exercise, people gather and participate in respectful dialogue and then information gathering. They democratically decide what unique knowledge and physical resources are available to them and what is lacking, who has the needed resources or access to them, and how to combine all of these neighbor resources so needs of everyone in the group are met. For example, every household in the cluster might not be able to install solar panels right now, but maybe one solar system could be installed that would supply several houses. Maybe one house has room for a wind turbine that could generate energy needed for several families. Maybe one family has finances but not time. Maybe one home has more room for a garden to be worked by several families and feed all of them. Maybe one family can produce biofuel to share. A transformation occurs by neighbors participating in identifying and creating solutions together.

This community transformation is happening in many parts of the world including in theaters after people experience the movie, FUEL. Instead of leaving after seeing FUEL, they meet each other in the theater foyer, share ideas, gather more information, discuss and plan how they can personally contribute to healing the planet, and what they can do collectively with their groups locally and nationally. They commit to recruiting others to see and learn the powerful teachings in FUEL. They donate tickets for less fortunate people to become empowered by FUEL. Teachers commit to giving extra credit to their students who see FUEL. Theater managers told me that they’ve never seen any movie result in people remaining and talking to each other in the theater afterwards. This is what Josh wanted, designed, and spent 12 years creating: a peaceful energy transformation for the betterment of all people.

As a nation, we need to put down our weapons and stop supporting wars of aggression. For national and economic security, we need to transfer the petroleum military complex resources to domestic energy education and technology. For modern society to have spent 3 trillion dollars on weapons while people starve is unconscionable. The petroleum-military-industrial complex increases aggressive competition and greed rather than cooperation for the common good.

How has this film changed your life?

FUEL has renewed my hope for a better future for humanity, reportedly as most people who see, even corporate heads, one of whom cried after seeing FUEL and committed to a dramatic change for the betterment of humanity.

Personal involvement with FUEL has meant that I could return to the U.S. from Australia with my younger son, Jeremiah, and be closer to each other as a family and support Josh and his movie, FUEL. I moved from one of Earth’s most remote communities with one of its oldest living cultures, now in dire poverty, where life expectancy has dropped to 38, to a modern metropolis of extraordinary material wealth, remarkable industrial diversity, and achievements with excessiveness and 10-lane freeways.

Now, almost a year later, my pivotal role in FUEL has provided me with more collaborative opportunities with many people of goodwill so that I can be a greater voice of those without a voice, those with whom I’ve advocated as a human rights worker over 25 years. What I can contribute now is more than what it would have taken me lifetimes to do without the opportunity of being in what people consistently say is a powerful role in FUEL.

There’s no project I know that can intervene and help expedite peace more than FUEL, or I’d not be as passionate about it. One 2-hour screening of FUEL to a group of disengaging youth can result in their engagement and reason to live that may have taken years of therapy that I offered.

One of the most interesting comments about FUEL was by a mother who had watched it with her children. She then wrote, thanking me for courage to say what I did on camera. She explained that my statements and the political parts Josh included in FUEL made it possible for her family to discuss matters that it had never been able to discuss, likening these issues to the way rape discussions used to be, taboo. Until rape became a public issue, its victims suffered in silence. She said that FUEL had brought her family members closer. They were able to not only discuss, but also to begin working to resolve these issues as a family unit in their own way. I guess this shows how our sharing openly and honestly, even our innermost challenges, helps others heal.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ll continue advocating for FUEL and participating in its movement, especially with disengaged youth and their families. I’m happy to be involved with America’s First Green Team, the San Antonio pro-basketball team in the ABA League, that after seeing the movie changed not only their fuel, but their name to “Texas Fuel,” and its mission to educating about renewable, peaceful energy at its half-time shows. They’ve entitled me, “Darling of Texas Fuel,” for which I’m honored. The team mentors inner city youth, so this project is conducive to my work. I’m also continuing to accept invitations to speak on behalf of the voiceless about “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Technology” at eco-peace, parenting, and health events.

I’ve been asked to be the U.S.A. representative of the new, award-winning movie, Kanyini, a heart-warming revelation of Australian Aboriginal history of connectivity to the Earth, each other, spirituality, culture and Aborigines’ plight to survive modern challenges without this connectivity after being separated from it. Kanyini has an associated valuable curriculum guide that I’m keen to promote. I’m also interested in developing an environmentally based community development consultancy to empower families and communities with their ancient wisdom, modern healing, and cutting-edge environmental technology. This next generation, non-food biofuel technology uses marginalized land unsuitable for food crops, HDSR trees that clean air and water plus provide cost effective building supplies, and the high-yield mustard seed, Camelina.

~ IL

Deborah Dupré holds a Master of Science degree from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, U.S.A. and Post Graduate Diploma from University of New England, NSW, Australia. Dupré has been a human rights and peace advocate for over twenty years; led research and development teams in S. Pacific Islands and Australia with Indigenous Peoples; provides the pivotal role in FUEL; lectures on Ancient Wisdom and Modern Technology. Her consultancy includes profitable opportunities by planting 2nd generation, non-edible biomass source seeds and trees for biofuel . She can be contacted through (external link), emailing or phoning 310.310.1997.