ADVENTURE: You were raised in the suburbs of Chicago—not exactly a place known for awakening eco-consciousness.
HARRISON FORD: I was just thinking about this the other day. I remembered a moment in my life that I hadn't remembered for a long time—that happens more as you get older [laughs]. When I was 12, we moved outside the city to former agricultural land where they built all these tract homes. There was an irrigation ditch, and next to it was this little oasis of nature where a fox lived. I would go out there often and sit by myself. The fox became used to me and would come close—ten, six feet [two meters] away. And I think there's something about that experience that tilted me toward nature in a different way than a visit to a national park or something would. I was struck by the fact that these houses we were living in, these streets we were driving down, had displaced something. That more than us belonged there.
A: Jackson, Wyoming—where you spend much of your time—is home to some pretty committed environmentalists. That must have influenced your thinking.
HF: Absolutely. About 20 years ago when I was looking for a place outside the silly state [of California] to spend some time, I went to Sun Valley, but it was too built-up for me. So my wife at the time and I rented a car and drove toward Jackson. I'd only heard about it, and we saw it for the first time from Teton Pass. I was blown away. We knew immediately that we wanted to be there. A number of people involved in CI [Conservation International] live in Jackson, and when I became a landowner there, I felt a sense of stewardship for the Earth that I hadn't really experienced before.
A: CI says you personally ask tough questions and don't compromise your values. But CI partners with big corporations, some of which have been big polluters. Isn't that a compromise?
HF: No. It's an opportunity. We've worked hard to influence those people who have an effect on the environment, and that includes large multinational corporations. I'm very comfortable with our relationships with these companies. I feel we have the opportunity to influence them in effective ways.
A: Is that the future of conservation, partnering with global
corporations? That seems like an uneasy alliance.
HF: I believe that it's the future of conservation in general. One of the tenets of CI has always been to offer economic opportunities in developing countries, where providing for people's basic needs puts a lot of pressure on the environment. By adopting better practices, international corporations can be very important partners in protecting nature.