You know Ian Somerhalder the star, but do you know Ian Somerhalder the philanthropist? “The Vampire Diaries” celeb founded his Ian Somerhalder Foundation to help the environment and animals, and there are lots of ways YOU can get involved.
Besides spreading the message of ISF on social media, you can start up your own ISF community group in your hometown (contact the ISF website for help!) or see if there’s one already available. Ian, while being the founder of the foundation, gives props to executive director Kim Klingler for her work, and he stresses that people of all ages can get involved. Wanna help with things like going green, stopping animal cruelty and bringing about anti-bullying programs? Then this is the foundation for you! To learn about all this and more (including if Christian Grey would ever volunteer.), we spoke to Mr. Somerhalder himself.
Swoooooon. (Jennifer G. Thompson, Wildflower Photography)
ACT: Why did you choose to concentrate on the environment and animal rights for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation?
IAN: Imagine just for a second that this word we use, “environment,” (which typically people would describe as the natural area around us) is something not separate from us. Imagine us as one biological organism. The trees on earth effectively act as our lungs do. If you look at a tree or a lung, you almost cannot differentiate it from a piece of coral. They’re all so intertwined and interconnected. Then the question becomes, “Why wouldn’t you want to take care of yourself?” Essentially, this allows you to live a much healthier life. This is something [ISF executive director Kim Klingler] and I really focus on.
As far as the animals go, the only living thing we share on this earth with besides plants are creatures. Whether wild or domestic, they represent great purpose in our lives. The wild ones represent balance in the natural world, and without that balance, the imbalances can be catastrophic. In the domestic world, creatures represent a balance in our lives, and our families. In order for us to evolve as a species, humans must begin to recognize the value in all life, in all its forms, treating each life form with respect and reverence, and ultimately compassion.
We're so jeal of this elephant.
ACT: Can you tell us what’s going on with your animal sanctuary?
IAN: We’re in the developmental stages. There is a breathtaking piece of land down South that we are currently negotiating on with hopes of acquiring it.
The vision is to build a sanctuary that’s going to house a variety of creatures and allow them a second chance through a unique program that will empower these very creatures to transform other creatures: humans.
We’re really excited about this. We are developing a transformational bully program. It’s really difficult for us to be progressive as a civilization if kids are killing themselves because they’re being bullied. They’re typically bullied for superficial things. Kids are literally killing themselves because the internet allows bullying in a way we’ve never seen before.
A kid who is the recipient of bullying (because they don't fit in with other people’s visions) and then decides to take their own life may have become the child who developed the formula for cold fusion, or the next president, or change the world in some shape or form. In fact, each and every one of us shapes the world we see today. We simply cannot progress until we have a society that recognizes that it's not being the same that will change the world, but rather our diversity that will lead to a better, brighter, more creative world.
ACT: For people who can’t afford to donate, how can they still help with the foundation?
IAN: The easiest thing is to share ISF through social media. The good thing about this is information can travel so quickly, and sharing it online really gets people involved.
Another thing to do is start an ISF community group. It’s pretty powerful when people start these local ISF community groups. They have a certain amount of followers in their community and they start connecting. It’s that connectivity that really moves mountains. There are community groups all over the world. They’re from Ohio to Pakistan, you know what I mean?
You can also connect us to leaders of change. Essentially what we need you to do is be our eyes, ears and mouths. There’s a lot you can do, literally, from your fingertips.
ACT: How did you get to be such a nice guy?
IAN: I’m really not.
OK, one last pic of
Christian Grey Ian! (Jennifer G. Thompson, Wildflower Photography)
ACT: When did you start with philanthropy?
IAN: We all enjoy people being kind to us and giving back, and so I typically would imagine that one would want to be kind to those around them. There are a lot of voices that aren’t heard in this world that are far more profound and well-spoken than mine, and there’s something to be said for that. Really, I’m just a voice. I have a couple of ideas, but I’m a voice for their voices because I have the platform through entertainment.
ACT: Would you ever date a lady who doesn’t volunteer? Is that a big deal breaker for you?
IAN: I would say absolutely that would be a deal breaker.
ACT: OK, let’s discuss Christian Grey. No, we’re not gonna ask you if you got the role! We want to know: Do you think Mr. Grey would volunteer with your foundation? What would he do?
IAN: Of course he'd volunteer for our foundation. Mr Grey is a sucker for opportunity and challenge...as a volunteer? Mr. Grey would be able to harness the corporate world to serve and obey the mission of the foundation, and he'd do it with a sparkle in his eyes and a smile across his mouth.