Author Website and Blog

9 03 2012

Thank you for checking in to this Building an Ark blog.

I now have an author website set up at There, you’ll find a blog where I’ll be posting updates on my writing projects. Please visit the the new website and blog and feel free to share your thoughts.

All the best,
Ethan Smith

Animals at the Movies

7 02 2011

Does anyone out there have any favourite movie scripts that inspire reverence in animals and the environment?

If so, please share. 




Kudos for The Switch

26 01 2011

I rented The Switch yesterday – a fun Hollywood film with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. My favourite aspect of the film, however, was the character of Aniston’s son, Sebastian, played by Thomas Robinson. Young Sebastian loved animals reverently, and displayed real emotion and deep caring for the natural world.

Often in Hollywood films, people who care for animals and the environment are portrayed as living on the fringe; standing up for ridiculous ideals.

Sebastian’s character is inspiring, sensitive and hopeful. I would love to see more films show this side of children. Then other kids will watch these shows and know it’s okay to be reverent – to stand up for animals and the environment.

The Switch is not about protecting animals or saving the world. But such a well-placed character within a mainstream film is perfect to awaken a bit of awareness in viewers everywhere.

To the writers of the film, I say, “thank you.”



Image from The Switch -

Vegan Health in the Long Run

21 01 2011

I wonder if any long term vegans out there would like to share the stories of how their diet has effected their health.

I’d really like to hear from vegans who have blue-collar, physical jobs and are as strong as ever after ten years or more of veganism.


The Ark is Still Sailing

19 01 2011

It’s been a long while since I blogged on here. I’ve been building my family a home, raising my daughter, writing a couple of fiction projects, and being distracted by all kinds of other things.

Meanwhile, however, Building an Ark has been gaining a wider readership, courageous people are working tirelessly to help animals and the environment, and there are many reasons to feel hope for the future of the natural world.

Of course there are tons of things to worry about. climate change is happening, factory farms are expanding, animal suffering continues everywhere.

But I’m here today to tell you I’m back. I’m getting back to helping the rest of you who are creating a healthier world for us all to live in. Building an Ark was written to inspire reverence, action, and hope. New Society Publishers gave it their full support. So did Jane Goodall, Guy Dauncey and a team of dozens of advisors. Over the past year or so, I keep getting emails from people who have been touched by the book; people who believe in what we’ve done and wondering what’s next. I feel eternally grateful for those messages and for the continuing book sales.

But enough’s enough. No more procrastinating. I’ve got work to do. There will be more blogs, now. More projects. For animals, the environment, and kindred spirits everywhere.

Photo from Ark file/WSPA



Balancing Family and Advocacy

13 04 2009

I’ve had difficulty finding time for the blog this past month. Not because of any lack of enthusiasm or lack of material to write about, but because I’m building my family a home on my own. The amount of time and energy that go into that, plus the time and energy that go into being a father and earning an income for my family, leaves me with very little time or energy for writing and activism.

So I put this out there to all you parent/activists: do you have any insights or suggestions for balancing family and advocacy?

It has been my experience so far on this path that most of the successful activists I meet are single or, at least, childless. But that cannot be the answer for a more ethical, sustainable world. We who love this Earth must have another generation of committed, compassionate, and enthusiastic people to pass the torch along to.

I know there are other parents out there who are making this work. I also know there are others who – like me – are finding themselves spread too thin. That’s why I’m opening up the floor for ideas.

I will continue to write and promote articles about animals and the environment on this blog as I find time to do so. There are mountains of stories to be shared, oceans of ideas. I have six writing projects (and counting) on the side-burner until after I’m done building our house (a process that will produce a book of its own).

So, please, parents out there, share your wisdom with me and others. How do we do this? How do we save the world for our children while we’re busy raising them?



Breaking News for Seals – Let’s Get On It

4 03 2009
Everyone – this just came to me. Please read, take a deep breath of hope, and act on it.
One for the seals,

Fantastic news!

IFAW has just returned from Parliament Hill where the Honourable Senator Mac Harb announced a bill that could END Canada’s commercial seal hunt.

That’s right, for the first time in Canadian history, a politician is proposing a law to end the suffering of baby seals. 

No half-measures, no excuses. This is our chance to end the hunt forever.

Senator Harb has shown incredible leadership and courage by speaking out on behalf of the majority of Canadians on this issue. But he cannot win this fight on his own.

You and I must act quickly to ensure this bill is passed into law. 

Senator Harb has asked every caring Canadian to send emails and cards expressing support for an immediate end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt. He wants to fill his office from floor to ceiling with messages of support for the “Harb Seal Bill” and I’ve promised IFAW supporters will stand by him every step of the way.

Our goal is to collect over 200,000 emails, action cards and letters in the next few weeks (one message for every seal that will be killed in this year’s slaughter ) so I’m counting on you to act right now.

Please click here to send an email to the Canadian Senate

urging swift passage of this landmark legislation. It only takes a moment to add your name, and Senator Harb says every email is critical at this historic moment. This is our chance to ensure no more seals are skinned alive or shot and left to suffer.

Please don’t delay. Let’s flood the Senate’s inboxes with messages. Let’s show them Canadians care deeply about this issue and are tired of being ignored by their government. Senator Harb has opened the door. The time to act is now. 

The world is watching.

Let’s show them what we can do,

Olivier Bonnet
Director, IFAW Canada

Vegan Boots and Happy Feet

28 02 2009

The Kiowa Vegan XCRThere are good-quality, leather-free shoes and boots available in the marketplace. Many of us have been wearing them for years. But many still believe sturdy boots need to be leather and make this concession in their otherwise animal-friendly lifestyle. Well, the options are out there and I’m going to proudly support one of them right now.

I said goodbye to my old vegan work boots (No Bull from Pangea) last week. Made entirely from cotton and synthetics, they held up to a lot of abuse from me for six years, but, feeling a draft on my toes, it was time to search for a new pair. My search took me quickly to Garmont – a company so proud of their animal-product-free boot alternatives that they went ahead and named them The Vegans. For a sturdy, all-around work boot, they sell the Kiowa Vegan, with a goretex lined option for all weather wear. And for a lighter hiking shoe, they sell the Nagevi Vegan, also available with an all-weather option.

Are they hard to find? Not at all. A quick search of their website ( led me to three locations very close to me. So I happily made my way into Robinson’s Outdoor Store in Victoria, BC, where the well-versed staff were happy to fit me with a new pair of Kiowa Vegan XCRs.

Cost-wise, there is no difference between these animal-friendly options and their mainstream counterparts. If you still cringe at the cost of a good-quality pair of boots or shoes, just remember how your purchase affects you and your world in the long run. A good boot will last at least twice as long as its cheap, box-store counterpart, and – in the case of Garmont’s Vegans – you’ll be lessening your impact on other species while proving a point that we can all affect change with our choices. There is great power in our wallets.

How do I like my new boots? I’m loving them! I spend a lot of time in the woods and these boots are light-weight and very sturdy.

Wait! I just heard the chuckle of the hardened construction worker who doubts that the Kiowa Vegan will stand up to the impact of a backhoe inadvertently running over his or her toes. It might not, my friend, but I have an animal-friendly option for you, too. Check out this high-top, steel-toed option from Moo Shoes ( This boot has been standing up to all sorts of wear and tear for years without giving an inch in its stance for animal welfare. You can absolutely kiss leather boots good-bye.

So here’s to happy feet for everyone!


Seals and Sadness

27 02 2009

gulf-2006-005This is a time of year when a great sadness builds inside of me and – as much as I try to just carry on happily – I can’t avoid it.

The sadness comes from thousands of miles away on the opposite coast from where I live. Every year between November and May, harp seals are slaughtered for their pelts in vast numbers. Hundreds of thousands of these beautiful creatures are killed for the fashion industry and the entire season is supported by the Canadian government.  Most of the world condems it. Thousands – often millions – of people rise up against the seal hunt. Dozens of NGOs around the world are dedicated to ending the hunt (bless you all). Yet it continues for no good reason.

I am Canadian, and the annual sealing season makes me furious at my own country. Why do we do this?

It isn’t to sustain the sealers – they make only 5% of their annual income of the seals.

It isn’t out of neccessity – the pelts supply a needless fashion industry overseas.

Nor do the seals present a real threat to the fishing idustry as some claim. Their is no overpopulation of seals. They were nearly wiped out by overhunting in the ’50s and ’60s and any gain in population is merely a return to something near normal numbers.

This is a big, ugly issue but it really isn’t that complicated. The Canadian government needs to help east coast residents find a more humane, sustainable income to rely on so they don’t have to resort to this cruel slaughter every winter. And that income is obvious: eco-tourism. The east coast is stunningly beautiful. I’ve paid to visit there and will again. So would millions of others if only the government would promote the natural beauty of the land instead of exploiting nature in such a horrible way.

What can you do? Pick up Building an Ark and read Solution 84. We’ve listed all kinds of contacts and resources in there for being a lobbyist for the anti-sealing movement.

Or log onto one of the anti-sealing NGOs listed below and find out what you can do to help.

Whatever you choose to do for the harp seals, I thank you sincerely.


Rescuing Hope

21 02 2009

animal-acres-2008-051Our friends at Animal Acres are calling for help with their recent rescue of four abandoned goats. Please read this appeal from Animal Acres, and, if you can help, please do so. You can also get more information from their website:



And here’s their request:

Farmed animals are the victims of the economy and foreclosure crisis, too. This week, Animal Acres received another urgent call to assist suffering farmed animals in our area – and when we rushed to the scene, we found four abandoned goats. One severely emaciated goat was on her side, thrashing on the ground, amid broken bottles and other trash.The next day, we learned that Hope’s plight wasn’t over, WHEN SHE WENT INTO LABOR. Our veterinarian could not get to Animal Acres immediately, so he coached our Shelter Manager Frank Allen on the phone through the delivery process. Hope was too weak and emaciated to give birth, and she could not push her baby out. Without Frank’s heroic efforts to deliver the baby, both mom and baby would have died. When our veterinarian arrived on the scene and saw Hope’s condition, he could not believe that Hope was alive, or that her baby was born alive. It is truly, a miracle.

After receiving permission to take the animals, we loaded the three non-critical goats into one truck, and carried the downed goat to another truck, where we administered medicine for shock and pain, and gave her fluids. When she was stable enough for transport, we took her to Animal Acres for continued treatments, including trimming her severely overgrown hooves – some of the worst we have ever seen, and most likely the reason she could no longer walk, or get to food and water. Remarkably, after her hooves were trimmed, she was able to stand with our assistance, and then take her first timid steps. We watched her stand next to the hay trough, and eat, and eat, and eat. Our live-in intern Emilee named her HOPE.


As this alert is sent, the baby (who Frank named “Faith”) is doing well and drinking from a bottle since mom cannot nurse. Unfortunately, Hope is unable to stand on her own because of the difficult birth, and appears to be getting weaker. She gave every last ounce of strength she had for her baby. Our veterinarian came to the shelter again yesterday to assess her condition, and in addition to the medications and fluids she is on, all we can do at this time is to help her stand every 2 hours, and hope she begins to regain her strength.WE NEED YOU TO HELP US RESCUE HOPE AND FAITH, and provide hope for the hopeless.


·    We urgently need VOLUNTEERS to help us care for mom and baby, since they required round-the-clock care – including helping mom stand and baby drink. Our small caregiver staff is exhausted from doing 24 care, and we desperately need help! No appointment is necessary if you are coming during the day from 7 am to 6 pm – if you can help in the evenings, please call Frank at 661-212-4647.

·    Please DONATE to our Emergency Rescue Fund to help pay for Hope’s veterinary treatments and medical expenses – and keep our doors open for many other abandoned farmed animals. We are receiving more calls to help suffering farmed animals due to foreclosures – but our donations have dropped significantly due to the economy. We can’t continue our lifesaving work without your help. Please click here to make an emergency rescue donation today.

·    Please SEND THE VIDEO LINK ( to your friends and family to educate them about the plight of farmed animals, and what they can do to help.

Special thanks to Lassen’s of Santa Clarita, a health food store which donated colostrum milk for Faith.