Monday, April 23 , 2018, 3:28 pm | A Few Clouds 64º


Sarah Ettman-Sterner: ‘Green Porno’ Reveals Nature’s Sexy Side

The Web series takes us outdoors for a closer look at animals during their most, er, intimate moments

Admit it: The headline made you curious. That was purely intentional. Now that I have captured your imagination, please allow me to introduce you to Green Porno, a unique series on

It’s funny, factual and provides a full serving of a much-needed daily dose of nature. Please indulge me as I digress and explain how this topic came to mind.

Sarah Ettman-Sterner
Sarah Ettman-Sterner (Nick Sterner photo)

As an environmental journalist and producer, I sometimes find it necessary to go to extremes to get people connected with nature. Sometimes we have to resort to something learned in nursery school — “use your words.” We are all so busy, a society of stress monsters, cooped-up, overwhelmed people trapped inside at work or school, staring at computer screens for hours at a time. When we aren’t doing that, there is an iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm or some type of newfangled PDA tightly clutched in our aching, cramped, carpal-tunnel-destined hands. We don’t want to go outside anymore; we’ve become caged, anti-social animals.

And we live in Santa Barbara, the America Riviera — a place/lifestyle most people only dream about. Most of our fresh food is grown right here. The mild, year-round climate is ideal for al fresco activity. Diverse plant and animal life abounds. All of this, plus mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Isn’t it a pity that we spend our waking hours indoors, in artificial light and stale air, drinking from plastic water bottles and munching on chips? Shame on us!

Environmental Depression and the Rise of “Eco-Therapy”

People are distressed by the worries of the world: the economy, finding jobs (hopefully some that are green), climate change and the battle raging about affordable health care for all. So we hunker down inside. We worry. We lose our ability to be optimistic and our sense of humor. We make ourselves sick.

According to “‘Eco-Therapy’ for Environmental Depression” by Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh, “A new and growing group of psychologists believes that many of our modern-day mental problems, including depression, stress and anxiety, can be traced in part to society’s increasing alienation from nature.”

A source of Walsh’s information comes from Santa Barbara’s own Linda Buzzell, a Huffington Post contributor and co-editor of a new book titled Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind.

She is also the founder of the International Association for Ecotherapy, which endeavors to document that: “Ecotherapy is not a fad, nor a new marketing approach for the psychology profession, and not just more ‘green exercise,’ although it does include fitness and wellness practices. It does not promote narrowly focused self-absorption, feel-good therapies or thinking good thoughts as planetary panaceas. Nature-reconnection practices, animal-assisted psychotherapy, horticultural therapy, time-stress management, wilderness work and various restorative methods represent only a few applications of the blending of two fertile fields.”

Virtual Explorers: Couch Potatoes in the ‘Living Room’

As modern “cave dwellers,” a few of us get a bit of nature by watching reality shows that are at least filmed in the field, such as Deadliest Catch, the new Discovery series Swords (as in dead swordfish!) or Survivorman. Those endowed with the luxury of time and intellect go for the blue-chip documentaries series such as the BBC’s Planet Earth, Blue Planet or PBS’ Nature, on our jumbo flat-screen plasma and LED TVs in our so-called “living room.”

As armchair explorers (make that couch potatoes), we are entertained by viewing life-size in-your-face images of white sharks breaching as they attack an unsuspecting sea lion off South Africa. Thanks to innovations in digital high-definition television and 3D cinematography, it’s possible to experience what it’s like to soar just above the canopy, getting a bird’s-eye view of the rain forest canopy. I have to admit, it is thrilling to be able to assume the point of a view of a lion — with the help of night-vision cameras — as it stalks its unsuspecting prey at a watering hole.

But then, it’s all virtual, a passive activity with no real interaction with the natural world. I know I’m not alone. Dr. Karl Hutterer, executive director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, says, “We want to bring people back into nature. We’re fighting what has become a nature deficit disorder.”

So what’s the solution to the attitude that the miracle of nature is, well, boring and a waste of time?

Au naturel: Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno

Nature is exciting, very sexy and definitely worth a few moments of your time, which can be spent on the Web (or mobile phone) for free. Thanks to producer/writer/director/actress/model Isabella Rossellini, you can whet your budding appetite for life au naturel by watching Green Porno. But it’s not what you think.

Featured on the Sundance Channel, the series is an experimental production designed for the third screen — small, hand-held computing devices that are emerging as a short-film vehicle. The result is a three-season series highlighting the freaky, fascinating sex lives of insects, marine invertebrates, fishes and ocean mammals.

The series is described by Sundance producers as “scientifically accurate yet extremely entertaining. The title Green echoes the ecological movement of today and our interest in nature, and Porno alludes to the racy ways bugs, insects and other creatures have sex; if human, these acts would not be allowed to air on television. They would be considered most filthy and obscene.”

Simple, playful narration, whimsical costumes, charming animation and excellent film footage shot in the field are combined to “describe subject matter that could possibly come across as offensive to some.” However, there is nothing pornographic about Green Porno; the subject matter is firmly grounded on natural history facts that captivate us.

Rossellini said she has “always been interested in animals and animal behavior. Among the things you read about is their sexual lives, their reproduction, if they take care of their babies, what they eat, etc. And everybody’s interested in sex, so I figured, let’s go there. I wanted people to laugh, but then to leave and say, ‘Wow. I didn’t know about that.’ That was my green intervention. It was to make people aware of animal life.“

Green Porno reveals the cannibalistic mating rituals of the praying mantis, the roles form and function play in correct whale reproduction — caution: your eyes will pop when you see the costumes used in this one! — and my personal favorite, season three’s “Harem on the Beach.” You can even go behind the scenes to discover how Rossellini’s lifelong interest in the cycle of life became the creative genesis for this award-winning innovative production.

Regain Your Enviro Mojo

Yes, the song “The Internet is for Porn” from the Broadway hit musical Avenue Q rings true — in this case — for Green Porno. A few minutes spent with Rossellini may be just the thing to kick-start your mojo for the environment.

After a few good endorphin-producing belly laughs, you’ll feel a whole lot better and get motivated to go outside. Just don’t stop there. I suggest heading down to the beach to see the real deal. If you’re feeling adventurous, plan a whale-watching trip to watch the upcoming gray whale southern migration. For a truly unforgettable experience, visit the annual elephant seal rookery this fall and winter up the coast in San Simeon, starring alpha male “beach masters” and their sexy harems.

Green Hawk invites you to vote for your favorite Green Porno episode. Simply write a comment below. Or, suggest your favorite place to restore your environmental mojo.

Green Hawk interactive producer Sarah Ettman-Sterner focuses on current environmental trends and marine-related topics. A member of the Society for Environmental Journalists, she provided the “voice” for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society for more than a decade. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Cimme Eordanidis
Cimme Eordanidis
"Since I truly enjoy doing what I do, interacting with people and representing them during one of life's most exciting events is very rewarding."

Full Profile >