FAQ

So I Googled you and it seems like all you write about are whales...

That's because Google focuses on current coverage and, since 2016, I've written several books about whales (focusing on the critically endangered southern resident orcas) and I consulted on and wrote the Royal BC Museum's exhibit Orcas: Our Shared Future.

As a journalist, author and filmmaker I like to do deep dives into specific topics.

Deeper down the Google listings you'll see that prior to writing my first orca story I was writing extensively about the challenges facing BC's forests. 

Other topics I've covered in-depth... the climate crisis, HIV/AIDS, Little Sisters Bookstore's battles with Canada Customs, various levels of Canadian politics, the BC film, TV and theatre scene and I've written way too many stories about The Vancouver Canucks. 

If you Google me in a few weeks I'm hoping you'll see a lot of stories about sharks - because I have two new kids books about sharks coming out Oct. 18th with Orca Books. 

I'm also hoping you'll see even more stories about me running for Saanich council.

 

If you want to find out more about me/my work, here are a few links:

My personal web page 

My Wikipedia entry

For my work as an adjunct professor at UVic - my official UVic page

To check out the Skaana podcast where I interview people about oceans, eco-ethics and the environment - http://www.skaana.org/ 

For more about my TV and film work - my IMDB listing

For more about my theatre work - The Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia

And my YouTube page(for a mix of orca stories, interviews and comedy)

My bio...

I was born and raised in Vancouver and moved to Saanich to study Theatre and Creative Writing at the University of Victoria. 

While studying at UVic I wrote for Monday and was one of the original writers and performers in the hit improvised soap opera, Beacon Hill. 

After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts from UVic - a double major in Theatre and Creative Writing -  I moved to Williams Lake to work as a reporter for the Williams Lake Tribune. That adventure that turned into the Leacock Award-winning comic memoir, Never Shoot a Stampede Queen - published by Victoria’s Heritage House. 

Since surviving Williams Lake, I’ve worked as a journalist, author, playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker, performer and comedian and lived in Vancouver, Toronto and Maui.

During that time I regularly visited Vancouver Island, continued writing for Monday (as well as The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Sun, Maclean’s and Time) and wrote, produced and performed in numerous stage shows in Victoria. My play, Escape from Fantasy Gardens (does anyone remember a guy named Vander Zalm?) was the first live stage show ever at the Roxy Cinegogue - now the Blue Bridge Theatre. 

I visited Victoria frequently enough that Ian Ferguson’s bestselling book, The Survival Guide to British Columbia jokes that the best place to find me is Pagliacci’s. Okay, he’s only sort of joking.

I returned to Saanich in 2015 as the University of Victoria’s Harvey Southam Fellow. My Southam lecture - about comedy and "crossing the line" - was featured on CBC Radio’s Ideas. 

Since then I’ve been an adjunct professor at UVic for the Writing and Theatre department and the Fine Arts Faculty. During the two years since the world shut down I’ve taught almost 2000 students. 

I’ve also written extensively about - and advocated for - the critically endangered southern resident orcas. 

I’ve written four books about orcas. My three orca books for younger readers are published by Victoria’s Orca Book Publishers. My book Orcas Everywhere received the 2020 City of Victoria’s Children’s Book Prize.

I’ve got two new books for young readers - both about sharks - being released by Orca this fall. The introduction to Sharks Forever is by Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson.

I host the popular environmental podcast, Skaana, where I interviewed guests like David Suzuki, Wade Davis, Alexandra Morton, Elizabeth May and Carl Safina about oceans, eco-ethics and the environment.

I consulted on and wrote the Royal BC Museum’s exhibit, Orcas Our Shared Future.

Meanwhile, I’ve continued writing for TV and film, my plays have been produced around the world and I completed my Masters degree in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

As a journalist and I’ve covered municipal, provincial and federal politics.

As a political satirist I’ve made fun of all of the above.

So running for office is clearly karma in action.

I’ve assisted on municipal, provincial and federal campaigns for various political candidates. And as a satirist and TV comedy and variety writer, I’ve written speeches (and jokes) for provincial and federal politicians -- and I’ve performed on stage with several of them.

I’ve also found myself getting political when I switched from writing about the endangered southern resident orcas to advocating on their behalf. 

I’m a founding board member of the Victoria-based theatre company, Broad Theatrics and I have served and still serve on board and communities for several of Canada’s national writers organizations and do voluntary consulting work for various environmental organizations including Legal Rights for the Salish Sea and Deep Sea Defenders.

My wife (artist, filmmaker and Reiki Master) Rayne Benu and I - and the two Norwegian Forest Cats who run our home (Saga and Frejya) - lived in the Tillicum Gorge area (just on the Saanich side of Harriet) before moving around the corner from the wonderful Cedar Hill Recreation Centre. So I’m very aware of and interested in issues related to Saanich boundaries. 

My approach to politics - and my approach to pretty much everything - is to do the research.

Read... ask questions... listen.

So, if there’s something you think I should know about any of the issues facing Saanich - and anything you think Council should be doing for the community - please tell me.

Thanks for taking the time to find out more about me.

Mark

Hey, Hippie, What's With the Long Hair?

For about 15 years I was half of the musical comedy duo, Local Anxiety. We toured Canada, did a lot of stuff for CBC and NPR and specialized in political comedy with a focus on eco—comedy. 
Our shtick: my comedy partner, Kevin Crofton played a corporate Pattison groupie who never met a forest he didn’t want to clear-cut.
I played the ultimate tree hugger who literally worshipped at the altar of David Suzuki. 
To look our parts we agreed early on… Kevin (who actually was much more of a hippie in real-life - he war raised on Salt Spring, had a guru and had lived on ashram) would cut his hair as short as he could stand it. And he’d wear suits on stage.
I’d grow my hair as long as I could stand it (and/or my wife would let me) and bounce around on stage in jeans and tie-dyed shirts and bare feet.
Though Kevin and I rarely play together any more, I started getting the occasional acting gig and the roles for long-haired older guy are so much more fun the the roles for someone my age with short-hair or a shaved head. If you have Netflix and want to see me in actor-mode you can check out the last episode of Season 1 of ReBoot: The Guardian Code.
When I said I was running for Council, I had a few people ask if I’d “clean up” for the campaign.
It wasn’t really an option. I’ve been working on a documentary about the endangered southern resident orcas for the last few years. I’m occasionally on camera as the narrator and (because of the pandemic) we still have a few more scenes to shoot.
It’s tough enough to cut around the fact that my beard went grey during lockdown without me suddenly showing up on screen with an all new look.
After that… 
I’ve always said that if I start to look like Kim Mitchell it’s all going - though not til the documentary is wrapped. 
So I guess the future of my hair depends on whether council’s stressful enough that more of it starts to vanish like Kevin's...

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