As we see more and more individuals change how they eat and grow food, I think we will also see more people make larger connections to environmental issues.
I see people taking environmental action in their neighborhoods and communities, and we need a strong government with clear rules and regulations to help support these initiatives, deal with climate change, and address other major environmental challenges. But we also need citizen action and individuals making a difference.
As I said earlier, we need more of what I call "citizen entrepreneurs" who don't just see themselves as consumers, but who reclaim our role as citizens by taking the "anything is possible in America" approach to solving the problems of our economy, our communities, and our Earth.
What's a sustainability trend that you wish would go away?
The era of the stovepipe mentality of sustainability -- problem/solution -- is over. There is no silver bullet; we need a silver buckshot that connects the dots. To deal with the biggest environmental and economic threats of our generation, we must embrace all solutions that address the entire systems at play: How do we not just create more efficient light bulbs but also change how we generate and transport the electricity that powers the bulb? How do we look to nature for answers on how we design systems and products? How do we mobilize capital to increase energy efficiency of existing buildings? How do we change how campaigns are financed? How do we value using less energy and stuff? How do we better respect human life? How do we empower more female leadership? These are all questions that are actually interlinked, and the answers can leverage change.
What's an idea you became fascinated with but that ended up taking you off track?
The greening of Las Vegas. A donor approached us to see how we could do it. It's a difficult task given the realities of Vegas. Our nation, and world, has a fascination with Vegas, and it's like going into the ultimate belly of the beast.
Oddly, Vegas has some selectively stringent water rules and a powerful water district. And lots of LEED-certified casinos that actually reuse and reduce a lot of water and energy on site, in relative terms -- I'd just hate to see the energy and water bills.
Given that Global Green is always looking at how we improve the lives of those in need while also protecting the environment, the project just didn't seem like our highest priority (though greening every city in America is critical).
Who are three people you'd put in the sustainability Hall of Fame?
Pam Dashiell: She had a vision of sustainably rebuilding New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward, and she played a huge role in making it happen. Just after Hurricane Katrina, her Holy Cross neighborhood (part of the Lower Ninth Ward) set a goal of becoming a carbon-neutral neighborhood, and they're making amazing progress. And that's what really allowed Global Green to decide to build our Holy Cross Project there. Sadly, Pam passed away almost two years ago.