When Communities Come Together, Certain Things Happen

By Susan Lutz

Hope seems lost. So often headlines tumble us backwards, forgetting that hope exists. But all is not lost. I found hope, and more, in these stories, these people, and these communities – each bringing rejuvenation to our environment and its communities. Moreover, it’s not just hope that these stories project. Within the actions and hearts of the people in these stories, a deep certainty resides in their power to change not only life for themselves but for others.

  • Taking Back Detroit Neighborhoods with the Power of Organic and Community – Urban depression runs through many areas of large cities. Abandoned homes often represent a dark picture of an impossible task: how to bring life back to once vital areas. This Detroit neighborhood is taking back its homes and its community by using YouTube, gardening, and the support of each other to revitalize and reclaim a neighborhood.
  • Planting Trees as a Mission – This 103-year-old woman Karnataka has planted not just one, two, or even 100 trees. Saalumarada Thimmakka, from India, has for the last 50 years planted over 400 banyan trees. But that’s not all. She also fights to get a hospital in her community.
  • Urban Garden in the Heart of NYC – In a place least expected, the Urban Garden Center sprouted, providing fresh natural food and serving the community through gatherings and education. The Urban Garden Center has forged on, despite many obstacles. Their location houses a two-block stretch of city concrete under part of the railway system. What they do inspires others to bring the beauty and revitalization of greens into city living.
  • Empowerment through Fair Trade – The success of companies will no longer be measured in dollars only. Perhaps that never was true success. Some companies achieve empowerment for their community and themselves by giving back. Alaffia is a company in Togo, Africa with a mission to invest in the community. They state that their goal is to end poverty and foster gender equality. They work on things such as educational projects, maternal health, and reforestation, to name a few.

Connecting with the community, demonstrating an organic lifestyle, and helping others through cooperation with the environment, brings forth prosperity, perhaps slowly, but surely. As the large corporations struggle with profits, they now look to the little – though giants in heart – as models for the future. The power of their certainty plants seeds of true change that will benefit all.







#1538: NY Senator Liz Krueger

liz-krueger-500How compassionate is the New York State Compassionate Care Act of 2014 legalizing the use of medical marijuana? My guest this week, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, a lead advocate for legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and also for recreational use, gives us some insight into the pros and cons of the current bill, and why it needs to be enhanced to allow coverage for more diseases. Senator Krueger has also sponsored the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act to limit the investment in oil and gas stocks in NYS pension funds. For more information go to: nysenate.gov/senators/Liz-Kruger or send a tweet @LizKrueger

#1532: The Green Living Guy

Seth-LeitmanDo the electric slide into an EV (electric vehicle), and plug into a greener way to travel. My guest this week, Seth Leitman, a/k/a Green Living Guy, brings his expertise on vehicles that are electrifying the roadways. From Ford Fusion to Mitsubishi to Tesla, we learn about how the car industry is heading towards a more electric future. Seth’s Green Guru Guides and soon to be videos, are great tools to help you become a more sustainable Earthling. For more information go to greenlivingguy.com

#1532: The Green Living Guy by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

#1529: Going Solar, Baby!

Vote-Solar-the-many-shades-of-green“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say, it’s alright.” – George Harrison

New York State is committed to achieve 50% renewable energy by the year 2030. The Shared Renewable Program is part of that push, and Governor Cuomo recently stated that “this program is about protecting the environment and ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code or income, have the opportunity to access clean and affordable power.” This week’s show takes us to the #Solar4All Community Celebration sponsored by Solar One and Vote Solar. We heard from the NYS Energy Czar Richard Kaufman, as well as many other New York elected officials, who have worked to get this program off the ground. We spoke to Peter Olmsted and Adam Browning of Vote Solar, who are instrumental is developing policy for solar projects in New York, and beyond. We also spoke to Elana Laichena, Program Manager for Here Comes Solar, a project of Solar One, which promotes many solar initiatives. The Shared Renewable Program will help improve neighborhood health, resiliency and create opportunity, as renters, businesses, and homeowners will be able to participate in renewable energy projects, and receive tax credits on their utility bills. For more information go to votesolar.org, herecomessolar.nyc and sharedrenewables.org

#1529: Going solar, baby! by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

The Environmental Hazards of Consumerism

By Susan Lutz

Products stacked high. Priced low. That’s the box-store shopping model we’ve come to accept. Shoppers expect cheap bargains, and for the most part, get it. From my small college town in Minnesota to Central America, I’ve watched Walmart build and consumers follow. I watched as the college town almost died out. Buildings begged for renters, to buyers rather than shoppers. Today, we watch the scope of Walmart’s impact reach for the skies, adding a negative carbon footprint at a fervent pace.

Walmart’s positive green press spins differently. Walmart reports all is right with the company’s clip to reduce emission and go green. However, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance reported that Walmart is guilty of going in the opposite direction and increasing greenhouse emissions with no stop in sight. In addition, many of Walmart’s products do not reflect the consciousness of a company dedicated to sustainability.

About ten years ago, Walmart started issuing it’s own, Global Responsibility Report. In developing countries, it’s hard to keep people away from the lure of the American brand (though many products are not made in America). I found the stores overpriced. The appeal for many, as Walmart knows, is the location. It was on a bus line, the parking lots are huge, and taxis even wait outside. Everything sat under one roof. A lure, even to this shopper, who couldn’t resist when the rain poured (the parking was not only huge, it was covered), and I needed some over-sized paper for my child’s school project.

Walking the aisles of these big box stores feels overwhelming and too much. Do we need purple and green and pink toilet paper? Are those products a “green” company should support. Jeffrey Hollender, founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, Inc. took a look at what companies are doing to confuse customers into thinking a company is going green, when in fact it’s not:

“In essence, Walmart is saying, ‘Hey, Walmart shopper, here’s a totally unsustainable product from one of our supposed Sustainability Leaders.’”

What do we do? Walmart and other consumerism-toilet-paper-whole-green-simple-lifebox-stores are now planted as an option for shopping, for everyone, for everything. What do we need? Do we need so much? The visual of green and pink toilet paper is one I’d never thought of until now. Walmart’s not just going to go away. We’ve helped create it. Yet, it must change. It’s too important. They’ve got the power to do it. We’ve got the power to demand it.

I returned to my college town a few years ago. It had made a bit of a comeback. The diner I cooked for was gone. But a few coffee shops and new stores had taken hold. It’s the main street of postcards. The place where community gathers and owners greet customers. Between the Walmart model and the main street, a model exists where we can reduce our impact, empower local retailers, and promote that which truly is good for the planet.

#1524: Greener Media


This week’s program features Jesse Ash, principal and lead producer at Greener Media, an eco-conscious production company based in NYC. We discuss how storytelling via digital and film mediums, is an essential tool in helping raise awareness about environmental and social issues. Jesse has won a Webby for his animated short Magical Cure, and his current project, Common Ground, was recently screened at the United Nations and at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. In addition, Greener Media’s short documentary, Man in the Maze, was a winner of the Sundance Short Film Challenge this year. To find out why Bette Middler has been deemed the “Queen of Green” and why it is helpful to have a celebrity name attached to a particular cause, you have to tune in.  For more information go to: greenermedia.com

#1524: Greener Media by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

#1509: Bedford 2020

Bedford2020_trans-01This week’s program takes place at the Bedford 2020 Summit and Solar Action Day. We spoke to Andrew Revkin, writer of the Dot Earth Blog for the New York Times, as well as Peter Olmsted, East Coast Regional Director for Vote Solar. We also spoke to Mayor Michael Cindrich of Mt. Kisco, NY about the solar projects on his agenda. Keynote Speaker Amory Lovins, of The Rocky Mountain Institute, spoke about new energy technologies that are on the horizon for the future of electricity. It was a gathering of innovators, educators and community, all working to promote solar and other renewable energy, in an effort to help create actionable solutions to green house gas emissions. A special thank you to Heather Flournoy for her hard work and hospitality. For more information go to bedford2020.org, dotearthblogs.nytimes.com and votesolar.org