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Giving Thanks

11/22/2005 12:00:00 AM

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Last week, while I was in Atlanta for Greenbuild, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with the editor and publisher of one of my very favorite magazines, Paste. Over foamy Belgian beers at their local pub in Decatur, our talk turned to pub fare: religion and politics. The conversation wound back to the fact that these guys—trendmakers on the cutting edge of pop culture—were Christians…practicing, church-attending Christians.

We’re all too aware these days of how we pigeonhole each other in our divided red-blue culture. We left-of-center, earth-worshiping types claim the environment as “our” issue and refuse to make room for Christians and other “suspects.” This has been no small issue for the Paste guys, who face this prejudice all the time. Hip Christians? Green Christians? It flies in the face of all the assumptions we’re so attached to.

Later that night, over dinner, one of our advisory board members told us that Green Faith, a large coalition of people of diverse spiritual backgrounds and religious traditions, had gathered at the Greenbuild conference to create alliances. (In fact, a whole pack of nuns had been spotted walking the showroom floor.) Back home in Boulder, I opened last Saturday’s newspaper and found an article in the “Faith” section titled 'Where Heaven and Earth Collide: Boulder Christian community part of ‘creation care’ movement.' According to this article, 70 Christians recently gathered at a recent conference in Denver to talk about earth stewardship, and the National Association of Evangelicals is preparing to release a statement on climate change.

This is great news. And lately, I’m seeing this kind of support from “unusual suspects”—major corporations and the mainstream media—everywhere I turn. Consider:

--Late last month Wal-Mart ceo Lee Scott gave a headline-grabbing speech about the mega-retailer’s environmental commitment, including a host of initiatives such as selling organic cotton clothing, encouraging suppliers to use cornstarch containers and new “green” stores in Texas and Colorado. Wal-Mart’s initiatives have caused a good deal of debate, giving rise to both cynicism and optimism in green circles. For his part, longtime environmentalist Paul Hawken admonished everyone in the audience at his Greenbuild keynote address to write to Scott applauding these moves.

--Today the New York Times reported that mega-investment banking firm Goldman Sachs Group will encourage activities that protect forests and guard against climate change among its 24,000 employees and substantial client list, and will invest $1 billion in renewable energy projects. Through its Center for Environmental Markets, Goldman will study how the free-market system can solve environmental problems.

--Sunday night TBS aired 'Earth to America!,' a two-hour comedy extravaganza produced by Larry David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld.” Perhaps even more startling, though, was Fox News’s airing of 'The Heat Is On: The Case of Global Warming' the week before. When questioned by the Los Angeles Times about airing the documentary on the right-of-center network, producer Laurie David (Larry’s wife) pointed out, “This cannot be the domain of any one political party. … Fox News is a big part of the media coverage in this country. People watch it, and you want to get a message out, you want Fox News to be talking about it.”

Even New York City taxi drivers have joined the fold, adding to the fleet six new Ford Escapes—which get more than 36 mpg and run entirely on electrical power when operating under 25 mph (which is just about all the time in NYC traffic). “It’s a no-brainer,” Evgeny Frideman, who owns 650 cabs, was quotes as saying in The Week. “I didn’t start out green, but I’m green now.”

For those of us who’ve been preaching this gospel for years, all this newfound respect for our “cause” can be somewhat overwhelming, even perplexing. As I keep saying in this blog, our time has definitely come, and we should all welcome support—from wherever—with open arms and open minds. And as we delve into our organic, free-range turkey on Thursday, let’s give thanks and say a little prayer that it continues.



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