As a member of the editorial staff of Natural Home, I find few things more fun and rewarding than meeting the actual readers and potential readers of the magazine. Last week, I got to shoot off to San Francisco for an extended trip that took me to three conferences–Dwell magazine’s green design conference, Dwell on Design, San Francisco Mart’s Green Design + Home Furnishings Show and West Coast Green Residential Building Conference and Expo–where I got to do just that. Chatting with people who are passionate about the things we cover every issue is great. Those who have been longtime subscribers can share the things they’ve learned and the impact that our work has had on their homes, health and lives; green-building fans who have never read Natural Home discover a consumer magazine that caters to their exact set of interests; and we get to hobnob with those in the “industry” who are committed to making real and affordable changes to our homes and world.
One of the most interesting aspects of the trip was late on the final day of West Coast Green. Although by this point I was kind of exhausted after spending eight days in an only-somewhat-familiar city and living out of a suitcase, I attended the presentation “Green Media 2.0: Optimism and Authenticity” presented by Bryan Welch, our own publisher and editorial director, and Brian Back, founding editor and publisher of Sustainable Industries magazine. Here, a bunch of green media-types sat around discussing what role we play and what our obligations are, to our readers and to the green movement. I took two main messages away from the discussion. The first was easy, and more of a reiteration of a basic point of magazine work: We are here for YOU, our readers. It’s not our job to tell you what you need to do, tell you how to live your life or advocate some professional mission–it’s our job to serve as the tool YOU need to make your lives and homes healthier and happier. It’s you who demand that we uphold the highest green standards, and not be swayed or confused by what’s become a hip and crowded marketplace. It’s you who say you want more hands-on, affordable “I can really do this” kind of articles. And ultimately it’s you who keeps us employed, doing what we love to do in a field about which we’re passionate.
Second message? Green is fun! Not only are we not here to advocate a certain lifestyle or to guilt you into a more eco-friendly lifestyle, we’re here to show you that the things you already want to do can be…Cool! Fun! Affordable and sustainable! As this green movement catches hold, we’re never going to be able to convince others to convert to this lifestyle by messages of doom and gloom. Maybe guilt is a motivator–but it’s not a very good one and it’s definitely not a very fun one. But when this lifestyle includes the coolest, most attractive and most economical, sensible products available…well, the rest will take care of itself.