Stephen Kennedy Smith, Jr. - A Bold Green Patriot
|Stephen Kennedy Smith, Jr., together with EMLINK LLC—a company focused on sustainable investment and development and employs and trains veterans in all its projects—are helping to introduce a technology in which crops are being grown vertically, with much less water and no need for soil or few other fossil-fuel energy inputs.
The VertiCrop™ high density vertical growth system (developed globally by Valcent Products, Inc.) is a green technology that provides a solution to rapidly increasing food costs caused by transportation/fuel costs spiraling upwards with the price of oil—and increasingly poor soil and declining water resources. Plus, when the project reaches critical mass, VertiCrop will put people to work here in America and provide for greater food security.
“On 7,000 square feet, you can grow the equivalent of ten to sixty acres,” says Kennedy Smith.
Why shouldn’t restaurants across America buy their salad greens from local growers? Why not emphasize our local sustainability? And why not do so in an urban setting?
Why waste money and clog our freeways when we can have local jobs that fight unemployment? We would save so much on fuel and put people to work all across America.
There are pilot demonstration projects going on now with the VertiCrop system throughout the country. Kennedy Smith mentioned Denver and Manhattan—and there will be many more. In a rapidly urbanizing world where the majority of people now live in cities, localization requires that food and fuel be produced in an urban context. Vertical growing is a new idea currently emerging in the sustainability discourse, which offers great promise for increasing urban production. Healthy, pesticide-free foods for our schools and local businesses, building local economies, and putting people to work in healthy, green technologies that enhances our overall security as a nation—that’s what being a bold green patriot is all about.
Stephen Kennedy Smith, Jr. also serves on the board of the John F. Kennedy Library Corporation and formerly worked in the United States Senate and at Conflict Management Group a nonprofit group affiliated with Harvard University. Mr. Smith was also a teaching fellow at Harvard, University and Law School and Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, NY.
Activist, Richard O'Barry
Marine Mammal Specialist, Earth Island Institute Richard O'Barry has worked both sides of the dolphin street, the first 10 years with the dolphin captivity industry, the past 38 against it.
Working back in the 1960s for Miami Seaquarium, O'Barry captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name.
When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O'Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.
From that moment on, O'Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he founded the Dolphin Project, dedicated to freeing captive dolphins who were viable candidates and educating people throughout the world to the plight of dolphins in captivity. He launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry, telling the public what was really going on at dolphin shows and urging people not to buy tickets to see dolphins play the fool.
O'Barry has rescued and released more than 25 captive dolphins in Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the BahamasIslands and the United States. His more than 45 years of experience with dolphins and his firsthand knowledge about the methods used to capture and train them has taken him all over the world to participate in lectures and conferences about the controversial dolphin captivity issue. As he knew it would, this created a lot of hostility toward him by those who stood to profit from the continued exploitation of dolphins.
"They're in this for money. Take it away, and they'll quit doing this," O'Barry says and adds: "Dolphins are free-ranging, intelligent, and complex wild animals, and they belong in the oceans, not playing the clown in our human schemes."
To recognize his contribution, in 1991 O'Barry received the 'Environmental Achievement Award' presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program (US/UNEP).
His book 'Behind the Dolphin Smile' was published in 1989, a second book, 'To Free A Dolphin' was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication.
O'Barry is a Fellow National in The Explorers Club, a multidisciplinary society that links together scientists and explorers from all over the world. Each member is an accomplished individual with at least one fascinating story to tell.
In January, 2007, O'Barry became the Marine Mammal Specialist for Earth Island Institute and Director of Save Japan Dolphins coalition: www.SaveJapanDolphins.org
Sam Adams, The Man in Charge of
the Nation's Most Sustainable City
Sam Adams was elected Portland Oregon’s 46th Mayor in May 2008 and was sworn in on January 1, 2009. Prior to being elected Mayor, Adams served four years as a Portland City Commissioner, earning a reputation as a “policy-driven” advocate for sustainability. He led the Council in progressive sustainable initiatives such as “Grey to Green,” which allocated $50 million toward Portland’s green infrastructure.
Drawn to politics early in life, Sam worked as an intern for Congressman Peter DeFazio while attending the University of Oregon. He remained on DeFazio’s staff until 1987 before going to work for the Oregon House Democratic Campaign Committee and then Democratic Majority Leader Carl Hosticka. Sam turned his focus to Portland in 1991, where he successfully managed Vera Katz’s first campaign for mayor. At age 29, he began the first of 11 years as the youngest mayoral Chief of Staff in the city’s history.
One of Adams’ first actions as mayor was to merge Portland’s Bureau of Planning with the Office of Sustainable Development, creating a cohesive Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and strengthening the work of both teams. The new bureau will increase Portland’s prominent planning reputation by incorporating sustainability practices into the core of Portland’s strategic planning and government operations. Two projects include Clean Energy Works Portland, an innovative, on-bill financing pilot program for home energy efficiency, and their Climate Action Plan to reduce local carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Sam happily accepted the most recent SustainLane award for the nation’s most sustainable city, but that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied. He vowed to continue striving, innovating and taking risks. He hopes to soon call Portland the most sustainable city in the world and is working to grow it into the hub for the global green economy.
Recently, in response to The Great Electric Vehicle Race hosted by gas2.org, Sam announced Portland will be the first to develop city-wide electric vehicle infrastructure. Right now the friendly competition lies between Portland and San Francisco, with hopes of spreading to (and greening) other cities across the nation.
Michelle Obama is Planting Gardens and Building Playgrounds,
for the Good of America
First Lady Michelle Obama spent much of her time so far this year developing green initiatives and promoting community service.
Of course, her organic Victory Garden gained the most media attention. As noted on the White House blog, “‘This is a big day. We've been talking about it since the day we moved in,’ said the First Lady as she and two dozen local students broke ground on the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House. Those students will be involved in the garden as it develops and grows, producing delicious, healthy vegetables to be cooked in the White House Kitchen and given to Miriam's Kitchen, which serves the homeless in Washington, DC.”
The hope here is that as the garden (fertilized with White House compost) flourishes with healthy foods that will fill bellies, it will also sprout an educational message, particularly to children—one that not only teaches about the environmental benefits of locally grown food, but of health and well-being, too. We need to give our future generations better tools to fight the health issues of today, like obesity and diabetes.
While locally grown, organic food can reduce reliance on oil used for transportation and chemicals for fertilizer it can lead to more healthful eating, which has become an important part of Mrs. Obama’s own agenda. And with the wide variety of vegetables in their garden, including fennel, shallots, kale and collard greens, snap peas, spinach, broccoli, carrots, romaine and butterhead lettuce and a great deal more than a spice-rack-full of herbs, you can bet the Obama family is getting a fair share of nutrients!
The First Lady said in an article in The New York Times, “For children food is all about taste, and fresh and local food tastes better. A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat, and my children know the difference, and that’s how I’ve been able to get them to try different things…you can begin in your own cupboard,” she continued, “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.”
The First Lady didn’t only foster gardens on her own lawn this year, she traveled to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) headquarters and presented USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack with a seedling from a White House tree to be planted in a new "People's Garden" to be built in front of the building. The garden is part of a community gardens project at USDA facilities around the world to encourage more sustainable landscaping. During her meeting with Vilsack, Mrs. Obama touted clean energy technology initiatives in the recently enacted economic stimulus plan, many of which will be run by USDA.
Also this year, the First Lady joined YouthBuild AmeriCorps for their Green Homebuilding Service Day. The day included a series of interactive workshops in which participants learned hands-on “green practices” including energy-efficient lighting, insulated box beam headers, insulation and weatherization, reduce reuse recycle, rooftop gardening, school greening, solar paneling, and sustainable landscaping.
According to YouthBuild, “the First Lady emphasized the importance of including low-income youth in the service movement as people with a great desire and energy to rebuild their own communities. ‘The message of YouthBuild, is so important: Participating in national and community service is not just an escape for the wealthy or for those students who can afford it,’ Mrs. Obama said. ‘Community service is an integral part of empowering our people and making our communities stronger. And service must become a part of each of our lives.’”
This summer, the First Lady kicked off the United We Serve initiative, a call to action for all Americans to work on projects that focus on improving the nation's schools, health care system and the environment, by helping to build a public playground at Bret Harte Public Elementary School in San Francisco.
As the First Lady urges Americans to participate in the United We Serve initiative, we should all roll up our sleeves and support the work she has done to encourage national service and to turn the country’s environmental initiative into a darker shade of green.
Going Green from the Inside Out with Eco-Star Mariel Hemingway
Mariel Hemingway’s foundation for green living is simple: Going green starts with your health and well-being. Mariel, an Academy Award-nominated actress, model, author, yogi, mother, and one of the leading voices for holistic and balanced living, believes that in taking better care of ourselves—by choosing products made without harsh petrochemicals and buying local, organic foods—we’re taking better care of the environment.
For Mariel, a healthy, green way of life begins in the kitchen. As she sees it, we can eat our way to a greener lifestyle by the foods we put into our bodies. She says, “It’s important to eat with a sense of awareness that food is your pathway to energy, health and the environment.”
Mariel shares her eco-friendly health tips in her newest book, Mariel’s Kitchen. Since it can be challenging to find the time to shop for and prepare healthy, eco-conscious meals, this book aims to make the process simple with delicious results.
“The First step to building a greener life is often through your kitchen door. Whole foods cooked from their natural, raw state are better for our bodies and the planet. Farmers’ markets let us increase our nutritional intake with local, pesticide-free foods, and as a side effect, decrease our carbon footprint. Spending more on meat, dairy, and fish from better sources and eating it far less often, as humans historically have done, is more sustainable all around.”
In her recent blog on The Huffington Post, Mariel wrote, “The beautiful outcome of a life well eaten is that the environment is benefited by conscious choices. When you begin to see seasonal, local and organic food as a pathway to green, it becomes easier to choose it, because you begin to feel better inside. When you make [better] choices at the dinner table, the choices you make in your environment naturally become more important to you.”
It may seem unbelievably simple but by taking small steps—such as choosing locally grown in place of packaged and processed foods—we can protect ourselves, our children and the earth for future generations.
What’s Mariel up to?
Mariel will be discussing “how to green your life” at the Go Green Expo, in Atlanta, Georgia on June 27. The Go Green Expo is the largest environmentally focused trade show in the United States. For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets to the Go Green Expo, visit www.gogreenexpo.com.
Soon, you’ll be able to try Mariel’s healthy snacks under the brand name “Mariel’s Kitchen” in natural food stores. Her signature healthy cookies will be available this summer. There’s talk of a possible healthy lifestyle show under the same name, too! Go to www.marielskitchen.com for more information. Also, look for Mariel in her upcoming film Golden Boys with David Carradine, Bruce Dern, Charles Durning, and Rip Torn.
You can also hear Mariel on Green Patriot Radio with David Steinman at www.greenpatriotradio.com.
Dave Chameides Makes Us Rethink Conservation
By James August Harrigan
Dave Chameides spent nearly all of last year talking trash. On New Year’s Day 2008, the two-time Emmy Award winning director/cameraman started diverting all of his daily waste to the basement of his Los Angeles home. But his motivation transcended that of a stereotypical hoarder. Dave sought to tangibly measure his waste stream for an entire year and cataloged the haul for the whole world to see on his blog 365 Days of Trash. What he learned, and the lifestyle adjustments he made along the way, not only kept him from evacuating his home (by December 31st, his trash for the year weighed in at just under 31 pounds), but earned him bona fide Sustainability Guru status.
Dubbed Sustainable Dave and the focus of worldwide media attention, Dave is neither a publicity stuntman nor an accidental environmentalist. As a father of two young girls, he’s genuinely committed to improving the legacy we all leave for our children. Before his vow to throw nothing away (or recycle anything for that matter), he had already converted his car to run on waste vegetable oil and equipped his home with solar panels. His garbage experiment, with its everyman approach and humorous tangents (he was regularly featured--and playfully mocked--on KROQ’s Kevin & Bean Show) remained a sobering examination of consumer behavior and personal responsibility.
Out of this experience, Dave created Chasing Sustainability, a captivating seminar aimed at introducing green-friendly practices to audiences of all ages from grade school on through college and beyond. Lively and apolitical, the discussion simplifies complex issues and inspires us all to rethink conservation. The faculty and students of California State University at Chico were so impressed by Dave’s initial presentation that they invited him back in the fall of 2008 to deliver Chasing Sustainability to all incoming freshman. Sponsoring professor Andrew Flescher noted:
Dave is interested in protecting the environment, but the way in which he presses this topic represents a perfect microcosm for what students are supposed to be doing in college: thinking about how well they are presently living their life, and whether or not they could be living it better.
While the trash in the basement has been donated to The Museum of Trashin his native state of Connecticut, Dave remains dedicated to raising environmental awareness. In addition to Chasing Sustainability, his website is an ongoing amalgam of ideas, solutions and resources, where he puts his filmmaking skills to good use in short how-to videos. He has recently been appointed as the Director of Sustainability at a neighborhood school, spearheading their efforts to improve campus conservation and working environmental themes into all aspects of the curriculum. Dave is also a regular contributor to activist social networking website Care2, which boasts nearly 9 million members.
As Sustainable Dave’s mantra notes, No one can do everything but everyone can do something. His no nonsense pragmatic approach puts everyday sustainability solutions in perspective for a growing audience that wants to do better.
Politics & Blues
John Lee Hooker, Jr. Provides A Voice for Green Patriots
Recently, Green Patriot had the pleasure of talking with two-time Grammy-nominated musician John Lee Hooker, Jr. about the message behind one of his new—and might I add, most powerful and politically jarring songs, “The People Want A Change,” which, if you haven’t already heard it, I suggest you download from iTunes at the end of this story. I predict you’ll like it because you’ll be able to relate to it. It’s simply gratifying for a fed- up America.
“The People Want a Change” sends a message to people of all political beliefs and affiliations—liberals, conservatives, Independents, Republicans, and Democrats—about the need to rescue this country from its economic, financial, political and environmental crises. As the song goes, “The people want a change; they’re tired of the same old thing”
John’s song speaks for millions of Americans who otherwise cannot be heard. As he puts it, “Music can be a vehicle, a way of protesting or boycotting. You know, entertainers are activists; we are the vehicle to make those with high authority pay attention. Music delivers a message in a way that the average person can’t. It gives many people a voice.”
John is a funky blues man. His music encompasses modern urban R&B rooted in Motown blues from his upbringing in Detroit, where he grew up around legendary musicians like Stevie Wonder. Of course, his biggest inspiration for blues came from his father, the great John Lee Hooker, who saw talent in his son from a very early age. John’s first glimpse of stardom came when, at the age of 8, he performed for WJBK, the local Detroit radio station. By the time he was 17, he hit the road with his father and was on tour before he even left his teens. From there on out John Lee Hooker, Jr. certainly has made a name for himself with his distinct style and personality.
In 2005 his first album, Blues with a Vengeance, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. His third album All Odds Against Me, which includes his song “The People Want A Change” earned him his second Grammy nomination in 2009 in the same category.
John debuted “The People Want A Change” when he took the stage in Tacoma, Washington during a recent tour. The song, written as a tribute to then President-elect Obama, ended up becoming a funky blues anthem for society to express its frustration with many U.S. government policies. His political lyrics constructed a voice to convey the people’s dissatisfaction with the instable and disorderly way in which the country was being managed. Anger felt by Americans resonate in lyrics such as: “Country gone into recession, jobs are on the line, kids can’t afford college because they’re bills are so far behind.”
And indeed, on November 4 2008, we the people received our first taste of major change when Obama clearly swept the election. However, the issues John sings about in his song are still in need of tending—healthcare, jobs on the line, gas prices on the rise, and the recession. I asked John how long he thinks it will be before we start to see improvement in these areas.
“It will get a little worse before it gets better. So much still needs to be done. Reforms need to be done to health care…some pay more for healthcare than they do for a mortgage. I was without health care for 15 years, and that’s a scary feeling. Now I’m fortunate to have it, but not everyone is. I know of a man who had cancer, and his medication and treatments were so financially overbearing that he had to get married to get healthcare—this system definitely needs reforming.
“Let’s not forget about the issue of our energy. I’ve become so aware of saving energy. I started by unplugging things around the house that aren’t being used, and I ride my bike to the grocery store. I’ve learned a lot about sustainable energy, like from wind turbines. One 5 megawatt wind turbine can provide energy to over 1,000 homes. I would like to see many more being used.”
John is a compassionate man and believes that things will get better. “With Obama, (we can do it and) it is up to all of us. We may have to sacrifice to bring this crisis to an end by cutting down on certain luxuries. It is unfortunate things had to get so bad in order for some of us to appreciate what we have. We need to see the big picture, too. While touring in Turkey, I became aware of how blessed we all are in the United States. People live in houses built of mud, and we take for granted the carpet on our floors. I saw some extreme poverty, and some of us must realize that we’ve got it made.”
After the debut of “The People Want A Change” in Washington, John fine-tuned the song, and later brought it to life on screen with an animated music video, which he collaborated on with Laurent Mercier of France-based Callicor Productions. The animation includes John accompanied by Obama, and peace luminaries Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X and Mahatma Gandhi. (You can watch it at www.johnleehookerjr.com
“I’m singing about issues of the world, from global warming to integration, which affect everyone, from the poor to the rich, cashiers to doctors, and the left to the right. This song offers a universal message of inspiration and liberation.” John Lee Hooker, Jr. proves himself a true Green Patriot, bringing people together to help make this land we all love stronger and more secure.
Across the board, Americans are angry, frustrated, and fed up about the deep hole we have dug ourselves into. Got hope? Yeah, we’re up to our necks in hope. So what’s the next step? Turn our frustration into courage, and turn hope into political, social and environmental action. Need some motivation? Listen to John’s song. It’s a healthy alternative to the depression and anger you’ll likely feel after reading the news headlines. His song will ease your frustration, put a smile on your face, and remind you that we’re all in this together. I’d like to think of his song as a rallying cry for Green Patriots everywhere.
- Randi Clausen
John Lee Hooker, Jr. would like to thank everyone who worked on All Odds Against Me,
including: Frank Thibeaux (funky bass player), George Lacson (bass), Jeffery James Horan and John Garcia Jr. (guitar), Jeff Teczon (saxophone), Frankie Bailey (trumpet), “Hip Hop” Mike Rogers (drums), Mike Rinta (trombone), Will Griffin (keyboards), David Barrett (harmonica), Magda Tondera-Hooker, Cynthia Handy, Pam Hawkins, and Tyrone Kilson (backup vocals), the engineer and staff at Pajama Studios.
All Odds Against Me, (Steppin’ Stone Records, 2008)
Cold As Ice (Telarc, 2006)
Blues With a Vengeance (Kent Records, 2004)
Interview with Bruce Barlean
Our August pick for Green Patriot of the month is Bruce Barlean, owner of Barlean's Organic Oils. The family-owned business sits on a twelve-acre farm situated in Ferndale, Washington, where hundreds of orders are processed a day for their signature organic flax and fish oils that are loaded with omega-3 nutrition.
"Barleans is the largest purchaser of organic flaxseed in North America, and we don't buy from overseas," Bruce says, "we guarantee stable prices each year to our 'family of farmers.' The Barleans family supports great causes in our community and the country, which is very important to us."
Barlean's purchases only organic flax oils, source fish oils from pristine Nordic and Peruvian waters, and presses organic flax oil on demand (not in advance) so every bottle arrives to consumers as fresh as possible.
Bruce's green leadership is reflected in the company's values of providing truly healthy, organic products and carrying out sustainable business practices. Bruce shows his gratitude, "I have the best job in the world because I'm paid to help people live healther lives."
Visit www.barleans.com to check out their extensive line of award-winning flax oils, fish oils, greens powders and specialty oils.
Interview with David Bronner
David Bronner, as the grandson of the original Dr. Bronner, comes from a long line of Green Patriot environmentalists.
What is it to be a Green Patriot environmentalist? How about no petroleum-derived paraben preservatives, phthalates or any other petrochemicals or other suspect ingredients in any of their products? That’s good for you and our country—and that’s what Green Patriotism is about. Dr. Bronner’s cosmetics, personal care products and soaps—including the company’s fantastic, newly introduced ultra-pure certified organic hand and
body soaps, shaving gels, shampoos, hair rinses, and leave-in
|conditioners and styling crèmes—embody the highest virtues today of what it is to be deep green. Their commitment to fair trade and progressive employment practices is also impressive.
No light shades of green for this Green Patriot company, with both U.S. Department of Agriculture organic certification and membership in the elite GREEN Patriot Green 100. That means when you buy Dr. Bronner’s magnificent soaps and newly introduced personal care products, you are investing not only in your personal health but also in a healthy America—one that is increasingly becoming free from its addiction to foreign oil, lightening its carbon footprint, reducing pollution, and taking a global environmental and fair trade leadership role.
Thanks to their commitment to environmentally sound products from the outset, Dr. Bronner’s has never used petrochemicals or other synthetic chemicals. Indeed, when I wrote The Safe Shopper’s Bible, when it came to cosmetics and personal care products (not to mention the many other categories into which Dr. Bronner’s magic soap fits), only Aubrey Organics and Dr. Bronner’s were among the elite pure. Not surprisingly,
both of these companies have gone on to become nationally acclaimed leaders in the natural cosmetic and personal care product market.
Dr. Bronner’s produces real soap for your home and personal care needs, not the so-called soap products sold today that masquerade as soap but in fact use detergents made in part or entirely from petroleum.
Their soaps are so incredibly gentle and versatile, you can use them for anything. They are so mild you can wash a child’s face, but they are great for dishwashing, too.
We use Dr. Bronner’s soaps all the time around our home. They make your life simple—and they contain absolutely no petrochemicals, helping you vote with your shopping dollars to put as a first priority for this nation the reduction of its dependency on foreign oil from hostile governments and unstable regions of the globe, not to mention reducing
toxic pollution, and lessening our carbon footprint.
I doubt there is an American today who hasn’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s All-One soaps. But how many people know who the original Dr. Emanuel Bronner was and what he was all about?
The original Dr. Bronner was actually a third-generation master soap-maker from an orthodox Jewish family in Heilbron, Germany, where he was certified as a master soap-maker under the rigorous guild system of the time. He was the heir to the family’s soap factory and business, but rebelled against his father and left Germany. The “Heilbronner’s” soap-making tradition evolved into “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” when a young Emanuel Heilbronner (a.k.a. “Dr. Bronner”) came to America in 1929. (After the Nazis nationalized the soap factory in 1940, his parents and most of his family died in the Holocaust.)
Dr. Bronner initially worked as a chemist and consultant to various soap companies in the
United States. However, most such companies were converting to the complicated synthetic
|surfactant formulations that comprise modern body care products, so he struck out on his ownin the late 1940s. As if things were not difficult enough for the soap-maker, his first wife and mother of his children died in 1944. But, increasingly, he devoted his attention to the individual philosophy he would later publish on soap labels.
As reported at www.treehugger.com
, “Originally, Bronner would preach his ideas on street corners, giving soap to anyone who would listen. The ‘doctor,’ who held no formal doctorate, soon discovered people were making off with the soap without sticking around for the sermon. ‘So he got the idea to put the philosophy on every bar of soap,’ said Michael Bronner, Emanuel’s grandson.”
His ecological castile soaps and message of peace resonated powerfully with the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, and he became an icon of the time as the hippie movement embraced everything about Dr. Bronner’s soap—from its New Age philosophy to its all-purpose, 18-in-1 formula. The Jimi Hendrix film Rainbow Bridge even featured the good doctor.
, “The brand blossomed into a success, written about in Vogue
, and many other magazines…. In his later years, Emanuel went blind and would speak his ideas into a tape recorder for transcription. Ralph recalls his father talking into the tape recorder until two in the morning, fretting over the minutest phrasing on the label. Ralph would then have to retype the label with the new message intact.”
According to its label, Dr. Bronner’s soap can be used to shave, shampoo, massage, brush teeth or wipe a baby’s bottom. (By the way, I also use it to wash my car, since unlike other detergent-based products, it is also biodegradable and breaks down into harmless compounds.)
WE ARE ALL ONE
“Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Then, who else but God gave man Love that can spark mere dust to life! The moral ABC, uniting All-One, brave, all life! Who else but God! Who else!” Thus begins the message of the company, reflecting Dr. Bronner’s lifelong passion for creating the now famous 30,000 words on his soap bottle labels.
Dr. Bronner’s essential vision and philosophy were born out of the fate of his family and the Holocaust, and are emphatic that we are all children of the same divine source: People must realize that we are “All-One!” and that the prophets and spiritual giants of the world’s various faith traditions all realized and said this. Dr. Bronner was also grounded in a powerful ecological consciousness, and the soaps were an extension of this simple, natural green way of thinking.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox is the acclaimed documentary about the Bronner family, starting with the grandfather who hated communism and believed in an all-one world and worked hard to get his message across on the products’ labels. The documentary
has received terrific reviews and been screened at the Mill Valley, Hamptons International and Seattle International film festivals. Forward reports that
“Emanuel Bronner, creator of the company Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, was not your typical boardroom suit. Third-generation soap-maker, escaped mental patient and son of Orthodox Jews and Holocaust victims… and in the film, the only suit Bronner wears is a
swimsuit. That’s because his pool is one of the many pulpits from which Bronner preaches his messages of ‘All-One-God-Faith’ and ‘The Moral ABCs,’ both of
which he pasted on every soap bottle he produced.
“In the film, Bronner’s black sunglasses and passionate, Germanized speech make him across between mad scientist and preacher on a mission. He employs feverish, often religious rhetoric, invoking such names as Moses, Hillel, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad,Buddha and Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz as prophets of one God.”
“All one! All one! All one!” is the message of this messianic soap-maker. (See Resources for information on how to obtain this film.)
The company walks its talk. From a scientific basis, their products have consistently tested pure. Indeed, in a testing program for petrochemical traces that I carried out, Dr. Bronner’s was one of the few so-called natural products that actually tested pure. In fact, half the products purchased and tested were contaminated with residues of the petrochemical and probable human carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. Not Dr. Bronner’s.
But being a Green Patriot company also involves dedication to working people; that is where this company also shines. Dr. Bronner’s revenues are well over 20 million annually; yet, the company has among the most progressive profit-sharing policies, donates funds to many causes, and constantly makes charitable contributions in countries
and regions from China to Ghana to the good ol’ USA, including purchasing a 1,200-acre rain forest for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Total compensation of executives is capped at five times that of the company’s lowest-paid position. Employees annually receive 15 percent of salary paid into a retirement/profit-sharing plan, up to 25 percent of salary as a bonus, and a nondeductible PPO health insurance plan for themselves and their families.
Today, the family is run by Emanuel’s descendents, including are now made with 100 percent post-consumer waste paper. serves as chief executive officer.
David Bronner is very active in the effort to legalize industrial hemp in the U.S., and hemp oils have been added to Dr. Bronner’s magic mix of ingredients, as a means of reducing rain forest destruction. Industrial hemp is non-psychoactive cannabis grown for fiber and seed. Hemp has a remarkable number of beneficial uses, and many environmentalists now support its use in agriculture, manufacturing and trade. Dr. Bronner’s has signed the Co-op America Woodwise Pledge to be socially responsible through diminishing their consumption of forest tree-based materials and products. In the spirit of this pledge, their bar soap paper label and inner liner are now made with 100 percent postconsumer waste paper. Their official letterhead is printed on this same paper. All office copy/printer paper is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. They also now silk-screen their cylinder bottles, which are 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, in place of the million-plus paper labels they had used per year.
Hemp oil is also a great natural ingredient for their soaps. Says David Bronner, “Hemp oil improves our soaps because it contains such a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which make our soap milder and less drying.”
The over 30,000 words spread across all the soap labels were Dr. Bronner’s life work of searching every religion and philosophy for “Full Truths” that the company says can be summed up in two beautiful sentences:
1. Constructive capitalism is where profits are shared with workers and the earth from which it was made.
2. We are all brothers and sisters and we should take care of each other and spaceship earth.
In following these principles, the Bronner family has definitely fulfilled the mission of Emanuel Bronner. He would no doubt be very proud of what his son and grandsons have accomplished on behalf of spaceship earth and the many persons whose lives have been improved by a simple thing called soap.
Interview with Dr. Devra Lee Davis
Recently, Freedom Press interviewed one of the outstanding Green Patriot™ scientists of our day, Dr. Devra Lee Davis. Dr. Davis’ new book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer is a scathing indictment of a major public health effort hijacked by industry. With the complicity of some government officials, industry has thrown enormous resources into creating doubt that the toxic chemicals they use are causes of cancer.
Dr. Davis first began to write this book about the links between environment and cancer in the 1980s. At that time, she was an epidemiologist (a scientist who studies the causes of disease in groups of people) at the National Academy of Sciences. Her boss convinced her that what she had to say would be so controversial, so incendiary, that she would not be able to continue to work at the NAS after its publication.
|She decided then to put the book aside and stay at the NAS. Her choice allowed her to stay in the trenches, so to speak, putting out more than two dozen thoroughly referenced reports on environmental factors as causes and accelerators of cancer. And now, more than 20 years later, this landmark book is an even more convincing indictment of those
who would obfuscate science for financial gain—even when heeding that science could prevent millions of cancers.
Cancer is a very complicated disease. All of us get mutations; we all have cells that are damaged all the time—from oxygen, from life itself. We’re asking what “goods” we can use to strengthen cells’ ability to fight off these insults. What can protect cells from getting damaged and retaining that damage?
|Today, Dr. Davis is working with other cancer experts at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute to create the first hospital-based Center for Environmental Oncology. The Center has both a basic research division and a clinical/epidemiologic division that will set up a database of information accessible to cancer patients, families, and
communities about ways to reduce cancer risk.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Davis about the work she is doing at the Center and in Washington, D.C., to create a safer world.
GP: What kind of work are you doing at the University of Pittsburgh?
DD: Our basic research division is looking at the “goods” and the “bads” of cancer. We’re trying to figure out whether we can demote, reverse, or repair cancerous cells.
The “bads” are the things that cause the damage: the environmental factors that increase the risk of cancer. Right now we’re studying the combined effects of low levels of xenoestrogens—foreign forms of estrogen—on the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
DD: Exactly. The third part of the Center for Environ- mental Oncology’s work is about greening products and life in general. We’re working with David Steinman’s Safe Trip to Eden, the Environmental Working Group, the Breast Cancer Fund, the World Health Organization, and others.
|Our clinical and epidemiologic division is looking at broad international differences between populations. Why do Japanese men have five times less prostate cancer than American men—and why does their rate quickly match those of Americans when they move to the U.S.? Why do twins who are identical not get the same cancer? Why, in America, do young black women get more breast cancer than young white women?
The answers to these questions have more to do with environmental factors than genes. Only 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer is due to “bad genes.” What’s going on with the other nine?
GP: Sounds like public policy is going to have to shift to truly protect people against cancer.
We are concerned about the absence of regulatory agency authority to set standards for personal care products and enforce them. In the U.S., you are probably setting your baby’s bottom into a bubble bath that contains chemicals that have been banned in Europe. We’re told that we should tolerate the presence of these chemicals because they contain “just a little bit,” but when you add them all together…well, there are a lot of unanswered questions about their safety and cancer- causing potential in combination with one another.
takes an “innocent until proven guilty” stance on chemicals—has to change.
|People especially need good, unbiased information when it comes to the most preventable cancers: breast cancer, prostate cancer. There is strong evidence that a substantial fraction of these cancers can be prevented through avoid- ance of synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogens.
Two hundred-plus chemicals widely used in the U.S. have been found to cause mammary tumors. The lax chemical policy that has allowed this—which
Now, the green movement has had a lot of successes in recent years. Rates of some cancers are decreasing, and this may be due to the fact that levels of certain organochlorine pesticides are 100-fold lower in humans than they once were. The bald eagle and the osprey have come back in the lower 48. The condor is flying in California again. People are changing their diets and using supplements that are likely to help prevent some cancers, such as lignans and other phytoestrogenic substances from plants for the prevention of breast and prostate cancers. There’s hope.
Unfortunately, many of the steps we’ve taken to prevent cancer here are undermined as we ship those same cancer-causing substances overseas. Cancer in the Third World, where people don’t have access to screening or chemotherapy, is going to be catastrophic. There, it’s even more vital to prevent cancer from developing in the first place. So public policy on that has to change, too.
GP: Is there hope for cancer patients, too—for those who haven’t been able to prevent the disease?
DD: Hope is the most powerful drug for a cancer patient, and yes, we do have hope now for them. I’ve heard many examples of patients doing very well after doctors gave up on them but forgot to tell the patient!
Therapies are getting more and more effective. Increasingly, cancer medicine is using all available approaches—no longer do we think in terms of “either/or” when it comes to alternative and conventional approaches; we now think “both/and.” Major medical systems are bringing in yoga, massage, and other modalities, right into the hospitals.
They are recognizing that an integrated approach is the only way to make more progress.
For more information on the Center for Environmental Oncology, go to
This article was reprinted with permission from The Doctor’s Prescription for Healthy Living magazine.
Interview with Ed Begley, Jr.
Recently, GreenPatriot.us interviewed one of the outstanding Green Patriot™ environmental- ists of our day, Ed Begley, Jr. As an actor, he has had an unusually prolific career since the late 1960s.
(Look at his resume on the Internet Movie Database, and you'll see he was a guest star on many all-time favorite TV shows).
Since 1970, Begley has had an unusual dedication to living green, and with his absolute commitment to walking the walk he has emerged a pivotal environmental leader in the Hollywood community. He served as chairman of the influential Environmental Media Association, which mobilizes the entertainment industry in support of environmental causes, and he has taken a leadership role at many organizations including Tree People, Friends of the Earth, the Earth Communications Office, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Thoreau Institute.
Most impressive, however, has been Begley’s rigorously simple and earth-friendly lifestyle, as captured in HGTV’s current reality series Living with Ed. For example, Begley pedals his stationary bicycle to power up his toaster every morning. Begley’s beautiful co-star and wife Rachelle Carson, while an environmentalist herself, could be considered more moderate – she is more concerned than Begley that their lifestyle includes beauty and comfort, as they do their part for the planet. This sets up the good-natured conflict of the show, which adds to its appeal.
Begley on the roof of his solar-powered home in California.
On March 10, GreenPatriot.us met up with Ed and Rachelle at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA, where they were supporting Pangea Organics.
GP: Ed, you have set a wonderful example of living green and walking the walk of an environmentalist since 1970. How have you perceived the growth of public interest and attitudes towards environmentalism since then?
EB: I think right now in 2007, we’re seeing a massive change. A lot of people are not only interested but very open to making change and very keen on making a difference in their lives. They see the connection between actions in their personal lives and some of the things that we see occurring. They get the connection between their actions and pollution in a city like LA or Houston or other non-entertainment cities like Bakersfield where you don’t even attain the very lax federal clean air standards. They see the connection between their actions and the problem with ozone depletion. They see the connection between their actions and global climate change. Having said that, a lot of people are stepping up to the plate and making big changes. We see it with the Toyota Prius. They are a victim of their own success at Toyota. They can’t make these cars quick enough. Compact electric trucks are also selling like crazy. And on and on.
My goal with this show Living with Ed is to make sure people know if you can’t afford the solar panels, the hybrid cars, the big-ticket items, take the low-hanging fruit first. Do something right away that can make a difference within in your budget. If you can’t afford solar electricity, can you afford a bus pass? Can you afford a bicycle? Can you afford an energy-saving light bulb? Can you afford an energy-saving thermostat? Pick some of the low-hanging fruit and then move up the ladder, if you’re so inclined, to some of the medium-ticket items and maybe one day the big-ticket items. That’s what I urge people to do. I think right now people are really poised and ready. People are doing it. People want to make a change.
GP: We've noticed there is an excellent list of suggestions for greener living on the Living with Ed Show website. What do you think are the changes people can make that will have the greatest positive impact on our environment?
EB: I think if everybody did something and then continued to do other things on the list of things within their budget - if people who have very low incomes did those few things that they could afford, families with medium incomes did those things they could afford, people who are wealthy did everything they could do within their budget - I think these problems would end in very short order, if everybody did just what they could.
I’m not talking about the list of things that you can’t do. People always respond with that. “Well, I can’t, I don’t have public transportation in my area." Well then, take that off your list. “I can’t ride a bicycle, I’m physically disabled." I’m not suggesting that you should, then. “I can’t ride a bike in the winter in Detroit." Well, no one’s saying that you should. How about when the weather or your situation permits, or if public transportation is available? Can you buy a light bulb today if you’re in Detroit? Can you do these other things? Can you turn your thermostat down and wear a sweater a bit? Are you capable of doing that? Then make that list of things you can do.
And look at the success stories. I’ve talked about some of these problems like ozone depletion. Look at what we’ve done with that. We banned CFCs and got very aggressive with that problem. The ozone hole over Antarctica hasn’t gotten bigger, it has gotten smaller. It’s freaky.
Look what we did with the air in LA. We began with the dirtiest air in the nation. Look at the things we started in LA, the things we started in California. Pollution control devices on vehicles in LA became the safest models not just in the country but now the world. They want to use this kind of technology in Bejing and Mexico City where they have other smog control problems. We have four times the amount of cars in LA since 1970, yet we have half the ozone, we should all get a medal. All of this stuff has worked. You look at the problems, but look at the solutions. Look at what we have done.
Here’s Rachelle Carson, my beautiful wife and co-star from Living with Ed, and she is a very important part of this equation. I want things that are environmentally sound but you know what? She shows they can also look good and have style and function, and she’s fantastic, a breath of fresh air. And more people respond to it, if it looks good.
GP: Sometimes people don’t instantly see the connection between our dependence upon foreign oil and our national security. Would you like to comment on this?
EB: I think when you do something like buy a Toyota Prius, if you have the budget for that, or buy an electric truck like the Phoenix Motor Cars truck, or buy a Terra Pass if you’re on a very modest budget, and mitigate the CO2, all of those things are going to have not just one effect, but several. You’re going to lessen our dependence on mid-east oil, you’re going to clean up pollution in cities like LA, and you’re going to put money in your pocket.
And let me be very clear, this is looking at the technology that exists, not some pie in the sky, “Oh, we need hydrogen cars, we need fuel cells," but what exists today with the Toyota Prius, with the hybrids. If everybody whose budget would permit would go and buy a hybrid car, GM would be scrambling to make more of these hybrid cars right away, and Ford and DaimlerChrysler would be making more of these hybrid cars. Toyota already now is just trying to crank them out. You would see a huge impact.
I can’t think of anything better we can do for our national security than lessening our dependence on mid-east oil, and that is possible. These are cars that are safe cars, they’re stylish, they’re comfortable, The Toyota Prius, you’ve got the Highlander, you have the Ford Escape now, you have the Lexis hybrid, you have the Honda Hybrid. There are choices, and if you get out there and get one of these cars, you’re going to see not just reductions of tail pipe emissions but great mileage, which is very, very good for our national security.
Interview by Sheila Huettl, staff writer at Freedom Press.
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