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Naturally Apolitical

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I spent last weekend at the natural product industry’s largest trade show, Expo West. I spent most of my time in the Seventh Generation booth greeting customers, consumers, friends and anyone else who wanted to stop by. Our new booth has a homey porch, and it was wonderful to see people hanging out wherever they could find a a free space to sit. But it wasn’t until I got home (well, not actually home… I’m on my way there now after a Greenpeace board meeting) and read Joel Makower’s take on the event that I realized we were an industry in jeopardy of loosing our heart and soul. Joel’s article talks about some of the reasons:

  • Activist groups are hard to find. Fifteen years ago when I started going to these shows, the edges of every hall were packed with animal rights, environmental, vegan, women’s rights and just about any progressive non-profit you could think of. They’re gone, chased out by the high cost of space, the business-only mood of the visitors, or maybe they’ve just given up on us. This is a shame, they are an integral reason why our industry has succeeded and we need to support their continued participation.
  • Today, virtually anyone or business is allowed to exhibit, this lack of quality lowers the standards for our whole industry. At Bio-Fach, Germanys international organic show, the guidelines are strict and you won’t see as many barely clad bodies or products claiming to do things that are better left to magic or bad dreams. Bio-Fach has created an experience of quality that is so strong it lingers for days after you leave the show. Most people I know were eager to escape the Anaheim convention center as quickly as possible.
  • The educational tract at Expo West is not too shabby, but what’s missing is the political dialogue and debate that tackles the toughest challenges we face as an industry and a society. More on the impact of venture capital, small companies selling out to multi-nationals, lobbying for things other than those that benefit our bottom lines, whether to sell to Wal-Mart and Target, the impact of Whole Foods purchase of Wild Oats, to name a few.

I could go on, but you get the point – Joel has more details. Let me know what you think if you were there!

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Greenpeace Un-Bored Meeting

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Being on a board of directors is a strange thing to do. What a bad name it has… a bunch of directors sitting around being bored. Well not so at Greenpeace. Here, I spend the day pondering the possibilities of how to leverage this worldwide organization to maximize it’s impact on everything from global warming to preventing the international whaling industry from wiping out some of Earth’s largest and most beautiful creatures.

We’re here to visit Greenpeace’s largest vessel, the 220-foot Esperanza. As we sit in our San Diego meeting room, excitement erupts as we get news that Greenpeace activists are demonstrating at Kimberly-Clark's largest mill facility in North America using a bus outfitted as a giant Kleenex tissue box

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Change It – Caught on Tape

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Author: Lara Petersen

As many of you already know, this summer Seventh Generation over 100 students to Washington, DC to be trained by Greenpeace to become activists in the growing movement towards social and environmental justice. This 10 minute Change It video showcases some of the highlights from that training.

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Why I Joined the Greenpeace Board 2.0

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Greenpeace is one of the best known environmental groups in America, and even better known around the world. They fall roughly left of center in the spectrum of environmental organizations, right about where I do. They combine careful and thoughtfully researched work with bold actions that capture our imagination and spirit.

At 35, they haven’t entirely lost their adolescence but are at the same time a fully responsible adult. They are led by a real visionary, John Passacantando, who believes in the same possibilities I do, and is willing to do what ever it takes the make the world a just and sustainable place for generations to come. Just the kind of guy I like to hang out with.

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Changed

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Author: Lara Petersen

in awe of all they brought
and the energy leaving the room
missing it already

we end with reciprocal gratitude, sweaty hugs
and what’s the next chapter?
what change will be brought by those empowered?

I can feel the momentum created
and know that it can’t be stopped
an overdue change has become inevitable

________

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Calling on Congress to Change It

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Author: Lara Petersen

As part of the Change It training, students worked through a simulation earlier this week where they were challenged to solve an energy crisis in “Sweet River, USA.” At first, as with any simulation, there were some participants who seemed a bit apprehensive.

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They’re Changing It

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100 of the brightest, most passionate college kids committed to learning the art of social and environmental change have gathered at our Greenpeace activist camp in the 100 degree heat of Washington, DC. These kids have stepped forward to hold themselves accountable for ensuring that we create the kind of future we all dream of. They are not afraid to dream big dreams. Dreams of a world yet to be born. Of a world we are not yet able to see.

The future is in their hands and, more than most, they are willing accept it. They do not look back. They look forward. They are less encumbered by the paths and patterns that keep us locked into the endless cycles of the despair that dissipates hope.

They are curious and unafraid. They have a spirit that is infectious. I am honored to be in their presence, honored to have helped bring them together, honored to share in this small part of their journey with them.

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Change It

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Author: Lara Petersen

Change It 2006 was finally born on Friday night. And it’s amazing!

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