Earth Day, rockstars, and a few good blogs

My most memorable Earth Day was several years ago at Northwestern University (actually an event called PhilFest, but close enough in date and spirit that it felt like Earth Day).  I thought I was there to give a standard Rocky Mountain Institute Powerpoint presentation on the four principles of Natural Capitalism.

Turns out, it was a crowd of 5,000 undergrads who had been listening to live music all afternoon, and I was the only act in between them and a very popular local band. With every new act, I discarded more notecards from my talk.

When it was my turn, I gave up, pocketed the notecards, walked onto the stage, and screamed into the microphone:  “HOW MANY OF YOU THINK DRILLING IN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IS A REALLY BAD IDEA ?”

A roar of approval from the crowd. And that is pretty much the sum total of my rock star moment – I had thirty seconds more to talk about energy efficiency, and how Amory Lovins advises that people don’t really want electricity or coolant, but instead crave hot showers and cold beer (“Beer! Yeah!” someone bellowed happily from the front row).

That was perhaps the best, and fastest, lesson in communication I have ever had. Know your audience. Appeal to their emotions. Give them what they want. Try to slip in some useful information. And don’t talk too long on Earth Day because there is a rock band tuning up in back of you.

There are some great and thought-provoking takes on Earth Day in the blogosphere right now, so here’s a couple:

Matthew Wheeler of Greenbiz calls out some Earth Day campaigns gone wrong.

Climate expert Joe Romm reflects on Earth Day, and some alternative approaches to branding.

And for some good, thoughtful, non-Earthy-Day ideas on climate policy, here’s an entry by Citizen Engineer (and rockstar) David Douglas.

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2 Responses to “Earth Day, rockstars, and a few good blogs”


  1. 1 Cam Burns April 22, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Very cool, Chris! I remember when you went to Phil Fest. Emotion is the only driver of change as far as I can tell. Well, actually, the studies all show that. Hope you’re doing well. Cam


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