Sundance, THE GREEN, and DC-Style Glamour


Here’s a fun thing about blogging – when unexpected people find you.  For example, my recent mentionNctatheater of THE GREEN, a Robert Redford production on the Sundance Channel, was noticed by their PR person, who responded immediately by inviting me to their DC opening.  Voila – FUN!  So I blew off my dinner plans, donned my coolest suit and prepared to see celebrities.  Maybe even meet some.  (After all, I’d seen those Vanity Fair-type photos from THE GREEN’S L.A. and N.Y openings.)  The venue itself was flashy enough to dazzle us locals – it was the brand-new home of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.  Nice, huh?  And here’s their snazzy theater.

Boxer1Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) gave a ringing endorsement of the new show and I was struck by the night-and-day change in leadership of the Senate Committee on the Environment, after years with Flat Earth Society member Jim Inhofe at the helm.

Nicely loosened up with cocktails, we settled into our stylish and comfy seats to watch an episode called "Big Ideas for a Small Planet: Fuel," which sounds kinda dull but not to worry.  Produced by the same folks who brinBiobling_2g us "Queer Eye," it was easy watching, very human, small stories about regular folks, all that good stuff.  Like the lovable mechanic who’s devoted his life and risked his marriage to promote vegetable oil-burning car engines.  Or this gal who loves "bad-ass muscle cars" and found a way to drive them while green through her little business –

As the prez of the Sundance Channel told us, THE GREEN presents "possible stories," not doom and gloom.  You just can’t "do bleak all the time" he said.  And this reviewer declares the approach a success.  Laurie David was on camera a lot with her usual passion but most air time is given to regular folks doing cool things.  This show just might reach some viewers who haven’t seen Al Gore’s movie, which is presumably the point.  So another BIG thumb’s up.

And will be there gardening coverage?  The May 1 episode about cities includes guerilla gardener Heather Flores, who "advocates for creating green spaces in poor neighborhoods – and makes her own when the city won’t," according to their press release.  And on May 15 we’ll learn about Tom Szaky, "a young entrepreneur who uses worms to make a 100% green fertilizer that is packaged in recycled bottles."

So enough about the weighty subjects being covered; what about the gossip?  You know, those celeb sightings.  Well, not so much, unless you count the senator and Washingtonians want celebrities who aren’t government workers, please.  Okay, so how about a chance to schmooze with D.C. environmental folks, my nonprofit buddies?  Not a familiar face was seen and I wonder why.  I mean if a gardenblogger was invited, why not the river, tree and wildlife peoples?  Instead, the crowd was heavily populated with twenty-something Senate staffers (I’m guessing) getting in my way at the buffet table.  (And believe me, that’s some high-risk behavior.)

Jan_cousteauThe one bright note on the schmoozing front was the nice long chat I had with Jan Cousteau, a lovely woman who thank God hasn’t seen her 20s in a while.  She told me about the totally impervious fake turf being installed in a park near her Virginia home and we exchanged hand-injury stories – mine from using the computer, hers from feeding baby beavers and performing assorted tasks on dozens of expeditions.  I’m afraid I embarrassed myself, though, when I asked her – after she’d told me her name – what issues she was involved with.  "Water," she replied, as I suddenly thought to check my purse for something I’d forgotten – like my dignity.


  1. I look forward to seeing the presentation of ‘The Green’ but I can’t help but wonder if the Green Movement wouldn’t be better served if they picked a spokesperson who is less affiliated with the liberal agenda. After all, the more people reached by such an informative program the better and many won’t tune it just because of the pre-conception that this is a political program. I would embrace a system that promotes working together and less of a ‘them against us’ mentality. We have more in common than we think…we all have to live on this little, blue, beautiful planet which has been placed in our care for oh, so short a time! Hopefully, this program will be a step in that direction.

  2. Here comes the skunk at the garden party:

    According to CBS the Chicago office of the EPA reports that Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being released by the ethanol plants include formaldehyde and acetic acid, both carcinogens. Methanol, although not known to cause cancer, also is classified as a hazardous pollutant..

    Recent tests have found VOC emissions ranging from 120 tons a year, for some of the smallest plants, up to 1,000 tons annually, agency officials said. It isn’t known whether the chemicals are hazardous to nearby residents, they said.

    Because it is more volatile than other additives, such as MTBE, it increases the release of VOCs from cars. It is claimed to reduce emissions of CO2. The fact that ethanol lowers gas mileage may not have been taken into consideration when calculating the reduced CO2.

    Maybe someone can explain the benefits of Ethanol in gasoline to me. It produces increased VOCs when used in cars, it costs more, it decreases mileage, there are 25 plants in existent with 25% more planned that spew from 120 tons per day to thousands of tons a day of pollutants into the atmosphere which are mostly carcinogenic. In addition Ethanol and Methanol are pollutants in their own right. Diverting corn and other products into ethanol production raises the cost of corn and the animals it feeds as well. Who benefits in any way: the farmer and the companies producing the ethanol, that’s it.

  3. Jon, I stopped reading your comments weeks ago. Now I think you’re forever rehashing your argument just to be annoying – it’s working! And remember that no matter what you respond to this comment, I won’t be reading it.

  4. I agree with Ginger. If you really want to create “green” change it has to be less politically motivated and more economically motivated. Having Barbara Boxer, who represents my great state as one of the speakers immediately alienates almost half the population. She represents forced change through more regulations and government spending where as the answer is in people realizing the economic benefits of conservation, which is always a greater motivator.

  5. Jon… Keep it going baby.

    I happen to agree: ethanol is not the answer to anything. .. except reelection.

    But was the point of Susan’s post ethanol?

    But what’s so wrong with trying to be greener in any way possible?

    I think that what Susan is doing here is GOOD. Step one: become AWARE.

  6. Susan, I realize that you don’t read what I say. That is apparent because the information that I just wrote about was just released this week. It was released by CBS.

    I know you won’t be able to resist so please open your mind and listen to the facts of the matter, don’t just blindly stick to your politics and please take your head out of the sand. ethanol used power and creates CO2 when it is manufactured as well as when it is burned, eveidently it pollutes a great deal while it is being produced as well as when it is burned.

    The only rehash here is your refusal to look at the facts.

    What is your point, you don’t care if thousands of tons of carcinagenic substances are being sent into the air, you don’t care that people who live near these plants may get cancer, you don’t care that ethanol doesn’t produce cleaner air and only pollutes more at greater expense, you don’t want to be confused with the facts? Which is it?


  7. Let’s just say you are correct Jon about the negative effects of ethanol production and use. I am too lazy to research it. As those become known and production processes more widespread it is not out of the question that solutions to the drawbacks both in production and in cars can be worked out. We will never know if we do not try. Brazil and its huge use of sugar cane ethanol would be a good place to study.

    So the price of corn is being driven up. Where would you prefer the rising price of your energy dollars to go, farmers, agri-business and ethanol plants in the US? Perhaps you like the status quo, sending your energy dollars to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Venezuela, funding fundamentalist madrassas and totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and then topping it off with your tax dollars, spending huge sums on futile military chest pounding.

    A little skunk spray.

  8. Ethanol is NOT a good thing… unless you are a corn farmer. But, there are many corn farmers in our fine country. So maybe it is OK.

    But don’t be sold the bill of goods that ethanol is any kind of solution to our gluttony of energy consumption.

    I’m not anti-ethanol. But, it isn’t any kind of solution. I’m not anti-oil either. You should see my truck.

    5.3 liters of kneejerk post-divorce insecurity. I love it. (Though, now I’m ready to step back down to reality.)


  9. Hey! No fair! I never get comments from global warming contrarian dude!

    True, I don’t post about global warming, but it could be worked in … somehow …

  10. Happy Earth Day a day late!

    I see that there are a few peole that have done some research and realize that ethanol pollutes more and costs more. The recent news is that it also pollutes more at the source while it is manufactured and that it produces carcinagenic by-products.

    Christopher, you must have your clogs on too tight, I don’t favor the status quo, I am in favor of real alternatives. Manditory flourescents, higher mileage standards for cars and trucks, manditory recycling, utilizing our own resources which are five times that of Saudi Arabia and the only true answer to keeping our lifestyle and reducing emmissions, nuclear power. This is the only real answer, unfortunately it is not going to happen. I listen to all the proponents of human caused global warming and they studiously avoid the obvious. 20% of our power now comes from nuclear. These plants are at least 30 years old and they go along producing great quantities of power with zero pollution; no CO2, no carbon, no oil, no gas, no particulates in the air, no residue to landfill. We have spent billions on digging out a secure site in the middle of a mountain to safely hold the nuclear waste for 10,000 years. It’s a real shame but there will be no more plants built. The estimate is that it would take 50 years to get one built under current law (I won’t see it) which allows anyone willing to, to fight any building for decades and decades. WHAT A SHAME! Clean, dependable, safe energy, clean air and we allow a vocal minority keep us from enjoying it. In addition, lets not forget that humans are not the cause of warming, or that the natural warming is of really no concern. Trying to panic the country by utilizing a UN panel of politicians (this is the organization that put Syria on the human rights commission), actors and activists into accepting carbon trading, …..

    Sorry, you know the rest and I don’t want to offend Susan by repeating. Hey while she’s not reading, let me give you my impression of her problem. One day I had a gal come into my office with a paper she had printed out from an on-line IQ test she had taken. She crowed (how about Sheryl’s one sheet per trip policy? Phew!)… OK, she crowed about her score which was “highly intelligent” She challenged me with “Let’s see how smart you really are. Come on, take the test.” Well I did and showed her the results which read “Genius, Einstein level!” She then proceeded to go over the test with me and asked about a few of the answers and how I could get them correct. After going through a few I finally turned to her and said “Linda, (I was tempted to change it to Susan) I could explain all this to you but it would take far too much time” I was then slugged soundly on the shoulder. Some people get to thinking they know it all and when they finally realize they don’t, they lash out.

    Hey, have a nice day, it’s absolutely gorgeous here. I will do some burning and planting. maye a bike ride later when it is near 80!!!!

    Eliz, hang in there, there must be something we can disagree on.

    Enjoy. Jon

  11. Jon,

    There is NO REASON whatsoever to resort to personal ad hominem attacks on Susan or remarks about her (the bullshit IQ story). it is the very height of rudeness and imaturity. It is rude as hell to Susan, but I suspect she can take it. She’s clearly very bright and this is self evident.

    Surely you realize that these comments also diminish YOU. Maybe you have an high IQ, maybe you don’t. It doesn’t matter beacuse what I see/read is poorly adjusted and unsavory.

    This is Susan’s blog. Disagree if you like, but don’t insult. It is a bit like visiting someone’s home and complaining about the decor. If you don’t like it, shut up or don’t come in.

    Whatever you thoughts on ethanol or anything else, your last comment was completely out of line. Are you 12 years old? I am most unimpressed with the last comment. Childish. Rude. Simple.

    I’ll not be reading your comments anymore either.

  12. One minute I’m cozy in my seat at the movie theater, the next I’m coughing on fumes from an ethanol plant.

    Oy! Do you really want to get started on ethanol? Susan, why don’t you guys just do a post on ethanol and get it over with. Even the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy has said–recently–that ethanol is not the answer. We are so far behind the rest of the world in automobile emission standards, it’s hard to know where to start. Even the Chinese are ahead of us now. And, yes, ethanol production is jacking up the price of food and taking tamales out of the mouths of needy Mexicans.

    Here, you can read about it on my blog. Maybe you want to continue the argument there and give Susan a breather.

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