Archive for March, 2010

Letter From New York March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

On Thursday of the week past, I was in Washington, DC with Nick Stuart, CEO of Odyssey Networks, with whom I work. Nick and I were in the nation’s capital for a few meetings, including one with National Geographic. As we were getting ready to go to DC, an invitation was presented to us to attend a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington to announce Morocco’s Charter of the Environment and Sustainable Development in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day [yes, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day!] that will be celebrated in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. There will also be a huge Earth Day celebration on the Mall in Washington, DC on the 25th.

Nick wanted to attend but it conflicted with another appointment he had and so he asked me if I would fly the Odyssey flag at the Press Conference, which I did. It was an intimate affair, covered by about twenty-five journalists with a slew of notables both from the U.S. and Morocco, ranging from the Kingdom of Morocco’s Secretary of State in charge of Water Resources and Environment, to Lisa Jackson, the U.S. EPA Administrator to Kathleen Rogers, President of the Earth Day Network, to Fathallah Oualalou, Mayor of Rabat to the Moroccan Ambassador to the United States as well as several others.

When the Press Conference was over, I got a few minutes to chat with Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Network President. She mentioned to me a fact I’d forgotten that it is not only the 40th Anniversary for Earth Day, it’s also the 40th Anniversary for the EPA, which, today, is working with all parties to carve out environmental solutions, a role Congress might have performed but hasn’t so it seems to be falling to the EPA.

We chatted a bit about the green economy, one that she feels is coming into play, quickly and she speaks fervently of the result of better health that will come as a result of the green economy, the Green Revolution she is convinced we are experiencing. She feels that the Green Revolution is as profound a revolution as the Industrial Revolution and that we are seeing the way man lives transformed. And she feels that this Revolution will happen more quickly than the Industrial.

Around the time of Earth Day there will be a two-day conference that will gather together 200 entrepreneurs, bringing all the folks together to imagine ways to create new, green jobs. It will be all about creating “climate wealth” and will be held in the U.S., a country, interestingly enough, that has seen its investment in the green economy fall by 2% in the last year or so which is in contrast to the rest of the industrialized world where investment in a green economy is on the rise.

Kathleen Rogers feels strongly that unlike the time of the Industrial Revolution we don’t have the luxury of time to allow the Green Revolution to lazily reveal itself. The threat to health is too palpable. We don’t, she says, want to experience survival of the fittest.

Odyssey is an interfaith organization and so Ms. Rogers added that the Green Revolution needs interfaith leaders, like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who had come into to say a few good words about Morocco and Earth Day just before attending another event at the National Press Club; they are voices to which people listen. There are organizations and movements like Creation Care in which religious people have become engaged. Religious leaders have the moral authority to encourage change, Ms. Rogers felt.

To be true, like most revolutions the Green one is taking its time to fall into place though, when we look back on it, it may be coming together faster than it feels while living through it. It is one that will have long lasting effects like the ones that came out of the Industrial Revolution. Both will have raised the quality of life for those who experienced them.

Letter From New York March 14, 2010

March 15, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

It’s been more than my usual week between letters – I am going through one of those preposterously busy periods one goes through once in a while. Working with Odyssey Networks, I am helping them launch a mobile channel and that is consuming a good piece of my life – and will for the next couple of months. Friday afternoon, I said to someone that yesterday was Monday and now today is Friday and I need for it to be only Tuesday. It’s going that quickly.

But even if life is going that quickly, things do keep happening that aren’t directly related to launching a mobile channel. A week ago, we all gathered around the electronic fireplace and watched the Oscars, which, it turned out, were the most watched Academy Awards in five years. Maybe it worked to nominate ten films for Best Picture, the first time that’s been done since 1943.

I have a rule now when watching Awards programs. I suspend my critic persona and just surrender to the experience. These Oscars, like many, if not most, were excoriated by those who did not suspend their critical selves. From the choice of hosts, to sets, to musical numbers, the critics were savage. I didn’t care – I was just along for the ride; it made the experience much easier. I didn’t have to work. It was what it was.

The surprise was that HURT LOCKER won Best Picture over AVATAR, which was what the smart money was betting on – well, may be not so smart after all but it was AVATAR that I thought would be walking out with the gold statue.

While the world was Oscar titillated, other things were going on. The rancor went on in Congress about Health Care and Obama is pushing for an up or down vote, which means following procedures that are supposed to prevent the opportunity for filibuster. Reconciliation is part of the process though there doesn’t seem to be much reconciling going on with Republicans. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen. Seems a number of Democrats aren’t all that sold on reform and may not follow the party line. Regardless of what is going on with Health Care Reform, one gets the impression that Congress is so dysfunctional it needs group therapy. Polls are indicating indignation with Congress.
In an effort to turn indignation away from him, Tiger Woods did a carefully orchestrated apology. The jury is out on whether it was sincere or not. Some thought so, many didn’t. As I said, the jury is out…

And the jury is still out on Toyota, which has gone from corporate paragon to corporate pariah – well, that’s too strong a word but the glitter is tarnished. While its leaders apologized to Congress, issues continued to plague its vehicles and doubts abounded as to whether the recalls were fixing the issues. One poor man had a scary ride down a freeway with his Prius just last week – he slowed down by nosing up to the rear end of a police cruiser. Three Toyotas were involved in curious accidents in Connecticut. Not good for confidence building.

Speaking of confidence, and going full circle, theatre owners are feeling good – theatre attendance has been up during the recession and it’s been a boffo year at the box office for films. Theatre owners are expanding and working to make going to the movies a true escapist experience with restaurants and bars on premises, ever bigger seats while we are being wowed by 3D. ALICE IN WONDERLAND rules the box office again this weekend.

Preposterously busy or not, I still have a few minutes to notice the world…