It's no surprise to flip on the computer on Earth Day and find my enviro-news gathering RSS feed a little heavier than normal. It was a big surprise, though, to find out that Congressional leaders Pelosi and Reid are likely to punt on energy and climate to focus on immigration reform. Say what? Here's Roll Call: "Democratic leaders are pushing ahead with plans to move comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year — even if it means punting on energy legislation until next Congress." Maybe it's nothing. Hopefully the new Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill will still drop on Monday as planned, and Cantwell-Collins will see the debate and discussion it well deserves. But damn if that immigration-before-energy news isn't a downer of a way to start an Earth Day.
Fortunately, my spirits have been lifted considerably by Grist's brilliant "40 people who are redefining green" list. I've long bemoaned the fact that "environmentalism" is typically seen as a self-marginalizing, exclusive (and often elite) club that doesn't go out and reach people in the real world where regular people really live. Environmentalism should be the ultimate cross-discipline concern—it's the umbrella under which sit health, jobs, science, technology, invention, entrepreneurship, justice, faith, nature, food, shelter, and just about everything else that makes up our world.
Those atypical environmentalists are being recognized for their essential role in the movement. Grist's intro nails it: "Four decades after the first Earth Day, the circle of people working toward a cleaner, greener world has expanded way beyond treehugging hippies, red-paint-throwing protesters, posturing politicos, and card-carrying members of enviro groups."
Their list is an inspiring collection of folks doing great work that by its very nature is "green." From a Reverend in Denver who organizes green-collar job training programs to clever clean energy financiers to young farmers (and young farm volunteers) to cycling advocates to indigenous green jobs advocates to entertainers who use hip-hop to educate on climate issues.
If you're looking for the best beacons of light and hope this Earth Day, take a few minutes and get to know all these folks who are expanding the the green landscape.