Published on September 15th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor1
GTR Green Blogger Series: Sustainablog’s Jeff Strasburg
Sean Daily: Hi, and welcome to GreenTalk, a Podcast
series from greenlivingideas.com. GreenTalk helps listeners in their
efforts to lead more eco-friendly lifestyles through interviews with
top vendors, authors and experts from around the world. We discuss the
critical issues facing the global environment today, as well as the
technologies, products and practices that you can employ to go greener
in every area of your life.
Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of GreenTalk radio, this
is Sean Daily. I’m very, very excited about today’s program. I’ve got
on the line with me the person who is the second in our installment of
our new series of green bloggers and it’s Jeff McIntire-Strasburg who
is somebody who should be known to many of you out there if you follow
a lot of the green blogs. He’s the senior editor and content director
at Green Options, the site that is on my daily reading list, and he’s
also the writer and publisher of sustainablog.org, and he’s also a
former writer at TreeHugger. He has a PhD in English from the
University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and spent 11 years teaching before
moving to a career in web media. So Jeff, first of all welcome to the
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Oh, Sean, thank you for having me.
Sean Daily: Well it’s most definitely our pleasure,
and we’d love to just hear about – and I’ve been curious to meet you
for a while to hear about the story, because I knew you’ve done so much
– you have such a popular blog on sustainablog and you’ve done such
great things with Green Options and I knew that’s a really growing
property or net community of properties.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Oh, thank you, we’ve been real happy with the directions things are going
Sean Daily: Yeah, I bet; well tell us the story, I
mean how did you get started in this, with both sustainablog and Green
Options and just go from there?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Sure. Sustainablog
actually takes me back to my academic career as an English professor.
I had started reading some of the books a lot of us started reading —
things like Paul Hawken’s “Ecology of Commerce”, Daniel Quinn’s
“Ishmael” series, a number of the books that really deal with this
notion of sustainability and particularly the idea that our economic
lives and the environment don’t have to be at loggerheads, but rather
they can work together. I just got fascinated by this concept. Where
my academic background comes in, I had always taught my students the
concept of writing to learn — that if you really want to wrap your head
around a concept to get an understanding about it, start writing about
it. I decided to start the blog with that idea in mind. I knew these
concepts, I’m fascinated by them. I’ve considered myself an
environmentalist my whole life, but I was definitely someone who I
think believed that opposition of economics and the environment were in
conflict with one another. This is a way for me to kind of play with
these ideas, and that’s literally where it started and it just went
Sean Daily: Very cool. Now, that really gave me
goose bumps when you described that because that was kind of the same
reason – I don’t feel so bad now because that was kind of part of the
reason that I did it, to chronicle the journey as I was going along and
to sort of drive me into learning more. That may come as a shock to a
lot of people out there, but I think you start with a base of
enthusiasm and knowledge, but to really grow it you sort of shove
yourself into it. I know all the books I’ve written have been that way
too — “this is how I’m going to really learn a lot about this, is being
forced to research it to the nth degree.”
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: And then the blogging
medium is just wonderful because anybody can do this. You know, start
talking to other people, even if it’s only a handful of people when you
start off – get the conversation going.
Sean Daily: That’s so true, it really is a
conversation and you get to talk to people much smarter than yourself
and much more knowledgeable.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Oh, without a doubt! [laughs]
Sean Daily: Then share that with your audience, in
written or audible form. I’m curious – you’ve really seen this from
the bird’s eye view, from the beginning. How has the green blogosphere
changed since you started sustainablog back in 2003?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: In 2003 there were
literally a handful of us out there. It was all small, individual
bloggers as I remember it. That comes to mind is Enviropundit, which I
don’t even know if that’s still online or not. The one thing that has
really changed is, for lack of a better term, is sort of the
professionalization of the green blogosphere. After I started, Grist
started it’s Gristmill blog; now, they had been a lot online as a
magazine for a number of years, but they started blogging. TreeHugger
came along shortly thereafter that. WorldChanging came along.
Suddenly you had these professional players in the space that before
had just been again people like me who were interested in these topics,
or in some cases experts in these topics, but largely talking to very
small, very niche audiences. With the introduction, I think
particularly of those three (Gristmill, WorldChanging and TreeHugger),
that really blew things up and grew the audience quite quickly for all
of us. So after the first five years this all blew up, and we had this
much larger audience and in many ways a much more mainstream audience
than what we had before. We weren’t just speaking to these small
That meant that we all had to start rethinking about how we were
presenting our messages. I came from an academic background so I
tended to be real academic in those early posts on sustainablog. I
tried to dial that down a little bit. Let’s try talking to people who
aren’t necessarily –
Sean Daily: Deep green?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Exactly, not deep green,
not thinking in terms philosophical and so forth. Maybe thinking much
more practically — what does this mean to me in my life? So trying to
make that shift to that kind of audience — it’s been a real learning
experience and it’s been a lot of fun too.
Sean Daily: It sure is, it has been fun and it has
changed it quite a bit with the big companies moving in and
particularly with – and I’m curious what you think about — we’ve had
these acquisitions, you know. TreeHugger by Discovery, Ideal Bite for
$20M by Disney; what do you think about those acquisitions and how
they’ve changed the space? Is it better or worse?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: You know, at this point I
haven’t noticed a huge difference. I mean, obviously with TreeHugger
and Discovery, you see TreeHugger a lot more places than you did
before, and obviously they’ve always been a large online presence, but
suddenly you’ve got the television presence and so forth too. On the
whole I think it’s a positive step forward because these massive
communications company are realizing the mainstream appeal of these
messages. They wouldn’t be investing that kind of money if that wasn’t
the case. The audience is there, they’re moving into it, and hopefully
we can keep that balance where we can keep the messages that we’ve been
putting out there and not have to pull back on that to keep people
happy, and so forth.
Sean Daily: On that note, to what degree do you
think the green bloggers and the green blogosphere as a whole take
credit for the rising awareness in environmental sustainability issues
that’s happened in the past few years that’s given rise to these
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I think what we’ve done,
and it’s because of the medium itself, is we’ve given people a place to
talk about these things. I think probably all of us would say that “An
Inconvenient Truth” was sort of the watershed moment for really
bringing this into the mainstream. That’s a film. You had magazine
issues, you had television shows, but in the online space — on blogs,
on websites — we give people a place where they can talk back and
discuss these issues.
That I think has been our real contribution there, not just putting
out more information, which we’ve certainly done a lot of that, but
creating that interactive space, to where people can… and again I’ve
talked about learning by writing. People can learn by discussing and
debating and going back and forth, and again trying to figure out what
is it that this means for them.
Sean Daily: Well, we’re going to take a quick
break here Jeff, and I want to come back and I want to come back and I
want to talk a little bit more about the large corporation presence. I
have another question for you on that…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Oh great!
Sean Daily: …and a bunch of others, but we’ll be right back on GreenTalk radio after this short break. Thanks everyone.
Sean Daily: OK, and we’re back on GreenTalk
radio. This is Sean Daily, and my guest today is Jeff
McIntire-Strasburg. Many of you will know him from many different
sites. He wrote at TreeHugger at one point; he is also the primary
writer for sustainablog.org, and is also the content director and
senior editor at Green Options. Jeff, we were talking before the break
just about your properties that you’re involved with as well as what’s
happened in the green blogosphere over the last few years…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg:: Right.
Sean Daily: …as well as just the massive changes
that have occurred. I’m curious – back to the large corporations that
have jumped on the green bandwagon – I think in some cases it’s genuine
and in some cases maybe not so genuine.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right.
Sean Daily: Part of that strategy has clearly
involved reaching out to green bloggers. Do you think there’s a threat
there that exists for the green blogosphere that has become so co-opted
by these companies that are pushing their agendas?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Well, I think we need to
start thinking more like journalists than we probably did before. I
know I was really surprised when I first started getting some of these
outreaches — “Hey, would you like to interview this person? Would you
like to come to this event?” and so forth. I always felt like I was
just kind of this guy out there, writing before and suddenly these
companies started coming to me. It’s flattering and I think we’ve got
to be real careful about letting the fact that it’s flattering – that
suddenly we realize that we’re getting the ear of these folks – we
don’t want to let that flattery get in the way of us staying objective
and how we approach these stories.
All these companies have stories to tell, and like you said some of
them, they’re great stories, and we do want to tell them to our
readers, to our listeners. But we’ve got to maintain that objectivity,
we’ve got to look at both sides of the issue. I’ve talked with
Wal-Mart a lot, over the past couple years, and by and large I had been
real impressed with the moves that they’ve made, but I’ve also made
sure to keep an eye on: what is Wal-Mart Watch saying also? What are
their critics saying about them? Looking at things they could be doing
better, and realizing that this is also a conversation here.
I think some of the companies get that, that when they’re
approaching green bloggers it’s not approaching media like they used to
do, where they could just kind of tell their story and there was a bit
of the one-sided angle to it. With this, again, users are coming in
and they’ve got questions and they’ve got concerns. They’ve got
criticisms, and they can put them right out there in this space.
They’ve got to be willing not to just send out a press release and hope
that we write a story about it, but really engage with us, engage with
our audiences and make it a discussion in all cases. It’s been kind of
fun to watch — clearly some companies get it better than others do.
Sean Daily: Well I think you really hit the nail
on the head there with one of the greater challenges in being a green
blogger or journalist in general, and I think particularly for the
green bloggers who don’t have a journalism background and are sort of
trying to figure this out.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right.
Sean Daily: They’re the most likely to be, even if
it’s unbeknownst to them – they’re being co-opted – because they sort
of get the stars in their eyes and so forth, and the big companies can
do that. I come from a technology journalism background, and did that
for 20 years, so I know that path for myself. I know how to avoid
that, and I know [laughs] who’s singing me a song and who isn’t. It’s
difficult when you’re new to it. It’s also difficult, I think too, in
assessing these larger companies that are doing so many things. You
mentioned Wal-Mart. I used to have that “Forget Wal-Mart! They put
local stores out of business!” You know, I was that guy.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I was that guy also when they reached out to me. I was like “Oh, no way.”
Sean Daily: It’s hard not to be critical based on
what you hear, but you also have to acknowledge that these companies,
they’re so large to paint with broad brush strokes… You can tend
towards being biased yourself, and you stop listening; and I think you
can never stop listening. We always have to have an open mind, and that
we really have to let people decide for themselves, and just paint out
the facts that maybe we’re getting access to that other people don’t
and make sure that we’re continuing to have that sort of contrarian
view at the same time that we’re listening to whatever their PR team or
their environmental director is saying to us.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right. Many, many of us
in the green space, we come from an activist mind-set, so we tend to
respond to these kinds of things with — “Yeah, that’s not right” or
“They see it a lot, they’re only doing it for the profit motive or to
make money.” To some degrees I’ve lightened up on that argument quite a
bit. I’m thinking “Boy, if there’s a business case for sustainability,
that’s a good thing,” if companies see that they can make money with
it. But still we’ve got to make sure that it’s not just a bunch of
green-washing, that it is legitimate, the actions that they’re taking,
and that they are beneficial in some way.
Sean Daily: In this industry I find the biggest
challenge is the lack of policing — not that centralized organizations,
those can be corrupt too — the review organizations and standards
bodies and things like that…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Without a doubt.
Sean Daily: …are by no means a panacea, but
certainly the lack of that really makes it the Wild West in terms of
marketers saying whatever they want and being unchecked, and making it
very difficult for the consumer to really understand, and even
journalists to understand, to separate wheat from chaff.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I just did some writing
this week on the carbon credits issue, dealing just with some of that.
There you’re talking about a complex concept to begin with. It took me
a while to kind of wrap my head around that. We’ve got to be fair;
we’ve got to look at what’s being done right. Again, it’s playing
journalist, and I don’t come from a journalism background, so that took
a while to get used to that. Asking the hard questions, looking at both
sides of the issues — but if you come to the point where you say “Hey,
here’s some good things going on,” it’s OK to say “These are good
things, they’re valid.” That doesn’t undermine your credibility, if
you’ve done your due diligence. How’s that for a tongue twister?
Sean Daily: That’s an alliterative tongue twister;
I’ve tripped on that one myself many times. I also note — switching
gears a little bit if you don’t mind — that Green Options just launched
a new property called Inspired Economist…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right.
Sean Daily: …inspiredeconomist.com. Would you mind telling us a little bit about that new site?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Certainly, and it’s
actually not a new site. The lead writer, John-Paul Maxfield, he
actually started that. Again, he was another individual blogger who
started doing this, I think it was about two years ago. He comes out
of a business background, and so wanted to write about these things. A
lot of what he was doing, as he’s told me was more aggregating
information than commenting on it, and so forth. We’ve been looking for
a blog to bring in, that really dealt with the broad green business
space. We’ve had Ecopreneurist on from the beginning which deals with
start-ups and so forth, but we wanted to look at corporations. We
wanted to look at hybrid companies, social entrepreneurship efforts —
really get into that vast space of green business that we didn’t feel
that we could cover and still stay focused on Ecopreneurist. So this
was a golden opportunity to do just that. The idea there, as it is I
think with many green business blogs, is to really think in terms of a
triple-bottom-line mind-set, as far as people, planet and profits; and
look at all the ways that a business mind-set is being harnessed to
address environmental issues, social justice issues – a wide range of
issues, beyond the strict profit motives that most business deal with.
Again, the stories that are out there are just fascinating, both in
terms of what’s going on with existing companies, but also what’s going
on in terms of companies that are being formed, specifically to address
environmental issues. You know, the profit motive is there, but it’s
not at the fore-front of what they’re trying to do.
Sean Daily: I think that also profit’s not a bad word…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: No!
Sean Daily: …and I think it’s thrown around so
much. Business is what drives – unfortunately it drives everything,
and so we really have to just understand that. That doesn’t mean there
most definitely needs to be ethics in business, with regards to
everything, from social justice issues to the environment or what have
you. Really, this sort of knee-jerk reaction from people that that’s a
bad thing is really short-sighted, because we want there to be a profit
motive so that these companies develop these industries, hopefully with
guidance and watchdogs and criticism that they accept and listen to and
affects them. In that way we change the economy from what it’s been to
what it will be in the future, which to me is a very exciting thing, so
I’m very excited to see this new website and the coverage you guys are
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: That’s the specific type
of inspiration that’s being talked about in the title there, that
capitalism itself can be changed and it can be done in more ethical
manners than perhaps it’s been done in many cases in the past. Profit
motive — that does harness people to do things, we can harness it to
get people doing things that we’d like to see done.
Sean Daily: Maybe I’m just being Pollyannaish…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: [laughs]
Sean Daily: …but I see it all as the Wild West in a
fun way, in terms of being an independent journalist with new media and
blogging and Podcasting and videocasting and what have you, but even
for the larger companies, there’s this opportunity to go into a
completely new space that really benefits, like you said it’s the
triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. It’s very exciting; I
see it as a positive thing. I also see it as a mission-critical thing
that we’d better do or we’re in big trouble! But I try not to focus on
that part. [laughs]
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: We have to focus on that
part but I think as we’re moving along here too, we’re realizing that
to some degree if we do too much doom and gloom, we’re going to end up
turning a lot of people off at the same time. I think part of — God,
this sounds like an advertising pitch — but part of what we’re trying
to do at Green Options, really is to focus on empowering people. How
can you make choices that work for you that are also good for the
environment? That’s how we believe we get these things really moving
forward – if people see that going green also meets other values in
Sean Daily: Its how consumers and business spend
their dollars is the greatest vote and effector of all things. I have a
couple more questions for you and we’re going to take one last break,
and we’ll be right back on GreenTalk radio. We are talking with Jeff
McIntire-Strasburg, he’s a senior editor and content director at Green
Options. We’ll be right back, thanks.
Sean Daily: OK, and we’re back on Green Talk
radio. This is Sean Daily, talking with Jeff McIntire-Strasburg. He is
one of the premier green bloggers and publishers in the green space,
and he is the senior editor and content director at Green Options as
well as being the writer and publisher at sustainablog.org and a former
writer at TreeHugger. The Green Options team has new site — not new,
but newly re-launched I guess you would say…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: The newest part of our network, and we’re really excited to have them on board.
Sean Daily: That’s the Inspired Economist.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: John-Paul, he is so enthusiastic about this. He’s inspired me.
Sean Daily: That’s the inspiredeconomist.com; I
wanted to make sure I mentioned that website one more time. We were
talking before the break about a lot of things: corporate acquisitions
and how the blogosphere has changed; the challenges journalistically
for people assessing these companies, and how we spend our money. What
I’m curious is – taking a step back from all of this for a minute, Jeff
– I have this thought every day when I wake up; and I’m either posting,
or directing my editorial team, or planning a Podcast or whatever…
sometimes I just think, “are we just blowing ourselves out here?”
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: [laughing]
Sean Daily: “Have we just burned this puppy out?”
Some say that green-fatigue has set in; people are just tired of being
pressured to make decisions based on environmental criteria and hearing
about global climate change…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right.
Sean Daily: Do you see this happening, and how do you combat that?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: To some degree I think it
is happening. I saw a story recently talking about green issues of
popular magazines, for instance. Sales on those green issues is way
down; apparently even below their standard sales.
Sean Daily: Really?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Yeah, and I’m talking
about Time or Newsweek, or so forth. I can try to go back and dig that
up. I think we are maybe hitting some of that to some degree. I think
what we’ve got to do is start taking that proverbial look in the
mirror. What are we doing? At what level are perhaps we not connecting?
It kind of goes back to what I was discussing earlier… “An Inconvenient
Truth” came out a few years ago; we got really excited – it was a very
exciting time for all of us, because suddenly everybody was talking
about these ideas. But we’re in a different place now — the economy’s
in the doldrums, people are worried about their jobs, they’re worried
about sending their kids to college; they may see some of this as “OK,
ten years is a relatively short time span and if we accept that notion
for some of the challenges that we face; but hey, right now I’m got
bills to pay, and kids to feed.” I think at some level, we’ve got to
start thinking about those kitchen table issues, and how do we provide
solutions for people on that level? And I think we do in all sorts of
ways. Green is about efficiency, conservation, using resources more
wisely. In a very simple way, that equates to saving money for folks.
Why are you spending this kind of money on your electric or gas bill,
when if we look at what you could do with weather stripping your
windows, increasing insulation levels, putting CFLs in, and so forth?
These simple tips that we’ve talked about for so long. These are now
ways that people can deal with these challenging economic times, and I
think that’s a direction we really need to look at hard in order to
keep all this viable for a wide audience, and even continue to grow the
Sean Daily: It’s interesting, it’s kind of like the mom at the dinner table sneaking in the vegetables inside the …
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right! [laughs]
Sean Daily: …mashed potatoes. It’s like, let’s not
put the focus on the part that maybe is not so appealing to people but
rather the part that is necessarily important which as you say is a
kitchen table issue which is right now the economy and people’s jobs
and quality of lives and just their income and people losing their
homes and things like this. That’s always going to take precedence,
those are DEFCON 5 type issues.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Exaclty, exactly. I’ve been watching what’s been going on in Greensburg, Kansas. We all have of course.
Sean Daily: [affirmation]
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I just keep thinking
that, wow, there’s a model for us. We’ve been looking at it and wow,
it’s great these folks are rebuilding green. It’s a model for us too –
we need to step back and learn and think about, “OK, what is it that
convinced these folks to go in this direction?” As we’ve heard, it’s a
very conservative town. A lot of these people don’t believe in climate
change. They listen to Rush Limbaugh, and so forth. Yet, at some
level this is meaningful for them. Obviously at some great level it’s
meaningful for them, because they’re rebuilding their whole town that
way. We need to be thinking more about what is it that got a place
like Greensburg to make that shift, and learning from it. What
messages can we take from there to connect with more people at that
level? And that may even mean again we have to take a look in a mirror
and say, has our ego gotten involved in this? Are we still willing to
Sean Daily: That’s a question I wish that the mainstream media would be asking themselves too. [laughing]
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Oh God yes!
Sean Daily: Every single one of them, and I think
we all need to ask ourselves that. I think they’ve been needing to ask
that question a lot longer, and I fully agree with you on that. And I
‘m glad you mentioned Greensburg too, because I had to hear gratuitous
self-promotion here for the site, but cross-referenced for people who
are interested in that town. On a Green Talk radio previous episode I
got to interview Daniel Wallach…
Sean Daily: OK.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: …who’s the director of Greensburg GreenTown and actually was really cool ZapRoot picked us up on that on the ViroPOP network.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: OK, yes, yes.
Sean Daily: They mentioned it on that video. It
was interesting because he did mention, I was surprised by that I was
expecting to hear this sort of intrinsically green motivated town.
Really I think that it’s exciting because it’s really crossing some
boundaries that they are primarily Republican in that town, which I
think people don’t associate with the green movement; so it was very
inspiring in that to hear the story of this particular town which
didn’t fit the profile. It wasn’t a Berkeley, it wasn’t a Sebastopol —
I’m using northern Californian towns because that’s where I lived –
insert your town here — Austin, wherever it might be; that type of
mentality exists in many places now.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Right, we need these
people going back to these monstrous challenges that we face. We can’t
afford to write anybody off at this point, and that’s one thing I don’t
know that any of us have consciously done that as this thing has
grown. But it has been a movement that’s been focused in the last few
years on higher-end consumers, on the upper middle class, and educated
populace. We need to be looking at how are we talking to, for lack of
a better term, a working class audience? Again, people who are
concerned about those kitchen table issues on a day-to-day basis, and
who can benefit from these things, but are also real suspicious of that
label environmentalism. It’s something we’re also working with, with
the Evangelical community where we’re seeing this notion of Creation
Care taking hold in lots of Evangelical groups. But they don’t want to
be called environmentalists. They’ve got a very different motivation
for doing this, and still work with us on some levels, but they want to
make it very clear that “Hey, we’re not doing this for the same
Sean Daily: We’re not hugging the trees, we have our own reasons, but as long as the missions are aligned, who really cares?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: That’s what I’m thinking, we’re on the same path; there’s no need criticize each other’s paths.
Sean Daily: Absolutely, that’s exciting to hear
because this does need to be an inclusive and not exclusive thing, for
all of our benefits. I think that’s wonderful and I appreciate that.
I’d like to say too to the audience listening in today that Jeff wrote
up some good points about getting feedback and checking in — are we on
the path? I’d say both for myself and for Jeff, we really encourage
you as always to leave your comments on the show whether in the comment
feature below the episode or by email, what have you. Let us know how
we’re doing, what you’d like to hear more about, what are you fatigued
on, what haven’t you heard enough about? That’s what really drives
this and people like Jeff and myself will focus our editorial on that
and take that into consideration, so we appreciate that. Jeff, I have
one last question for you —
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Sure.
Sean Daily: I could talk to you all day, and I definitely want to have you back on the program again.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I’m having a great time!
Sean Daily: I’m having a great time, but in respect
for your time I want let you go, but I want to ask you one last
question which is: where do you see green online media heading, for
example where do you see it being in two to five years?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I think we’ll still be
providing lots of information at that point, but I think we’ll also be
looking to harness the potential of the web to provide services to
people to allow them to do things — I’ll give you a model; this is a
little self-serving, so I apologize for that ahead of time [laughs]
Sean Daily: That’s OK. I did it too! [laughs]
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: We’ve got a sister company, called renewzle.com.
Sean Daily: How do you spell that?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: That’s renewzle. What
renewzle is, it’s a site where people can get a full financial picture
of what it looks like if they’re thinking about putting solar panels on
their house. If they like the report that they get, they can then
reach out to installers and start getting bids. I think, and we’re
certainly not the only one that has played with that kind of model;
there’s a number of various tools out there that give people
information, that allow them to make contacts in various ways; but I
think that service model is going to continue to grow. Again, we’ll
always be putting information out there, but we’re also going to give
people a way to connect with those that can provide them the services
that they need; and it doesn’t have to be something as big as a solar
system. It could be energy efficiency improvements at home; it could
be looking at the next car you buy. I think those kinds of things are
going to play into this. Everything is continuing to become more
interactive also; particularly on the more traditional content front.
I think that’s going to continue to happen. I talked with one of the
folks at NRDC the other day – they’ve started a community journalism
portal. This is a place where anybody who lives in a certain place can
report on environmental initiatives from their town, their country; and
in some ways that may be a step back from some of the professionalism I
talked about earlier. We may be moving back in some ways to sort of
the person on the ground writing from their perspective, and doing it
because the passion is there for it; but the tools for doing that are
developing all the time. We may go back to where it’s not such a
professionalized presentation of content: you may have more of a wide
audience, also being the ones creating content. You know, YouTube for
a green audience.
Sean Daily: Well, I think certainly the
self-empowered independent journalist movement is showing no signs of
slowing and it’s really fascinating to me to watch how that’s evolved
with all of the amazing new tools that exist, and how old media has
been forced to recognize it…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: [laughs]
Sean Daily: …and to just watch the fireworks as they figure out, “what do we do with these guys?”
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: They are just scratching their heads, I know a lot of them are.
Sean Daily: I’m loving it, I’m a rebel at heart, so I love it.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I’m the same way, and
it’s really fun to see the internet fulfilling a lot of the promise
that it’s had all along. Ten, fifteen years ago we were talking about
this space where everybody can contribute, but at that point the tools
weren’t really available for just your average person to build much of
anything beyond a very, very basic website. Now they’ve gotten to the
point where anybody can build a blog and put audio out there, put video
out there, write — deal with all these various forms of media, in a
very simple manner.
Sean Daily: Social networking is amazing too. An
example happened yesterday on Twitter, with those of us who are on
Twitter who are green bloggers and pundits and so forth – somebody, I
think it was Jetson Green, put out a list of all the green Twitterers
that they knew about…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Yeah, I was looking at that this morning.
Sean Daily: …and we all connected with each other
over the next 24 hours, and suddenly you’ve taken a community that’s
already there and expanded it and connected it even further, fully
meshed. Pretty amazing stuff
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Yeah, the potential here
is just mind-boggling still, even as it seems like a lot of this has
been a long time coming. I think we’re just scratching the surface, at
this point of what we can do with the media. From our perspective it’s
just been really exciting to see this green mind-set, really, again
come into the mainstream along with things like blogging, Podcasting
and so forth. The timing couldn’t have been better
Sean Daily: Well great, my guest again today has
been Jeff McIntire-Strasburg. He is the senior editor and content
director at Green Options. You can find them online at
greenoptions.com. He’s also the writer and publisher of
sustainablog.org, a former writer at TreeHugger; he has a PhD in
English from University of Nevada at Las Vegas. How did you ever get
any work done there?
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: [laughs]
Sean Daily: I hate to say it, I’d have been hitting those slots and it would have been really hard!
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: I think for about the first month I was in Vegas, I went and played in the casinos. I got bored with it to be honest.
Sean Daily: I thought you were going to say I lost my college tuition money and then had to get a job, but that’s a better reason!
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Well actually I had a
roommate who did just that, and I think I learned my lesson vicariously
there, but yes as a graduate student I didn’t have much money to waste
at that point.
Sean Daily: It’s a good thing.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: The UNLV community —
you’ve got this university community right in this space that seems the
antithesis of anything academic, but really was a wonderful place to
get an education. No, we didn’t have slot machines on campus.
Sean Daily: That’s good, that’s good, so some
things are still holy in the world of Las Vegas, that’s good to hear.
Well Jeff, really; much, much success, continued success with all of
the properties; love what your doing — green options and sustainablog,
and elsewhere; and I really appreciate you being on the program. Would
love to have you back again on the program in the future if you’d be so
kind as to join us again
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Well thank you so much, Sean, and back at you. I mean, thank you for doing what you’re doing here.
Sean Daily: It’s my pleasure and to all of you out
there, listening in today, you can look at the show notes for
information on other similar episodes and content on the
greenlivingideas.com website, and again I encourage everyone to leave
your comments and feedback for us so we know how to direct our content
in the future. I want to thank you as always for listening in to Green
Talk radio, we’ll see you next time.
Thanks as always to everyone listening in today. Remember for more
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