Episode 131: Green Blogger Series: Sustainablog's Jeff Strasburg
In this installment of GreenTalk Radio’s series featuring top green bloggers, host Sean Daily talks to Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, publisher of Sustainablog.org and Content Director at Green Options.
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 program.
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 from there.
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 niches anymore.
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 developments?
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 giving.
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 their life.
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 audience.
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 listen?
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 reasons.”
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 free on-demand Podcasts, articles, videos and other information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit our websites www.greenlivingideas.com. We’d also love to hear your comments, feedback and questions. Send us an email at [email protected]