Episode 31 - National Eco-Literacy & Urban Living- Stacey Frost
Stacey Frost, founder of Urban Re:Vision, launches national eco-literacy campaign, Envision 2050 with enthusiasm and inspiration. Learn how students are creating posters that represent the way see their world in the year 2050. With such partners as the Natural World Museum, The Earth Day Network, Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak and eco-activist Van Jones, the program is a bridge and a new content for the younger generation.
Stacey extends this bridge in the second portion of this intimate interview by sharing about her spiritual life, her beliefs and how she imagines what can be. You’ll understand how urban dwellers can create a different kind of community, why environmentalists like Paul Hawken are supporting the paradigm change in the urban living experience.
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Meredith Medland: Welcome to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People”. You're listening to episode number 31. Point your browser to LivingGreenShow.com for the Episode Page that goes along with today’s show, “The New Urbanism Movement”.
Get ready to meet Stacey Frost, a dynamic woman who grew up on a ranch in Pennsylvania where she learned to buy and sell cattle and then graduated from Princeton University with the degree in Neuropsychology and then became the youngest female option trader on the floor of the American Stock Exchange.
Stacey Frost is living a very different life today but she's been able to integrate all these experiences as the founder of San Francisco-based Urban Re:Vision, a dynamic organization currently holding an international competition of [xx] innovative actionable plans from industry professionals and concerned citizens that address the environmental needs of our urban areas.
Here are some highlights from today’s show.
Stacey Frost: Hunter Levin [sp], Van Jones, Steve Wozniak, Greg Smith, David Orr, organizations like Focus the Nation, Conservation International, and National Outdoor Leadership School. All of these people and organizations have gotten together and they’ve committed to having full time access for children and teachers to ask questions about sustainability, about the future--energy, transportation, technology, biodiversity. So right off the bat, there's an opportunity to connect with experts that you wouldn't normally be able to have access to.
Meredith Medland: What is Re:Vision?
Stacey Frost: It's just that, it's a change in the present way we look at the way the urban community conducts the business of living. If you have money, you can buy support. If you have money, you can buy a shoulder to cry on. But if you don’t have money, you're like an island and you lose a sense of this connection and one day I woke up and I realize I can't be the only one put through this, so I took control.
Meredith Medland: Thanks for listening to “Living Green”. Get ready to talk about this psychology of ecology with Stacey Frost. I'm your host, Meredith Medland, and, Stacey, I'm so pleased to welcome you to the show. How are you?
Stacey Frost: Fine thanks. It's a real pleasure to be here.
Meredith Medland: It's great to talk to you. Now, I know that you are really passionate about kids and that you're right in the middle of launching an incredible campaign. I'd wonder if you could tell us a little bit about that.
Stacey Frost: I would love to. In short, it's a cool poster competition called “The Envision 2050” that asks children in grade six through12 to imagine what their city will look like in the year 2050 and to use their creativity to symbolize their hopes and their fears and their dreams for the future. We're asking kids things like where will energy, food, and water come from? How do people live? How do they move and work together? How will where you live now look in the future?
You might ask why have children create posters about the future, and on the surface, creating a poster allows them to express and share their dreams and fears. Their world’s changing very quickly. But beyond that, creating a poster starts to process connection to solution, to knowledge of their natural systems around them and awareness of where they do live now, and to begin to consider what will change. My belief--and our belief here at Re:Vision--is that to envision your future is empowering and to give kids an opportunity to envision their future, give them the opportunity to start creating at and taking the steps in that direction.
Meredith Medland: It sounds like the visioning boards for adult but now, we're doing it for the kids.
Stacey Frost: Absolutely.
Meredith Medland: I love it.
Stacey Frost: There's tremendous power in vision boards and envisioning your future.
Meredith Medland: Oh, there is, indeed. I guess, I'll be a personal testimony to that. So tell us about it for the listeners who have children, how can they get involved?
Stacey Frost: If you go to the website, Envision 2050 or UrbanRevision.com, there's an opportunity to have teachers and students access some of the most brilliant minds of this sustainability revolution. Hunter Levin [sp], Van Jones, Steve Wozniak, Greg Smith, David Orr, organizations like Focus the Nation, Conservation International, and National Outdoor Leadership School, all of these people and organizations have gotten together. They’ve committed to having full time access for children and teachers to ask questions about sustainability, about the future--energy, transportation, technology, biodiversity. So right off the bat, there's an opportunity to connect with experts that you wouldn’t normally be able to have access to.
Meredith Medland: And the website is Envision2050? Is that right, it has its own website?
Stacey Frost: Yes, it does.
Meredith Medland: OK, perfect. So, the step is basically go there and if you have children in grade six through 12, it's got the process for submitting the posters.
Stacey Frost: Absolutely.
Meredith Medland: When is the deadline for that?
Stacey Frost: May 15th.
Meredith Medland: May 15th.
Stacey Frost: Then it's being judge like people--Mia Hanak from the Natural World Museum, Spike Jonze, Midori Willoughby of design: e2, [xx] Wakefield and some other really wonderful educators and artists. Our goal is to have a national simultaneous exhibit of every poster that was entered on World Environment Day which is June 5th.
Meredith Medland: Very exciting, and I just want to make sure that people know that it's Envision2050.org, very exciting. So the main question that we so know is what is Re:Vision?
Stacey Frost: It's just that, it's a change in the present way we look at the way the urban community conducts the business of living. The present accepted definition of urban isn’t a positive one. It's inner city poverty and violence, and this is the surface of parents that most people can't seem to get beyond when they think of urban. Urban revision is more than just a few people thinking it’d be a good idea to clean up a neighborhood. It's people from all over, different denominations, different professions, different schools of thought all coming together for one common goal which is a better quality of life for everyone by designing the communities that we want to live in.
Meredith Medland: So you've been up to a lot of things. If our listeners go to your website or to Re:VisionTV.com--which also has lots of great interviews with sustainability experts--I'm wondering how did you get from a ranch in Pennsylvania, from being the youngest female option trader on the American Stock Exchange, and wind that all together into what you're doing now, what caused this transformation?
Stacey Frost: Re:Vision is for my mother. I think that all of us go through profound changes in our life. We lose something we love. You lose your connection. You lose a spouse. Your marriage breaks up. You lose your job. You lose your parents. You face really tremendous challenges where you have to take care of an aging, ill parent or you're left alone and be a single mom within your family. I think we've all had our share of those experiences where in the midst of everything around us, we're profoundly isolated. That intense loneliness, that lack of support, that’s what happened to me.
Meredith Medland: What happened specifically?
Stacey Frost: My mom died of a brain tumor. My marriage fell apart and you're left as a single mom after taking care of an ailing parent in a new city. I had this recognition that I couldn't be the only person who had that kind of loneliness, that lack of community for support, that feeling like there's no net to catch me if I fall and that I'm responsible for everything. If you have money, you can buy support. If you have money, you can buy a shoulder to cry on.
But if you don’t have money, you're like an island and you lose a sense of this connection. One day I woke up and I realized I can't be the only one who’s supposed to go through this. So I took control and I started to make connections with other people other women, other men, professionals, artists, from all walks of life.
Meredith Medland: How did you do that?
Stacey Frost: I reached out, I just started talking about my experience.
Meredith Medland: Did you go to certain organizations?
Stacey Frost: I started talking to the people around me. Then, the more I opened up, the more we started to talk and share this idea began to develop. More and more people started to share their input and say, “You know what? I want to do something meaningful. I want that sense of connection. I want a place where I live to be coming from the heart. How can we do that?”
It's that common thread we all realized to have this together--with also, isolation--but we also had a vision of how we want it to be for ourselves and for our children and for our children’s children. We realized, if you can see it, you can create it. If you can re:vision, you can recreate and that’s what got us started on Re:Vision.
Meredith Medland: We certainly got a lot of attention from people like Paul Hawkin and other industry leaders in sustainability. So this is definitely not a small project anymore.
Stacey Frost: I just had the opportunity to meet with some of the most incredible human beings who are out there believing that every single person matters. That we're all working for a common goal, that it's about a better quality of life for everyone and it's just been incredible.
Meredith Medland: Where do you feel you make the biggest difference with urban revision?
Stacey Frost: I think the biggest difference with urban revision is that the moment you go on the website, you’ve an opportunity to connect. You've an opportunity to have a voice, to have a vision, to see how other people see the world. You can begin to think about how you want your world today, and this is profoundly different for every person.
Meredith Medland: I want to make sure that everyone knows that the tagline for Re:Vision is “Making what if, what is” which I love. So this is definitely a conversation that I've heard in the self-development realm around creating your own reality, vision boarding, generating outcomes. Visioning is what I use in a lot in my consulting business so it's very common to me. But what's different about what you're doing--or at least you're making it more obvious than other organizations--is that you're including that in a way that could fundamentally change one city in the United States.
When we come back from the break, I'd love to have you share about the renovation of a major market city block into a wholly sustainable community that’s going to be on the way. Sounds like a good play in [sp]?
Stacey Frost: Sounds great.
Meredith Medland: All right. Listeners, so please, take a moment to listen to our sponsors and we'll be back with Stacey Frost right after this. My name is Meredith Medland and you're listening to “Living Green”.
Meredith Medland: Welcome back from the break. We're here with Stacey Frost and she's the founder of San Francisco-based Urban Revision. We're about to learn more about this new international competition that’s going to address the environmental needs of our urban areas. Before we do that, I just want to remind you that you can go to LivingGreenShow.com and look at the episode page for this specific episode. You can also go there and take a look at my blog or you can email comments or questions or receive the hotline number by going to [email protected].
All right, Stacey, welcome back.
Stacey Frost: Hi.
Meredith Medland: Hi. OK. So tell us about this new competition.
Stacey Frost: Urban Revision is having a series of competitions.
Meredith Medland: Six of them, right?
Stacey Frost: Yes. Six all together and we're on our fourth already. We've done the first three, but let me back up a little bit in order to explain why we're having six of them. When I think about the city block as a natural system, that’s a huge concept. So we tried to break it down into the dynamics that are in a living cell and the most fundamental part of any living organism is energy. So our first competition was about energy and how would you create energy in a city block in a way that’s nontoxic and sustainable, renewable, and where it come from?
The second dynamic that we looked at was movement, everything moves. So transportation, how do people move in the space? How do you get to the space? So our second competition was Re:Route where we got some incredible innovator ideas about transportation to and from the city block.
Then, we looked at exchange. You know, in nature, there's always some form of exchange and close to loops systems and in the city block, you have to look at different forms of exchange. So our third competition was about Re:Store. We looked at commerce, we looked at trade. We looked at the manufacturing of products and the sale of products. What is true value? So that’s the competition we just finished.
Now we're looking at connection, Re:Connection. What are communities really like? How do they thrive? What about urban planning? The one after that will be Re:Construct where we look at the materials that go into the building of a city block because so often, that’s where the real challenges of sustainability and toxicity come from. Then finally, we're going to bring it all together and have a site-specific competition where we ask some of the best architectural firms, best architectural colleges in the world to submit their proposals for a specific city block.
Meredith Medland: Wow! Very, very exciting. I know that a common ground covered your front page. Congratulations, by the way.
Stacey Frost: Thank you.
Meredith Medland: In an issue earlier this year and that’s amazing, just so phenomenal and you can also find that on the Web. We'll put a link to that on the episode page so that our listeners can learn more about it.
So how do people get involved if they have ideas?
Stacey Frost: Very simple, go to UrbanRevision.com, you download an entry and then you have four months from beginning to end of the competition to submit your idea. You just submit it online although we have had some entries mailed to us from India. If you don’t have a computer, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an idea. You get it to us one way or another and we'll help you.
Meredith Medland: Very good. All right. So what can you make of these changes. You talked about your mom--I'm sorry about your mom, I've also lost my mom as well so I know how that can be--and you had this transition and things fell apart in your marriage. I know you have two children. You have a really active life. You play piano and you write music and you do yoga and you're a surfer. I'm a surfer, too.
Stacey Frost: We, surfers, have to stick together.
Meredith Medland: That’s right.
Stacey Frost: And more like a [xx] grandmother.
Meredith Medland: I love it. So living green, you know. What is living green to you and how did this transition into ecology occur?
Stacey Frost: I grew up in the country, I grew up on a farm. You see the cycles of nature is part of what you live, what you breathe, what you taste. It's just your part of a natural system and to separate yourselves from that is to lose so much of what it means to be human. So I think that we all need to reconnect to that.
Where does your water come from? Where does your energy come from? It's not flipping a switch. Where does your food come from? It's not really buying it at a fast food restaurant. These are the kinds of very simple connections that urban dwellers don’t always have the opportunity to make and to bring that into the city, to bring the country girl into the city is living green.
Meredith Medland: I like that a lot. I'm from Wisconsin and we learned a lot just growing up in Wisconsin was being eco naturally. I used to live in the Bay Area. I live in Santa Barbara now but I realized that large cities need places where people can gather together. There's a new organization that’s started called Eco Tuesday, EcoTuesday.com and they do an event every, I believe, it's fourth Tuesday of the month. So there's more and more places especially in the Bay Area where are coming together and really finding a hobby can build sustainable urban practices.
So I'm curious though how you got involved in it because you were in the real estate for a little bit, weren’t you?
Stacey Frost: Yes, I've always been a renovator, I guess, “r-e” has always been part of my life. So I used to go and make old buildings new. But in the process, I realized that the materials that were being used weren’t healthy. I started to have tremendous concerns for the health and well-being of people working with those materials and for the children living in those environments. So it's a natural outcome when you're immersed in an industry that needs to be rethought.
For me, it was just a natural outcome to stop and think, “OK, how can we be doing this better? How could we not have so much waste? What kinds of materials are healthy? What kinds of materials are renewable? What’s beautiful and luxurious but not destructive?” That’s how I got into it because I needed to find those answers.
Meredith Medland: Do you remember when the shift occurred for you?
Stacey Frost: Yes, I was doing a decorator showcase home and I thought to myself, “This is a great opportunity to try to do a sustainable house, and this is before “An Inconvenient Truth”. So this was incredibly inconvenient because [Meredith laughs out loud] it was very difficult to do it and there was no support. I did the best that I could and then I realized that I wanted to be able to do better and I wanted to do it on a bigger scale. That was the turning point for me. The frustration of not being able to find the answers I needed and the recognition that the answers are out there, it's just needing to gather people together to work together toward the common goal, the common vision.
The other thing that happened was that I read “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss and I read the “Four Agreements” in the same week. It shifted the way I tell my story to myself. It shifted the way I dream about my world. If I can happen to me, I would hope that could happen to everyone.
Meredith Medland: Do you have any suggestions for our listeners about how they can do that particularly around sustainability and creating their environment as an individual?
Stacey Frost: There's no reason to accept what you're born into, absolutely no reason. You create your own world everyday. You'll have choice, and if you don’t like something, then you can stop seeing your world that way. The future is not something you go to, it's a place you create with every choice that you make. If you're not happy with your environment, then you can give up the way it is and make something different.
That’s a tremendous amount of power, it's positive, it's creative, it's inspiring, and I believe that every person on this planet matters. We're all here as part of a system, every single person is part of that system, reflecting back to us something about ourselves. Each person here has a gift and that gives important. The more people we can include, the more generative, the more sustainable, the more positive, the more wonderful our environment will be.
Meredith Medland: Do you remember what you said about the future is the place we create in what you just said? [xx] that again.
Stacey Frost: [xx]. It's not a place that you go to, it's a place you create everyday with every choice that you make.
Meredith Medland: There! I'm putting that in the show notes, that’s a great quote. I love it.
So you view the environment as a cell. Why is that and why is that important?
Stacey Frost: I'm pausing because I don’t want to say something that loses your interest here. I can talk about biomimicry until I'm blue in the face.
Meredith Medland: Well, just jumped in and just say that we--I had a great conversation with Janine Benyus.
Stacey Frost: OK, there you go.
Meredith Medland: I did a two-part series on her. I'll just make sure our listeners know that episode number 26 and 27, I talked to Janine right after she got honored by TIME magazine as one of the international heroes of the environment and got her picture in time right next to Al Gore. So two-part series, 45 minutes an episode, totally blew me away, has changed my life enormously. So jump in and tell them all about biomimicry because I love it.
Stacey Frost: The city block is a cell. Everything in nature is the result of thousands if not millions of years of testing in the field where the designs that are a result of that are close loop systems. They're highly complex but they work and what appears to be destructive works in balance with something else that you may or may not see. So when I think about a city block, I try to think of something in nature that would mimic the dynamics of the city block. Something simple though that made sense and the cell made sense to me because within a cell, you've got energy, transportation, exchange. You've got communication. You have all the different dynamics that you need and in a city block, it's the same thing just on a different scale.
The other wonderful thing about cells and city blocks is you put them together to create something bigger than themselves. So while a cell can hold on to its unique character, to its unique purpose combined, there's an over-arching purpose. City blocks can hold on to their unique cultural attributes, their style, their charisma, their personality. Put together, they have the over-arching purpose of creating a city. That’s why I think of the city block as a cell, it's a building block, it's a place to start. It can be unique, it can be appropriate to its environment, to its ecosystem, to the culture that surrounds it. You can put them together to create something even bigger than itself.
Meredith Medland: One of the things that I love about approaching thought that way is there's so much focus on organic food and health and fitness and yoga or movement and here's are the ways that you can make your body better. What I found personally--my life has been very much about living green and my body and very strong body journey over the last 35 years.
What I've learned through the process of hosting “Living Green” is that when I've been able to put my attention on things that were much bigger than me like a city block or the development of a sustainable community, for some reason those actions pull me outside of my body to put my attention on something else. However, they also create yet another external structure that encourages me to keep going with the healthy creative ideas related to my body. It's [xx].
Stacey Frost: That makes perfect fun.
Meredith Medland: Yes, so I really encourage it for listeners who maybe are going for a walk or on a treadmill or who knows what you're up to. But I really encourage if you're seeking transformation in that area of your life, get involve with a larger project, perhaps maybe this one.
We're going to take a break to thank our sponsors. When we come back from the break, we're going to wrap up the show and we're going to learn very specifically about the attitudes, values, and beliefs that are personally attributed to Stacey and how she is who is in the world and how she does what she does. Hopefully, you can try some of those on and borrow them from her and maybe you'll see some of the changes in your life as well.
Thanks, Stacey. My name is Meredith Medland and I'm your host of “Living Green”.
Meredith Medland: Thanks for listening to “Living Green: Effortless Ecology for Everyday People”. I'm your host, Meredith Medland, and we're back with Stacey learning more about her attitude and belief around sustainability.
Stacey, what are some of the spiritual practices or foundational practices that you do on a daily basis?
Stacey Frost: I'm not a religious person although I think that religion has been profoundly wonderful for lots of people. I'm a deeply spiritual person, however, and I wake up every morning and I take the time before I do anything else to be thankful. I say lots of gratitude expressions and then I sit with myself and I breathe and I remind myself that the world works. While I have an ego, it needs to step aside so that I can be a vehicle for a greater purpose, whatever that purpose is, and to accept that whatever is going to happen that day is part of a bigger picture and that I'm here to serve. So that’s how I start my day everyday so that I can be calm and open to what comes with the day.
Meredith Medland: Do you have a [xx] or a chair, do you do that lying in bed or do you do it the same way every day?
Stacey Frost: No, it's different every day. Sometimes it's in bed, sometimes it's sitting in my living room looking out the window. I always make sure that I'm breathing and I'm looking at something beautiful and center myself and get really grounded before I do anything.
Meredith Medland: I know you have an 11-year-old and a 17-year-old.
Stacey Frost: Yes.
Meredith Medland: Yes, and I'm wondering how the school food system and your belief around quality food affect your parenting of the two of them?
Stacey Frost: I am not a parent who makes the lunch for their children before they go to school. I give them organic food at home. I've taught them about food. I've asked them to be aware of their own bodies, their own hunger, their own desires. I trust my teenager will make good food choices when he's out in the world, he's a lot of freedom. I've influenced my son’s school to consider organic and they’ve gradually bringing more and more organic food into the school lunch program as other moms band together and start asking for it.
Meredith Medland: What's one of the unique practices or I would say maybe belief that you have related to sustainability that you live your life with?
Stacey Frost: Gratitude and heart-centered behavior, that to me is more than sustainable. If everybody acted from the heart and acted in gratitude, I think that many of the challenges we face would go away.
Meredith Medland: What are you most grateful for today?
Stacey Frost: My kids. [laughs] The greatest gift I've ever received is the honor of being their parent.
Meredith Medland: It sounds like you're parenting in the earth into some new ideas, too.
Stacey Frost: I think women give birth to wonderful, wonderful ideas. The womb, the earth, motherhood, it's an honored to be a woman and I do feel as if this is my third child. I am definitely putting all that I've experienced and all that I know into this project and nurturing it but also relying on the supportive community to do the same.
Meredith Medland: One of the things I'm reminded of is perseverance as I listen to your story. I know there are times when, perhaps you don’t know how it's all going to work out and it really sounds like you've created something immensely valuable for yourself, your family, your community, and the people that you work with and all your volunteers. I just want to thank you for that and I would love it if you would wrap up our interview with a few minutes of your own legacy. So this was an opportunity for you to really take all the lessons that you've learned about ecology, sustainability, taking care of the planet, taking care of yourself, and you were able to deliver that. In just a little three minute or so, what would that sound like?
Stacey Frost: That life is a balancing act and for all of the experiences that we perceived as negative at the time, they can be turned into something incredibly beautiful and positive. It is within each and everyone of our power to envision a world and to make it happen and that to dream it is to create it. The moment it becomes that, it is. But also to remember that the world works and we're part of that world. We belong here, we have every right to be here.
There is nothing wrong with being on a learning course[sp]. There's nothing wrong with the fact that humanity has made some errors because we all learn from our mistakes. If we can take those mistakes and turn them into something beautiful for ourselves and for our children and for our children’s children, then we've done exactly what we were meant to do.
Meredith Medland: Thank you, thank you so much. It's been really, really great getting to know you. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Stacey Frost: It's been my pleasure.
Meredith Medland: Thank you. All right, so like I said this is Stacey Frost and you can learn more information about Re:Vision by going to Urban Revision.com. If you would like to know more about “Living Green”, you can go to LivingGreenShow.com. If you happen to be accessing this via iTunes, it would be so wonderful if you'd be willing to write a customer review. iTunes chooses what podcasts are going to featured by the Customer Reviews and it’d make a big difference to us if you tell them that you're listening. So to get a chance, type that in.
Until I talk to you next week. My name is Meredith Medland. I'm your host of “Living Green” and I know that if you dream it, it's possible. So have a great week and keep living green.
Stacey Frost: Thank you.
Meredith Medland: For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, go to PersonalLifeMedia.com. If you'd like to speak with Meredith Medland, you can do that by emailing [email protected].
Woman: Find more great shows like this on PersonalLifeMedia.com.
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