Friday, September 12, 2008

Finding Green Balance

A good friend sent me a link to an interesting article I recommend to you.  The article is titled It's Not Crazy Being Green" and you can read it by clicking on the title.  The article talks about the needless differentiation between "the environment" and "the people" and how the modern environmentalist movement has become a partisan battle over purity rather than what it always should have been:  an understanding that the environment and the people are irrevocably linked.  

The health of a people IS in large part due to the health of the environment in which they live. If you have any doubt about this -- take a look at developing country that has not yet dealt with environmental pollution to any real degree.  Would you want to live there?

So how do you go from a relatively non-controversial point -- like saying we all live in our environment, so of course we care about its pollution, into the partisan divide we see before us today where nearly every environmentalist group is a liberal one and conservative groups take turns highlighting the latest infringement of freedom that the environmentalists are proposing?  

I don't have all the answers -- but it seems to me that part of the problem is that we allow issues to be too easily defined by others with agendas that have little to do with the named issue.  The problem is fed by the human tendency to gather in groups that are alike.  My rule of thumb these days in evaluating an advocacy organization -- is this:  How much are they really trying to reach out to those who don't agree with them?  For many groups working on the environment, the answer is, they aren't!  

One way to begin to change this dynamic is through the "marketplace" if you will for non-profits that work on environmental issues.  In your personal giving, make it clear that you are giving to organizations that are working to bridge the divide.  And on the larger front, write to foundations that give large amounts of money to environmental groups encouraging them to fund cooperative, educational, bridge-building work rather than partisan, feel-good attack dogs.

One thing is for sure, if funders demand results rather than rhetoric, they will start getting it.  And then the environment would truly be better off.

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