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Sometime in Never-Never Land!
Back in the winter of '93 I spent the season in Miami Beach. I tried to establish a center for Earth Island Institute. I bunked in the old Chelsea Hotel. The night watchman had a UFO tattoo on his arm. While I spent my nights undercover as a paparazzi, I combed the beach during the day for better ways to green local businesses.
I must have met with over 200 hotel owners and managers, educating them about every green products and services available to the lodging industry, hoping they would buy an Ecotel environmental certification in the process. But I gave it all away. Only one hotel bought the whole program; the Pelican which Diesel was renovating at the time.
Andrew Delaplaine was courageous enough to let me have a column in Wire, the popular local weekly he published from his used bookshop. I would sit having the $.99 breakfast at Max's every morning on Ocean Drive and write. Stan Gibilisco, the environmental editor of South Beach magazine, a really beautiful local fashion magazine back then, interviewed me for Wire. We came up with some really great ideas together. Some of them even came true...
One day I saw how tired the models were of walking up and down Collins avenue for go-sees and I thought wouldn't be great if SoBe had an electric shuttle so they wouldn't have to walk so much. We got our wish! In 1997 the City of Miami Beach proudly drove their brand new Electrowave* buses to the Electric Vehicle Symposium at Disney World. I suggested they ask all the SoBe drag queens to take a ride for a photo-op. It made all the Miami papers!
*(Replaced by South Beach Local in 2005)
To me South Beach has always been this little make-believe city where you could try anything new. A place where the locals were crazy enough to just "let it happen". So when I found out a couple of people wanted to have a show called Eco-Natural at the Miami Beach Convention Center in April 2002, I said count me in. Problem is they needed seed money to reserve the space and didn't tell anybody. The event didn't happened because the sponsors never came through.
The idea was to pack the Miami Beach Convention Center with 600 green products and services exhibitors, call it the Green Bazaar and have DJ's spinning Ambient and Chill all day long, just like a Marrakech flea market, like something out of a 1001 Nights. We wanted to cross-market the Green Pages with Green Galactic.
I chronicled all of this on the SoBeVerde List, someday maybe, Miami will host its own green expo!
You will find 1000's of South Beach green tips on the SoBeVerde List.
Update 04: Since this was conceived of and written back in 2001, a group called GreenFestivals ran with the idea of mixing a green business fair with a rave, but still hasn't done one in Miami. Only San Francisco, Washington DC and Austin, TX. You can lead a horse to water...
Update Oct 05!: Metropolis magazine put on a green architectural conference February 9 & 10, 2006 at Miami Dade College with some illustrious speakers... but, they totally ignored little yours truly, after all the work I put in setting up the stage for them, refuse to invite me to participate in their event! Quoting Susan Szenasy, editor of Metropolis: " I am sorry that you feel ripped off. I would never want to do that to anyone with great ideas. But please understand that in my many public conversations I come across good ideas from many sources and that one person is never the sole source of the big stories or conferences we work on. Some things are, literally, in the air (zeitgeist?). " Life sucks, then you die, right? Who has the gold makes the rules. Save the Planet, yes! Just don't expect God to pat you on the back or mail you a pay check. True green environmental activism is a thankless job! Argh!!!
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