Meet Local Green Peeps!

aed-billboard-3-2008-005Chances are, if you are reading this, you support green causes. You go to meetings, you visit local farmers’ markets, and soon you start running into familiar faces. You know their names, but have you ever wondered what they do to be ? Well, Meet Local Green Peeps! hopes to satisfy your curiosity about area green people and what they do to be GreenAR in the Natural State. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Vital Statistics (Name & Location): My name is Claire LaFrance, and I live in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Hillcrest neighborhood to be exact. Originally from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, but moved here two years ago and fell in love with the Natural State.

What Do You Do?: I am the Executive Director of the Arkansas Earth Day Foundation, a small non-profit that is most prominently known for the annual Arkansas Earth Day Festival. I also work as Policy Associate for another environmental Little Rock-based non-profit called the Ecological Conservation Organization, or ECO. My partner in crime Rob Fisher and I work on issues nationally and in Arkansas such as Climate Change, Kid Safe Chemicals and antibiotic use in industrial farming.

Steps Taken to be GreenAR: I feel like I live a pretty normal life; I am no environmental superhero. I do what I can with everyday choices that, I believe, add up to a great impact on our earth. I certainly have a personal motto that goes far beyond practice what you preach. I feel like it makes me a better environmental educator and activist to master the small lifestyle choices. I bring re-usable bags to the grocery, never buy or use plastic water bottles, tend a small vegetable garden, bring my own mug for coffee, and compost at my house. I’m an avid recycler and continue to believe that the loudest voice we have in this country is our choices in what we buy. The choices that we make as consumers guide what stocks the shelves and what management practices big companies utilize. So, as a reformed vegetarian, I buy my organic chicken believing that every bird is one step closer to a cultural revolution!

Hard-to-Take Steps: Living in the activist world is a little different from having a normal job. It is a hard balance to stop working, literally. I feel like I live and breathe the environment, bring my work home and then have to show up to every environmental event possible. Although a little draining, I am thankful that there is an active environmental movement here in Arkansas.

It’s difficult to always practice what you preach, but I try to stay consistent with my beliefs. If I could offer advice to anyone, it would be SHOW UP, LEARN UP and SPEAKING UP. This goes for hearings on issues, to political rallies. Even I struggle with this model. However, it comes from a belief that there is a lot of complaining we do about the world, but it will not change unless we something about it.

It is important to always keep learning, especially on an issue like the environment. It is such a complex issue that affects us all. It is difficult and political but that doesn’t mean each person can’t make a difference. The environmental movement needs us all to do our part. The old saying “be the change that you want to see in the world” holds more truth than ever before. If you see an injustice, be the one to fight it. Everyone thinks that someone else is handling things. It is just not the case. With more emphasis than these words can express, go out there and be the difference. If you do not know how, start somewhere like the Arkansas Earth Day Festival, learn as much as you can, and you will be surprised how your place in this world will find you!

Future Steps to be GreenAR: I think I may have covered that in my previous rant. I could always do more things for the environment and that is something I struggle with. I definitely plan to live in the country one day, hopefully making my life a bit more self-sufficient and sustainable. I will continue to work as an activist or public servant as long as there are things that I think should be changed.

Favorite AR Groups & Businesses: As a shameless promoter, my heart is with those businesses and individuals that plan to participate in the 2009 Arkansas Earth Day Festival. It is a hard economic climate for giving but together, our booth holders, sponsors and tireless volunteers are all helping us prove that this “green” thing is not just a fad, and that environmentally friendly choices can be the most economical. Check out the wall of honor on our website at ArkansasEarthDay.org

If You Can Do One Thing to Make the Natural State Even More Natural, What Would You Do? Dissolve the Public Service Commission, Arkansas Rural Electric Coops, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce (Devil that wears Prada), and the natural gas industry that lobbied against all the environmental bills in the Arkansas legislature. Other than making state legislators take a canoe trip down the Buffalo then watch the Inconvenient Truth, I would encourage all Arkansans with an environmental conscience to call their elected officials and explain their views.

Know a green Arkie? Leave a comment and let me know how I can get in touch with him or her.

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