Bright Green

by Heather Rae

The last sips of the French merlot finished dry, and the just uncorked Italian sangiovese began too chocolatey, so I looked — left and right in the empty kitchen — and blended the two together in a wine glass. I have been taught that this is not done; oenephiles may shudder. And, it was delicious.

Speaking at a podium before a gathering of enviros about faith and spirituality and religion presented a similarly ingrained reservation; it’s just not done. The blending of climate change science and the inspiration to do something about it that comes from the heart, from the soul and scripture, I feared, could lead to dismissal from the environmentally-, scientifically-leaning audience: she’s an ignoramus, a dreamer.

Beside me on this panel to talk of the climate change movement (and to answer the question, is there a movement?) were Jared Duval a youth Energy Action Coalition leader and David Foley, an architect of high performance homes. Jared and David went before me and gave energetic, inspiring and educational presentations; I yearned to give in to my dread of public speaking and slink off stage…but journeyed on. We each touched upon values while addressing climate change, broken political systems, the building trades, a new order for organizational cooperation, clean technologies, the future and history.

Like wine, faith perspectives are varied and numerous. At a talk I gave to a senior’s group at a UCC Congregationalist church in Colorado (it could have been called, “An Inconvenient Truth Lite,”) the most vocal response came from a handful of self-described human secularists who shrugged and responded, in short: whatever. The collective shrug took me by surprise, coming from a gathering of “the faithful.” It’s a little less surprising from the likes of “bright green environmentalism.”

On the website “What is Enlightenment,” integral ecologist Michael Zimmerman speaks about “bright green, a transformative approach to environmentalism that offers a fuller and more hopeful way to respond to the global ecological challenges we face.”
Says Zimmerman, “I acknowledge a forward-thinking visionary attitude: Look, we have to remake the world. We have twenty, thirty years to do the job, and we have to do it in a way that is going to appeal to the glamour in people; and moral condemnation and blaming, it’s not effective. So, in a way, you have to find a way to harness people’s energy, to harness people’s hopes for the future, for themselves, for their families, their countries and the planet and to provide them with the tools, concepts and insights necessary to really bring about any credible transformation of how we make a living on the planet, basically. That allows the planet to prosper in terms of its ecosystems as well as human beings who are dependent on it. So all that’s terrific. So if that’s bright green, then I’m on board.”

There’s a human secularist shrug within the “bright green” movement, however. Zimmerman speaks of the loss of connection with tradition and spiritual awakening, an element affiliated with the “bright green” movement.” He goes on to say, “Once you have reached a modernist kind of development, there’s a kind of secular humanist where humanity is its own kind of trip.”

When Zimmerman says, “we ought to also be working with spiritual development along with technologies — in ways that are developed morally, aesthetically,” then I, too, am on board. It can be a delicious blend.

Heather Rae, a contributor to, manages a ‘whole house’ home performance program in Maine and serves on the board of Maine Interfaith Power & Light. In 2006, she built a biobus and drove it from Colorado to Maine. In 2007, she begins renovation of an 1880 farmhouse using building science and green building principles.

2 replies
  1. Market Guru
    Market Guru says:

    Hi Heather:Since it seems that no one else gives a crap, I thought I should at least put a post with a "Three cheers" for the effort of what you are trying to do. I thinkeventually, being eco-conscious will just be how things are done. Keep trying!Pamela

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