Michael d'Estries is a media machine and is one of the green blogosphere's earliest and most prolific producers. He's one of the co-founders of the green celebrity blog Ecorazzi, started Groovy Green, one of the first green blogs on the web, covers pop culture, celebrities, and the arts here on MNN, and manages to squeeze in working full time as a computer techie.
I've known Michael for a long time and first got to know him when Groovy Green started up. Back in the old days (old being a relative term in blogging, I'm talking six or seven years ago), there weren't many green blogs on the internet so the handful of us who spent our days writing posts on green environmental topics tended to search each other out. We traded emails, became buddies, and I've been working with him in one capacity or another ever since.
Michael lives on a farm in upstate New York with his two children and wife and when he's not working or hanging with the family he can usually be found tending the fruit orchard and vineyard that came with the farm. Lately he's taken up beekeeping and has several hives of bees to help pollinate his trees and vines.
Here are seven questions answered by Michael d'Estries.
MNN: When do you sleep? You work full time, run Ecorazzi, blog for MNN, AND have a wife, a couple cute kids, a dog, and a farm and house to maintain, complete with huge swaths of grape vines and a full blown fruit orchard. Oh, and you're a beekeeper as well. Seriously, are you secretly twins who decided to live through one single, super productive and kickass persona? How do you get it all done?
Michael d'Estries: I'd love to say that I have a stunt double named Armand that helps me with everything, (I do) but seriously, when you're passionate about something, somehow you find time to fit it all. Like anything, it's a balancing act and every day is different. I absolutely love working outside and find farm life to be the perfect counterbalance to working behind the laptop. The beauty of today's online world is that I can do it all from the orchard if I like - so I'm lucky to live in a time when I can juggle several different hobbies all in one location.
You've been a green blogger for just about as long as there has been a green blogosphere. What are some of the biggest changes you've seen to the industry over the years?
Back in the early '00s, I lived in New Zealand for a couple years and was blown away by their dependence on renewable energy sources. When I moved to Ithaca, NY - I found a city with a similar passion for the green lifestyle. Since I'd already been "blogging" online about my travels for years before, it was easy to start writing about this new passion; especially with then-new software like Wordpress making the cost of entry so simple.
I started blogging in 2005 - which seems like several decades ago. The whole green scene has rapidly matured since then; especially thanks to social media making dissemination of ideas, initiatives, and campaigns that much easier. In 2005, you needed a computer, an internet connection, and some kind of blog site to be heard. Now you just need a cell phone and a Twitter account.
What's your next project?
I'm seriously interested in planning a Green Bloggercon gathering here in Ithaca, NY for summer 2012. There are so many great writers out there that I've know virtually since the start, but have never met in person. Besides the Fingerlakes Region's natural beauty, there are also lots of wineries, eco-villages, and other cool green projects to tour. I imagine two days of panels, live music, and day trips as a way to celebrate and grow the online green scene.
Personally, I've added a newborn and another beehive recently to my to do list. I'll let you guess which one I'll be devoting the majority of my time to this summer.
The d'Estries farm.
What's the difference between green and greener?
Honestly, I think Michael Parrish Dudell (who was recently interviewed) provided the best answer to this question. I loved this quote: "I’m less concerned about whether one embodies the ultimate green lifestyle but more interested that he or she fully understands the foundation of the cause and works each day to become a little better." Could not agree more.
Does the world need saving?
The world? No. We could mess this world up, eradicate every living thing on the surface, and life would still find a way to rebound. In the History Channel's "Life After People" series they mention that if we all disappeared tomorrow, it would only take 1,000 years for cities like New York to become forest again and completely unrecognizable; with very little traces of human impact. That's incredible! For all our hubris, the human race is still very much at the mercy of Mother Nature.
What needs saving are the species we share the world with today. We're all connected and all dependent. To ignore that fact is to seal our own doom. We're certainly not going to all give up our laptops and Starbucks and live in the trees, but we can become more educated and respectful about the natural world around us. Technology will certainly help us with new energy sources, but common sense is also a powerful weapon that's sorely missing. We need to take a step back and make decisions based on how they will impact the world around us 50-100 years from now and not just how quickly they will make a return on investment.
Who is one person doing good in the world (besides yourself) who we should know about and why?
I'm a big fan of the work Scott Harrison has done with his charity:water organization. In a little over five years, he's taken it from an idea to over $10 million in donations funding 2,906 clean water projects in 17 countries. He's also very wisely leveraged social media - charity:water now has the largest following of ANY non-profit on Twitter (1.3M), as well as celebrity supporters that regularly donate their birthdays to raise money for the org.
Access to clean water in the developing world is a huge issue, but the means to help people are relatively inexpensive. Orgs like charity:water are inspiring because you can see real results with your donations. It's an awesome success story.
(Shea's note: I invited Michael to come up with and answer his own question here): What's your favorite way to eat an avocado?
I'm so glad you asked. People really don't appreciate the tasty joy that is a fresh avocado. Here's my preferred method:
1. Slice avocado in half, remove giant pit with spoon.
2. Place both avocado halves flesh side up so that the space left by the pit acts as a small bowl.
3. Take some extra virgin olive oil and liberally sprinkle over the avocado.
4. Take some balsamic vinegar and do the same.
5. Garnish with sale and pepper.
7. Serve in a bowl and enjoy using a spoon to carve out the avocado.
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