Submitted by Bill Valentine, HOK:
Chase Field had a rock concert-like feeling last night.
The evening started with a young man singing the Star-Spangled Banner. It was so touching and soulful that I was crying, as were many folks around me. It was a beautiful rendition and the song felt so emotional because of the significance of where we were and what we were doing. As I listened to the words, the feeling streamed through me that this sustainable movement is, in large measure, about being patriotic and improving the health and welfare of our country.
Thanks to Mary Ann Lazarus, my seats were just 60 feet away from the speakers. Al Gore was amazing, moving across the stage without notes or a teleprompter and laying it all out there. He was witty and compelling. He was so good that I didn't know whether to be thankful to be in his presence or ticked off because if he had done half as good a job in the 2000 presidential campaign, today's world would be in far better shape.
Gore pointed out that even if some people don't believe in global warming – and I still know a handful – they should support the environmental movement because our pursuit of foreign hydrocarbons is costing our country a staggering amount of money and causing huge political problems. Conserving resources and developing alternative energy options is one way to make America healthy.
I related to one of the quotes that Gore used from General Omar Bradley, who was an Army field commander in World War II. It was, “We have an obligation to steer by the stars and not by the lights of each passing ship.” That quote is quite meaningful to the environmental movement, because we need to create a broad vision and get on with it.
He also quoted an old African proverb that relates to the power of the U.S. Green Building Council. It was, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go to together." This was an important idea about what we can accomplish if we all work on this together.
Gore made a poignant point that we now have all the tools we need — with plenty of new ones coming — to solve our carbon problems. Now it's time to pursue new ways of getting it done. He zeroed in on being politically active and talking to our politicians about putting in place more laws that protect the environment, as we see in European countries.
One of my favorite quotes as it relates to what Gore was saying here is from Arthur Rubinstein, who said, and I'm paraphrasing: "You can play all the notes perfectly, but when does the music begin?" We have the notes we need, so now it's time to get on with playing the music. We need to fix our cities, change our education system to get more people interested in sustainability, improve our public transportation, and conserve our resources and land.
I'm staying at a smaller chain hotel that's several transit stops from the convention center. This morning I was sitting in the hotel lobby eating the complimentary breakfast and I couldn't help overhearing the conversation of a group of guys next to me. Last night they apparently were working as vendors at a booth in the stadium. They were talking about how they had to "sit through that Al Gore garbage before they got to hear Sheryl Crow." Ha!
Ciao until tomorrow,
PS: If you're here, stop by HOK's booth and give us your green a-ha!