Steve Curwood Headlines Visionary Dinner
By Marci Reed, Southface
Recently, Southface staff examined our vision, mission and core values in the context of creating the organization’s next strategic plan. One of the most profound insights we gained from this exercise was the widespread commitment of our staff to the equity aspect of triple bottom line economics. Many on our staff associated Southface’s efforts in the equity arena primarily with affordable housing. It’s true that we have made an impressive impact on healthy, efficient affordable housing, and in fact, a study we are finalizing will put hard numbers behind decades of this work. Over the years, however, Southface has engaged in work promoting equity in many different ways, and we want our staff and constituents to take pride in that.
For example, our work with the TransFormation Alliance, Clean Power Plan, Energy Efficiency for All and the Just Energy Circle places Southface in the middle of powerful equity conversations. This recent focus was part of the inspiration behind inviting Steve Curwood to speak at our upcoming Visionary Dinner. As Atlanta’s environmental community pushes for attention to equity, inclusion, and justice-driven environmental solutions, we expect Steve’s story and message to resonate with the regional business, policy and community leaders in the room.
Around the time that Southface was just beginning, first as the Georgia Solar Coalition, Steve Curwood was beginning his lifelong work as an activist. Steve eloquently describes how he came to become an advocate for the environment over his decades of activism:
Thirty years ago, when the first Earth Day rallies got underway, I was slow to get in line. As an African-American I was busy marching about civil rights and fighting poverty. As the son of a single mother, I was busy marching for equal rights for women. As a concerned citizen and Quaker, I was busy marching against the war in Vietnam. Let the white guys march for the environment, I said. Let them rally to keep open space so they can ride to hounds, while I work for a better world.
But over the next 20 years things changed, and I changed, too. As a society, we made a lot of progress on many of the problems of 1970…Meanwhile, I became a journalist and a parent. By Earth Day 1990, my own young son was telling me that environmental change was the most important, under-covered story going. And I realized that he was right. Of all the issues Americans marched about in 1970, only the environment has gotten worse…life as we know and love it is changing profoundly. Living on Earth doesn’t advocate any particular point of view, except that our relationship to our environment, and what we do to it, is as important as any other part of our lives. And it’s our job to bring you the information you need to make the choices that will determine our future.
As our organization’s most visible and largest event of the year, the Visionary Dinner reflects the core of Southface’s commitment to a sustainable future. In addition to Steve Curwood’s Keynote, Mayor Kasim Reed will present the Argon Award for Success in Sustainability, and guests will enjoy a five course, wine-paired meal prepared by Chef Thaddeus Barton & Chef Lane Hajack Barton from The Farmhouse at Serenbe; Chef Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene and Holman & Finch; Chef Hilary White from The Hil at Serenbe; Chef Mary Moore from The Cook’s Warehouse; Chef Izzy Kurtz from Blue Eyed Daisy at Serenbe. Appetizers will be provided by Chef Thorir Erlingsson from the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University. This year we are striving to source as many ingredients as possible from within Georgia at the urging of our co-chairs Steve, Marie and Garnie Nygren of Serenbe.
Now in its 17th year, the dinner raises awareness and funding for Southface’s continued work in sustainable community development, high performance affordable housing, green jobs training, clean energy and green building. The Visionary Dinner will be held on October 7th in the Egyptian Ballroom of the Fox Theatre from 6PM-9PM. Each year this event is anticipated by the Atlanta business community for the convergence of more than 400 business leaders, policy makers, design, development and construction professionals and sustainability innovators in one evening. Visit www.visionarydinner.org for more information.