As a journalist, I feel like I should have some clever and creative lead for this piece. But I keep coming back to the tried and true: It is such an honor to receive the Heinz Award.
It’s an honor to be recognized by Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation. It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of heroes and heroines of mine who’ve received the award in previous years. And it’s an honor to accept the award on behalf of everyone involved in Grist: my talented colleagues, our generous funders, and the mentors who have helped me along the way.
Since it comes during Grist’s 10th anniversary year, this moment gives me a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come, and where we’re going. (I try to do this in the newsroom all the time, but they just roll their eyes. You, though, you’re going to keep reading. Right?)
When I started Grist in 1999, environmentalism was a different beast: old, tired, uncool, way too earnest. I wanted to inject some levity into a movement known for taking itself too seriously, and to reach new audiences, people who would never call themselves environmentalists. Grist started as an email sent to just a few hundred people, and we’ve had success beyond what I could have imagined. We’ve done it with humor, we’ve done it with substantive coverage, and most of all, we’ve done it by proving that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
In the intervening decade, of course, green has exploded, both in our culture (hel-lo Wal-Mart!) and in our politics. Time was, if a politician so much as mentioned climate change, we’d do a little dance. Now, thanks in part to a certain forklift-riding former VP, presidential candidates actually jockey for the greenest platforms — and we seem to finally have a president intent on tackling this global challenge. Or at least acknowledging it.
Believe me, it’s exciting stuff for a guy who once labored alone in the punny-headline wilderness. But we’ve gone from one extreme to the other: there’s so much green chatter now that it’s become hard for people to figure out which issues and actions really matter and how to get involved. That’s why we think it’s so important for Grist, now more than ever, to be a beacon in the smog.
I’ve been working with our team to develop plans for the next few years. We’re committed to cutting through the noise and spotlighting the people, ideas, organizations, and practices that are making positive green change. We’ll be pointing out how to get involved, and working with you (you’re still here, right?) to generate even more solutions and ideas for a sustainable future.
Here at Grist, we like to have fun, but we also take our work seriously. I’d like to thank the Heinz Family for honoring our commitment, and I look forward to continuing the journey.