The first full day of the first-ever Aspen Environment Forum kicked off Thursday morning with a handful of the impressive invitees taking a couple minutes each to share a “big idea.” Throughout the day, others tossed their sizeable thoughts into the ring. A sampling:

Majora Carter

Majora Carter.

Majora Carter, founder and head of Sustainable South Bronx:

“Make the invisible places visible.”

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Carter talked about how her home borough and other low-income or minority communities all around the country have become “regional sacrifice zones” where the dirtiest business of our dirty economy is done — landfills, incinerators, sewage plants, hog farms. She called for attention to be paid and investments to be made in these struggling and neglected communities. (See video of her big-idea explanation.)


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E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson.

E. O. Wilson, legendary Harvard biologist and naturalist:

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If we save the living environment, we will automatically save the physical environment. If we only try to save the physical environment, we’ll lose both.

Wilson’s point is that we can’t think just about the land and the atmosphere; we need to throw our energies into protecting the up to 100 million species on our planet, the vast majority of which we know little or nothing about.


Carl Ganter

Carl Ganter.

Carl Ganter, journalist and cofounder of Circle of Blue:

“We need to go back to great storytelling.”

Ganter argued that too many conservationists bury themselves in data and lose the heart of their issues. He said environmental messages should be communicated through stories about people, through human dramas: “We need to put faces on these issues.”


Josh Dorfman

Josh Dorfman.

Josh Dorfman, creator of Vivavi, an eco-friendly furniture company, and the Lazy Environmentalist radio show and book:

Recast the framework in which we think about the environment. Don’t tell people everything’s going to hell and they’re about to die. Tell them that if they take action, they’ll have more opportunities and their lives and their futures will be better.


Cheryl Rogowski

Cheryl Rogowski.

Cheryl Rogowski, organic farmer:

A farmer’s market in every neighborhood and a thriving network of CSAs.


Jeff Berkus, architect of the Doerr-Hosier Center, where the forum is being held:

“Bring daylight into our buildings.”

Aspen venue

Doerr-Hosier Center.

His building certainly takes advantage of Aspen’s plentiful sunlight — the perfect setting for a gathering of bright personalities and ideas. I’ll be here through Saturday for all the sessions and conversations, sponsored by the Aspen Institute and National Geographic. Stay tuned for more updates.