Bill Sheehan (pictured here with daughter Fiona) is network coordinator for the GrassRoots Recycling Network in Athens, Ga.

Sunday, 19 Mar 2000

ATHENS, Ga.

Woken up at 6:30 a.m. by my bouncy nine-year-old daughter, Fiona, who had been woken by her kitten. Sky gray, temperature cool — more like late winter than any weather in many weeks.

French toast, strong coffee (my wife calls it “cup-optional”). We read the Sunday paper while Fiona reads Harry Potter for the fourth time.

Sit with my wife picking out native plants from a seed catalog to plant in the yard of the new house we built in a community outside of Athens. We debate what is native — Clarke County? The Piedmont? Georgia? The Southeast? I decide to look up native plants that smell good, because I love to pinch off leaves, crush and smell them.

I savor the good family time, knowing that I will be taking three trips in the next two weeks.

The first trip starts tonight, when I’ll fly from Atlanta to Fort Walton, Fla., for a small meeting of national and regional forest activist groups gathering to strategize about campaigns to apply market pressure to save forests.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network takes a big-picture view of recycling. Our central message is zero waste — policies and practices that seek to emulate nature, where one organism’s waste is a resource for another organism. We are concerned about paper and wood waste because it comprises almost half of what goes into landfills. How can you save forests in the long run without stopping the flow of forest products into landfills?

In the afternoon, Chris, our projects coordinator, arrives. We go downstairs to work on faxing and emailing out a media advisory about a new report we plan to release next week. I rely on Chris to navigate the cyber-maze of computers, databases, programs, and other technological paraphernalia we depend on. GRRN is a national grassroots network that relies heavily on email, our listserve, and our website for communication, allowing us to work out of home offices like mine.

The report is called “Wasting and Recycling in the United States 2000,” a 64-page tome written by the Washington, D.C.-based Insitiute for Local Self-Reliance. It is the first comprehensive look in a decade at recycling in relation to wasting, and we’re going to release the report in five cities. I’ll be going to Los Angeles and San Francisco next Sunday for press conferences.

Chris gets the fax server set up while I fine-tune the advisory over the phone with Lance, our media wizard in the Washington, D.C., area. We decide to delay the advisory until tomorrow to get some more details on the speakers — a mayor in California and a Congressperson in D.C. Lance emails me a version of the advisory for our activists and I email it to 64 people who have expressed interest in releasing the report locally in towns and cities across the country.

I eat dinner with my wife and daughter, throw some clothes into my suitcase, and drive the hour and a half to the Atlanta airport in a steady rain, wondering when I will have time to type out this diary entry. Half an hour from the airport, I catch a weather report on the radio — a weather front is moving into Atlanta.

At the airport I rendezvous with two other people heading for the same meeting. The storm front hits. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:55 p.m. It is now 2:00 a.m. The rain has stopped. There is still no plane. But my laptop is humming, and I have finished today’s entry.