The Lohasian* Evolution
The 'crunchy' demographic comes of age at the eco, sustainable, and spiritual 2006 LOHAS conference.
11:15 am: Ford Rules
Niel Golightly, the director of sustainable strategies for Ford Motor Company, steps up.
Most people don't know that Ford's Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan has been green—designed by eco-building guru William McDonough—for nearly three years. It's got wetlands, a green roof, reuses water, harnesses solar power, and has a paint shop that actually creates energy off its fumes. Plus, Golightly (really his name) announces that by 2007, 80,000 Ford vehicles will have seat covers made of 100 percent recycled fabric. This move, he says, will save around 600 thousand gallons of water, 8.1 mill pounds of carbon dioxide, and 6.1 mill kilowatt hours of electricity a year. "If that's not good business, I don't know what is," he says. It's starting to feel a little bit infomercialish now, but he also tells us about Ford's new partnership with TerraPass an organization that helps drivers calculate and offset their cars' emissions. And he talks about the company's hybrid SUVs.
"For companies wanting to be around 20, 30, 50 years from now, sustainability is not optional," he says. The audience seems visibly inspired that such a huge auto company is taking these strides.
1:45 pm: Five Live Infomercials––But For Stuff I Like
The great part about attending a conference dedicated to a demographic you're a part of is that even the boring stuff is somewhat interesting. We learn that Plenty prints on recycled paper even though it costs a lot more; that Dr. Hauschka believes beauty comes from truth and goodness; Patagonia tithes one percent of its sales to causes—and applauds Wal Mart for its pending use of organic cotton; Wild Oats uses "corntainers" for take-out items, cage-free eggs, and as much fair trade and local artisan product as possible.
5:30 pm: Getting Our Diksha on at the Twilight Reception
We're under a giant, sprawling tree, eating tofu shish-kebab, drinking regular wine (they ran out of organic) when I see Chantal, my eye-gazing buddy. She looks even more serene than this morning.
"Diksha," she says.
"You must get the diksha!" she points to the hotel lobby.
By her description (and eyes) I gather it's a spiritual transmission of peaceful waves. A guru in India is holding 21-day courses in it. Supposedly we can't get enlightened because our brains have too much static. The diksha, a calming placing of hands and an energetic beaming, can help. Rumor has it that Gwyneth, Brad, and Angelina get the diksha all the time. "Go now!" says Chantal.
In the lobby, a woman in blue and purple holds her hands over a man's shoulders. He looks calm. I go to the bald man next to them in a butter yellow shirt with a wood mala-bead necklace and say, "Chantal sent me." He smiles, wry and tired, and wordlessly gestures me to sit. He stands behind me, resting his hands on my shoulders and then over my head. "Relax," he says, "open up." Soon I feel a warm waterfall pouring into my brain and flowing through my body.
My busy brain settles.
Friday, April 28, 2006
9:10 am: Steve Case's Next Revolution
Here's the man many have been waiting to see, Steve Case, co-founder of AOL. About a year ago, Case bought a company called Revolution. The Revolution Living part of the business now owns the super-swank Miraval Spa, LIME (a mind-body-spirit media hub), Flex Car, a vehicle-sharing program; and a minority part of Gaiam, the health care products company; it's also involved with non-profits and setting up alternative health-care clinics.
In pleated chinos, tasseled loafers, and a tan-peach shirt, Case fires us up for the revolution. Highlights:
"Health care is really 'sick care.' Health is something different, people do it voluntarily, and do it 100% out of their own pocket. When you cross the line, and become 'sick,' you enter a whole different world of co-payments and PPOs and all that. They are separate worlds now."
To be mainstream, LOHAS needs "…to be welcoming. Don't make people feel they need to 'qualify'… It's like fitness clubs... people need to feel like they can DO it! They don't want to feel like an idiot."