There was a time not so long ago, says Sharon Treat, when environmental initiatives almost always took the form of mandates handed down by lawmakers. Green was merely a color, not a movement. Business and industry saw environmentalists as the enemy,and vice versa.
Times have changed. "I think that what we're seeing is an evolution in how people think about the environment," said Treat, a former environmental lawyer who now is environmental studies coordinator at Colby and majority leader of the Maine Senate. "Now we're really into a phase where people have incorporated a lot of this into their own lives, more than what they do on a day-to-day basis in their own houses, but also in business and education, whatever their field may be."
Businesses are moving ahead with their own environmental initiatives, realizing that such efforts are something consumers recognize and appreciate. And conservationists are engaging creatively with government and business, blurring the line once drawn between traditional foes.
Illustration by Brian Speer
"I think it would be virtually impossible to solve the huge array of environmental problems we face if we don't get the business community involved," said Thomas Tietenberg, Mitchell Family Professor of Economics and director of Environmental Studies. "They are serious and important players."
At Colby, the list of alumni players is long and varied, including Kent Wommack '77, who orchestrated The Nature Conservancy's unprecedented paper-company land purchase along the St. John and Penobscot rivers ( see Colby Update: Kent Womack); Eric Most '93, whose consulting firm, INFORM, tackles the thorniest global environmental problems; and Jill Stasz Harris '86, who steers communities to funding for environmental projects. In this issue of Colby we introduce two more of the many alumni riding the leading edge of this new environmental wave.