Brooklyn Born Boy lives Sustainable Example
The USA has a quiet revolution going on. A lot of people are thoroughly reexamining the basics of how they live their life. There is a lot of information out there, and a nice portion of it comes from Mike Lieberman. He has been documenting his transition to sustainability as personal testimony to how it is done, and why it should be done. He's been featured on MSN Money, been named a top green blogger by Greenopia and Traveling Greener, and is a big hit in Brazil. Here is a partial list of his online work and mentions.
Mike Lieberman goes by CanarsieBK across the web. Why CanarsieBK? As Mike explains it: "Canarsie is the neighborhood that I was born and raised in Brooklyn".
Bill: Mike, I'd ask you to treat us to your 'elevator speech', but knowing and sharing your views on sustainability I'm sure you'd opt for the stairs. Let's assume we're in such a cabin though, so if you'd be so kind would you tell us a little about yourself and your mission, and "walking the talk"?
Mike: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and always loved being outdoors, whether it was playing tag on the streets or at the playground playing basketball. Don't get me wrong, I spent sometime inside playing on the computer, but being outside is what I really loved.
As I've grown older, I've come to realize that the choices that I make on a daily basis effect the environment. There is a lot of information out there now about what we are doing and how that effects the earth, but what can we as individuals do? Then I started to think about another passion of mine, food. I mean who doesn't love food? I'm talking about real food and not the stuff that's currently passed off as food these days.
I wanted to have an impact and actually do something to make a difference instead of talking about making a difference. There are lots of factors that goes into getting food to our plates. First there are the sprays and chemicals that are used. Putting all of the studies and research aside, I just don't want that stuff in my body. It can't be good for our bodies and for the planet. There is also the ways that the workers that are harvesting the produce and how they are treated. Are they treated fairly? Getting a decent wage?
Bill: And how about those scandalous cases where, for example, garlic travels all the way from China to East Coast US, sprayed and irradiated so it will keep?
Mike: On the average food travels about 1,500 to get to our plates. In order to travel that ridiculous distance, a lot of gas and resources are used up. These are reasons why I started to grow my own organic produce on my fire escape in NYC. When I started, I didn't have any experience or read any books (ok I read 1/2 of a book). I just started to grow. I made self-watering containers out of recycled materials, made a compost bin in my kitchen and planted some fresh veggies on my fire escape. I also started to blog about it to show others that it's possible to grow your own food with little space and experience.
Bill: What I think is cool about having at least a partial focus on food is that food is so personal, so immediate, and can spur thinking about so many related aspects, such as how it is prepared and shipped, as you have so ably pointed out. I like to think of food as a vector for personal change, an 'unavoidable opportunity', and a daily one at that; what's not to like?
Mike, how much of Michael Pollan's views on food do you agree with?
Mike: I have only read one of his books and saw Food Inc, but from what I know I agree with most of his views. Most people have heard or read some of Michael Pollan's work, then started to get into the food movement. I became familiar with his work after I had already started my journey.
Human civilization was built upon growing food and the community that comes with growing, harvesting, preparing, eating and sharing it. We have become so far removed from that way of life that we have now found it strange when someone eats a salad. Most of those are now responsibilities of others and we just skip right to the eating. We don't know where our food comes from and what's happened to it before it made its way to our plates. I'm starting to question who are these people and do they have my best interest at the front of their minds? This is why I have started to grow my own food. Plus it gives me a whole new appreciation for what goes into it.
We are lucky to live in a time where we don't have to rely on growing our own, so if one of my plants gets infested with insects or dies, I can just go to the store. In growing my own, I now understand what it takes to grow food and appreciate it much more.
Bill: Mike, you are active on Social Media in an impressive way. What do you think are the respective merits of the Social Media channels you use?
Mike: I think there is much value in using social media because you are able to reach an audience that you didn't have the ability to reach ten years ago. It gives the average person a voice that can be truly be heard locally, nationally and globally.
This is a huge shift in power from the hands of agencies, news corporations and big businesses controlling the message. Social media lets anyone have a say.
Like any marketing channel, you just need to know how to utilize the network to help spread your message. But like anything else out there you might have to wade through the crappy stuff to get to the good. Twitter is good to help connect with people and help to establish yourself as a credible source. YouTube is good to promote your content in its video form and Facebook is great to humanize yourself even more.
People want to connect with other real people, not with corporations or someone who is putting on a front.
Click here for interview about Mike's Fire Escape Garden
Bill: Mike I love what you are saying here about power coming into the hands of everyone. If the powers-that-be had done a better job with their responsibilities, then I wouldn't be so gleeful at the prospect of power devolving and diffusing more and more, but we need to take power and responsibility into our own hands, much more so than before. In support of such an effort, authenticity and reach are to me two key network multipliers. The viral nature of communication through trusted networks provides a platform for powerful change.
Mike, how much do you think the personal dimension of your message is helpful? Is it just a nice-to-have feature, the main thing being the content? Is it a multiplier? Does it help you hit different segments?
Mike: I think the personal message is what makes it so easy for me to talk about and discuss because it comes natural. The main thing is totally the content.
It's not about me. It's about the content. I've positioned it in a way where I've become part of the content. I think it gives a personal touch and helps people to better relate to the message as opposed to it coming from an authority or business.
Bill: Mike, if you don't mind my asking, what caused you to move to the exact opposite edge of this huge country? You are now in Los Angeles, CA. (Was it the Dodgers?)
Mike: That's an easy one. My girlfriend, Anita, lives out here. We decided it was best for us to reside out left for the time being. Since she is working on starting up her career in holistic health counseling and I can do my thing from anywhere. Plus I can grow year round here and learn much more.
Bill: Mike you are a prolific writer. You have a website called Urban Organic Gardener, one for Simply Raw Recipes, and 365 Ways to Go Green, your daily advice source. Props to you for posting daily. How much time do you devote on average to your writing?
Mike: I don't know how much time that really allocate a day. It's def not too much because I want to spread the time spreading the word, not just writing it. In addition to my sites, I also write for Greenopolis, Crazy Sexy Life plus other and do guest posts when I can on other sites. Like I said, it's about spreading the message and reaching out to new people. The message isn't useful if I am sitting around the koomba-yah circle and preaching to the same people over and over again.
Bill: Mike, you are a fascinating guy, and a busy guy. Glad to know you, and I'll let you get back to what you love. Thanks for connecting, and all the best.
Folks, if you like Mike, he's available for freelance writing, social media marketing and workshops.