It Ain’t Easy Being Green…

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green…

It Ain’t Easy Being Green… By Randall Presswood.
From arts to garbage and back to arts again – and keeping it green.

I know you all will find this hard to believe…I sometimes marvel at it myself! Hard as it is to accept, I haven’t always lived and worked in Pennsylvania. Yeah, right?!  In fact, way back in the mid 80’s, I worked in up-state New York for the SUNY system of higher education.  The weather always sucked (sorry  SUNY – but it did), so I knew I was not going to spend forever under the dreary grey skies of upstate NY. But during my years there, New York implemented a mandatory recycling program. Being conscientious about the environment, mother earth and all that…I welcomed this mandate with open arms. Not so much for my fellow up staters. They were New Yorkers after all, and the idea of ‘sorting’ their trash, was for many, an emotionally taxing charge. They just didn’t want to do it. There was no escaping the deed though – as you were mandated to place your trash in clear plastic bags at the curb, without the cover of a steel trash can (or Rubbermaid, or whatever) and the land fills would not accept un-sorted trash.  Leach Garbage TruckFor a brief fleeting moment, I toyed with the thought of dumping my theatre career and going into the garbage business. I knew so many ladies of New York who would pay nearly anything to have someone else sort their trash for them.  So I thought — I’ll start a trash collection business where I would allow my customers to curb their trash as they always had, and I would sort it and distribute to the land fills. I knew I could charge more than double what any other collector was charging and would have more customers than I could handle. After all, I went to college with Fred Leach, heir apparent to the Leach corporation (you know, as in Leach garbage trucks since 1932 and the inventor of the rear garbage packer)(which is not a Kardashion reference).


Nancy Presswood - modelBut… I was dating this model at the time who was working in retail, (see picture) and we were tossing around the word “marriage”. OK, OK….to be honest, SHE was tossing around the word marriage. I actually had trouble stringing a certain two words together, if you know what I mean. It was clear if I was to stick with this marvelous relationship, garbage was out of the question. So theatre stayed, and after a short stint in the Bay Area of California, here we are in PA.  You’re welcome bytheway!


But that ecology minded recycling mandate stuck with me. I thought, why not do just a little that will mean so much for our planet. For example: shortly after arriving in PA,  I embarked on a quest to do what I could to save some energy for the PA State System.300px-source_four_ers  My first task was to attack the electrical use in my theatres.   The university was getting a small discount on energy costs, but not enough to really make a difference, or to justify ignoring what could be done. I contacted the PA State Energy Commission and received a grant to change out the theatre lighting instruments to the new energy efficient ETC S4 models. Remember, this was 23 years ago…ETC was new technology and not everyone knew of it. Long story short…I was able to triple the number of lighting instruments, save 60% of the electrical cost, and more than double the lumen output. That’s how I lead my life even to this day. I consistently look for ways to recycle/reuse/reduce. Especially in my private business. The theatres and houses of worship that I’ve designed are all done with energy conservation in the forefront.


So I was actually excited to hear that our fall MAPAM conference would take the bold step to eliminate bag conference-bagsdistribution. I can tell you — the first two words out of my wife’s mouth as I return from each conference are: “tote-bag, tote-bag!” … occasionally prefaced by an expletive. Like many of you, I have a collection of these bags (see picture).  I’m excited to bring, and re-use one of my favorites for MAPAM in November. Like other board members, I’ll bring extras in case you don’t have a bag — and who knows, maybe we can start a whole new conference tradition of the ‘bag swap’ – where you see a bag you like more than your own; and you and your fellow conference attendee swap out. How green is that? And how cool, by the way! It may not be easy bein’ green…but it’s fun as hell! And I can assure you, you’ll feel great about it.
MAPAM 2016 / Lancaster…the origin of the ‘bag swap’. Be part of it. Register today!