Give it to Us, Brothers – “The Giver” | Box Office Insider

Leave it to Bob and Harvey to give us what we want when it comes to actors with the best chops. The Weinstein brothers scored Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges for this YA sci-fi film. Produced by the Weinsteins with Walden Media, this Philip Noyce directed film adaptation of the 1993 novel by Lois Lowrey comes out in the US on August 15, 2014.

via GIVE IT TO US, BROTHERS – “THE GIVER” | Box Office Insider. Guest Blogger, Nicole Hansen


DCDC Takes Cinemacon by Storm | Box Office Insider

Have you seen the blizzard of coverage about DCDC at CinemaCon? If not, then you may not know what Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition is, but they’ll be delivering digital entertainment via satellite across North America to approximately 17,000 screens and 13,000 venues by the summer. Not only will they be delivering movies, they’re also delivering big event programming as well. DCDC was founded by AMC Theatres, Cinemark, Regal Entertainment Group, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Subscribers to the DCDC network include Sony Pictures, Disney, Lionsgate and Fox as content providers and lists exhibitors such as National Amusements and Southern Theatres as DCDC customers.

Randy Blotky is CEO of the Digital Content Distribution Coalition and appeared on a panel discussing satellite delivery and DCDC’s capability of simultaneously delivering four separate live HD streams to four separate movie screens. Formats for the content include 3D and 4K. DCDC’s flexibility of the system can even allow exhibitors to stage massively-multiplayer videogames across different screens, and at separate sites. If that’s not enough to snow you over, they also announced they’re acquiring Deluxe/Echostar, the delivery system used by DCDC for satellite distribution, along with DCDC rival network which was owned by Deluxe/Echostar.

via DCDC TAKES CINEMACON BY STORM | Box Office Insider. Guest Blogger, Nicole Hansen


Power in Pink

Originally posted at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angelesdb897-pinkhardhatThree years ago, I was recently divorced, had just sold my own home at a massive financial loss, and was renting for the first time in 14 years. That’s when my friend and fellow single mom Eda Benjakul invited me to a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) fundraiser. I went, hoping it might take my mind off my own troubles. I was first taken in with the positive spirits of leaders Erin Rank and Alison Treleaven, and knew I wanted to be involved. When I heard from the single mom recipients, who dreamed of owning a home for the first time, I was humbled. I hadn’t realized that instead of being given homes, they had to help build their own house as well as build for others in need. The Habitat philosophy of “teach a [woman] to fish” was empowering them to make their home worth working for, and they were paying the mortgages too, something I had since been unable to do for myself.

A few months later, I was invited to participate in a Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity (HFHFH) “Power Women Power Tools” event, and to be honest, I was terrified. I had supervised the design and building of my dream home when I was married, but that was the easy work of picking out faucets, hinges, tiles and doors. I had never hammered in any nails or sawed any wood; that was left to the construction guys. My own husband didn’t know how to use a power drill to hang the curtain rods. I had seen firsthand how precise each cut of wood must be to make the house sturdy and how dangerous a construction site can be. I wondered: how was I going to put on a hard hat and operate power tools? What if I screwed up, sawed off a finger or swung a hammer and accidentally hit someone? I’m known for being clumsy. But I remembered that these homeowners were building houses for themselves and others without any experience either. So I mustered up my courage and went for it.

(l-r) Carey Usher, Nicole Hansen and Eda Benjakul

On the day of the build, I rounded up my then 10 and 12-year-old boys to come with me. Believe it or not, these Habitat people had thought of everything when it came to putting power tools in the hands of moms, even babysitting. My boys complained the whole way down to the site. “Can’t we just stay home and play video games instead?” But then we got there, and during the meal before we started building, two gentlemen from the HFHFH board got up to speak. One was Tom Shadyac, the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which was one of my youngest son’s favorite movies. He made the boys laugh and psyched them up. The other was screenwriter and director Randall Wallace, an HFHFH founder, who introduced the women whose homes we were building that day. My older son, who wants to write and direct stories that move people, was himself moved by Randall’s mission to serve. As the mothers spoke of how much it meant to them and their children, my kids finally got it. They happily went off to the kid’s tent and didn’t make another peep.

I put on both my pink T-shirt and pink hard hat to scurry off with my team. First, construction supervisors briefed us on how to measure wood, use the power saw, which pieces go vertically in a door frame and where to put the nails. I tried not to panic as I feared I wasn’t strong enough or man enough for this task, but then I turned and saw the woman we were building for. I found my resolve, so I operated the power saw and actually used a nail gun! If we messed something up? No problem. Nothing went to waste; it was recycled or reused elsewhere. I was feeling pretty darn macho after a while. After we framed a few windows, we got to the plywood, and it was starting to look like an actual house. As the walls went up, the construction crew handed us all sharpies to sign our well wishes to the future occupants. I found this part to be the most moving of all. Even when covered by paint, our messages of love would always remain in this home with the family.

When it was time to leave, I walked by all the women I knew on the other teams who were working 6f9cc-habitatjoyand laughing together, and I felt quite satisfied. We actually had fun challenging ourselves and delighted in getting to know the homeowners. I went to the kid’s tent and found my boys didn’t want to leave. Smaller kids were surrounding them as they supervised the building of toys and kid’s furniture for the new home’s children. The babysitters told me that my boys were natural leaders. When we started to head out, the youngsters trailed behind them. Were they really the same boys who had been complaining the whole way there? On the ride home to our modest rental house, my kids told me how proud they were of me for helping those families. Tears streamed from my eyes. I was proud of them too and grateful that we had a roof over our heads, by whatever means we had.

I have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity ever since, helping to build new homes for these incredible and inspiring single moms that I have the utmost respect for. They have stepped up to the challenge of owning their own homes, by taking an active stake in their construction and responsibility of ownership. By working together, both the builders and recipients each share in a very rewarding experience. That’s why each year, you’ll find me revving up the table saw with a little more confidence, as we enthusiastically challenge ourselves with power tools to be empowered women.

Video of Nicole at her first Power Women, Power Tools in 2010


Cool Ride for a Hot Planet

Charging My Chevy Volt

Lately, I’ve been talking an awful lot about my car. My pride in my ride is the kind most men have with their fine set of wheels. At grocery store parking lots, heads turn, and perfect strangers grin curiously. I park and eagerly invite them to take a peek inside. When I spark up the engine, they smile with awe and wonder at the technology as it boots up around them. When it comes to my car, you’d think I was a teenaged boy with his first hot-rod. But the truth is I’m a middle-aged mom who’s an “eco-preneur.” It’s probably not the picture you envisioned, is it?

Being a renewable energy advocate is never a smooth ride. I found this out when my son Nikos directed his global warming PSA “Save It” four years ago and suddenly everyone was asking me for my expertise regarding clean technology. Either that or they accused me of – god forbid – being a “hippie environmentalist” or “brainwashing” my kid. But I had been neither. I was just a divorced, stay-at-home mom just trying to honor the concerns of my children and the effects our polluted air and water is having on them.

My children worried about their future. And when your child is having nightmares to the point that he creates a PSA to let the world know of the terror he feels, you try to soothe those fears. The least I could do was buy a Prius. Big step for me, but a good way to begin to address his concerns about the world he and his brother will inherit. It was a great move then, but alas, cool is what matters when a teenaged boy is ready to drive. According to my son, our Prius was “just plain embarrassing” and he “didn’t want to be seen” driving it. So a year ago last week, when it was time to trade it in, I knew I had better consider the “cool” factor.

53 weeks of driving and I’ve used less than 103 gallons of gasoline

I called my local Chevy dealer and I asked if they had any Volts left. I was dubious, because General Motors had just cut down on production due to slow sales. They had only one, so I got there immediately. By the time I test drove this awesome vehicle, which reminded me of the thrill I had driving my 2002 Saab 9-5, I was sold – or rather leased. I brought my sexy, red machine home and my teens loved it. It was agile, powerful, and when we switched into “mountain” mode, the engine went from an almost silent whirring to a macho sounding muscle car. My boys thought it was even better than the Chevy Camaro because it hardly uses any gas.

Cool it was. When I pulled up to the world famous Polo Lounge an entire platoon of valets swarmed my car, and I was inundated with questions: “How do you like it?” “Do you mind if I take it for a spin around the block?” When I would walk back out to retrieve my Volt, it wasn’t in the garage out of sight –oh no – it was parked in the No. 1 spot, usurping the Rolls Royce, which moved to spot #2, and the Bentley to #3. This happened whenever I valet-parked in Beverly Hills and the greatest part was that the public parking structures had installed EV charging units in the most preferential spots, too. Driving a Chevy Volt in Beverly Hills made me feel like an actual VIP.

At home, I forsook the tax incentives and never installed a level 2 charger, since I’m currently renting. Instead I just used the provided 125V charger and would plug my car in overnight like I do my cell phone. At first I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. Would my electric bill skyrocket? Surprisingly, it hasn’t. My energy bill has actually stayed within the same range over the year. Because of the Volt, I was finally able to convince my environmentally conscious kids, who somehow couldn’t seem to remember to turn off the lights when they left a room, that this was important for keeping our car off of fossil fuels. So now, they’ve gotten in the habit of doing what I nagged them about for years. Mission accomplished.

After 6 months, my gas consumption was 188 mpg – yes that’s right – ONE HUNDRED eighty-eight! Then I took it on the road twice from Los Angeles to San Francisco. In my late-model Volt with lower charge capacity, I could only go 35 miles on the lithium-ion battery, so I used gas for the rest of the trip. At the truck stops along Interstate-5, guys in muscle cars and trucks would say it’s a fine looking car and maybe they should get one because they’re sick of spending a fortune on gas. There’s definitely a pattern here.

It’s now been just over a year and I’ve driven 11,024 miles, used only 103 gallons of gas and I’m averaging 107 mpg. Even my Prius couldn’t come anywhere close to that! I love that it’s environmentally conscious, but can behave like a macho car when you need it to. It looks super sleek, saves a lot of money on gas and you get movie star treatment just for owning it.  So, next time my Volt pulls into a parking lot don’t be surprised if it’s my image-conscious son who’s driving it. Hmm, I wonder where he gets that from?


Remembering Brian Gerber | The Nation

Remembering Brian Gerber | The Nation.

Remembering Brian Gerber

September 11, 2012

On the night of Tuesday August 28, I came home from a birthday party and opened my Facebook page to the shocking and dismaying news that Brian Gerber was reported missing on Monday, August 27 around 4pm. He was last seen driving a silver 2004 Toyota Prius.

I found myself thinking the most outlandish things. A father of two doesn’t just disappear. Brian’s profile picture for years had been a black and white “ABIDE” poster, not the kind, bespectacled face of this intelligent, sweet and funny man. With a witty and liberal take on current events, he regularly posted provocative and not always popular commentaries. I worried there had been some sort of confrontation or misunderstanding regarding his posts. My kids and I hoped that he would be found alive and well.

I hadn’t seen Brian in a few years, but he played an important role in my, and my son’s, life. I met him through an email introduction about five years ago. My then-10-year-old son Nikos, who struggles with learning disorders, had a chilling vision for a global warming PSA that eventually became “Save It,” a popular video warning against the impact of climate change starring Tony Goldwyn and his 9-year-old brother Dimitri which debuted on You Tube at #2 for non-profit videos and appeared on CNN and MSNBC during the 2008 presidential debates.

My friend Marshall Herskovitz who had created Thirtysomething and produced Blood Diamondoffered to help. He called his friend Leila Conners who had just co-directed the climate change-themed documentary The 11th Hour, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The next thing I knew, I received a call from her partner on the film who enthusiastically offered to help get my son’s vision translated into a full-blown short.

When I finally met Brian, he went way above and beyond. He graciously found stock footage of polluters, climate disasters and endangered species affected by oil spills, all to include in Nikos’s childhood vision of his dire future. He was generous with his time, advice and his invaluable production tips.

Brian took great joy in sharing pictures of his newborn first child and he always had a twinkle in his eye delivering an ironic comeback for any climate change naysayers. The time we spent with him was brief, but his contribution to my son’s message was significant and helped to bring my son’s nightmare of the future into a full and frightening vision for others to comprehend and hopefully halt. Nikos, now 15, remembers him as “a really nice, kind person. He helped me a lot and never asked for anything in return. I’m very sad and will always be grateful for his help.”

On August 29, Brian’s body was found in his Prius at the bottom of a ravine off the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest. He had apparently committed suicide. I couldn’t believe it, neither could countless other friends who posted on his Facebook page. They too had memories of how his generosity had contributed to their artistic pursuits, and as with us, how he never expected anything in return.

His modesty too was apparently legion. I did not know until after his death that he was a board member of IDA and that with his business partner, Thomas Riegler, had spearheaded the 2008 relaunch of I was also unaware that Brian was a founder of Digital Hollywood and had collaborated on videos with R.E.M. and Elvis Costello.

His biggest production credits included The 11th Hour, Leonardo DiCaprio’s global-warming documentary, and The Dungeon Masters, a celebrated look at the Dungeons & Dragons sub-culture. Brian also worked with numerous nonprofit organizations, producing multimedia projects for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Heal the Bay, TreePeople, Bioneers, and the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, among others.

I can only say that in my memory, Brian most closely resembled the sweet, lovable, humorous, and caring guardian angel Clarence, played by Henry Travers in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. I only wish that he had been saved by an angel of his own – an angel who could have shown up at the moment of this generous man’s deepest despair and shown him how many people had been touched by his kindness, how many lives had been changed by his generosity, and how many friends he had whose most fervent wish was to have been there to give him the support he needed.

Please join me in contributing to the Brian Gerber Memorial Fund, which will help the financial needs of Brian’s wife, Arabella Field, and their two young sons in the wake of his tragic passing.

About the Author

Nicole Hansen
Nicole Hansen is the Founder and President of Green Galaxy Enterprises (GGE), a renewable energy consulting business…


Energize Your Patriotism

2011 Year End Blog
By Nicole Hansen

Here it is the end of 2011, a year and a half since Congress’ disheartening abandonment of climate change legislation, and it’s been quite a ride on the clean energy roller coaster. Last December, many renewable energy advocates such as myself had almost lost heart — which was evident at the 2010 “Cleantech Roadshow Seminar” sponsored by Clean Tech Los Angeles. The message there was that fewer large clean tech deals were contributing to a quarterly drop in investment dollars. Many of us were concerned that maybe renewables were going to go the way of GM’s EV1.

Lately though, it’s evident that slow and steady progress is being made. At GGE, more clients are starting to call again, our partners are busy, and the word “green” is back – and it’s the color of money. That message was clear at this December’s events, also co-sponsored by CTLA, “Fostering Clean Tech in Los Angeles” and “Accelerating Innovation in the Clean Energy Economy.” Exactly one year later and the conversation has focused on money flowing into renewable energy, rather than out.

The first event was held in LACI’s La Kretz Innovation Campus, where GGE client 350Green has an office. The panel discussion included Fred Waiti, Executive Director of LACI, and Ron Nichols, General Manager of LADWP. Although it was held in a cocktail party atmosphere, the stunning take-away was that Los Angeles is becoming the country’s clean tech capital. Ron Nichols also matter-of-factly stated that there’s more than enough money to fund clean tech projects and innovation. It can be done through grants for testing and pilot projects followed by venture capital investment and/or bank loans to scale up.

The second event was held at UCLA and co-sponsored by PEW Charitable Trust. Colonel Mike Naylor of the US Marine Corps presented “DoD Driving Energy Innovation,” in which he emphasized that the greatest loss of life for US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq occurs when escorting fuel convoys, which provide fuel to power generators. In battle, radios, phones, computers and equipment must be powered – just like here at home. Col. Naylor showed a portable solar blanket, closely resembling our client FTL Solar’s Power Fold, which provides a safe alternative to generators. He stressed that renewable power installations are also needed stateside, because the US military bases are vulnerable to failures of our domestic energy infrastructure such as the San Diego blackout earlier this year affecting Camp Pendleton.

Brandon Hurlbut, Chief of Staff of the US Department of Energy, also made points that brought out my patriotic spirit. He asked: Do we in the US want to be buyers or sellers of this clean tech market? Do we want to develop, sell and use our own technologies? Are we willing to lose the market to other countries that are competing for our business? The US lags behind in clean energy investments except from venture capital. The DoE’s grant program and loan guarantees are expiring at the end of 2011. Tens of millions of dollars are about to become unavailable for start-up pilot projects. Where does that leave us?

As I remarked to the panel, this information needs to get out to the public at large. In addition to investments in the technologies, money must be allocated for publicizing them as well. We at Green Galaxy Enterprises are among many like AREDAY’s ACELI cooperating to get the word out. Some here in Hollywood, like producer Marshall Herskovitz, are working to employ effective marketing strategies as well. Nick Allen of Spring Ventures agreed that public awareness is absolutely important. All panelists emphasized that we must find ways to communicate the accurate price of all available energy without politicizing it. The public needs to be aware that clean technologies can change our lives, provide good jobs, and secure our status in the US as leaders and innovators. Isn’t that the place we American’s most want to be in the future?


Green Salon Series Presented By Breathe L.A.

Originally published in Green Blog Network GBN

When the Green Blog Network asked me to be a panelist for the Breathe LA Salon “AB 32.0 and the Rise of Green Digital Media” and blog about it on The Green Blog Network, I was reluctant. Ever since my son Nikos directed the global warming PSA, Save It, I’ve been thrown into a world of “green” issues. Many times I feel ill equipped to participate, as if I’m the student and everyone else around me are the experts—including my own children. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in Boulder, Colorado! Nothing could be more “green” than the granola Disneyland of my youth. But since coming to California twenty years ago, being ecological has gone from something the “Earth Muffins” of Boulder would do to actually becoming state laws. Such is the case with California’s AB 32.


AB 32 – Getting The Word Out

Stephanie Mullen, the Senior Field Representative to State Senator Fran Pavley made the opening remarks, stating that Senator Pavley authored AB 32 to give the California Air Resources Board authority to bring emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020. Though the law was enacted years ago, I was surprised to hear that it has not yet been implemented. She stated that we need to use resources more effectively and are looking for a strong, green economy in California. The moderator, Ray Gonzales, a former KTLA personality, brought up the fact that there is a lot of opposition to the law because of its shorthand as “the global warming law.” I believe he has a point—so how does the green social media reach those who don’t believe in global warming so that they will be less opposed to something that is basically based on common sense?
Common Sense Approach To Information Dissemination
The first panelist, Jennifer Gooding, is the LA Ambassador to EcoTuesday. She brought up the point that people’s initial hesitation arises from a disconnection to the world that can be remedied by social media. She believes that we need a forum to connect, and she has been described as that connector. We often get a bunch of information, are overwhelmed, but are not connected. That’s the benefit of social media when it comes to getting the message out there, since the vast majority of people did not know what AB 32 is. We’re failing by not having common people understand the basics.
Panelist Siel Ju is the Green LA Girl, and has appeared on outlets including NPR and NBC, among many others. She has a Ph.D in creative writing and literature but is now devoted to blogging about environmental issues. She noted that AB 32 is not a familiar term to most people. It reminded her of the battle with rBGH, which makes cows produce more milk but also causes birth defects. We must give people more information and not just boil it down to “Ban rBGH!” (or “Save AB 32!”) Whether it be eating locally produced food or riding the subway, we should connect AB 32 to things people already desire. Moreover, we must use social media for a conversation to make connections.

Panelist Josh Tickell, director of Fuel, stressed that there is power of media in environmental issues. Stepping back from the fray, the long-term objectives of AB 32 are a breakthrough and so are its emissions cuts. The Fuel film is digital media designed to have an effect. They didn’t want the result to just end in rallying efforts, but rather to “shift the energy needle” in this country. He wanted a campaign with 10 goals that people could choose from as they matched their own. A big topic for Josh is fuel made from algae, and he observed that a lot of food energy is going unused. He was able to get a meeting with the Department of Energy and to start a campaign for algae. The meeting turned into a shouting match with great disagreement on the department’s side. In the end, through the social, objective based digital and social media, there is significant investment and growing, with already $100 million being spent on algae lobbying. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger can order a million solar roofs, and the next campaign should be a million green cars. What we need, according to Josh, is a broad perspective.

Save It
Before I spoke, I shared my answer to the global warming messaging through digital media and showed my son’s 1Sky PSA, Save It (later endorsed by Global Green and Greenpeace). The shocker was that people wrote hate messages on YouTube where it premiered as Take Part’s first video release, calling me an uninformed hippie that has brainwashed my kids, and some who even said my son was “stupid.” Ironically, my sons both have developmental disorders that I was warned by the EPA they would have, as a result of environmental toxins. With what my children have to go through to be educated in special needs schools, at the expense of the government, is why it matters to all of us. Framing the discussion as a human health issue is much less controversial than global warming and we can use social media to educate people about asthma, autism, cancer and numerous other disorders that are exacerbated by or a direct cause of the toxins we are responsible for trying to control. So Earth Muffin or not, the real cost of paying for our health will far outweigh the cost of converting to cleaner and greener technologies in the long run. That’s how we should use social media to educate the masses to the importance of actuallyimplementing AB 32.
Bio: Nicole organized and produced the first Renewable Energy Conference and Awards Gala at the United Nations sponsored by the Honduran Permanent Mission to the UN with notable speakers and honorees such as Dr. Arthur Nozik of NREL, Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT as well as Billionaire John Paul DeJoria. She was a featured speaker alongside producer Marshall Herskovitz for the 2009 Green Girls Holiday Event advocating publicly for the use of renewable energy technologies. 


The Future of Christmas

Nicole Hansen’s Speech for the Green Girls Holiday Spectacular

Nicole Hansen Speaking at The Green Girls Holiday Party by Nrav Photography

Nicole Hansen Speaking at The Green Girls Holiday Spectacular by Nrav Photography

Christmas — do you remember it as a child? The anticipation of Santa eating the cookies and eggnog you left out for him, before he leaves you that train set, dollhouse or the latest electronics you wanted and behaved so carefully for in the weeks leading up to Christmas morning?

Now imagine you have a boy, surrounded by the joy and excitement of Christmas, who only stands by the tree, fixated by the little choo choo train ornament and keeps trying to climb the tree to get it. He screams, bites and cries when mom tells him no. This little boy has an older brother who gets up Christmas morning and runs to the tree to open his presents, but even though he’s 6, he can’t read his name on the packages. He is stressed because he can’t tell if Santa left him that R2-D2 droid he wanted until mom and dad can tell him which gift is his, while the little brother just wanders off instead of trying to open any gifts— to him, they are meaningless boxes.

These are the Christmases I have experienced with my own children and I fear are the Christmases of future generations. It’s bad enough that parents have to stress over lead in toys, or the plastics leeching from your baby’s bottles and the effects it will have on their children’s health and brain development. Knowing that there is little they can do when the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat is filled with so many known and unknown toxins and environmental waste, we resign ourselves to the fact that our world is changing, and I don’t mean just climate change. Humanity’s capacity for social interaction is changing too, and even our children know it.

saveit-posterTwo years ago, I was not (nor can I take credit for being now) an environmentalist. But that is when my 10 year old son told me the idea for a global warming commercial, shortly after visiting a gas station: “Imagine a boy is sitting in a car, watching as his dad pumps gas and there is a beeping sound. The kid watches his dad clean the windows and do what he always does, and as the dad looks at his son through the window, he smiles. But the kid isn’t smiling, mom, cause the kid knows what’s happening. Cause as the gas is pumping, there is this sound that goes beep beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep and then the screen goes black. Cause we killed it mom, we killed our planet, but the dad doesn’t know it and the kid does”. Hearing this, from my own son, I instantly got chills. He said, “You gotta help me make this, mom. You can’t tell anyone this story unless they can help me get it made!”

That’s when I called producer Marshall Herskovitz. He was the only person I knew who seemed to know something about what Nikos was saying; he had testified in front of Congress about converting our technologies and going to war against climate change. With his help and the help of Nikos’ godfather Tony Goldwyn, the film got made, and became a 1Sky Campaign seen on the Internet, CNN, MSNBC and even Weinstein Company DVD releases. Nikos has since been asked to blog on Huffington Posts, and appear on TV shows, but he refuses. His video says it all. But where did this come from, this fear and anger over what is happening to our earth?


READ Rachelle Carson’s Full Interview

Months after Save It premiered, Ed Begley’s wife, Rachelle Carson-Begley was in my kitchen, asking if I had read about my kids in her magazine interview. I was puzzled. No, I hadn’t. Rachelle explained that she used my kids as examples of how the environment can damage children’s brains.

You see, when I was pregnant with my youngest son and Nikos was just barely 2, there was a knock on the door, and it was two young scientists from the California EPA. They saw I was 7 months pregnant with my son standing next to me, and they gasped. “You must evacuate your apartment immediately.” “Why?” I asked. “The dry cleaners across the alley is putting out percoethylene far over the legal limits. We only knocked to measure it more accurately, because the exhaust is coming right through your open window”. What they hadn’t realized until they saw me was there was a pregnant woman and a toddler living there. “Has your son had breathing problems?” “Yes,” I said, “He was just hospitalized because of it.”

They told me to leave immediately, that it was likely my children would have neurological disorders, and to get a lawyer. So I spoke to one, and the lawyer said “you can spend the next ten years of your life trying to sue a mom and pop dry cleaners or the next ten years of your life helping your kids.“ I decided on helping my kids.

As Rachelle recounted my own story to me, Nikos walked into the room. I asked Rachelle to not speak about it, as my kids didn’t know what happened to them. Nikos overheard and just looked at me, saying “Of course I know mom. I remember you and dad talking about it. Why do you think I care so much about the air we breathe? Why do you think I made my commercial? It’s because we’re mutants, mom. My brother and I were poisoned by the air and we’re mutants because of it.”

IMG_0248You see, Nikos came up with a brilliant visual story to tell you his fears, because he couldn’t read or write. Nikos’ brother Dimitri was born affected; he is autistic and that is why Christmas had no meaning to him. It’s why he couldn’t understand there was something inside the wrapped box for him under the tree. It’s why now, at the age of 10, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, he sometimes regresses to the behavior of a wild animal growling at us because he can’t understand why he has to wait until the 25th to be rewarded for good behavior on a field trip he went on one day. The future doesn’t exist for him. He can’t think past a few hours for delayed gratification, let alone a few weeks. And this is what our future holds: a society of people who can’t function in normal schools, who receive $100,000/year worth of therapies and schools just to be able to learn and live in society. Why are 1 in 59 boys diagnosed with autism? Could it be that the sins of the fathers are already being visited on their sons?

Carla Ortiz with speakers, Marshall Herskovitz and Nicole Hansen at the Green Girls Holiday Spectacular Photo by, Djeneba Aduayom Photography

Carla Ortiz with speakers, Marshall Herskovitz and Nicole Hansen at the Green Girls Holiday Spectacular
© Djeneba Aduayom Photography

We need to change our lifestyle. People can’t relate to the cute polar bears in the Coca Cola Christmas ads and the fact that the real ones are now starving to death. But they can start to see the real burden and realize that their complacency and disdain for all things environmental is actually touching their own lives and affecting their own children now. Not 50 years down the line, not 20, not 10, but with each of their grandchildren, children and even themselves. The effects are autism, cancer and Alzheimer’s, not to mention conflicts across the globe arising because of the lack of water and food, people attacking their neighbors for more fertile ground and fighting for fossil fuels. The United States Department of Defense can see the urgency of implementing green and sustainable technologies; they can see the urgency to win the hearts and minds of people around the globe by providing solar refrigeration of vaccines and technologies for school children in the developing world so they can be educated and have a better life. But what is it going to take for the public to see that this is not someone else’s problem? When it’s a problem that’s hitting home. It is a problem that parents can no longer afford to pay for their child’s Christmas presents because it’s all gone to their healthcare, private special education and therapeutic bills, because no one, not even our government, can keep up with the costs born by these children much longer.

People can say, “global warming is nothing but survival of the fittest.” Well, that generation is here. Man has evolved, and unless we do something now, our world will be unrecognizable to us and humanity will be far different than we were even 10 years ago.

In Christmases to come, my story can be one of many that the future holds, or we can put a stop to it now. It is up to us whether to have Christmas time be filled with generous spirits and joy. It is up to us to learn how we have suffered from our environment and work to improve it, both in the messages we share and the choices we make. Goodwill towards men can be a cliché for the holidays, but it is a real principle. In our hearts and through our actions, we can show that this is what our move towards sustainability is all about.