Yesterday, I saw heroic environmental activist, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,speak before a group of NRDC supporters in San Francisco. The evening started with a documentary narrated by Red Room Author Peter Coyote. The video was moving and poignant and made me want to donate immediately. It’s amazing how the dulcet tones of Peter’s voice do that to me. It was also clear from the documentary that the NRDC does some amazing work.
When I was looking at Kennedy’s website I noticed that he was wearing the same necktie last night that he was wearing in the photo on his website. I wonder if it’s his lucky speech tie.
During his speech, Kennedy made arguments for environmental action that tapped into and recaptured the same rhetoric of free markets, individual rights, etc. that the right has been using for years to try to stop us from switching to renewable energy sources and from protecting the water, air and our natural resources. For instance, he argued very convincingly that stopping pollution by mandating the use of alternative fuels has a net positive economic and job creating affect. One of the things he said that stuck with me was that the current subsidy system in the United States supports fuels from hell like oil and coal that are bad for the environment instead of fuels from heaven like wind and solar that are less polluting and ultimately cheaper.
Although he didn’t mention it during his talk, I have to mention the wonderful book that Kennedy recently wrote called Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy (HarperCollins, 2005). That pretty much says it all right there. There were many other amazing points that Kennedy made but I won’t try to summarize them for you here.
Seeing Kennedy talk last night reminded me about my last meeting with a Kennedy, Robert’s sister, Kerry. I met Kerry Kennedy last year on a flight out to New Jersey when I was in the last couple weeks of preparing for the Olympic Trials in rowing. She was sitting next to me and although I wasn’t trying to see what she was doing, I noticed that she was editing a photo album that had a lot of pictures of people who looked familiar for some reason. I couldn’t put my finger on why they looked familiar until I happened to notice a picture of Kerry and Robert (I recognized Robert because he has been a hero of mine for many years because of his environmental work) with their uncle, Ted. Once I saw this I couldn’t help noticing that she also looked like a Kennedy and I introduced myself to her. She was one of the nicest and most engaging people I’ve ever met. The amazing thing about both of the Kennedys that I've met is that both were obviously so kind and genuinely committed to public service.
The speech that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. gave last night was moving not only for its content but also for the fact that he talked for over an hour even though his voice was very weak and he had to struggle to talk. After the speech, I got a chance to talk with Kennedy and to tell him a bit about redroom.com. I invited him to become a member of our community. I hope he accepts.