If a tree falls and nobody's around, they say it still makes a sound. But sometimes it helps to have a megaphone. Enter Green Source DFW, a news site dedicated to everything "green" in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The site covers all your eco-friendly greatest hits: recycling, renewable energy, solar power, electric cars, "natural" deodorants, and more. If you seek local environmental activity, it's your go-to place.
Editor Julie Thibodeaux, a former reporter for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, says that the site combines environmental news with advocacy.
"Green Source DFW has a goal to grow the green movement in North Texas," she says. "The website does this by educating people about green issues. But it also inspires people to get more involved, and helps people already working in the green community to stay motivated."
The site was founded in 2011 as a project of the Memnosyne Institute, a Dallas-based philanthropic organization formed by Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk; her family owned the 7-Eleven Corporation. Co-founder was Philip Shinoda, a Renaissance man with a community spirit.
"We were looking for a way to bring the green community together, and our first thought was an event, like an expo," Shinoda says. "We first tried to do it in 2008. But that was not a good year for getting sponsors, especially for a new event."
It did serve as inspiration for another green event. One of their backers was Trammell Crow, who went on to found Earth Day Texas.
In lieu of an event, Shinoda conceived a website publication where they could tie together all the different components of the green movement by writing about green activities going on in Dallas and Fort Worth.
"My observation has been that, in terms of numbers of people, we have more environmental activity in Dallas-Fort Worth than they do in Austin," Shinoda says. "The problem is that they're spread out all over the place, and they don’t know what other people are doing."
The site sends out a newsletter every Wednesday, and publishes at least three stories a week. Contributors include author and radio personality Rita Cook; Amy Martin, a green pioneer with her (now defunct) "Moonlady News" newsletter; and Jason Winningham, who pens the "Green Tip Guy" video column, sharing tips on natural household solutions.
"We spotlight people and organizations who are part of the solution," Thibodeaux says. "People who are speaking out at city council meetings, who are getting community gardens going, who are trying to save green spaces, who are promoting renewable energy in their cities, who are starting green businesses."
One of their most popular topics: monarch butterflies. "We had a story last week about a new monarch specialist who has been hired by the National Wildlife Federation to promote planting milkweed in Texas," Thibodeaux says. "In just a few days, it has already become one of the popular stories this year."
With little advertising or marketing, the site's traffic and mailing list has grown steadily and organically, following what Thibodeaux sees as a bigger societal trend.
"The green movement has grown over the last 10 years for sure," she says. "I don't remember there being Earth Day festivals in North Texas, say 15 years ago. Now it seems like there is an Earth Day fest happening in every city in North Texas. There are tons of electronic recycling events where there were none. You can find classes in every corner of DFW about composting and rain barrels. There are several cities who host tours of homes that use drought-tolerant plants. I see more hybrids and electric vehicles on the road. The culture is definitely changing."
One of their biggest challenges, Thibodeaux says, is dealing with despair. "Most people already know we have environmental problems," she says. "What they need is encouraging news.
"I personally love reading about a little group of people in some small town who are starting their first green fest or electronics recycling event," she says. "I love hearing from readers who say they are the ones in their office who put out a recycling bin for everyone to use and the ones who pick up litter in their neighborhoods.
"These people may not think of themselves that way but they are pioneers, laying the groundwork for the green movement to grow."