March 3 and 4 at San Diego State University, UnitedGREEN will hold their second Forging a Sustainability Symposium and this year's event will feature several gay men among the presenters and organizers.
The two-day event will be MC'd by local gay activist Stephen Whitburn. Whitburn has run for San Diego City Council and the County Board of Supervisors. He serves on the boards of the ACLU and San Diego Pride.
Kevin Beiser, an openly gay member of the San Diego School Board will be on the Energy panel on Saturday. Beiser has been instrumental in not only pushing for progressive anti-bullying policies, but also trying to get the schools to go green through the installation of solar panels, recycling and other projects.
Sunday morning, sustainability consultant Morgan Pitts will present, as he calls it, "the 30,000 foot view," addressing how all areas of a region must work together, culturally, economically, and environmentally. Pitts has presented to the European Parliament in Brussels, has provided support for the NRDC's green building team in Beijing and is conducting research for the United Nations University for Peace. Pitts will ask the question, "How do we remake the human presence in the world in a way that is sustainable, fair and just, and which creates no ugliness now or for future generations." He will talk about how the city of Oberlin, Ohio is working toward that goal and how those same ideas can be applied to the San Diego/Tijuana/ Imperial Counties region. Pitts is also openly gay.
Among the other distinguished speakers: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., will give the keynote address; Congresswoman Susan Davis will give the opening remarks and Congressmen Bob Filner will appear on the food panel; University of Florida Professor Joseli Macedo from Curitiba, Brazil; Heather Honea of SDSU; and Captain Marko Medved who is in charge of the Navy's efforts to go green in the southwestern US.
One of the co-chairs of the event, Walter Meyer, is also an active in the gay community, having volunteered for AIDS Walk, Pride, and the Center. His novel, Rounding Third, has been getting a great deal of attention because it deals with gay teens being bullied. He put on anti-bullying event in November with Beiser as his guest.
FSF co-chair, Patrick Hurley said, "Walt had written numerous grants for the Heartland Coalition (of which UnitedGREEN is a division), and we knew he has co-chaired Gam3rCon in San Diego the past few years so we asked him if he would use his experience planning large events to help us put this together."
Meyer said, "I was an 'enirovmental' writer before I became a 'gay' writer, so I was only too happy to help do whatever I can to help the larger community. I have participated in beach clean-ups with Gay For Good as well as groups like Coastkeeper and Heal the Bay, so it is a cause that is important to me. Putting on this conference is easier than picking up trash."
Sponsors for the event include UPS and Turner Construction. Tickets to the two-day event are $95 for the general public and $35 for members of partner organizations, and $10 for students. More information and tickets are available at UnitedGREEN.org.