Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A common misconception of living more sustainably is that it requires sacrifice, or a lessening in our quality of life. However, it can be quite the opposite. Many home goods and products bought off the shelf in today’s big box retail stores are made with little care or concern in regards longevity, quality, or craftsmanship. As it turns out those cheap convenient products don’t last and are themselves the real sacrifice - for your wallet and the planet! There is also the concern of how they were made. Were the workers paid a fair wage? Probably not. What about the conditions of the factory where it was made? Were children a part of the labor force? Were the raw goods sourced from sustainable resources? These are the kind of dilemmas that product designers and manufacturers must (or should) take into consideration when producing goods for the consumer. Stephanie Odegard has addressed them, head on, throughout her life long career as a luxury carpet designer.

Stephanie spent the early part of her career as a Peace Core Volunteer, working for the World Bank, and the United Nations. She was certain that the best way to improve the standard of living in many of the impoverished countries where she had lived and worked, was to produce high end crafts using highly skilled and better paid workers. In making these, the tradition, heritage, and history of those workers is preserved while improving the local economy.

Her design methods use non toxic vegetable dyes and all products are certified child labor free by RugMark (

In an article in the New York Times, it was noted that "She is the largest American financial supporter of Rugmark, an anti-child-labor organization, to which she gives 1.7 percent of the selling price of her rugs ($60,000 last year) and a third of her time. She contributes at least $100,000 more to initiatives of her own, like building a school in Katmandu." According to that article, at least 50% of the proceeds of her sales back to the factories.

She has been quite successful in using this model - of combining good deeds with good business. Her carpets can be found in the J. Paul Getty Art Museum in Los Angeles, Restaurant Daniel in New York City, and in the homes of Robert Redford & Christy Turlington. She can be found gracing the pages of Food & Wine Magazine, Interior Design,or the Miami Herald.

As we can see, in a world where the bottom line is #1, it is not only possible, but also profitable to produce high quality goods while preserving cultural traditions, raising the standard of living, and using sustainable practices.

Sustainable Green Country and Green Drinks are honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with Philbrook Museum of Art to host Ms. Odegard. The event will begin at 5:30pm. At 6 pm there will be a vegetable dye identification contest, followed by Stephanie's lecture at 6:30pm. The event is $7.50 for adults, and free to seniors and those under 18.
Green Drinks has been provided with 25 free tickets. If you would like to be a part of the giveaway trivia contest, please send your email to to be added to the Green Drinks monthly announcement list.
It was another excellent showing at the March Green Drinks, held at Lola's at the Bowery. The newly designed regional center for sustainability and conservation will be used as a national example. See below for pictures of the event and more information on the center.

History of Land Legacy:
Land Legacy is a nonprofit conservation organization founded in January 2003 to serve as Oklahoma’s first statewide land trust. As such, Land Legacy is able to create urban parks and trails that enhance the quality of life in our communities, protect natural and cultural resources such as working farms and ranches, and preserve important open spaces that may otherwise be forever lost to development. Over the last six years, Land Legacy has protected nearly 50 properties across the state totaling roughly 18,000 acres. Some of our efforts across the state have included the creation of downtown Tulsa’s first park, the protection of 300 acres along Spavinaw Creek in Delaware County helping to preserve the quality of our drinking water, creation of the Osage Trail from downtown Tulsa to Skiatook, and the preservation of nearly 1,000 acres of greenbelt in the northwest Tulsa and Sand Springs area.

The Mission of Land Legacy:
The mission of Land Legacy is to conserve and enhance urban and rural landscapes. Our strategic priorities are described below:

Green Cities – Land Legacy works in urban areas to improve the quality of life through parks and trails. By making our cities more livable, we can help to reduce urban sprawl and the unnecessary loss of open space and natural resources. Our Green Cities work includes inner city parks and greenbelts along the urban perimeter.

Farm and Ranch Preservation – Each year, Oklahoma loses over 35,000 acres of farm and ranch lands to new development. Land Legacy works with farmers and ranchers to acquire conservation easements that preserve open space but allow continued private
ownership and agricultural production. Our goal is to reduce the loss of prime farmland soils near our communities, preserve unique landscapes in rural areas, and encourage the production of locally grown foods

Watershed Protection – Watersheds across the nation are at risk due to contaminants from intensive land use. Land Legacy helps to preserve water quality by preserving open space that comprises important runoff or aquifer recharge lands. Our first project was the donation of a conservation easement protecting 300 acres of open space along Spavinaw Creek as it enters Lake Eucha in Delaware County. Additional projects bring our total to nearly 1,000 acres protected in the Spavinaw watershed.

The Vision of Land Legacy:
Land Legacy envisions creating the first regional center for sustainable education and conservation. Land Legacy is working with the owner of the original Tulsa synagogue to restore the site as a community asset. The building is the first synagogue ever constructed in Oklahoma. Kevin Stephens of Kevin Stephens Design Group purchased the property in 2008 and has collaborated with Land Legacy to develop it into a regional center for sustainable education and outreach. Specific plans for the site are currently underway. We envision a combination of offices for organizations focused on conservation and sustainability and that teach sustainable and organic farming practices. Additionally, the building’s auditorium will be used for presentations, seminars and workshops.