Tuesday, October 14, 2008


By Paul Gordon Emerson

I write often in this column about the need to think outside the box. Mostly that's about art, but sometimes it's about things which, on the surface, have nothing at all to do with art. Most of the time, those are actually the most important places to think. Staying inside "what's comfortable" is exceptionally limiting, particularly when that comfort zone is pretty darned small (which it is by definition when your comfort is contemporary dance).

The same thing holds true in business. The traditional ways, the comfortable ways, have led us to some of the most damaging practices in our treatment of the environment. Changing how we do that is of paramount importance. It's also hard, hard, hard. So when the Washington Business Journal, a bellweather publication in the private sector, decided to create an award celebrating Green Business practices I had two thoughts: 1) it's a great way to motivate good work in the business community; 2) I wanted in.

Thanks to great nominations from our good friend Lee Poston at the World Wildlife Fund and K. Williams at the Harman Center, CityDance was named a finalist in the First Annual Green Business Awards. Our category was education. The list of businesses nominated as finalists reads like a who's who in DC business. Akridge, Pepco, WC Smith Group and many others. We were the only arts organization even nominated. Tonight, CityDance came home with the plaque naming us a winner. That's an exceptional honor, and also remarkable to be in such distinguished company with these great businesses. It's a testament to the WBJ that they took us seriously, and also that they reached out to recognize the impact art can have on awareness and education in how we change the way we live on this planet.

This Friday the WBJ is publishing a Special Edition on Green. We'll be right there in it.

There are two reasons: a great staff of people dedicated to the issue (Betsy, Asanga, Tish and Dina in particular) and having a belief that we belonged with that group of A list businesses.
The next steps are to build on the partnerships made possible at the reception, and to team up with forward-thinking businesses to raise our impact, our opportunities and the synergy which should exist between art and business. It's a remarkable honor.

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