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Ford introduces Ford Ranchero, the car you can eat

Vegas, baby, Vegas!Just kidding. There was a nicely comic moment this morning at the LOHAS conference when Neil Golightly, Ford’s Director of Sustainable Business Strategies, walked into the space-y eco-modern lounge set up as the company’s conference HQ, took a look at the lozenge-shaped green and orange sofas, and said, “It’s furniture you can eat.” Maybe you had to be there, but edible furniture seems plausible enough at this celebration of all things sustainable.

A stream-of-consciousness recounting of our adventures in LOHAS land:

5:00 AM — Tom and I get up. Me, because I’m on east coast time. Tom, because he has a morning interview on KMOX out of St. Louis. It’s the first of the day’s many press interviews.

7:00 AM — Alicia takes a Tae Bo lesson from Billy Blanks, while Tom and I retreat to a local 24-hour diner for breakfast. LA is rich in 24-hour diners. Afterward Alicia, who earlier had expressed fear that the lesson might be too easy, tells us that she won’t be able to use her arms for the remainder of the conference.

9:00 AM — An introductory speaker leads all of the conference attendees through an exercise in which we make “soft eyes” at one another as an expression of warmth and connectedness. The Ford team, freshly in from Detroit, look as though they want to crawl under the table.

10:00 AM — A panel discussion of green building is somewhat overshadowed by the stupendous flower arrangements from Organic Bouquet, which no one can stop gawking at. You’ve never seen roses like these, and apparently they’re earth-friendly and fair trade. Buy these flowers.

11:00 — Neil gives his keynote on Ford’s recent environmental efforts, including the partnership with TerraPass. We may be biased, but we think he killed. One interesting tidbit: in 2008 (I think) Ford will be introducing a line of cars with seats made of 100% recycled material, created in partnership with Interface. We love Interface, the makers of carbon neutral Cool Carpet, and we are positive on this announcement, which Neil followed with some nice stats on the savings in water, carbon dioxide emissions, and pollutants that these green seats will help Ford achieve.

12:00 — We decamp to the Ford lounge to set up the TerraPass booth, which includes our “100-lb chocolates,” an edible carbon offset that costs a quarter and let you neutralize your day.


2:00 — Tom and Neil have a Q&A about the TerraPass partnership. It’s a bit of a love-fest, mostly softball questions. Come on, people! Give it to us straight. We can take it. Probably my favorite moment is when a guy in the audience (a Ford plant?) leads into a question by talking at length about how much he loves his gas-guzzling Expedition, loves its size, its towing capacity, etc., etc., but he knows it’s not good for the environment. As an Expedition-owner, what can he do? Tom’s two-word answer: “Drive less.” Kermit looms ominously overhead.

Fear the frog

4:00 — We’ve sold a few TerraPasses and answered a lot of questions. At this point, the BBC has called, NPR, Ward’s Auto, Sustainable Business Insider, Sustainable Industries Magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. Whee!

5:00 — We pack up our gumball machine and retreat to the hotel balcony to stare at the ocean for a little bit, see what the blogosphere has had to say about us, and rummage through our gift bags. Alicia wanders off to “network,” I tether myself back to the laptop, and Tom goes off in search of free organic booze.


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