From Earth Day to EARTHx – Trammell Crow Raises the Bar
Oct 31, 2017 03:48PM
● By Sheila Julson
Trammell S. Crow, Founder of EARTHX
Despite a lifelong passion for environmental protection, philanthropist and EARTHx founder Trammell S. Crow had considered himself an armchair environmentalist. However, a decade after retiring from the Trammell Crow Company, the commercial real estate firm started by his father, Crow was inspired to act when a fellow businessperson invited him to join in the fight against TXU Corporation’s plan to build 11 coal-fired power plants in the state. Through their organization, Texas Business for Clean Air, they soon got 200 businesspeople on board and were able to influence Texas State Legislation.
Those efforts inspired Crow to dive in and become active in environmental issues. In 2011, he formed Earth Day Dallas, which has grown into the world’s largest expo, conference and film festival related to environmental issues. Recently rebranded as EARTHx, the festival originally debuted on Flora Street, in the Dallas Arts District. By the following year, the event was already attracting A-list speakers and moved to Fair Park to accommodate growth. In 2014, organizers changed the name to Earth Day Texas to reflect the event’s growing magnitude. A year later, Earth Day Texas expanded from two days to a three-day event.
Today, EARTHx includes speakers, green exhibitors, multiple conferences, a film festival and a green start-up technology business pitch. The mass gathering of green-minded and green-curious people includes representatives from both the business community and environmentalists; two groups known to be at odds over the years. Yet Crow’s long-held belief is that to conserve is conservative, and everyone really can come together and see eye-to-eye to protect our planet and its resources. “There is a playing field where businesses can work with environmentalists, and the ‘green Republican’ thing is very important dialogue. We have green Republicans, which is much more newsworthy than green Democrats,” Crow jests.
EARTHx Business Development Manager Lanny Shivers was also involved with the Earth Day festival since it beginnings. He worked in the corporate world for 20 years before Crow introduced him to the beauty of nature. Since becoming involved with EARTHx, Shivers has become more environmentally conscious in his own lifestyle. “It has affected everyone in my family, from my parents to my children. Not only do we compost and recycle, but also one of my children became a vegetarian and works on different environmental causes. It has brought me, personally, respect in the business community, as well,” he says.
Shivers echoes Crow’s theory that bringing all sides together has the power to help environmental causes. “We invited the business community to be involved because we knew that business drives change,” Shivers remarks. “We also educate people to understand that small change can have a big impact.”
Always thinking big, Crow builds on the momentum of past events. Environmentally conscious films have always been part of the festivities, but 2017 marked the beginning of EARTHxFilm, in which Crow partnered with Dallas Film Festival founder Michael Cain to bring 30 full-length documentaries and dozens of shorter films covering conservation, climate change and the environment. The EARTHx Pitch competition for green business innovation provides cash awards to green technology start-ups. Those will return in 2018, along with new features such as EARTHxLaw.
Because EARTHx is so multifaceted, Crow says they generally avoided taglines and themes, but because scientists and environmental experts say that water will be the most sought after—and possibly fought over—commodity of the 21st century, oceans and water preservation is the theme for 2018 EARTHx. Oceanographer and Mission Blue founder Dr. Sylvia Earle, a past participant in Earth Day Texas, will again appear at EARTHx. “We’ll have about 30 non-governmental organizations solely devoted to oceans and ocean initiatives,” Crow says.
Other highlights of the 2018 EARTHx include a maker of sustainably built tiny houses, an animal habitat and species protection area, and Farmers Assisting Returning Military (FARM). The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will also be involved with the 2018 EARTHx event.
The large expo is costly to put on, but Crow, along with generous corporate sponsors, foots most of the bill to keep the event free to the public. He continues to strive for bringing in the brightest and most qualified speakers and educators worldwide.
“We aspire to be a global brand, while still affecting real change in Dallas,” Shivers adds. “This is where we live, and we have made a big impact in this community.”
For more information, visit EARTHx.org.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.