Moving and Shaking: When it comes to defending the environment, Georgia A-listers are upping the ante.

By Travis Neighbor Ward
Published in The Atlantan Magazine

Let’s face it: Being on top of what’s hot these days includes understanding global warming stats and knowing who’s who in the world of Earth defenders—and, we think, actually caring about the planet. But, if you’re stuck on the sofa ogling Leo DiCaprio and his Prius on TV, you’re definitely getting left out in the cold. Right here in the ATL, day and night, there are ultra-stylish, eco-friendly parties raging in one of the coolest social scenes around. Don’t want to be a wallflower wondering what LEED-certified means? (It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) Here’s a primer on seven top local green non-profits, and the VIPs supporting them.THE CAPTAIN PLANET FOUNDATION
IN A NUTSHELL: It supports hands-on environmental projects for kids, from the United States all the way to Brazil and Cambodia.
STAR POWER: Ted Turner conceived of the Captain Planet and the Planeteers cartoon series, then started the corporate foundation in 1991. Ten years later, Laura Turner Seydel (his daughter and one of the most active environmentalists in the United States) and her husband Rutherford (a lawyer and an owner of the Atlanta Spirit) transitioned it into a public charity. Laura’s the president and chairperson. Other celebs associated with it include Jane Fonda and Philippe Cousteau (Jacques’ grandson).
SEE AND BE SEEN: Held at The Tabernacle, the annual X-Mas Party for the Planet is one of the largest eco-fundraisers in the Southeast, attracting more than 1,000 revelers and often landing coverage on Entertainment Tonight. At last year’s party, guests included rockers from Collective Soul, Bert Weiss of Q100 and Dr. Heidi Cullen of The Climate Code on The Weather Channel. In the past, The B-52’s and KC and the Sunshine Band have performed. This year, the party’s theme is “Visionary Voyages: An Eco-Expedition” and is set for December 14th in conjunction with the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival in Los Angeles a week earlier.
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: Tom Cruise and Whoopi Goldberg have both lent their voices to the Captain Planet series.
GET WITH IT: 404.522.4270, or ATLANTA
IN A NUTSHELL: These are the folks you see even on rainy Saturday mornings wearing green T-shirts as they plant, water and mulch trees around town. Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and a Georgia tree farmer, has planted with them in the past.
STAR POWER: Central Atlanta Progress, the Atlanta Commissioner of Parks and the Junior League of Atlanta founded Trees Atlanta in 1985. Today there are about 8,000 members and supporters; Marcia Bansley is the executive director. Major supporters of the $4.5 million capital campaign include The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, SunTrust Bank Atlanta Foundation, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Georgia Power Foundation and others.
SEE AND BE SEEN: There’s no annual gala, but money is raised via fundraisers throughout the year, including the annual trees sale and parties like the one that contemporary furniture store, Artefacto, hosted this summer. There we spotted everyone from Clint Zeagler of Pecan Pie Couture to clothing designer/​stylist Patrick Cooper.
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: Hug this: Trees Atlanta planted 2,350 young trees and maintained about 5,000 trees in the past year alone. They’re also working with BeltLine Inc. to create a 22-mile BeltLine Arboretum.
IN A NUTSHELL: They’re working with employers, commuters and schools to improve air quality and cut down on Atlanta’s traffic congestion.
STAR POWER: Top of the list: Kevin Green, the executive director who was born on Earth Day and plays drums in several bands around town. The organization, founded in 1996, currently works with more than 500 employers (300,000-plus employees) and 20,000 students. Governor Sonny Perdue, media mogul Ted Turner and Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank have promoted the campaign’s work through radio and other activities over the years. Major funding comes from Turner Broadcasting System Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia Power, Anheuser-Busch Companies, AGL Resources, UPS, Georgia-Pacific and Cox Enterprises.
SEE AND BE SEEN: Every year the organization hosts The PACE Awards to honor Atlanta’s most effective and innovative programs aimed at reducing driving and cleaning the air.
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: Half of metro Atlanta’s air pollution comes from cars and trucks! And if anyone mentions “BAIR,” it’s the campaign’s mascot, a 6-foot-tall, blue Better Air Bear.
IN A NUTSHELL: They’re making Piedmont Park a greener and more fun place to hang out. The conservancy maintains the park through a public-private partnership with the City of Atlanta.
STAR POWER: The organization was founded in 1989 and now counts 16,150 members. Arthur and Stephanie Blank, and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, are big helping hands, as well as the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and AT&T. Currently, the organization is in a $43 million capital campaign (it’s already raised more than $29 million of it).
SEE AND BE SEEN: The Landmark Lunch is where Atlanta notables don hats and gather in tents in the park meadow to dine and discuss nature. Expect to see anyone from Courtney Loudermilk and Ginny Millner, who were among this year’s committee members, to Merry Carlos and decorator Dan Carithers, who were patrons. The other event is A Passion for Piedmont, where you can indulge in Italian gourmet goodies and bid on items like autographed guitars by India.Arie and Trisha Yearwood.
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: This fall’s Green Concert in the park, where the Dave Matthews Band performed, raised more than $1 million for Piedmont Park’s 53-acre expansion, headed by the conservancy’s president and CEO, Debbie McCown.
IN A NUTSHELL: Clean air, clean water, land conservation and preservation: If it needs attention, it’s on this organization’s agenda to protect it.
STAR POWER: The organization was founded in 1967, and now has about 3,500 members. Former Alston & Bird lawyer Jim Stokes is the president.
SEE AND BE SEEN: The annual Eco-Benefête was co-chaired this year by “eco-divas” Kay Beynart, Polly Sattler and Mandy Schmitt, and auctioned off items like a stay at Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico and a photo taken by late Senator Barry Goldwater of the Native American known as “Potato Charlie.”
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: The organization is collaborating on Blueprints for Successful Communities projects in BeltLine neighborhoods. (And if you don’t know what the BeltLine is, check out
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IN A NUTSHELL: All together now! This organization partners with Georgia businesses and employees to help raise funds for 61 leading environmental organizations through workplace campaigns, Earth Day and other activities.
STAR POWER: It really all began in 1992, when the organization was still called the Environmental Fund for Georgia. Big name supporters include Laura Turner Seydel and Rutherford Seydel, Steve Nygren (he founded The Pleasant Peasant restaurants and Serenbe, the eco-friendly oasis south of the city), Ginny Brewer (her husband, Charles, founded Mindspring Enterprises), Turner Foundation Inc., Kaiser Permanente and The Coca-Cola Company. Madeline Reamy is the executive director.
SEE AND BE SEEN: In addition to fundraisers throughout the year, the big parties take place around Earth Day (in 2008, they are between April 18 and 26). That includes Party in the Park, which was held at Atlantic Station’s Central Park this year and auctioned off everything from a seven-day stay at a Tuscan resort in Italy to a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp; Leadership Breakfast, where businesses and environmental organizations meet; and the Corporate Green Day Challenge, when volunteers roll up their sleeves to clean rivers, build parks and plant trees.
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: Earth Share is the nation’s oldest and largest environmental workplace fundraising organization.
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IN A NUTSHELL: Like the name says, they take care of the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed.
STAR POWER: Laura Turner Seydel and Rutherford Seydel co-founded the organization in 1994, and today there are more than 5,000 members. UCR, headed by Sally Bethea, belongs to the Waterkeeper Alliance, of which Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is chairman. (He came to Atlanta this year for an event at EcoManor, the LEED-certified home owned by the Seydels.) Major supporters include Ted Turner, Turner Foundation Inc., Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Sapelo Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, SweetWater Brewing Co., Honda Marine and Whole Foods Market.
SEE AND BE SEEN: The annual Patron Appreciation Dinner raised $250,000 this year and auction items included things like a stay at Ted Turner’s cabin on the Soque River and a party for 50 at SweetWater Brewing Company. Their recent River Guardian Award went to Taylor Glover with Ted Turner Enterprises.
COCKTAIL PARTY LINE: The Chattahoochee River provides more than 4 million people with drinking water!
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