Sometimes taking action on a personal level can lead to action on the global level.
That’s what happened to Casey Coates Danson, who quit a mind-numbing nine-to-five job on Wall Street for a second go-round at college. “I always knew that I had a mission in life to be creative,” says the LA-based architectural designer. “Going to Parsons was like an explosion—the thinking, the creativity, the curriculum!” She still has her college portfolio.
Danson graduated with honors in the mid-1970s with a BFA in Environmental Design, long before “sustainability” became a household word.
After working in Cambridge and New York, Danson headed to the West Coast. Learning about the growing hole in the ozone layer soon after led her in a new direction: educating people about the environment, particularly the global effects of climate change. To that end, she co-founded the American Oceans Campaign (which later joined with Oceana) in 1987.
Still passionate about architecture, Danson decided to work on promoting environmental awareness in the field. She founded Global Possibilities, a nonprofit advocating the use of solar and renewable energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, in 1996; she also built two solar-powered homes. Danson recently produced the award-winning documentary Who’s Got The Power?, which addresses dependence on fossil fuels and their relation to global warming.
“We’re facing a crisis in climate change, and the built environment is the greatest culprit, consuming more than 70 percent of the electricity used in this country,” explains Danson. Although admitting she can’t save the world, Danson remains undeterred. “We can have the greatest impact in the shortest time with the least amount of money if we improve our built environment.”
Photo: Stills from Who's Got the Power (2009)