The first high school I attended (for all of freshman year and part of sophomore) was Fort Walton Beach Senior High, in Fort Walton Beach Florida. There, I became fast friends with three intrepid young ladies, Alicia, Jennifer, and Christie. All fastidious students, we shared a number of classes, including Honors English and Journalism. As our friendship grew, we each began to express what we'd like to do when we grew up (we were pretty precocious, not to mention more than a tad nerdy). Only 15 at the time, Jennifer knew she wanted some sort of career in the sciences, while Christie aspired to become a surgeon.
Alicia and I (and I think maybe Christie, too-that part is a bit foggy...), in addition to sharing academic interests, shared a love of theater. Once, while rehearsing for the play we both had roles in (...And Stuff by Peter Dee), Alicia and I missed curtain call. We were backstage, tears running down our cheeks, sharing our earnest, 15 year-old desires to change the world. Alicia wanted to become the first female president. I wanted to get everyone in the world to recycle. We meant it. We had conviction. We were determined, all four of us.
And so, imagine my shock when, after having lost touch with all three ladies, I recently found them on Facebook, the great uniter of our time. Turns out, Christie is a surgeon at the University of Michigan, who, just last week, performed a double liver and heart transplant (and she manages to hold down this job with young twin sons at home-take THAT, Grey's Anatomy!). Jennifer, after attending M.I.T., now works in NYC in a science-related profession. As for Alicia, she lives and works in Washington, D.C. for the State Department, where she is a senior advisor on development projects and sometimes rubs shoulders with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then there's me. I'm still working hard on getting everyone in the world to recycle! ;^)
Which brings me to the real reason for today's post, Lynn Hirshfield's new book "Girls Gone Green" (Puffin Books). When I first received an e-mail in my inbox several weeks ago from Lynn's publicist, I remember saying to myself, "Why does that name sound so familiar?" Turns out, Hirshfield (senior vice president of publishing at Participant Media Productions) is the award-winning television and film producer behind such tour de force pieces as "An Inconvenient Truth", "The Kite Runner", "Charlie Wilson's War", "Darfur Now", "The Soloist", "Food, Inc.", "The Cove", "The Informant!" and the PBS series "Wishbone." She's also an enormous proponent of environmental stewardship and is an advisory board member of "Teens Turning Green", as well as a judge for the Environmental Media Awards and the Brower Youth Awards.
Her newest book (Hirshfield has also penned two children's books), "Girls Gone Green", documents young women, both famous and not, who are making profound differences environmentally. Showcasing the efforts of everyone from Hayden Panettiere (a tireless advocate for whales), to actresses Rachel McAdams, Mischa Barton, and Ellen Page (an avid gardener-who knew???) as well as a wide range of average Janes making noise in their communities (as well as their nation), the book oozes inspiration. While written for girls ages 10 and up, the stories are really largely gender neutral and would prove equally motivating for boys.
Arranged by cause ("recyclers", "animal advocates", "educators", etc.), "Girls Gone Green" is an easy read, packed with clear direction and easily achievable steps for aspiring future stewards of the land and skies. Had I encountered this book at 15, I would have sighed with gratitude for knowing there were other tree-huggers like me out there. Now more than twice that age, I'm still fighting the fight, swelling with enormous pride for the growing number of compatriots to be found.