Hill is the founder of TreeHugger, an online hub for news and information related to environmental sustainability.Hailed as a "green CNN," TreeHugger hosts a constantly updated blog, newsletters, video and radio segments and a user-generated Graham site, Hugg. In the three years since its inception, TreeHugger has become one of the most high-profile and highly-trafficked sites on the internet.
Recently, Hill his been hard at work developing Planet Green with Discovery Communications. Hill has also worked in a variety of industries prior to starting TreeHugger, including fashion, web-development, and plant-based air filters. He is also a designer, and his New York souvenir coffee mug is sold in over 150 stores. Hill was educated at Carleton University in Ottawa and Emily Carr Institute of ArtDesign in Vancouver.
Question: Do you have a creative process?
Graham Hill: Yeah. I’m sort of eclectic, and not very consistent. I don’t really know how it all happens. But I tend to be very curious. I like to read a lot. I think I’m relatively simplistic, and I just bring two or more disparate things together. So I think a lot of it is just bringing stuff from one field to another field, and taking a different approach. I think that’s the way it goes.
Back to sort of how TreeHugger and Planet Green can help and what’s left to do, I think one of the big pieces is just that of social currency. Let me explain.
I think we’re very social beings. We really care much more than we acknowledge and much more than we often think. We really care about what other people think. And I think you can get a glimmer of this; there are stats on people being asked about public speaking versus death. And you know a lot of people are more nervous about public speaking than death. I think it sort of illustrates that people are really concerned.
So this social currency is very important. So what other people think is appropriate and what other people think is not. And so I hope that through Planet Green, both the channel and the websites, we can help develop that. Because I think it’s a very powerful thing and we really need it to happen.
So literally getting down to it, having a private jet was cool in the Eighties. It’s just not that cool anymore. And same for big houses and big cars.
And on the other side, there is a respect for people who are actually working and/or taking moves in their personal or working lives to align their lives with their values. And so I think that’s really important.
A great example is the littering from the Seventies. Like in the early Sevevties it was common to be driving down the road and you’d see someone open the window and throw a bag of garbage out. And through a whole bunch of different approaches like fines for littering; like the PSAs – “Give a hoot. Don’t pollute”; and a Native American chief with the tear; that’s really changed. So now it’s like unthinkable that you’d be driving behind someone and they would do that. And I think that really illustrates how much stuff can change, and how important it is what people think.
I think that Planet Green can serve a big purpose in helping salute the heroes and also point out what’s appropriate and what’s not.
Recorded on: July 28, 2008