The Director of Sustainable Development for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Spencer Finch will facilitate questions with Jaime Lerner on Monday, June 23. In the halls of the America's Center, we grabbed a few moments with Spencer to discuss this unique opportunity to hear from Jaime Lerner. He'll not be able to attend to GTH 08, but we'll now have his presence.
GTH08: Tell us about your involvement with the proceedings tomorrow.
Finch: I'm a little bit of a last-minute guest. Jaime Lerner, one of the main speakers, couldn't make it. We've made arrangements to have him here, at least virtually, if not here in reality. I'll give a little intro, then we'll play one of his lectures, which he gave in Philadelphia two years ago. Then, in the afternoon, we'll catch up with Jaime; we'll call him on the phone and we'll do an audience Q-and-A with him directly.
GTH08: Our understanding is that there was a lot of excitement about his attendance, so to have him in even this form is a positive.
Finch: I think it is, I know that it's always a coup when someone gets him to speak. I know that two years ago we brought him to Philly. And in the clip we'll show, he got a standing ovation and really helped spark some changes that have changed the city in the past two years.
GTH08: Can you give us a sense of what energized, or motivated people so much?
Finch: I guess if you show up, you'll see why. My easy way to describe it is that he looks like Santa Claus without the beard. For some reason, you see him and right away you like him. He really knows what he's talking about and he's accomplished something that attendees are hoping to accomplish. With very limited resources, he was able to build what people say is the world's most-sustainable city, in a developing country like Brazil. I think it's really amazing what he helped make happen in his hometown.
GTH08: What would be a best-case scenario for what happens tomorrow?
Finch: I hope people get a sense of how difficult some things are, but also how easy some things are to do. One piece of advice that Jaime likes to repeat to everyone is "just start." The first step is always the toughest. Once we get started, we all kind of know what we want our cities to be, what we want our world to be. If we just take the first step, things will get much easier.