Saturday, November 29, 2008

Environmental Media Field and Category

Emcee: Debra Poneman

Our next inductee is Conscious Choice Magazine and its publisher Richard McGinnis.

In 1988, two young entrepreneurs, Ross Thompson and Jim Slama, decided Chicagoans needed to be exposed to alternative ways to live healthier, more sustainable lives. The only problem was, at that time there was very little of the current meaning in the definition of sustainability. And alternative resources had very little to do with photovoltaics and bio-fuels. In addition, let’s face it; the Midwest has never been on the cutting edge of the adoption of new ideas. Concepts need to be tried and retried before we grasp fully a helpful new tool.

After the first 10 years of publishing Conscious Choice, Jim and Ross still couldn’t claim to have diverted the mainstream in their direction, but the time was getting riper to ride the wave of complementary medicine, self-help concepts, natural foods choices, alternative transportation ideas, conservation and waste reduction on all levels. In an interview by Dennis Rodkin for the Chicago Tribune in May 1988, Ross Thompson stated:

The magazine is emphatically not a cheerleader for all health-nuts and eco freaks with a business card. We are very pragmatic and we think our readers are too; they want information they can really use and from which they can see positive results. We want people to know what they read about in Conscious Choice is all grounded in reality and we’re not going to throw all kinds of outlandish stuff at them at once.

In his opening editorial column of the first issue of Conscious Choice, spring of 1988, Jim Slama stated:

In the environmental arena, acid rain destroys lakes and forests, nuclear wastes and toxic chemicals directly threaten humankind. The ozone hole and greenhouse effect are in the process of permanently shifting weather patterns. Our leaders are convinced we can buy peace with massive weapons expenditures that threaten our already debt-ridden economy, rather than waging peace through increased consciousness. Most other economic news reflects a business culture much more interested in extracting profits for its stockholders than in extending human concern to its employees, customers and society.

Well, I suppose the state of the situation has not changed all that drastically, but it has changed. The largest change is in information and awareness, which Conscious Choice has been bringing to the table for over 20 years.

Though the magazine has gone through many evolutions stylistically, most notably from large, clunky newsprint journal to sleek LOHAS media vehicle, the concept has remained consistent: Every issue strives to bring new ideas to light; to focus on social, economic and environmental awareness; and to precipitate positive change.

Now under the support of Conscious Enlightenment Media and Gaiam Lifestyle Media, Conscious Choice is part of a family of regional print publications in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The introduction into interactive network media in 2007 with the acquisition of has propelled the focus of enlightening content to multi-platform accessibility all over the globe.

It is my great honor to give this award to Richard McGinnis, current publisher of Conscious Choice Magazine and Vice President of Operations for Conscious Enlightenment Media.