Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leonora Oppenheim -

How old are you?
30 What’s your occupation and who do you work for?
I’m a designer moonlighting as a writer for

How long have been doing this?
I have been Treehugging since Feb 2005 – wow that’s nearly three years!

What is it about your job that makes it ethical?
I can write about whatever I choose for TreeHugger, but as a designer I am particularly concerned about how, where and by whom products are made. I like to focus on Fair Trade practises and ethical consumerism. I am very interested in sustainable design projects with artisan communities using traditional craft techniques.

What’s the best bit about your job?
Keeping myself aware + educated, but more importantly the privilege of getting to tell other people’s stories: highlighting the amazing work that is being done by individuals all over the world and bringing it to a wider audience.

What’s the worst thing?
I can’t complain it really is a fascinating job, although it must be said we don’t for it for the money, that’s for sure!

What have the last 12 months been like for you?
It has been a crazy whirlwind of adventures! Before I arrived back in London in July I was TreeHugger’s roaming correspondent for 9 months while I travelled in New Zealand, the States and South America. I spent the first half of this year in Ecuador where I worked as a volunteer design consultant for the Kallari Association – a group of indigenous cacao farmers that make the world’s best organic chocolate and handcrafts.

What were you doing before this?
I lived and worked in Barcelona for two years – writing and designing, designing and writing, oh and occasionally dipping my toe in blue Mediterranean waters.

What was your very first full-time job?
Full-time job? I think someone is going to have to explain that concept to me! I am a typical freelancer jumping from one crazy project to the next. My first professional commission was to make a sculpture for the Dutch designer Marcel Wanders – a giant version of his Snotty Vase.

What advice would you give to someone wishing to embark on the same sort of work as you?
Passion in whatever you do would be my first answer to that. My second answer would be: if you are particularly interested in writing about environmental and ethical issues TreeHugger is always looking for new talent. Many people also start up their own green blogs focusing on whatever theme that particularly moves them. There is a truly great community out there in the Green blogosphere and I feel luck y to be involved in it all. That’s why I do my weekly round up on TreeHugger called TH Blog Love.

Have you got any plans for the next 12 months you’d like to share with us?
Well, as always, I have a couple of creative projects up my sleeve that I am working on, but they are still under wraps. I am also looking forward to getting more involved with TreeHugger’s sister site Planet Green – in fact we have a new interview series coming up called Change Makers focusing on people who have recently changed their job or business to incorporate more sustainable practises.

What do you do to relax?
Yoga, swimming, watching movies – anything that gets me away from the computer.

Who do you live with?
Having recently moved back to London I am temporarily at home with my parents until I find a place of my own – hopefully in the new year.

Whereabouts do you live?
I live in South West London.

If you were Prime Minister, what’s the very first thing you would do?
Reduce the cost of public transport - compared with most other metropolises it’s outrageously expensive to get on the tube or a bus in London. Secondly, I would make recycling facilities available to people in public spaces, not just at home.

As cheap and easily available oil is expect to run out in the next couple of decades, what do you think will be the predominant form of transport in 2027?
I’d like to think that public transport will be much improved; faster, more reliable and powered by several types of renewable energy. I also hope that more people will be encouraged to bicycle by safer cycle lanes through the city and cleaner air.

Have you got any guilty carbon secrets?
I think flying is everyone’s, not so secret, guilty carbon secret and I am no different – especially after the last 12 months. I do offset my emissions, but still, I don’t want to get on another plane for a long time.

What have you done that you were most proud of?
I think I am most proud of helping to get the Kallari Association involved in the AMD Open Architecture Challenge – a design competition launched by Architecture For Humanity.

What single issue are you most concerned about in the world at large?
The unholy amount of stuff that is produced globally for us to consume – it’s hard to even begin to understand how much there is to buy. There is an amazing disconnection in our minds about where this stuff comes from and how it is produced; often by people who can’t afford to buy what they are making.

Which person in the public eye do you most admire and why? I admire anyone who is pushing the environmental message in an accessible way, turning it from something dry and technical into some thing fun, engaging and most of all motivating - inspiring us all to take action in our lives. So basically that’s everyone at TreeHugger!

Other great examples are Daryl Hannah, David de Rothschild, Simran Sethi, Majora Carter, Cameron Sinclair, Wangari Maathai and William Kamkwamba - the young Malawian who taught himself how to make a windmill from a text book and is now communicating with the world through his blog.

What’s your website address?

What are your three favourite other websites of the moment?

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