Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Debbie Levin
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Debbie Levin ( is president of the Environmental Media Association (EMA), which seeks to mobilize the entertainment industry in a global effort to educate people about environmental issues and inspire them to action. Taking over the reins six years ago, Debbie has moved EMA in new directions with a strong emphasis on “young Hollywood.” Under her leadership, EMA has emerged as the leading entertainment organization urging the industry to portray, model, and interpret environmental issues and lifestyles in the entertainment media. We were curious to know just how Debbie goes about this kind of work in a daily fashion. “The idea is to get positive messages into the media and influence the general public through entertainment. We go to executive producers of television shows and pitch them story lines all year,” Debbie explains. “We also review scripts for feature films. Story lines, character arcs, even product placement, where characters can be shown using hybrid cars or canvas shopping bags, that sort of thing. Thinking and acting environmentally. We encourage entire story lines about major environmental issues.

“We also use celebrity to role-model behavior; that’s a huge influence. We know celebrities who are supportive of us and we use the paparazzi and the magazines and the entertainment shows to catch them in their daily lives. We love it when the TV shows Alicia Silverstone walking out of the market and getting into her Prius holding canvas shopping bags. We try to get these celebrities to be conscious that what they do in their personal life can be inspirational for their fans. In fact, I joke around that we teach people how to shop. Because the reality is that everybody goes out and buys something everyday. And if they shop at the companies that are green and have an environmental consciousness, and make a show of supporting them, then their viewers and fans may follow suit.

“The actor Edward Norton and I get celebrities to purchase solar panels for their homes. And for every celebrity that buys solar, we’ve gotten British Petroleum to donate a system to a house in South Los Angeles. It’s a great program. Around Earth Day last year, we did a week-long series on CNN where we got stars like Edward Norton, Daryl Hannah, Alicia Silverstone, and Ed Begley, Jr. to highlight their green lifestyles. We’re currently asking celebrities to hand-sign a number of canvas grocery bags for display at Whole Foods, to raise awareness and encourage customers to opt for reusable bags over disposable.

“In contrast to most other environmental organizations, EMA believes that purchasing can change society faster than any law. We’re trying to encourage change from the inside out. Role-modeling on the outside and internally having people really be accountable for what they do in their offices. We support companies that are utilizing environmental products and trying to make their corporate offices more green.

“Everyone is trying to compete for the same dollars. Take the auto industry, for example. All of the car companies are coming out with hybrids now. They see Toyota getting so much attention for their hybrids that they want to be in that business as well. Or look at grocers. Whole Foods’ stock price goes through the roof, and suddenly places like Wal-Mart are selling organic foods.”

Does this mean that flipping into an environmental consciousness will actually become hip? “I think that’s where we’ve actually been a big help,” Debbie enthuses. We started trying to attract what we call ‘Gen E’ – Generation Environment – about five years ago. We’re encouraging the sixteen- to thirty-five-year-olds to think that buying environmental stuff is cool. We helped launch the Prius that way, by getting over two hundred celebrities to drive the Prius. There are a lot of shows now that have characters that drive hybrids. There are a lot of shows where they talk about organic foods. There are a lot of shows where energy is an issue. So it’s starting to permeate the culture.”

Debbie told us that her organization also gives environmental awards. “The EMA awards are another opportunity for role modeling. It’s our fundraiser and it’s a way for us to have our corporate supporters get a little attention. But it’s also a way for us to highlight the television shows and the feature films which incorporate environmental messages. At the event, not only do we have an awards show with clips and information about the different entries, but then the party after is all organic. We’ve got twelve celebrity chefs cooking all organic food. Everything in our gift bags is organic. Our silent auction is all environmentally sensitive, and so on.”

Can a green consciousness be spread worldwide this way? Debbie Levin thinks so. “I think it’s something that will come back into everybody’s ordinary lifestyle. After all, our grandparents ate mostly organic foods. We’ve been living through a weird blip in history. We mistakenly thought that spraying pesticides on our food was a good thing. We’re going to move away from that. The global energy crisis that we’re encountering is going to spread the use of renewable forms of energy. So ‘being green’ isn’t something that’s going to go away. It’s going to be integrated into the mainstream out of necessity.”


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

To read more about The Flip and additional interviews from other luminaries, experts and bestselling authors, please visit

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