Heroes of Sustainability: Thom Hartmann

No one could accuse Thom Hartmann of not pursuing his interests. Probably best known as a radio talk show host, Hartmann has also co-founded an herbal products company, started international relief programs in a variety of countries, written more than 20 books, worked as a psychotherapist, developed a widely known theory on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and inspired a web movie from Leonardo DiCaprio on the environment.

Hartmann is, to be certain, a man of many talents. As actor DiCaprio has said: “Thom Hartmann seeks out interesting subjects from such disparate outposts of curiosity that you have to wonder whether or not he uncovered them or they selected him.”

However, just because his interests are varied doesn’t mean he’s a jack of all trades and a master of none. Hartmann has more than 2.5 million listeners a week and was named the eighth most important talk show host in America last year by Talkers Magazine, making him the top progressive host on the list. Many of his books have been best-sellers, and he counts legions of influential people as fans of his multidisciplinary work.

Waking Up
His latest book, The Thom Hartmann Reader, covers a wide range of topics, from his opposition to the corporatization of America to solar energy in cloudy Germany to the problem with schools treating children like they’re products on an assembly line. Of the book, fellow Hero of Sustainability John Perkins says: “Thom Hartmann is a literary descendent of Ben Franklin and Tom Paine. His unflinching observations and deep passion inspire us to explore contemporary culture, politics, and economics; challenge us to face the facts of the societies we are creating; and empower us to demand a better world for our children and grandchildren.”

Building a better world for those future generations will take a shift in consciousness, Hartmann says, but he believes we can do it. “I’m very hopeful, and I think that people are waking up,” he said in a video interview with The Nation. “Americans are waking up. They know that their way of life has been destroyed.”

One of our most pressing issues as Hartmann sees it is the corporate capture of government. “It’s our job, not just as progressives, not just as Democrats or greens, but as Americans … to help people realize that this unholy alliance of corporations and government is every bit as dangerous and destructive as the alliance of church and state was perceived to be 200 years ago, and frankly today far more destructive,” he said.

Movement Politics
Although talk radio hosts are known for getting into battles of who can shout the loudest, Hartmann takes a different approach — less shrieking, more calm, reasoned debate. That doesn’t mean, though, that’s he’s not passionate about his beliefs. If we’re going find solutions to the global warming crisis and the lack of clean water worldwide, that’s going to take action to change the way we live, find alternative energy sources, and organize our communities in a different way.

“Every time there’s been a significant change in the history of America, it’s been a result of movement politics — local movements, local people,” Hartmann said. “Get active in the political process, show up, volunteer … run for political office or support somebody who is, and get out there and get active. Really, the bottom line: Tag, you’re it.”

For more information on Hartmann, visit www.thomhartmann.com.

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