Richard Seireeni’s The Gort Cloud is two books. One is a collection of case studies on building and differentiating green brands. The other introduces a “vast and largely invisible” network of stakeholders centered around sustainability - the Gort Cloud. Each would make for a great standalone volume.
Twelve case studies covering 23 green brands take up roughly 80% of the book, highlighting ways these companies have differentiated themselves and succeeded (or not) in their respective marketplaces through sustainability. The case studies span a broad spectrum: products and services; business-to-consumer and business-to-business; household goods, energy, finance, transportation, real estate, apparel, and food/beverage. Naturally, I was most curious about the brands with a Portland, Oregon connection, which allowed me to backfill gaps in my knowledge: Bonneville Environmental Foundation (inventors of carbon offsets), Ecotrust, Nau, Portfolio 21 Investments, and ShoreBank Pacific.
Why read the case studies? Seireeni posits that the success (or failure) of green brands rests squarely on a large support network of stakeholders in sustainability, including businesses and business alliances, advocacy groups, government, certifying organizations, foundations, news organizations, information and education purveyors, publishers and publications, trendspotters, conferences and trade shows, blogs, nonprofits, media, guides, and many others. Together, they comprise the Gort Cloud (green + Oort cloud), which all green brands must factor into their strategy in order to succeed. It remains to be seen whether the new term catches on.
It makes perfect sense that eco-brands achieved their success in the context of a larger network with sustainability as the common thread. Companies need markets and market infrastructure to exist. To state that links exist between the showcased companies and the Gort Cloud and to actually describe and explain the dynamics of those relationships are two different things, however. Hints and mentions and anecdotal evidence are the right first steps in an in-depth analysis, but they remain the only ones here. Seireeni outlines at the outset how the book’s focus changed as his research proceeded, which is the likely reason for the book’s duality and the missed analytical opportunity.
Richard Seireeni is a 30-year veteran in brand consulting and marketing. He has been art director of Rolling Stone magazine, creative director of Warner Bros. Records, and cocreative director of EnterpriseIG, New York. He has managed his own consulting business, The Brand Architect Group (www.brandarchitect.com), in Los Angeles since 1984, with affiliated offices in Tokyo and Shanghai. Seireeni graduated from the University of Washington School of Architecture and is a member of the US Green Building Council. Seireeni lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and two children.
Published on: February 2009 What this book is about? (from the book's website)
"Green" has gone mainstream, and for many companies caring for the environment is not just a philosophy, it’s a marketing strategy. So how does a company that’s genuinely committed to green principles differentiate itself from its greenwashing competitors?
Brand expert Richard Seireeni interviewed more than 30 "eco-capitalists" from a broad range of industries—home improvement, transportation, household products, food and beverage, energy, real estate, finance, and fashion. The collective experience of leaders such as Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms, Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation, and the grandsons of Dr. Bronner, as well as other green experts, are a rich source of wisdom for green businesses getting off the ground or for any business aiming to improve its environmental performance.
The result of these interviews is the "Gort Cloud"—a term coined by the author that describes the vast and largely invisible network of NGOs, trendspotters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations, and other members of the green community that have the power to make or break new green brands.
Integrating the Gort Cloud into brand development and marketing strategies is critical to the success of any aspiring green brand. This "green community" can supply technical assistance, venture capital, the first line of core customers, and tremendous “echo effect” in getting the word out quickly and inexpensively. Creating a cause, building credibility, developing a simple and compelling message, identifying core customers and sales channels, deftly playing the green alternative media, and fending off second-to-market competitors are all required to build a green brand.
How these skills are put into practice will vary for each business, but Seireeni’s research points toward a set of shared characteristics and basic tenets that every business can use to build a credible and successful green brand.
Why you should get it? If you're part of the green marketplace this book is a must. But even if you're not involved, but just interested in the green economy this is the book for you. Not only that you're learn about this fascinating phenomenon he calls 'the gort cloud', but you also get an insider look into some of most successful green businesses.
For example, I thought I knew TerraCycle really well before reading the chapter on the company (Think Big or Go Home) and understanding I got to know only the tip of the iceberg. Seireeni, talking with some of the most interesting and successful ecopreneurs, managed to bring us stories you can't read nowhere else.
And it's not only the stories of these companies that makes this book such an interesting one. It's also the point of view of Seireeni, who manages to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and create a unique big picture no one really managed to show before. It's not atomic physics but nevertheless his achievement is impressive and even more is essential to anyone who tries to get a macro look into the development of the green marketplace.
All in all, this is one of the best green marketing and branding books written lately, providing not only a clear view about the past and the present of the green economy, but also valuable lessons to its future. And of course we should mention the book is printed on FSC-certified 30% post consumer waste recycled paper supplied by the Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group. What others think about the book? "Creating a successful green product is equal parts art, science, and persistence. But it also requires a depth of market insights that separate the leaders from the rest of the pack. The Gort Cloud offers a wealth of knowledge, digging deep into the iconic green brands and pulling out insights that can help entrepreneurs and marketers create the next generation of authentic, market-shifting brands." - Joel Makower, Executive Editor, GreenBiz.com, and author, Strategies for the Green Economy
"In his remarkable The Gort Cloud, Richard Seireeni details the intersection of two of society's most important forces: The Green Movement and the Social Media revolution. He shows how companies playing in that intersection can become terrifically successful, but only if they play by the unwritten rules." -David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR and World Wide Rave
Some great stuff has been flying across the Celsias news desk in recent weeks. We've been busy checking it all out for you and here's a few winners we'd recommend, just in time for Earth Day!
The Gort Cloud - Richard Seireeni
If you liked Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken, you'll love this too. It's sort of the commerce-y continuation of the community discussion.
Discussing how "green" has gone mainstream, branding guru Seireeni shows how some cutting edge, green-minded businesses (from the likes of Dr. Bronner's to Nau to Seventh Generation) have built a steady following, kept their integrity, and made a good living by harnessing the power of the green community.
By illustrating the relationships of many green institutions, the book provides readers with a comprehensive look at the invisible network of NGO's trendspotters, advocacy groups, business alliances, social networks, and certifying organizations of the green community that can make or break brands. If you are launching a new product or service, understanding this space is critical to your success. While the book *is* business focused, many general readers might appreciate its definition of the larger community we are all involved with, as well as some intimate stories of companies and brands they already love. We found it quite a clever read and very informative.
I met Richard Seireeni in the basement of the Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle. He'd just taken us on a PowerPoint trip through The Gort Cloud (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008) - his book describing the ad hoc communications web that constitutes much of green marketing.
I felt inspired and relieved after hearing from him and, subsequently, reading the book. Inspired because the book outlines 20 sustainable companies that have become remarkable successes -- I can envision myself among them someday! As a group, these entrepreneurs broke many rules, failed, tried again and succeeded.
I felt relieved because the random, mitochondrial nature of the Gort cloud mirrored my own chaotic marketing plan. And maybe that's OK. And also because he was accompanied at the book reading by his 8-year-old son, who helped coach him through some of the presentation. I see he also is balancing family and a life's work.
I highly recommend this book for you, the ecobly entrepreneur, to help you create a revolution by running your sustainable business (read my previous blog about some GreenFest revolutionaries).
The companies in Seireeni's book have paved the way for green business in America, but by making "green" profitable, they've also ushered in the greenwashers and hucksters.
In the chapter about Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Seireeni quotes Michael Dupee, a GMCR executive:
"Dupee believes that too many companies today are jumping onto the sustainability bandwagon with skin-deep credentials. 'It's people using codewords and buzzwords to try to communicate some level of virtue that may or may not be true. It doesn't do justice to the kinds of things that we're all working on here."
"Business is the most potentially powerful agent for change in the world," he continues. "It used to be community, then it was religion, and now it's business. That's what we need to use as the tool."
The Gort Cloud definitely left me wanting more. Even though the author explicitly stated at the beginning of the book "this is not a how-to guide," I wanted it to be a how-to guide! I'll check into some of his recommendations for further reading.
The companies listed in the ecobly directory come from every corner of the marketplace - countertops, hats, worm poop - but they have a few things in common. They are really, really green. They are typically smaller companies (many are just one or two folks on the farm or working out of the basement). And, whether they know it or not, they're frequent fliers through the Gort Cloud.
Written by Timothy B. Hurst
Published on March 31st, 2009
It is like what Van Jones called the “invisible network of networks.” Everyone who is in it (and some who stand outside it) know it is there, but they just aren’t sure how to define it, or what shape it takes.
In a new book called The Gort Cloud, branding expert Richard Seireeni takes a stab at capturing the moving target of social networks, sustainability, and green business and captures it with the perfect metaphor — a cloud. But Seireeni doesn’t use any old cloud for his metaphor, the book gets its name from an amorphous field of stellar debris called the Oort Cloud. Seireeni writes:
“I began to think of this particular green network as something tangible with a mission and with a collective membership of like-mined people. It wasn’t a single community. It wasn’t a movement, It defied easy definition.”
Named after the astronomer Jan Hendrick Oort, who originally theorized the stellar cloud’s existence, the Oort Cloud is totally invisible to human observation, which Seireeni argues makes it perfectly analogous to the green network which has so much impact on the success/failure of green brands. He writes:
“This seems to perfectly describe the Gort Cloud, a vast green network made up of untidy bits that is most easily detected through electronic means and that has a huge effect on the evolution of green business.”
“Think of it as a giant green Rolodex”
Taking a page from Clay Shirkey’s 2008 analysis of activism 2.0, Here Comes Everybody, Seireeni Steers his first book in a decidedly “green” direction, focusing on the companies that have had the most success building a green brand, and the various groups of players that helped them get there. And that’s where you come in.
Just by reading this review, you have—whether you know it or not—entered the Gort Cloud.
Some components of the green network Seireeni writes about are Providers (good and services); Rule Makers and Watchdogs (NGOs, Gov’t Agencies); Advocacy Groups; Special Interests; Information Disseminators; Social Networks, and; In-Person Exchanges (conferences, tradeshows, etc.).
“Successful green marketing comes from the inside and works out”
Mixing cases studies of such perennial green brands as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Vermont ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s with newer companies like Tesla Motors and recent converts like the carpet-tile manufacturer Interface Inc., Seireeni’s case studies are rich and full of detail.
Venturing into the world of “trendspotters” like TreeHugger and Inhabitat (among many other blogs and green networks) Seireeni approaches the difficult task of writing a book about the dynamic world of the green web 2.0 by fully recognizing that: A) some of his subjects may not even exist by the time the book goes to print (as is the case with Treehugger’s hugg.com), and; B) some of his subjects may not exactly fit into their given categories come printing time (i.e our very own Green Options as a “social network”).
From an academic perspective, I found the Gort Cloud to be a bit under-theorized, especially in terms of how trendspotters, bloggers and social media mavens communicate with each other and with the “outside” world. But, considering the book was not written for an academic audience, this may be as much a strength as it is a weakness.
Finally, while the impact of twitter may not have been mentioned explicitly (quite understandably) in Seireeni’s treatment of the world of communicating in green networks, there is no reason to believe that it wouldn’t map perfectly onto the Gort Cloud platform. If anything, twitter might even epitomize it! And that is what makes the book a worthy contribution to the green marketing and web 2.0 canon.
People interested in a sustainable lifestyle have struggled to find environmentally friendly ways to power their homes, clean their clothes, and feed their families. All the while, they’ve been ridiculed by family, friends, and government for pursuing a ludicrous ideal. Suddenly, though, businesses realized that there is money to be made in green products. Now that earth-friendly living has become commercially trendy, manufacturers of everything from bleach to sugar-coated cereal are pushing green versions of their products.
How is the average shopper supposed to distinguish between all-natural, organic, and environmentally safe labels? How can you tell whether the marketers are playing fast and loose with words to sucker you into buying a more expensive bottle of the same old poison? Go to the gort cloud!
Author Richard Seireeni describes the gort cloud as a “vast but invisible community that has the power to make or break green brands.” The Gort Cloud
“about ecopreneurs and their experiences, but it is also a book about this growing but largely invisible community of eco-conscious customers, partners, and other stakeholders… It’s also a book about the marketing techniques… used to target audiences and raise awareness.”
The gort cloud, in short, endorses green products and exposes greenwashing.
The gort cloud is not an organized force. Rather, it is an ever-present, ever-changing community of shared information and interest. Marketers can’t buy ad space in the gort cloud; it’s word of mouth on a global scale, driven by heartfelt opinion. People, not marketing campaigns, are the nucleus of the gort cloud.
Seireeni and writing partner Scott Fields have put together a group of iconic green brands such as Seventh Generation, Tesla Motors, and Ecotrust as examples of successful marketing through the gort cloud. In-depth interviews and histories on all these companies make for compelling reading in any case, but the tales of their struggles to balance profit with social responsibility are also inspiring for others trying to accomplish the same goals on a limited budgets.
Not all of the companies featured here are 100% socially responsible, of course. Ben and Jerry’s hasn’t yet eliminated child slavery from their chocolate, and Green Key Real Estate lists homes “of any size, regardless of whether it has green features.” Even the do-gooders recognize the need to turn a profit.
In truth, it’s the stories of the companies that make The Gort Cloud such a compelling read. Dr. Bronner’s soap, for example, is a staple in green households, used for everything from shampoo to laundry detergent. Founder Emanuel Bronner, a slightly crazy free spirit long before hippies were cool, nevertheless was rightly suspicious of artificial preservatives, pesticides, and synthetic foaming agents when few others questioned the value of technological and chemical advances:
“When the late 1960s hit and a new counterculture erupted, Dr. Bronner’s eco-friendly soaps… found their audience…. If you were part of that world, you knew Dr. Bronner’s soaps.”
Emanuel Bronner’s descendants carry on the tradition of constructive capitalism and environmental responsibility. Simply by engaging in ethically upright business practices, Dr. Bronner’s brand sets itself apart. Word of mouth advertising in the Haight-Ashbury community has given way to word-of-mouth endorsement through the gort cloud community.
The story of Dr. Bronner’s soaps and a representative sample of other products, both large and small, make for an in-depth look at how the gort cloud works. Seireeni sums up with a list of ‘Ten key observations for successfully building a green brand’ for those who fail to pick it up from the context of experience.
Seireeni owns his own consulting business and boasts over thirty years of experience in marketing. His advice for marketing green products will surely be of interest to businesses, but the greatest value in Seireeni’s The Gort Cloud is for the consumer who wants to learn how to recognize the promotion techniques employed by the commercial greenies and how to counter it with the unvarnished opinions of the gort cloud.
The Gort Cloud
Published on March 10, 2009 at 1:52am
How does a company that’s genuinely committed to green principles differentiate itself from its greenwashing competitors? Brand expert Richard Seireeni interviewed more than 30 "eco-capitalists" from a broad range of industries to find out. He tapped the collective knowledge and experience of people such as Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms, Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation to find out. The result of Seireeni's interviews is the "Gort Cloud" —a term he coined that describes the vast and largely invisible network of NGOs, trendspotters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations, and other members of the green community that seem to have the power to make or break new green brands.
Green-ness has become a cultural capital that can insure success if it is marketed well. According to Sariereeni, integrating the Gort Cloud into brand development is critical to the success of green brands. The green community of venture capitalists can supply support with financial backing and technical assistance and create an echo effect that can inexpensively get the word out. Seireeni's research shows some shared characteristics that help create a cause, build credibility, develop the message to core customers, using the green media and beating competitors.
The Gort Could Network Video by Richard Seireeni
(Unfortunately, the video missed OakleighVermont.com . Hopefully we will be represented in Seireeni's sequel film!)
Published March 12th, 2009 at 10:14 am in Posted By Gabriel, Reviews
I’ve just been reading a new book, The Gort Cloud. Written by “brand expert” Richard Seireeni, the book is a collection of interviews with leading green entrepreneurs (or ecopreneurs, as Seireeni labels them).
The Basic Thesis:
There is a “vast and largely invisible network of NGOs, trendspotters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations, and other members of the green community that have the power to make or break new green brands.”
The book is too verbose and could eliminate some redundancies. Seireeni’s interviews are well-done, and while some of his subjects are the “usual suspects” (think Jeffrey Hollender of 7th Generation and Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm), some are interesting new stories that I, at least, hadn’t previously known – including one from the folks at Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.
That aside, what about the thesis? In short, I agree with it. As someone who’s been in the heart of the green community for years (to wit, as founder of Seattle Greendrinks), I know there’s a steadily thrumming flow of energy around exciting new ideas and brands (for example, see the rise and adoption of national green brands such as Working Assets/Credo Mobile, Ben & Jerry’s, Theo Chocolate, or Patagonia). Indeed, I do my best to help create and stoke that energy.
The question that arises for me, though, is whether this is truly a new thing – a “Gort Cloud,” previously unidentified – or whether this trend is merely speeding up and broadening through modern technologies.
My suspicion is: it’s the former. In 8th grade, I really wanted Guess! jeans. Why? Because they were cool, because people to whom I looked up were wearing them, because they were “the buzz.” Same goes for myriad other consumer products.
However, never before have so many organizations colluded to push a social agenda through consumer products. My fascination with Guess! jeans moved on as quickly as any style; but today’s connectivity results in a fundamentally new method of sharing information with like-minded people – one that is more powerful, broad, and continual than ever before. With it, comes a new awareness (macro-realization, if you will), from people trying to support noble ideas (a healthier planet, a more socially just society, etc). These ideas, and the community they foster and support, have far more staying power and stickiness, than do brands based solely around current notions of style.
All of that said, I still believe some of the current green hype is going to go away. Indeed, green fatigue has been a conversation topic for a few years already, and undoubtedly some of the shine on these green brands will fade. But I believe Seireeni may have identified an interesting new flow of awareness and adoption that truly does have more staying power, and more ability to foster social change, than has historically existed.
The Gort Cloud: The invisible force powering today’s most visible green brands
by Richard Seireeni, with Scott Fields (Chelsea Green Publishing; February 2009) $25
This book is pure green inspiration for anyone interested in marketing, brands, business, or rapidly evolving world of eco-capitalism. The Gort Cloud is an invisible force—a social network of forward-thinking businesses, media, NGOs, academics, bloggers, trade groups and trendsetters—that Seireeni asserts has the power to make or break green brands or help green business go mainstream. Seireeni profiles today’s hottest sustainable businesses, the inspirations behind “eco-revolutions” in the marketplace, and the magic of effective and honest green marketing. Learn more.
When Richard Seireeni first approached me about taking part in his upcoming book, The Gort Cloud, I was pleasantly surprised. Our work has been included in numerous architectural publications over the years, but the book Richard described to me was unlike any we’d been in before. He was interviewing over 2 dozen “ecopreneurs” in order to unlock the secrets of their success in the world of green business. Based on these interviews, Richard coined the term “Gort Cloud” to describe “the vast and largely invisible network of NGOs, trendspotters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations, and other members of the green community that have the power to make or break new green brands.” His book, now out in hardcover, explains how 23 green companies, including our own, built their brands and how they used the invisible marketing force of the Gort Cloud to reach the green community. We highly recommend this great green read!
Does it make rain? Upon hearing of The Gort Cloud, that may have been the question you would have asked last week, but today it has been raining non-stop for several days, the parched earth is getting quenched and I am happy to report that The Gort Cloud is actually the name of my friend Richard Seireeni’s new book, recently published by Chelsea Green Publishing. Inspired by a belief that “sustainable companies benefit from a community built on truth, transparency and the free exchange of information”, The Gort Cloud is Richard’s navigation of a vast network of NGO’s, trendsetters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations, and other members of the green community that has the power to make or break new green brands.
The founder of The Brand Architect Group, Seireeni interviewed more than thirty eco-entrepreneurs in his research for this thorough yet easy and engaging read. In reading The Gort Cloud, it was fun for me to get a new perspective on many of my EcoMom™ colleagues and partners including Seventh Generation, Be EcoChic, and Tom’s Shoes (whose founder Blake Mycoskie, I swear Richard was trying to fix me up with!).I highly reccommend this book for anyone looking to start a “green” company or trying to understand “the invisible force powering today’s most visible green brands.” Seireeni is definitely on to something!
This entry was written by kimberly and posted on February 15, 2009 at 4:59 pm.
Understanding the Gort Cloud
Written by Preston Koerner | February 15, 2009
We're always happy to receive green books in the mail, but what surprised us the most about The Gort Cloud was the fact that we're in it. Jetson Green is, apparently, a "trendspotter" in The Gort Cloud. And after looking at it more closely, I'm guessing several of our readers and their companies have been named in it, too. What is it? The Gort Cloud is "the invisible force powering today's most visible green brands" where "millions of people [connect] to green information through a vast, interconnected community."
The community is made up of NGOs, retailers, social networks, trendspotters, blogs, magazines, foundations, government agencies, media programming, special interest authorities, news outlets, certifiying organizations, alliances, etc. When you actually look at it, it's huge!
To be clear, this book has a specific focus. The author, Richard Seireeni (with Scott Fields), tells us it's written for those that are interested in learning how others have built green brands and how they've developed a following.
Some of the green brands mentioned in the book include Michelle Kaufmann Designs, Green Key Real Estate, YOLO Colorhouse, Tesla Motors, Earth Friendly Moving, ShoreBank Pacific, Southwest Windpower, Interface Inc., and tons others. They're all major innovators in their respective industries -- they've all been able to gain the trust of various influencers within The Gort Cloud.
The Gort Cloud is distinctly readable and the pages turn almost without knowing it. If you're a fledgling company, or even a company that's trying to do something about your future, I highly recommend it.
Early in my career, long before the Internet, I assembled file folders on every environmental organization I had ever heard of -- their literature, fund-raising letters, annual reports, etc. I was unknowingly assembling a portion of what Richard Seireeni is calling, in his new book, "The Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today's Most Visible Green Brands." The Gort Cloud is named after the Oort cloud, a field of stellar debris that orbits our solar system -- although its mass exceeds that of the earth, it is invisible to us.
If you've worked in the environmental field at any level, you're likely aware of this invisible network connecting millions of environmentally aware people. On one hand, it is the enforcer of credibility standards -- a watchdog against greenwashing. On the other hand, it is a partner, providing insights into consumer preferences, linking manufacturers to distributors to retailers, and being the ultimate sounding board for anyone marketing a product or service to the highly focused audience of the green consumer.
While huge consumer products companies rely on advertising (what Seth Godin calls "shouting at strangers"), start-up green companies reach out directly to the Gort Cloud, using one-on-one relationships with green academics, NGOs, certifying organizations, news outlets, trendspotters, distributors, and eco-conscious consumers to build their brands. Because everyone is connected by the common goal of sustainability and powered by the currency of transparency, start-up green companies can gain an edge over the titans whose advertising strategies are less effective every year.
The Gort Cloud has aspects of Web 2.0, viral marketing, crowdsourcing, and social media, but more than that, it is an amazing business resource for honest green companies. It delivers a market (and marketing partners) at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and with greater credibility.
In his book, Seireeni explains how 23 successful green companies (including Seventh Generation) built their brands using this invisible marketing force to reach the green community. To see a visualization of The Gort Cloud click here (pdf).
The award for strangest title this month goes to "The Gort Cloud," coming soon from Vermont-based publisher Chelsea Green.
What does it mean? Author Richard Seireeni reportedly coined it to refer to "the vast and largely invisible network" of nongovernmental organizations, trend spotters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations and other members of the green community that have the power to make or break new "green" brands.
To explain how the "cloud" influences consumers, he looked to entrepreneurs including Jeffrey Hollender, head of Burlington-based Seventh Generation, a purveyor of environmentally friendly household products and the lifestyle to go with them.
The company was a leader in making consumer products an extension (and statement) of the buyer's belief system. With his book, Seireeni aims to show other entrepreneurs how to find the silver inside the "Gort Cloud."
RATING: The Gort Cloud, a term coined by authors Richard Seireeni and Scott Fields, does not refer to a 1980s video game (that would be “Gorf”) or a Tim Conway sketch about a diminutive golfer (that would be “Dorf”). Taking its name from the Oort Cloud, an invisible ring of celestial dust surrounding our solar system, the book refers to “the vast but invisible community that has the power to make or break green brands.”
Seireeni and Fields initially set out to write a book profiling sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs and their successful development of one or more brands coming without expense to the planet. And these stories still comprise the majority of “The Gort Cloud.” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream makes an appearance, as you’d expect, as do pioneering green products such as Dr. Bronner’s soap, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, low-VOC paint experts Yolo Colorhouse, and pioneering green-prefab architect Michelle Kaufman. The “cloud” they speak of also includes the bloggers, policy wonks, media, marketers and government agencies. At heart, the book remains largely a collection of cheerleading for green companies, not any true epiphany about going forward. Even so, Seireeni and Fields successfully illuminate the mechanics of this sweeping planetary and societal transformation. The only real mistake may be their cringe-inducing name for the book.
According to Richard Seireeni , a Gort Cloud is a tangible green network with a mission and a collective membership comprised of like minded people. Its not a single community or a movement. It defies easy description so it needed its own name. Hence, the Gort Cloud. His inspiration came from Oort Cloud, named after the astronomer John Hendrik Oort , who guessed at its existence. The Oort Cloud is a vast field or stellar debris that orbits the solar system. Given it’s distance from earth we can’t see it but we can detect it electronically and view its effects. It’s mass is huge, greater then the mass of the earth but its invisible to us. He suggests this describes the Gort Cloud, a vast green network made up of untidy bits that is mostly detected through electronic means (think the internet and social media) and that has a huge effect on the evolution of green business.
The Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today’s Most Visible Green Brands is the title of Richard’s new book. Richard and his writing partner Scott Fields have chronicled the marketing and brand building efforts of what they consider to be the nations leading ecopreneurs. Together they plot the intersection and emerging potential of two contemporary forces - the green movement and social media. They argue that sustainable companies benefit from a community built on truth, transparency and the free exchange of information.
The book includes compelling stories and insights garnered from some of the iconic green brands including Ben and Jerry’s, Interface, Seventh Generation, Tesla Motors and Stonyfield Farms. It also includes a chapter titled Creating Green Street dedicated to Portland based entities including Ecotrust (one of our Partners For Change organizations), Portfolio 21 Investments and Shorebank Pacific. We had the pleasure of meeting Richard and Scott last year when the book was in the early birthing stages, We’re particularly honored, and humbled, that they’ve chosen to include Nau in Chapter 3 of the book. Its titled Unfuckers United: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Nau Clothing.
Of course, you can pre-order a signed copy of the book via one of Portland’s landmark institutions Powell’s Books . And, if you happen to be in Portland on February 26 please join us to hear Richard speak. The talk will take place at 7.30 pm at Powell’s.