Planet Forward debuts on PBS


Planet Forward, a unique Web-television hybrid program created by GW professor Frank Sesno, premiered on Wednesday night both in Funger Hall and nationally on PBS.

The show included a discussion panel, originally taped in the Jack Morton Auditorium, comprised of several experts in environmental issues, including President Obama’s chief energy adviser, Carol Browner.

The project is an interactive online initiative created with the intention on getting the GW community – and all citizens – involved in creating green solutions for the future.

“This event is a kick-off to show how the GW community can get involved around campus,” said Meghan Chapple-Brown, head of the GW Office of Sustainability, in an introduction to the viewing.

Many students, faculty, and unaffiliated community members made up the audience for a mostly full auditorium in Funger. Sophomore Kristin Taglione, for example, was in attendance because she had been working on the project since September. “We helped create the title, generate content, develop the idea, and get people involved,” she said.

Leo Senai, a student not involved with the project, said he heard about it from a friend and decided to come simply because it “seemed interesting.”

The actual program involved the panel discussion integrated with videos submitted to and chosen from the Web site. The panel was then asked to respond to the ideas presented by the participants. The forum provided a background for the kind of interaction for which Planet Forward was created: a discourse involving not only experts and government officials but also the general public.

A theme that carried on throughout the broadcast was how the deteriorating environment is both the individual’s and the government’s problem. By including the public’s voice in this program, Sesno and the others said they hoped to reinforce this idea of mutual responsibility.

Another theme that emerged was how to make environmental solutions economically viable for the public.

One video showed Sesno interviewing a man who had installed solar panels on his roof and was saving around $130 a month as a result. The catch? He spent $40,000 on materials and installation.

“Two of my favorite things I have done at this University,” President Knapp said, “are creating the Office of Sustainability and my involvement with Planet Forward.”

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