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Theater company goes green

Mo'olelo introduces environmentally friendly, sustainable practices to industry

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Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company, a theater organization dedicated to broadening the scope of San Diego's cultural environment, recently announced its Greening Mo`olelo Initiative -- an effort to institute sustainable practices and encourage the use of environmentally friendly materials throughout the theater community. To launch the initiative, Mo`olelo recently published "GREEN Theater Categories & Sustainable Guidelines," a document featuring the recommendations of architects and other experts in the green industry.

Over the past year, the Mo`olelo staff and board have been involved in a process to educate themselves about environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.

"Mo`olelo's work is very much about building community, yet, ironically, many traditional practices in the performing arts are hurtful to the environment -- from the amount of paper we use for scripts, to the energy needed to light a performance, to the woods and paints used on sets," said Seema Sueko, artistic director of Mo`olelo. "So we decided to explore how we in the theater industry could take responsibility and address the inefficiencies of these practices."

Mo`olelo's staff and board members met with local leaders in the green industry: LEED Accredited Professional Robert Thiele, LEED Accredited Architect Alison Whitelaw, California Center for Sustainable Energy (formerly San Diego Regional Energy Office) Executive Director Irene Stillings and Michael Stepner, Urban Policy Planner and Professor of Architecture at the New School of Architecture. Experts shared their insights on developments in the industry, practices that can be easily adapted by theater groups and changes that every person can make to positively impact the environment every day. LEED Accredited Professional and architecture intern Preeti Gupta worked with Sueko to compile the findings into a working document that could be shared with the theater industry and the San Diego community. The document, "GREEN Theater Categories & Sustainable Guidelines," is available on the Mo`olelo Web site, www.moolelo.net.

The guidelines cover such practices as reduction, recycling and reuse of materials, transportation, energy and water efficiency, waste management and spreading awareness in the community.

"This is just a starting point," said Clifford Sweet, president of the Mo`olelo board. "We understand we have so much more to learn and that some of the green adjustments we need to make will be budgeted for and rolled out in future years. But Mo`olelo's commitment to green is strong, and we have the forum to influence change in the community as a whole."

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