Author's Corner with Gerald P. McCarthy, author of BLUEPRINT FOR GOING GREEN
Blueprint for Going Green

Welcome back to the UVA Press Author's Corner! Here, we feature conversations with the authors of our latest releases to provide a glimpse into the writer's mind, their book's main lessons, and what’s next for them. We hope you enjoy these inside stories.

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Today, we are happy to bring you our conversation with Gerald P. McCarthy, author of Blueprint for Going Green: How a Small Foundation Changed the Model for Environmental Conservation

What inspired you to write this book? 

The inspiration for this book can be traced to a need to document the modern environmental history of Virginia, a so far unwritten and positive story. Another reason was that, in my conversations with the next generation of environmental leaders, many were not aware of the people and progress made in recent decades, and not as hopeful as I believe the data and actions justify. Finally, I wanted to celebrate the remarkable people who have really done the hard work of protecting water quality and conserving the landscape. The book is mostly about their stories.

What did you learn and what are you hoping readers will learn from your book? 

Starting with the idea that the Virginia Environmental Endowment was such a positive outcome of the kepone disaster, I originally intended to document the work done by the Endowment. As I got into writing the book, I was increasingly struck by the fact that, while the Endowment's investments with our grants to move along a public policy agenda to improve the quality of the environment was imprortant, it was really the people we gave the money to that did the heavy lifting. Grant-making foundations, philanthropy generally, has an important role to play in various fields of public policy, but it is their grantees who are the experts who do the work.

What surprised you the most in the process of writing your book? 

How much fun I had writing it! Seriously. It's about people, progress, history, philanthropy, and incidentally about the environment as one subject area illustrative of the power of public policy in our society.

What’s your favorite anecdote from your book?

The Elizabeth River Project. How a small grant of $1,375 30 years ago launched what is now the most successful river restoration project in Virginia, and perhaps anywhere. It is now a multi-million dollar enterprise that involves everyone, private, public, educational, in the mission.

What’s next? 

Maybe a follow up, maybe a related memoir, maybe some genuine downtime to play my guitar!

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