Josh Dorfman isn’t following the typical Asheville literary script. He wasn’t born here, like Thomas Wolfe and Charles Frazier, and he’s certainly not buried here, like O. Henry. Nor is he a poet (Fred Chappell), a historical-fiction writer (John Ehle) or a multitalented professor with a literary bent (David Brendan Hopes).
Instead, Dorfman is “The Lazy Environmentalist,” a blogger who became a radio host, wrote a couple of books, runs a furniture business (among other ventures), just completed shooting a TV show for the Sundance Channel and plans to start writing his next book this summer. He’ll accomplish the latter task in the comfort of his new home in Kenilworth.
Dorfman’s last book was The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save the Planet. (see “Saving Green by Going Green,” April 8 Xpress). The new Sundance show (simply called The Lazy Environmentalist) premieres Tuesday, June 16, at 9 p.m.
“People want to see our environmental problems solved, and they want to be part of the solution, but they’re so used to convenience,” says Dorfman. His response is to offer easy, cost-efficient ways to go green. “There’s a perception that going green is expensive, [but] when you really start to look at what’s available, there are lots of great choices right now,” Dorfman maintains.
In the new TV show, he spends one episode trying to help a dog groomer go green; in another, he challenges a school principal’s limited resources and budget, finding ways to save money and educate kids while reducing the school’s carbon footprint. In yet another episode, Dorfman helps a fashion designer create eco-friendly outfits for a male rap star. Of this most challenging assignment, he says, “We had to find the green bling.” (Watch the show to see if Dorfman and crew pulled it off; it helps that The Lazy Environmentalist is backed by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Producer David Metzler).
But filming for the seven-episode series is done, and Dorfman has Asheville, that next book and more green ideas on his mind. “What I love about Asheville,” says Dorfman, “it’s one of the few places I’ve been to [where] everyone loves being here. That creates a good energy.” Asheville also has its own budding green industries and an overall attitude that he finds encouraging. “There’s not just that environmental awareness but the awareness turned to action,” notes Dorfman, citing things like restaurants buying local and organic, entrepreneurs developing solar businesses, and assorted groups coming together to address climate change.
Dorfman also likes “being able to step outside my door and be in nature.” And as for cultural offerings, he reflects, “The other thing that feels different—compared to New York City, where obviously there’s tons of stuff going on—it’s more accessible in Asheville.”
Tie all that together, and Asheville is where Dorfman says he wants to be now. “There’s a great opportunity to develop a sustainable urban model for the rest of the country. I’d like to plug into that and help make Asheville not just a leader but a place where other cities look for an example of what the future can look like.”
Maybe that’ll be easier than finding some green bling.