Bright Green Olympics

August 19, 2008 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

SAN FRANCISCO AND LONDON – As the Beijing Olympics swung into gear and captured the attention of the entire world, Bright Greenies in London and San Francisco demonstrated their own athleticism and environmental enthusiasm in the inaugural Bright Green Olympics. The competition between Bright Green Talent’s two sister offices took place remotely in city parks last week. The Greenies’ goal was to raise awareness about the environmental issues associated with China and the Olympics – both the progress made by China in preparing for the Games, and the work that’s still to be done when all the athletes and fans return home. Bright Green Talent is an environmentally-focused executive placement firm that helps connect talented people across the world with great green careers.

China has been on the minds of the Bright Green Team for several months now. Shocking statistics abound: China is now the world’s largest emitter of CO2, 70% of Chinese rivers are polluted, 16 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China, and so on. However, all the scrutiny has provided a platform for cleantech investment and the entrance of green business into Chinese markets. The three events of the Bright Green Olympics each focus on a single issue that Bright Green hopes will be addressed as China’s green economy grows stronger – the recycled can toss, symbolizing the natural resources required for all the manufacturing that occurs in China and the need to create quality, durable and reusable goods; the recycled paper shot-put, signifying the environmental costs of shipping and hauling goods across the world from China; and the bike race, to highlight the environmental impact of transportation demands among China’s rising middle class and the need to set stringent mileage standards in China and around the world.

San Francisco’s Bright Greenies collected in Dolores Park in the first round of the games. The San Francisco Superstars were the heavy favorite, as their squad included three former collegiate water polo players and a current Stanford soccer star. The team gathered with high hopes for a US victory, despite extreme San Francisco weather conditions (including blindingly bright sun reflecting off the green field of lush grass, high winds laced with the smell of California strawberries, and a small white puppy running through the pitch, interrupting the Greenies’ concentration). The London Lovelies also faced some significant barriers (even beyond the brute strength of their American opponents), including the sickness and absence of two of their star contenders, Oli Watts and Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, which left them with only two athletes. In a controversial move, London pulled on a wringer, Toby Sawday, a friend who just happened to be in the office at the time.

In the first event, the recycled can toss, Community Engagement Associate Carolyn Mansfield sank seven — yes, seven! — crushed soda cans into a recycling bin from a distance of 12 ft (4m). When the UK games took place a few days later, however, the Lovelies responded with a volley of their own: Managing Director Tom Savage landed 11 cans in an even smaller bin. Some officials have called into question the UK’s practice of having another competitor hand the cans to the thrower, as the US team worked hard and lost seconds off the clock in picking up their own cans to toss. Photographic evidence of the shady UK practices is still under review by the International Bright Green Olympics Committee.

In the recycled paper toss, competitors shot-put (shot-putted?) a 20-lb. bundle of soon-to-be recycled newspaper as far as possible. On the American side, Development Strategist Andrija Vasiljevic gathered himself after a humbling 1-can toss performance to rebound and shot-put the 6-inch high stack of recycled paper 27 feet 10 inches (~9.3m), just beyond All-Star Intern Evan Morgan’s powerful push of nearly 20 feet (6.2m). Asked where his super-human strength came from, Vasiljevic flashed a half smile and shyly replied, “I’m Serbian.” In the UK, Rookie Toby Sawday quickly took the wind out of Vasiljevic’s sails, as he stepped up to the plate and launched his stack a staggering 29 feet 6 inches.

The final event was a bicycle relay in which the teams competed to make the most laps around two recycle bins set 36 feet (~12m) apart in two minutes. Director of Talent Erica Gerard carried the team to new heights with her tight turns, while Managing Partner Nick Ellis pedaled his heart out and squeaked the bike’s turtle-shaped horn to fire up his team. With the final seconds winding down, Director of Development Melanie vonHartitzsch came screaming around the final bend for her third Tour de Triumph and the team’s 13th lap, legs pumping hard into the finish line with a smile blazing as she sailed into a row of high fives from her teammates. London put in a valiant effort, with Sustainability Expert Eva Bellamy putting in a personal best split time. Despite their shorter legs and affinity for eating cake, the British team pulled out an admirable 12 laps.

London was thrilled with their overall victory, and team captain Tom Savage dismissed the US team’s indignation at Mr. Sawday’s participation, commenting: “You yanks were never great losers.” The US, disappointed with the loss, did gain some consolation when their matching green outfits and smiling faces were featured the following day in the SF Examiner. They are already in training for the 2010 Winter Games, which will feature such events as the Gray Water Ice Luge and Figure Skating on recycled tinfoil skate-blades.

Photos of the Bright Green Olympics can be found here. For more information on the Bright Green Team and the green jobs they’re working to fill, visit


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