We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Turner Seydel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in Macon, raised in Atlanta, and attended college at Oglethorpe University. I would say that my father, Ted Turner, who is the real-life Captain Planet, had the biggest influence on me. Dad has spent his adult life trying to protect our life support system – our air, water, soil, climate, and biodiversity. In the 1980s, he started sounding the alarm about the top existential threats: loss of biodiversity, climate change, and the threat of nuclear weapons. He funded and aired programs that focused on the environment, from “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” and “National Geographic Explorer” to many edutaining documentaries, to an award-winning cartoon that featured the first and only Eco Superhero, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers.”
Through watching Turner Broadcasting programming and the top news stories on CNN to witnessing my dad’s outspoken advocacy and unparalleled philanthropy, my family and I (as well as millions of others) learned how to be stewards; we learned the importance of restoring and protecting the natural systems that support our lives — the oceans, land, wildlife, and more — for our children and future generations. Dad says we must save everything, and he even created a bumper sticker promoting that idea. I realized I could make a difference and find joy and purpose by taking action. That’s why I have invested my time, energy, and resources into identifying problems and working to solve them. I have been driven to do everything I can to help create a healthy and sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others? You are currently serving as Chair of the Captain Planet Foundation – tell us about the Foundation.
The “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” cartoon series ran for a decade in the 1990s in over 100 countries in 23 languages and reached millions of children. And for the first time on TV, youth around the world could see diverse lead characters from five different continents; characters they could identify with.
As a result, we have millions of Planeteers around the world who are career professionals in every sector. They are passionate about making this world a better place. Everywhere I travel, millennials tell me how much influence the TV series had on their life – from their career paths, to consumer and lifestyle choices, to how they vote.
Along with the impact of the cartoon, the work of Captain Planet Foundation has been providing grants and hands-on environmental programs for three decades – impacting more than 10 million youth. One of my favorite programs is Project Learning Garden where children K-8 can learn all subjects (including math, science, history, health, and nutrition) within the context of an edible garden. Kids love to plant in a garden, harvest the food, prepare it, and eat the fruits and vegetables they grow. Here in Atlanta, the foundation’s home base, there are now more than 300 learning gardens. To learn how your school can apply for a Learning Garden, visit captainplanetfoundation.org
What can individuals or businesses do to help with the environment?
One of the most important things we can do in this new year is to scale solutions that have many wins. I serve on the board for Project Drawdown, an organization whose mission is to help the world reach “drawdown,” which is the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to decline, thereby preventing more devastating impacts: excessive heat, drought, wildfires, more frequent and severe storms. This project is based on the 2017 New York Times bestseller
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The peer-reviewed data and projected effectiveness of 100 solutions are already proven and need to be scaled as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible. A few of my favorite solutions are: #3 Reduce Food Waste, #4 Eating a Plant-Rich Diet, #6 Educating Girls, #7 Family Planning, #8 Solar Farms, and #10 Rooftop Solar.
I am thrilled that my fellow Georgians can get involved in the movement to scale these solutions right here in our state. By doing these things that are smart, proven, and innovative, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the economy at the same time. Please visit Drawdown Georgia https://www.drawdownga.org/ for more information.
For years I have tried to grow the concept of Zero Waste Zones, whether it’s at home, school, house of worship, or business. I encourage everyone to be a great steward and model citizen by conserving and reducing energy and water usage; reducing food waste; and refusing one-use, disposable plastic items like straws, bottles, service ware, and bags (and don’t forget to take reusable bags with you).
Also, we need to get our children outside more often and away from screens because exposure to nature has so many health benefits cognitively, physically, and mentally. Check out the Children & Nature Network library
(research.childrenandnature.org) for more than 1,200 peer-reviewed medical studies and research.
Lastly, get involved in politics. Who you vote for at the national, state, and local levels really matters when it comes to the health and future of our children who depend on clean water, clean air, and healthy food. Visit Georgia Conservation Voters for more details about upcoming issues for the next session of the Georgia Legislature. I like to remind myself of a Native American proverb: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, my favorite thing is to be out in nature. I would schedule time to hike along the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, visit Piedmont Park, or take a bike or walk along the Beltline – and a day trip to the North Georgia mountains to see the turning of the autumn leaves.
I’d go to Dekalb Farmers Market or one of the many markets around town on the weekend for fresh-from-the-farm everything. I love conversing with the growers and vendors.
For brunch, my favorite spot is Buttermilk Kitchen on Roswell Road. They serve the yummiest food, all locally sourced and made from scratch.
For High Tea, the Ginger Room in Alpharetta.
For the best bison burger, onion rings, and margaritas in town, Ted’s Montana Grill, of course!
And for a special evening, I would recommend having dinner at Atlas at the St. Regis followed by a nightcap next door at The Garden Room.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shoutout to all the people who have helped support the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper since our founding in 1994. We have had strong support from community volunteers, staff, and generous contributors over the years to make it such a success story. In 1995, the Riverkeeper and downstream plaintiffs sued the city of Atlanta for egregious water pollution from outdated sewage treatment plants and broken pipes, which were serious infractions to the Clean Water Act. The Riverkeeper won the case and as a result, Atlanta’s antiquated sewer system was upgraded, retrofitted, expanded, and thousands of pipes were replaced or repaired. I’m proud to say that after 27 years of defending, protecting, and restoring the Chattahoochee and its tributaries, our waters are more drinkable, fishable, and swimmable! But we still need to be vigilant and seek help from volunteers to participate in cleanups. Since Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s inception, its volunteers and staff have removed more than 2.3 million pounds of plastic bags, bottles, cans, Styrofoam cups, tires, carts, and other debris, including a car that ended up in the middle of the waterway! Everyone can make a difference. Join us for our bimonthly cleanups and paddle trips offered throughout the year. Reconnect with your river, our community’s lifeblood. Go to chattahoochee.org for more information.
Laura Turner Seydel – photo credit: Ben Rollins
Laura with students at Sagamore Hills Elementary School in DeKalb County – photo credit: Donna Permell
Laura with volunteers for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s annual Sweep the Hooch event – photo credit: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper