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All−out search for local heroes

Earlier this year, Park Slope resident Michelle Vey, a hair stylist in downtown Brooklyn and recent film director, embarked on a quest to find heroic people. Her heart had been stirred by a growing concern for environmental issues, but her work as a stylist provided her no foundation to explore these feelings. This conflict inspired her to go out and search for people who were making a difference in the community and the world at large.

Vey’s search for local heroes led her to an array of spirited entrepreneurs, ones who were not only dedicated to running sound, profitable businesses, but also passionate about how their day−to−day operations impact the environment.

Their stories are documented in her new film, “From Elegance to Earthworms,” which was screened at Tribeca Cinemas as a benefit for the Brooklyn−based grassroots nonprofit organization Sustainable Flatbush.

According to Vey, approximately 120 people attended the three screenings that were held this spring in Soho.

One especially green−to−the−core Brooklyn business featured in the film was Blue Marble Ice Cream, located at 420 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill and 186 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights.

Founded in 2007 by owners Jennifer Dundas and Alexis S. Miesen, Blue Marble provides customers with a total eco−experience. Their ice cream is fully organic, the food is served in vegetable−based biodegradable containers, the bright walls are colored by non−toxic paints, and the interior and furnishings are made with reclaimed wood and recycled glass.

“If you look at the earth from space it looks like this big, beautiful blue marble, and we love that imagery,” said co−owner Miesen in the film. “It’s significant for us because with each bite or lick of your ice cream, you are actually tasting a piece of the earth. There are no artificial colorings or flavors, it’s really all natural.”

Yet Dundas and Miesen’s respect for our big, blue marble is not limited to how they serve ice cream in Brooklyn. The owners, for instance, have also created Blue Marble Dreams, a nonprofit organization designed to help bring their pragmatic approach to sustainable business to Huye, Rwanda, where ice cream production will be used as a means of promoting responsible economic growth.

A few blocks away from Blue Marble’s Boerum Hill store is Camilla Boutiques, another comprehensively eco−oriented business featured in Vey’s film. Located at 355 Atlantic Avenue, the store was established in 2007 by Camilla Ares, who was inspired to join her love for fashion with her concern for the environment.

In the film, Ares emphasized her mission was to create a place where eco−conscious shoppers can purchase high−quality clothing for men, women, and children, that is made using sustainable practices and organically produced material.

Vey’s film also covered a Queens−based company, Mean Green Trucking and Moving, that often stops at restaurants near Camilla Boutique to collect used cooking oil which it converts to fuel that powers its fleet of green trucks. In a particularly interesting segment, an employee of the company demonstrated how the oil was passed through a giant sieve, a 10−micron filtration device, and onto a frying pan where it is tested for the presence of water which can make the oil unusable.

Nicole DiMiceli, a Brooklyn Heights resident and business developer for Deep Green Living, a Soho−based consultancy, said that the film really captures the passion with which many green−minded entrepreneurs run their business.

She added that the film, and her own experiences, shows the practice of running a successful eco−business stimulates creativity – a creativity that attaches to the glowing feeling that comes from making a difference in the world.

After a thoughtful pause, DiMiceli remarked, “People I see in green business seem to really enjoy what they are doing.”

For more information on the film, go to www.michelleveyproductions.com⁄michelle⁄home.html, where you can also find links to segments on YouTube.

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