From first impressions, Trammell S. Crow — with long grey ponytail, chiseled chin and a laidback air—looks and sounds every part the environmental powerbroker role he now is.

But he wasn’t always this way.

Crow, a 69-year-old “green” Republican, born and bred in Texas, was named after his father, the famed real estate developer who grew his firm into the largest developer in America.

After attending Yale, Trammel S. Crow joined the family business, which he helped run for more than four decades.

It wasn't until the mid-2000s, after he had retired, that the self-proclaimed "armchair environmentalist" had the perfect opportunity to get off his La-Z-Boy.

"Twelve years ago, two businessmen came in my office," Crow recalls. “'You're the only green businessman we can find,'" they said. "'Join our effort.'"

Shortly thereafter, Crow and the two "fellows," as he refers to them— representatives from The Container Store and Hotels.com—formed the Texan Business for Clean Air Political Action Committee. 

Their mission seemed nearly impossible: to oppose the fast-track approval being sought by TXU, a Texan electrical retailer, to build eleven new coal fired plants in East Texas.

"And that was pretty patently, obviously unnecessary," Crow says. 

Somehow, Crow and his partners achieved what was then a first for Texas: putting "clean" and "business" in the same sentence.

"We won that battle," he says, "and that taught me that if you can do this in the state of Texas, with leading business men and women joining our side, that really did motivate me."

Crow's new inspiration led to his founding one of the largest environmental gatherings in the United States: EarthX.

Since its inaugural event in 2011, the international environmental forum has brought together hundreds of thousands of attendees—educators, business leaders, students and global statesmen and women—to "explore sustainable solutions for today's most pressing challenges."

EarthX 2020, which will take place in Dallas, April 17-26, will feature Robert Redford and new partner National Geographic Society. There will be a cavalcade of offerings--including an Expo, Sustainability Conference and an ecological Film Festival--across various venues.

Speakers will include Nobel Prize Recipient Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, Governor Jay Inslee and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, among many others. 

Watch our conversation with Trammell S. Crow to see his thoughts on the history of EarthX and the state of the environmental movement today.

Published on Mar 11, 2020