Winner Category 3: Daphne Dixon
Quiet Queen of Green...Daphne Dixon’s ongoing brigade
Sometimes big events have a big impact on someone little. In 1977, Daphne Dixon was a young girl in Sacramento, California—a part of the country that was experiencing its worst drought in decades. “I remember ordering a glass of water at a local restaurant—no one brought water to your table then—and my dad told me not to waste it,” explains Dixon. While she couldn’t quite articulate it then, it had a profound impact on her—this idea that the world’s resources were limited, and that they needed to be preserved and treated with great care, as it was also the time of the US oil embargo.
Dixon, growing up in California and as a student at UCLA studying English and American studies, was “green” even before people put a name to the practices we treasure today. “I would always ride my bike everywhere,” says Dixon. “I also put all my groceries or anything I bought in my backpack—just because it was easier and seemed to be the right thing to do.” These small things—coming so naturally for Daphne at a young age—are the building blocks that made her into a force to be reckoned in the sustainable living realm.
Moving to Connecticut 15 years ago, Daphne decided to follow a path that was important in her family—gardening. In 2007, she completed the Master Gardener Program at the Bartlett Arboretum. It was through this program that a fire inside her really began to grow. The study of the soil was a major component of the program. “Everything starts with the soil,” says Dixon. “What we throw into our gardens doesn’t just end up in our backyards, but ultimately becomes part of our collective ecosystem.”
Her dream of educating people in communities around the country and bringing them together to share initiatives and solutions for protecting natural resources and environmental challenges was taking root. Right away, she founded Conscious Decisions, a socially responsible business, to carry out that mission. An event planner, organizer, and promoter since her days in high school, she created her first sustainability event, The Green Faire held in 2008 at the Bartlett Arboretum.
With a diverse professional background including public relations, promotion, and marketing, Dixon is uniquely qualified to find the right platform to share the messages of the movement. Since her days at Bartlett, she has organized over 200 gatherings, including Fairfield, Bridgeport, and Stamford Green Drinks networking events. In 2013, she held two municipal conferences, one at Yale University and one at Fairfield University. “These conferences brought together municipal leaders, community leaders, and businesses from over 40 communities to share case studies of existing projects that have good economic payback and also provide environmental protection,” explains Dixon. The mix of events, networking and online resources was the driving force of Dixon being selected as an inaugural client of the Fairfield University Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise.
“Every day is filled with miracles,” Dixon says, showcasing her ever positive and non-judgmental outlook. Dixon’s Live Green CT! is her current raison d’être. In 2010 Dixon and Scot Weicker co-founded the Live Green CT! Family Festival. “I was inspired by the terrific California state fairs that I grew up attending with my family,” says Dixon. This year, with a team of trusted advisors, David Gillaugh, Patrice Gillespie, Carl Russo, Matt Turek, and Matthew Zeccola, the non-profit organization is expanding its scope and mission. Live Green CT! recently launched a new website livegreenct.org, and continues to galvanize municipal leaders, community leaders, and businesses into providing case studies, resources, and metrics to share with others.
One point Dixon never tires of making is that her goal for Live Green CT! is that projects be driven by economics. “We want to continue to promote case studies that provide not only an economic benefit to a community but also an environmentally positive impact.” This thinking has the attention of first selectmen, community leaders, and businesses throughout Connecticut. What’s on Daphne’s agenda for tomorrow? Live Green’s long-term plans are to create events in strategic cities across the country. “Connecticut is just the beginning.”