Christmas is coming early for operators of three businesses in Lawrence, as a producer and contract camera crew are set to shine at least a part of a national media spotlight on the city that an environmental advocate now calls home.
Simran Sethi, who heads up new media operations for TreeHugger.com, is lined up to be featured in a "green Christmas" segment for "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Sethi - who moved to Lawrence in August from New York City - plans to show the crew how people can help conserve natural resources in celebrating the holiday. She has three stops scheduled today:
¢ Chestnut Charlie's, an organic farm at the edge of North Lawrence. Sethi will cut down an organic Christmas tree, and perhaps snag some chestnuts. "We'll do it up right," she says.
¢ Community Mercantile Co-op, a natural-foods grocery at 901 Iowa. There she'll buy a variety of locally grown produce and other food products, to show that saving on fossil fuels and chemicals can taste good and even save money. "The average item on a North American plate traveled 1,500 miles from farm to fork," Sethi says. "Here in Kansas, we can get stuff locally. I go to The Merc, and I know where my food comes from."
¢ SuperTarget, 3201 Iowa. Going green doesn't have to mean avoiding mass merchants. "We'll get LED Christmas lights," she says. "They use 80 to 90 percent less energy than traditional lights ... so it's not just great for the planet, it's great for the utility bill."
The appearances - should they make the final cut for "Oprah" - also could be great for the businesses. The show reaches 10 million viewers.
"We couldn't ask for more," said David Smith, The Merc's marketing and membership manager.
The Lawrence visits will be condensed into a one- or two-minute segment for the "Oprah" show, tentatively set to be shown Tuesday. The featured guest will be former Vice President Al Gore, highlighted in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and the show's lineup includes features related to environmental issues.
Sethi knows the topic well. She is contributing author for an upcoming book, "Greening the New Economy," set for release in January, and is a regular on the Internet, TV and radio to discuss and dissect environmental issues and topics.
She's plenty comfortable in front of a camera. Last month she did an eight-minute segment for Martha Stewart's show, advising the domestic diva on how to make a home more environmentally friendly.
Sethi's take on Stewart and her show: "It's an amazing, organized, finely tuned machine."
Also: "The scones that were awaiting me when I got there were extraordinary."
Sethi recalls meeting Winfrey about five years ago, when Sethi was anchoring a TV show on Oxygen, a network that counts Winfrey as an owner. And Sethi is pleased that her former boss is sending someone to Lawrence.
"I really dig it here, and I'm really excited that they decided to come here instead of flying me to Chicago," Sethi said. "Next time we'll have to try to get her to come here."