Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #36:
YA Lit’s favorite ecogeek, Hank Green of
Brotherhood 2.0

h1 July 11th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

Since 2007 seems to be The Year of Brotherhood 2.0 — in the realm of the kidlitosphere — we thought we would take some time to chat with the one-half of the popular online video project who has nothing to do with children’s or YA lit but has worked his way into the hearts (aw!) of many YA readers (teens and adults alike), Mr. Hank Green. Hank is a champion Nerd Fighter and WorldSuck Decreaser (as his brother John is, whom — to be fair — we randomly interviewed in April, you may remember). Plus, he sings a lot. So, we thought, why not chat with him about his passion for environmental issues, Brotherhood 2.0, and his secret wish to be a rock star? Lucky for us, he was game.

Actually, lucky for all of us, because as our readers showed when we brought up the idea of interviewing Hank, the blogiverse definitely wants to know more. His alternately hilarious and thought-provoking posts on B2.0 have created quite a fan base, and we’re all curious about the Helen Hunt-ode-composing, sock-puppet-wielding, Wikipedia-entry-having, Strawberry Hill-drinking, black-eyeliner-wearing-in-his-misspent-youth half of the Brotherhood.

You’ll notice, though, we refrained from asking the “boxers or briefs” question. Maybe next time.

We are really thrilled that Hank agreed to chat with us. If you have ever visited his EcoGeek blog, which is linked at the Brotherhood site, you will see that he is really passionate about environmental issues, particularly as they relate to sustainable living and technology. So, we asked him a bit about that and, of course, about the success of Brotherhood 2.0. Thanks, Hank, for letting us bring you to our readers. (And thanks to our secret spy information source, who stepped forth from the shadows and went by the cryptic title “Dad 1.0,” for some great fun facts about Hank.)

7-Imp: For those Brotherhood 2.0 fans who haven’t yet checked out EcoGeek, tell us about it.

Hank: EcoGeek.org explores the relationship between technology in the environment. Supposing that we’ve gotten ourself into a bit of an environmental mess (climate change, mass extinctions, etc), we talk about solutions to those problems. From solar panels to radiation-eating mushrooms. It’s a wonderful way to spend time, it makes me happy and hopeful and generally excited.

7-Imp: When did you conceive EcoGeek? How long have you been at it? You write at the blog that it is “actually becoming, like, a full time job.” Without giving away details (so that you can avoid the uncomfortable situation of being stalked) and for those who don’t know, what is your job that pays? In other words, in which field do you work?

Hank: I first had the idea my last semester of graduate school and started it as a project called “building a magazine, in print or online.” After a lot of planning, I started EcoGeek a few months later (almost a year and a half ago now.)

My paying job is (was) web design and development. I made a lot of websites for non-profit organizations and campaigns. It was a good job, but nowhere near as good as blogging for a living (though it paid a lot better.)

7-Imp: We really admire your deep personal commitment to environmentally-conscious living. When and how did this become your passion?

Daniel QuinnHank: Well my dad (and John’s dad) was a State Director for The Nature Conservancy for the first part of our lives. He’s always been deeply committed to the environment, as has our mom. We were raised as enviros and apparently never found a reason to rebel against it. I kinda fell out of it for a while, and was stuck caring a lot more about myself personally, which I don’t think is entirely a bad thing, but then was brought back into it by my wife, Katherine, and some amazing ideas from people like Daniel Quinn {pictured} and Derrick Jensen. That was about midway through college. Since then, it’s seemed like the most important thing in the world to me
. . . which is probably fairly rational.

7-Imp: EcoGeek’s site lists “Blogs for EcoGeeks.” Can you recommend — for those in a hurry or those with limited daily blog-reading time — the top three best blogs/sites about environmentally-friendly living, sustainable living, etc. (particularly those that involve technology issues)?

Hank: My tops are TreeHugger.com, which , if anything, suffers from a glut of news. Inhabitat.com, which is aimed at more design-conscious people than me, but I still love. And . . . ARG! So many good ones! Lighterfootstep.com, WorldChanging.com, and GreenOptions.com . . . sorry.

7-Imp: What’s the single most important thing that you think all of us should do to Decrease WorldSuck?

Hank: Just one thing? Be aware. Consider your actions beyond how they effect you personally. It’s easy to feel like one autonomous being in a disconnected world. But the things we do have huge impacts on people, plants, animals and the world. Just recognizing that is a gigantic step.

7-Imp: A little birdy (who is not named John Green) told us about the time when you were in tenth grade and received an email from a BBC producer from “The Planets” series, who was looking all through the NASA site for a schematic of the Viking Lander and couldn’t find it. How long did it take you to find it, email it back to him, and be promised eternal credit on the planetary exploration hour of the Nine Planets?

Hank: Wow . . . you are very well informed. I believe the entire process of receiving the email, finding the schematic and emailing it to them took about 30 minutes. I don’t know why they had such a hard time finding it.

7-Imp: That same little birdy told us about the scientist who emailed the tenth-grade version of you looking for the atmospheric density of Mars at various altitudes in order to submit a proposal in response to a NASA RFP for a probe to enter the Martian atmosphere and penetrate the Martian soil. Dude, how did you get to be so popular with NASA in tenth grade?

Hank: That would be an artifact of the old internet. There was a time when it was really quite rare for someone to have an email address, much less a website. But I had both of those things. I ran a website that provided a lot of information about Mars and its exploration. A lot of people assumed that I was an expert on Mars and, really, I kinda started to be one. I had conversations with famous scientists, artists and science fiction authors. I never once mentioned my age and was never asked. It was a huge ego trip. And since all of those people assumed I knew so much, I made it a point to learn a great deal. That stupid little website had a humongous impact on my life. If you Google me, you can still find remnants of that period.

7-Imp: Tell us the dirty truth about your obsession to be the number one “Hank Green” on the Internet. Is Hank Thompson still your greatest enemy? (Oh yes, we have our sources) . . .

Hank Thompson, Hank Green's former nemesisHank: I think this is a pretty common goal these days. It’s a nice feeling to be the most important Hank Green according to Google. My brother John had a much harder time, as John Green is a much more common name than Hank Green. The good news is that we now hold the top spot for our names. I, in fact, now hold every entry in the top eight. So, no, I don’t worry about Hank Thompson anymore . . . I’ve destroyed him and his song “Green Light.” My nemesis now is Hank Armstrong, who owns Hank.com, a domain name that I would give several toes to own. But Hank Armstrong doesn’t want toes . . . he wants $130,000.

7-Imp: Are you surprised by the success of Brotherhood 2.0, and would you ever consider posting past the end of this year?

Hank: The internet never surprises me anymore. If you work hard on something, and really pull on your creative energy, and enjoy what you’re doing, people will be happy to enjoy it with you. However, I am consistently surprised by the awesomeness of the Nerd Fighters. I’m not surprised by people watching, I’m surprised by how happy people are to be a part of it, to participate with us. That’s the really wonderful thing about the project. I would love if the community continued to exist beyond the end of the year. But, no, we won’t keep posting.

7-Imp: Have you been recognized/stalked by any Brotherhood 2.0 fans? If so, do you find it a.) fun, b.) weird, or c.) disturbing to be recognized by total strangers?

Hank: Yes, once, though she wasn’t a total stranger because she’d met my parents before. But I didn’t know that when she came up to me, and it was very odd. There are also some people in Missoula who are, like, friends of friends, who watched the show consistently before I met them. And that is strange. It’s both fun and weird. If someone flew across the country just to see me . . . that would totally creep me out. But when it happens more or less organically, it’s definitely surreal, but not disturbing.

7-Imp: It was a beautiful thing to see the Brothers Green happy-dancing side-by-side on your recent family vacation to the Dominican Republic. How often do you and John get to see each other in person? Has Brotherhood 2.0 brought you closer, or changed the way you relate to each other in any way?

Hank: I miss John a lot, but it’s the bane of the modern world that families and friends are always scattered all over the world. It’s depressing, but I generally don’t know when I will next see John. I hope we’ll be able to hang out again before B20 is over. We had a blast making the joint video. We definitely talk more now, and have learned a lot about each other. I think it’s been a wonderful thing for our relationship. It seriously is a whole new kind of brotherhood.

7-Imp: What do you like to read, and who are your favorite authors? (And by the way, we happen to think there is NOTHING AT ALL WRONG with adults reading books for children or teens.)

Terry PratchettHank: By Genre:

7-Imp: Your songwriting skills are impressive. Did you ever harbor a desire to be a singer-songwriter?

Hank: I always thought that everyone wanted to be a rock star. If this is not true, then I don’t understand. Yes, I want to be a rock star, Brotherhood 2.0 has allowed me to explore that a bit and it’s been wonderful.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/ipod lately?

They Might be GiantsHank: Beck and They Might Be Giants {pictured} have been on heavy rotation in my tape player / stereo / iPod since I was a pre-teen. I also love Of Montreal and early-mid range punk from The Clash to Rancid. I’m not as into the more recent poppy stuff, but I can’t say I’m don’t occasionally go emo, because I do love Bright Eyes.

7-Imp: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you — even John?

Hank: I’m pretty open, but I guess my rock-star fantasies aren’t generally out there for people to see. I kinda want to be President of the United States
. . . I don’t tell that to people very often :-). But most stuff I keep secret, I keep secret for a good reason.

7-Imp: We like to conclude our interviews by posing to people the weird and wonderful set of questions called The Pivot Questionnaire (most well-known by its use on “The Actors Studio”), since who knew that asking someone, say, what their favorite sound or noise is could tell you so much about them. So here goes:

What is your favorite word?

Hank: I was just remarking today what a great word “Bobber” is.

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Hank: I hate the word “ominous” . . . Though I like it when it isn’t used to describe clouds . . . that just hardly ever happens.

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Hank: Would it be too broad to say “good ideas”? I do love good ideas. Oddly . . . boredom as well.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Hank: Heat.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Hank: A lot of curse words are just bad words for good things, so on principle I don’t like that they even exist. Like they’re words for body parts, or functions, or animals, stuff that we should appreciate and not be ashamed of. I like curses that are actually bad things. I say “Poop on a stick!” a lot. It’s hard to imagine a situation where poop on a stick can be good.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Hank: Rivers. Footsteps.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Hank: Loud Motorcycles.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Hank: Rock Star.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Hank: Selling something I don’t believe in.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Hank: I would like him to make a funny joke. Possibly, “See…I DO Exist!”

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13 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #36:
YA Lit’s favorite ecogeek, Hank Green of
Brotherhood 2.0”

  1. Thanks for the Hank Green interview! I was wondering if Hank had considered Mars as a possible site for the Evil Baby Orphanage. I think there’s a lot untapped potential for Mars to be the host planet.


  2. As much as I laughed my head off at his sock puppet re-enactment of his embarrassing moments, as much as I was charmed by and will never get the Helen Hunt song out of my head, my favorite clip of Hank is him “dum de dum de dum de readn’ a book.”

    jules, eisha: great job digging deep with this one.

    And, Hank: Nice answer to the curse word question. Your mom would be proud. But now, I’m afraid, I need a song about “Poop on a Stick.”


  3. Wow great interview, j&e! I wonder if the “poop on a stick” song could be sung to the tune of “D*** in a box?”

    -Hank’s brother


  4. Okay, so where the heck did you get that photo of Hank? Another great interview, and interesting info that sheds more like on his brother John as well. I wonder if that’s the future of the interview as we know it, interviewing siblings for different perspectives.

    *shudder* I don’t know about that. Forget I mentioned it.


  5. Fantastic interview, guys! Good questions, interesting answers, and bonus photos. It’s like a little Christmas in July, you know, interview-wise.

    Now I am more convinced than ever that the Green brothers should make it to the Kidlitosphere Conference in October. How can we make that happen? I’ve got lots of books I could give away and a Target gift card, but I don’t think that’s the answer somehow. Maybe a blogwide promotion of the Foundation to Decrease World Suck?


  6. Okay, John, I just spewed forth my coffee in the manner of a spit take laugh, thanks to your comment. Because, you see, that song you mentioned made me laugh so hard that, after the first time I saw it on SNL, I must have watched it 20 times in a row on YouTube (before they took it down, that is).

    Of course, if you replace the title words with “poop on a stick,” we’re looking at it becoming a ballad for some lucky girl:

    “Hey girl I got somethin’ real important to give you
    So just sit down and listen
    Girl you know we’ve been together such a long long time (such a long time)
    And now I’m ready to lay it on the line
    (Wooow) You know it’s Christmas and my heart is open wide
    Gonna give you something so you know what’s on my mind
    A gift real special, so take off the top
    Take a look inside — it’s poop on a stick.”

    Yeah, we keep things real professional around here at 7-Imp.


  7. All that stuff about Hank as a 10th-grade Mars expert is fantastic! Who among us knows someone like that? Thanks for all the cool inside information, J & E. Such a fun time reading.

    And MotherReader, as you requested, I actually sent John Green an e-mail asking him to come to the Kidlitosphere Conference, and he actually wrote me back. He thanked me for the invitation, but said he’d be busy working on edits for his new book. I say he can do that any old time, but I don’t quite have the pull of JULES and EISHA, who obviously know the brothers Green quite well by now.

    So maybe J & E, who are coming to that conference themselves, could extend another invitation to their new best friends???


  8. Jules and Eisha, You guys keep outdoing yourselves with these interviews — bravo!

    Jules, I also almost choked on my coffee. Then, you know, I started humming along, seeing if “Poop on a Stick” would really work.


  9. I can’t believe you actually know all the words to “Dick in a Box,” J. But then, I know almost all the words to “Lazy Sunday.”

    Thanks for the love, guys. We had a good time coming up with questions for this one.


  10. Eisha, don’t be dodging my suggestion that you ask Hank and John to the conference. I need to see some commitment from you and/or Jules here on the blog in front of all these witnesses, please.

    Hey, Mother Reader brought it up.


  11. OfcoursewewantthemtogotoChicago!

    Here’s us officially pleading: PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZ . . .

    but, really, our pull isn’t as strong as it might seem.

    Maybe if Dad 1.0 is still reading, he can tell them to go . . . or else.

    {Uh, well, it was worth a shot} . . .

    Thanks again to Hank (and everyone else for reading our interview). Hank reminds me of the environmentalist I used to be and want to be again. And it just so happens I’m about to start a Bill McKibben book. Hey, that’s a start.

    Oh, and I re-discovered (fairly recently) a hand-written letter I have from Daniel Quinn. Really . . . I used to be a real environmentalist (I did more than just recycle), and now I feel like I need to get back on that wagon. As corny as it might sound, thanks, Hank, for the inspiration.


  12. You’ve done it again, ladies – and gentleman Hank! Brotherhood 2.0 is such fun. In fact, after discussing it yesterday at work, a co-worker and I have decided to say “Missoula, Montana” in answer to certain questions. ‘Tis fun.


  13. […] 7-Imp has just interviewed the impossibly adorable Hank Green.  I’m so glad this ran.  I missed the happy […]


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