Garry Gilliam knows a thing or two about jump-starting comebacks.

As an offensive tackle with the Seattle Seahawks, Gilliam’s unexpected touchdown reception on a fake punt in the 2015 NFC Championship game vs. the Green Bay Packers with his team trailing 16-0 in the third quarter helped turn things around. Ultimately, the Seahawks won in overtime, earning a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.

As founder of The Bridge Eco-Village, Gilliam is leading a comeback in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania by acquiring old properties like schools, malls, and warehouses, turning them into a sustainable, affordable and self-contained mixed-use development.

Now, as the newest member of the EcoAthletes Supporters team, Gilliam is going to lend his passion, expertise and platform to the burgeoning #climatecomeback.

Gary Gilliam on Media Day for The Bridge Eco-Village (Photo credit: Doug Legore Media)

“No matter who it is, we always need more voices to join the fight against climate change and athletes are no exception,” asserted Gilliam. “When I talk about The Bridge’s mission with guys in the NFL, they’re really excited and understand our mission, but I love that EcoAthletes will help them understand where I’m coming from, the science behind our project, and what they can do to get involved and take it into their own hands.”

The former Penn State tight end’s youthful interest in space sparked his interest in the environment.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut, not a football player,” Gilliam recalled. “I always saw Earth from a global perspective and saw the interconnectedness of us here on earth. We only have one and it’s the only rock in the universe that has life on it. As I got older, that perspective evolved, and I realized that we had to protect our only home. The technology is there and it’s only getting better; we just need to make the choice to use it.” 

Garry Gilliam during his career with the Seattle Seahawks (Photo credit: AP)

A shift to a plant-based diet added some healthy, lower-carbon fuel to Gilliam’s growing passion for a more sustainable future.

“Going to a plant-based lifestyle was just the start — I then learned about sustainable farming and also about aeroponic (growing plants with soil but very little water) and hydroponic (the opposite of aeroponic) plant growth,” Gilliam said. “Later on, The Bridge designed a local grow-and-pick aeroponic grocery store to limit the risk of decay from transport and unripe produce being picked before it reached its full nutritional value. We now call this Gaia Gardens, the ‘Grow’ element of The Bridge. By providing fresh-grown food on-site, ‘Grow’ is integral in the success of The Bridge’s goals to provide local communities with equitable access to work, live, eat, learn, and play more sustainably.”

Gilliam believes that, by becoming a Supporter, he can help create a virtuous loop between EcoAthletes and The Bridge.

“I want to see more projects like The Bridge and athletes have the means to make them happen,” offered Gilliam. “I’d love to use the support of EcoAthletes to recruit more athletes to get excited about projects related to the environment and climate change in particular. In return, I am excited to help elevate the other athletes that are already doing great work.” 

Garry Gilliam can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @Garry_Gilliam. You can reach The Bridge Eco-Village on Instagram and Twitter at @TheBridgeHBG