Ben Goldman sat down with Green.org to share his background and how it led him to using nature to help business executives get “unstuck”.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I was coauthor and principal investigator of the first national study to document the concepts of “environmental justice” and “environmental racism.” My work also led to a Supreme Court precedent involving access to congressional finance data that was overturned by Citizens United v. FEC. Other work helped stop the expansion of nuclear power in Canada and brought attention to problems of low-level radiation and toxic wastes and the promise of green jobs throughout the United States. And all that took place when I was just in my twenties.
Forty years later, after founding and directing numerous organizations, advising the federal government, authoring many books, patenting an invention, and exhibiting my artwork internationally, my latest venture is Nature Breakthroughs, LLC, where I take executives, entrepreneurs and creative people into the woods to get unstuck, on purpose. Who’s Who lists me as an author, artist and statistician and my doctorate from NYU is in public administration. All told, I’m an expert of change: societal, organizational, and personal.
What would you do with $1 Billion dollars?
I would create entities to donate $50 million per year and strategically invest the rest in a variety of initiatives aimed at tilting public policy in the United States towards greener, more equitable, and saner outcomes for the world. The goal would be to leverage the $1 billion into $100 billion of progressive impacts to help people and our planet flourish over decades to come. My focus would be on developing grassroot and startup ventures with potential to scale, a mix of political and technological innovation aimed at ensuring the rights of everyone to live healthful and satistifying lives, while curbing the many excesses of our current system.
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
As one of the pioneers in the field, having served on the President’s Council on Sustainable Development and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, as well as authoring numerous major studies and directing multiple related organizations, it has been very gratifying (while also exhausting) to see how this topic has moved from the “fringe” to the center of governmental and corporate action. The salience and importance of sustainability today is the result of decades of hard work and sacrifice by innumerable activists, organizations, and campaigns, as well as myriad crises that have focused the attention of many throughout the world–especially young people–on the urgency of redirecting our economy to support the health of our ecosystem in order for humans to survive and prosper in the future. I’m particularly thankful that many people now understand that such prosperity must be distributed throughout society, especially to humans and nonhumans who are most threatened by harmful behaviors in order to increase the odds of stability and success.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Since I work across many “industries”, it’s very hard to predict. I hope the investments in climate and infrastructure we see today, and even more in the future, will reduce the carbon footprint, toxicity, militarization and inequality of our economy.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Vote for candidates that support environmental justice and protections. Be mindful as consumers to purchase organic products with minimal packaging. Switch to renewable sources for all of your energy uses. Minimize unnecessary travel. Support others doing good work. Educate your children on being civic-minded and generous human beings. Stop spreading hatred and polarity. Develop healthful and mindful daily routines and practices. Speak up and protest when you see injustice.
Ben, thank you for sharing how you use nature to help business executives get unstuck.
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.