Mt. Everest summiteer meets waste management—please explain. I climbed Everest twice, in 1994 and most recently in 2002 as part of a National Geographic expedition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first summit. On the 1994 climb, I witnessed firsthand how much garbage had been generated by climbers in that half century. I realized I could put energy into a bit more than my selfcentered pursuit and orchestrated the cleanup of more than 25,000 pounds of trash on the mountain over a sevenyear period through an organization I founded called the Sagarmatha Environmental Expedition (Sagarmatha is what the Nepalese call Everest and means “Forehead of the Sky”). Now the mountain looks clean. The awareness created by Sagarmatha helped ensure that it’s now standard practice to “pack in, pack out.” Sidwell Friends did an amazing job of creating awareness in me about the concept of “being of service,” and of instilling a sense that we all have a responsibility to make a change wherever we can. The world is more than the ego and the id. It’s just not that hard to roll up your sleeves and give back; even if it is only a small amount, it adds up and can make a difference.
How do you volunteer these days? I still am focused on climbing, and volunteer on a regular basis. I help guide wounded veterans on climbs for Paradox Sports, and I serve on the board for Nature Bridge and its Olympic Park Campus, an organization that connects kids to the environment through science curriculum. I lecture to classrooms on environmental issues and the need to get our kids outside and away from Gameboy and PlayStation. I really believe that if we don’t connect kids to the natural world, they are not going to care about it, and if that happens,
nobody is going to be around to protect it in the future.
Is there a way for nonprofits and for-profits to work together to amplify impact? I think markets can’t be ignored when addressing the question of sustainability. That belief informed my decision to get degrees in both environment and business administration. A good example is a startup company I’m working with now called Jadora which is preventing deforestation (the biggest worldwide cause of carbon emissions) through REDD+ stewardship programs in the Congo. (REDD stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.) Functioning as almost a nonprofit within Jadora is the Isangi Project, which helps local communities construct fish ponds that produce a sustainable source of protein to reduce demand for bushmeat, as well as grow cacao and coffee in degraded farmland to reduce the need for carbonemitting slash-and-burn practices. It’s a nice mix of community capacity building and making carbon markets stronger.
Willie Brent shares Brent Bishop’s love of “the wild” and of “using human ingenuity to combat human stupidity.” After 15 years living in China as a journalist and entrepreneur, Willie spent the last 10 years running a “clean technology” and renewable energy group at the international marketing agency IPG. He is currently living in Granada, Spain, for an “adult gap year”—taking a chance with wife Jocelyn to hang with their two sons, Theo and Elliot, “before they enter teenage wasteland.”
NICK COLIN ’00 Organization: Heal the Bay Location: Santa Monica, CA Mission: To use science, policy, education, and advocacy to restore Santa Monica Bay and Southern California watersheds to health and productivity. Role: Communications manager Why I love what I do: I can see tangible, measurable results from our work in healthier, cleaner Southern California waters. Favorite service project while at Sidwell Friends: Launching the afterschool enrichment program at Ruth K. Webb Elementary school. My impact: I’m proud that Heal the Bay fought and won the battle against single-use plastic bags in Los Angeles. Our successful local advocacy imbued the statewide bag ban bill with the clout and legitimacy it needed to pass the state senate in August. Now, California is the first with a statewide bag ban. Pretty cool!
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