Interview with Sustainable Ideas Network’s Morris Bocian
Ever since the first “Earth Day” in 1970, greater attention has been given to a movement to create a safer, cleaner planet. The Day helped bring recognition to the state of the planet and the need to protect and preserve the health of the people and the environment. From eating healthy to avoiding household chemicals that may be unhealthy for humans and the environment, we’re all aware of the strong trend towards being responsible members of society and taking care of the land, air, water, and food that is available to us.
According to North Carolina State University, “The concept of sustainability centers on a balance of society, economy and environment for current and future health.” When it comes to sustainability, every living creature is a stakeholder – making this an important topic and something that everyone should be a part of improving on a day-to-day basis. Many of these issues are hot topics in the news, especially when it comes to the government’s involvement in them. Whether government bodies are promoting sustainability or neglecting it for political gains is your decision to make, but there are plenty of resources, organizations, and inspiring people that are dedicated to making the planet better for the future.
Entrepreneur Morris Bocian created the Sustainable Ideas Network after conducting significant research for teaching the subject of sustainability to graduate students. Morris is passionate about many sectors and industries within the subject including issues involving food, water, government policies, education, and other related areas. Through his consulting practice, investments and entrepreneurial endeavors, he advises small and mid-sized green businesses how to commercialize environmentally friendly solutions in areas such as energy, energy efficiency, and turning costs into profit. One example of this strategy is the commercialization of waste to energy. Morris has authored a book about “Renewable Energy” and “Creating a Green Home.” He serves on the New York State Task Force on Sustainable Education and is sharing an important message with the world.
I interviewed Morris Bocian about the Sustainable Ideas Network, how he became interested in the topic, why there is a trend towards becoming sustainable, and how people can contribute and get involved.
General Business Information
Founders: Morris Bocian
Business Name: Sustainable Ideas Network
Date Founded: May 2013
General Business Description: The Sustainable Ideas Network is focused on developing a community of caring people, spreading information about sustainability issues.
Michael Luchies: Have you always been interested in sustainability?
Morris Bocian: Not at all! In 2010 I taught entrepreneurship classes at both NYU and Baruch College(City University of New York). The Chair of the department asked me to teach a required class in sustainability to the Baruch College graduate students. By that time my business, which had a concentration in real estate and technology was being repositioned for growth – towards sustainability – consulting with companies that have economically justifiable sustainable products.
Let’s just say preparation for and teaching the sustainability class was life changing for me. Many of the students in the class felt it was life changing for them. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs drive societal changes. These are disruptive changes that many larger organizations reject to protect their turf at all costs!
ML: Why did you create, and what are you goals with the Sustainable Ideas Network?
MB: The site was created to get the word out, get people involved – proactive – getting us more educated – so we can change society – for ourselves and future generations.
The goal is to become a source of credible information for people who are interested in sustainability, our planet, our future, us, our children, grandchildren etc. Unfortunately, too many people feel powerless. People do not understand that we write our own future by our actions and inactions. Our failure to change may cause catastrophic implications within our lives and our children’s lives. Wars will be fought, lives lost as resources become scarcer.
The trailblazers (the explorers or pioneers) and entrepreneurs that made it into the history books understood – it’s about allocation of resources. If we do not allocate resources we cannot achieve our goals and objectives. My goal is to create a platform so that we can start and have serious dialogues about our future, come up with some solutions, get the word out and create societal change.
Sustainability means different things to different people, for me, it is less about corporate social responsibly than it is about:
- Toxins in our products
- Human Influence on Climate Change
- Government Policies
ML: Who was the Sustainable Ideas Network created for?
MB: My hope is that the Network will start with college students (18 -35) both on the undergraduate and graduate level. That is the generation that knows, understands how to use social media, and is in the best position to effectuate change. College students tend to be early adaptors of technologies. Hopefully, through the efforts of the Network’s participants, we build a community that is relevant and its relevancy spreads to students in high school, their parents, grandparents etc. Hopefully people who used the Network and graduated college will continue to use this network as will community leaders and others.
ML: Through my work with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, I have noticed a growing trend within the Millennial Generation to create socially responsible businesses and nonprofits that are focused on sustainability. Why do you think this new concentration on sustainability has sparked, and what do you see this trend leading to?
MB: That’s a great question. I think that as we mature, as we question and continue to drill down, we do not like the answers we are getting, or the direction we are heading. I think this is the perfect age to do things differently and more idealistically. It is before that generation has too many battle scares so they do not know what can’t be done – and it’s usually that generation that proves it can be done. When baby boomers were 18- 25, they protested and helped stop the war in Vietnam. When Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Larry Page tried to change the world, they were in college, college aged or had recently left college. In a knowledge based economy this is “prime time.” In college/university the focus and culture should be about learning. Whereas, older people (40+) are further away from that learning culture – further away from new and emerging technologies. When you are young, everything seems possible – and most of us want to leave our mark to show we existed. Social entrepreneurship or working for a not for profit is a good way to go if you are looking for job satisfaction. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to get paid for enjoying what they love doing – such as helping people or society.
ML: There are many people incorporating healthy habits for themselves and for the environment in their daily routines, but how much of a difference can one person make? What percentage of the population would need to start working towards to sustainability to make a significant difference?
MB: Every revolution stated with 1 person! Every major movement started with 1 person that had a vision, sense of purpose, perseverance, and could communicate effectively. I remember a story about a student who was 12 and was working on a class project about illegal human trafficking. The number of people that are, in essence, indentured servants are staggering. He created a message, a voice and tried to make a difference. Several years later, that boy had already spoken to Presidents, Prime Ministers and Kings of Counties in his effort to make a difference. One person can change the world. We all have a voice – let’s make ours count! And there are countless stories like this.
ML: What are several trends that must change for us to create and maintain sustainability?
MB: Fortunately, little things can make big differences and there is a compounding effect. As individuals, we need to become more involved, less accepting. We should be demanding greater accountability and not say – “it’s close enough for government related work.” We need to demand accountability from government and industry. If you do not like a company’s policy, make your voice heard, whether it is with your wallet or by getting people to send letters to the company’s CEO. Companies will get the message loud and clear when sales decrease. Granted it will require sacrifices and/or behavior modification on our part, but if we aren’t prepared to make a commitment to changing our future, we are writing a future of more of the same. We need to look within ourselves, understand how each of us can change for the better, consume less, and live healthier lifestyles and how we can lead our family, by example, starting with perpetually trying to improve ourselves and by having values and principals people look up to.
ML: How can people be an active part of this movement?
MB: Visit SustainableIdeasNetwork.com and click on the tab “get proactive.” We would like to hear what people are doing in their neighborhood, region, through their schools, clubs etc. so others can emulate it. I am not a believer in re-inventing the wheel – I want to hear you, what is working, what isn’t working (let’s share our information – shorten the learning curve). There will be a section for reducing greenhouse gases – such as plant a tree – Some of those options might include planting trees that provide income or sustenance to people in need outside of the United States. Let’s create a sustainable planet!