I listen to the Rich Roll Podcast.
Rich is a good man. Some of the connections I’ve had with him and his wife Julie are forever meaningful. As I’ve said over and over here, it’s because of Rich (and Cowspiracy) that my wife and I went plantarian (vegan comes with too much baggage) and haven’t looked back. Rich and Julie’s book The Plant Power Way sits on our kitchen counter, it has since it arrived last April. Most of what Renee makes comes from the book. We’ve turned a lot of people onto the book, we’ll continue to do so.
Lately I’ve been highly critical of Rich’s podcasts. On balance I feel his message only appeals to those at the front of pack. I think Rich glosses over the burning problem to solve with the vegan lifestyle — bringing it to the masses, particularly low income folks.
So I don’t listen each week. Instead, I scan the show notes. If I see something that interests me or I’m curious about, I’ll queue it for a listen.
In podcast #203, the headline “saving the plant, rethinking education, agriculture, health and the american diet” caught my eye. Then I scanned the show notes, checked out the link to Solar Sun Flowers — a new design for solar panels. We have solar on our home and office building, we were early adopters of SunPower. All these topics are near and dear to me, so I gave it a spin.
After listening to the podcast, I did some research. Then I got fired up. I felt like Rich didn’t ask any tough questions or challenge his guest Suzy Amis Cameron in any way. I felt that the podcast was misleading and inaccurate.
After doing so, I sent it to Renee. Note to self: Always send stuff to Renee before clicking Send. Renee pointed out calling Rich a “sycophant” was poor form. I agreed. After talking about what I wrote, I felt I could have done a much better job of presenting solutions. It’s fine to be critical, but trolling is bad karma. While I wouldn’t call this trolling, let’s just say it wasn’t my best foot forward.
Skip to Saturday night. I was up late reading the NYT, came across this piece:
This piece said what I wanted to say. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, but I wrote another email to Rich and sent it to the MUSE School general email.
I’m probably in their spam folder now, oh well. And like I say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Rats. But I wanted to get it right. Here’s what I wrote, updated to fix a couple of typos:
When I listened to the podcast all I heard was segregation. All I heard, was a model that would ultimately siphon away resources and attention from what I feel is the problem that we should all embrace — fixing our public schools.
I know you respect the New York Times. See this piece in today’s NYT:
This piece summarizes what I wanted to say, but didn’t.
As a backgrounder, my wife is active in our son’s school here in Eagle. She volunteers 2 full days a week at Brush Creek Elementary, she has since our son was in kindergarten. Our son is Autistic, he has an IEP (individualized education program). We’re deeply connected to public education. Bill Gates visited an Eagle County School last year. Our Superintendent Jason Glass is a super hero, as far as I’m concerned.
The piece points out that charter schools best serve business, not children. It lays bare that instead of charter or private schools, we should be going into the poorest and most economically depressed areas of our country and building “network of “community schools” — “sunrise-to-sunset schools that offer health care and social services, located in the city’s most troubled neighborhoods”. I said the same thing.
What I tried to say was that Suzy and so many in your network have the resources to bring tremendous and positive change to our country. But instead, your focus is a private school that few can attend. I feel this is the wrong approach.
Yes, I was angry about Suzy’s choice to build MUSE and your support of this model. Not because I harbor resentment against the affluent and highly successful. It’s because I believe in all for one and one for all. To those whom much is given, much is expected.
I think our country isn’t focusing near enough attention on helping the poor.
The Times piece points out that “12.5 million will be invested in a network of community schools”. Yes!
I know that yours and Suzy’s hearts are in the right place. But as I’ve said, now ad nauseam, I think hers and your focus is misdirected.
For example. Instead of MUSE, Suzy could easily convince 10 of her friends to each contribute $5 million towards building a similar networks of schools — that poor children could attend. That’s $50 million as part of an effort to fix our public schools. With the platform Suzy has, I’m sure this could then scale nationwide in no time.
This community school that Suzy and her friends would establish would be sunrise to sunset. Sunrise to sunset schools are something that the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation have advocated for years now.
This new, off-the-grid community school would grow its own food, teach health and wellness, and prepare children for the knowledge based economy. It could be the centerpiece to attract additional private investment such as what I wrote — companies would open offices near the school.
In this model, children grow up healthy. They’re prepared for a global economy. They walk to work. Poor and depressed communities are transformed into strong, healthy and vibrant communities.
Our efforts in health and education should be focused on the poorest and most depressed areas of our country. People like Suzy and those in your network can make a big difference towards strengthening and rebuilding said areas. It didn’t come across that way, but I was imploring you to redirect your tremendous resources here.
With all due respect to you and Suzy, MUSE is the wrong idea. Supporting it, is more of the same.