Who am I?
I have worked for the United Nations for much of the past quarter century. I took early retirement in 2018 but I continue to support the work of the UN through writing, consulting and public speaking engagements.
I recently updated and expanded my signature publication, The Intrepid Traveler, the ultimate guide to responsible, ecological, and personal-growth travel and tourism. This book explores the kind of travel that benefits both the visitor and the visited, and is based on 40 years of experience exploring more than 130 countries in every region on Earth. My most recent book, The No Mammal Manifesto: Diet for a new and more sustainable world, will make you think differently about eating mammals - both because of a special bond we share with them, and because of an understanding that to eat mammals (when we don’t have to) makes no sense from a variety of perspectives including that of our health, the environment and the economy. The book lays out four fundamental reasons to switch to turkey burgers but if you can't go cold turkey with the cow I present valid scientific arguments for keeping it to once a week at most.
As the editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles-based Earth News I covered the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and most of the subsequent global summits of the early 1990s. My book, The Earth Summit, a Planetary Reckoning documented the conference through the perspectives of youth, business, government and civil society. I then wrote a related book geared towards implementing Agenda 21, which was published by the UN Environment Programme; it is called Taking Action: an environmental guide for you and your community.
Most biographies finish with a list of academic letters and acronyms. Mine does as well, but to jump straight there would be to miss much of what made me who I am today. I dropped out of high school with a grade 8 education and took a circuitous route through several short but semi- successful careers as a sous-chef in a French restaurant (Charlies), a gold prospector on the Yukon/Alaska border, and finally as a medic (EMT) in the ambulance service. I then challenged the high school exams, and received an equivalency diploma (GED). Rather than going on to university, however, I slung a backpack over my shoulders and set off to explore the world. Heading east until I ended up back in the west five years later, I was able to explore 50 countries on a shoestring budget of less than $100 dollars a month. That experience provided the fodder for the first edition of The Intrepid Traveler.
My career at the United Nations started in 1996, when I left an exciting career with an e-commerce startup in NYC to head up the communications office of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). I told my partners at InterWorld I would be back in 12 months, but 22 years later I was still at the UN, having been on missions to more than 50 countries and worked at three different organizations: UNCDF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
Over the years I have pursued a number of degrees interwoven with the timeline outlined above. I received a BA in International Affairs from Northern Arizona University in 1989, an MA in Communication and Technology from the University of Alberta in 2005, and an International MBA from the TRIUM program at New York University, the London School of Economics and the HEC Paris School of Management in 2008.
There is of course much more to the story than this staccato outline implies. I may come back and add more texture to the narrative here from time to time. Meanwhile, if you're interested, please read my books.
And speaking of books, I hope to have a new one completed and published sometime this year (2020). In Online Activism I provide a review of the Sustainable Development Goals and the process that led to their creation. I cover the evolution of the Internet from the establishment of static websites to the emergence of social media. I also provide advice on how to set up and grow online communities, how to craft and package messages that get results and how to use the various channels to get your messages across to those targeted audiences who may be able to influence your desired outcomes. I cover how to select, how to reach and then how to engage with your audiences. As pictures sometimes tell a thousand words, I also discuss the effective and strategic use of photography and videography in cause-related social media. Lastly, the book is filled with real-life examples of heroes and sheroes doing real work through social media to move the world in the direction it needs to go.