Honouring two visionaries | Finding Solutions | 2011 | Fall | Publications | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Honouring two visionaries

Former Foundation board member Ray Anderson (Photo credit: interfacefloreu)

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Like many environmental advocates, we at the Foundation were saddened by the passing of two great leaders in the past few months.

Jack Layton, who passed away in late August, needs little introduction. The leader of the NDP for eight years, Layton worked tirelessly toward his vision of an equal, just, and healthy nation. He was also very concerned with environmental issues. To quote David Suzuki: "Jack never forgot that justice and human rights were deeply embedded in issues of the environment. Today, too many of us act as if these are somehow separate, and so we are either environmentalists or workers for social justice. To Jack, they were a part of the same struggle for sustainable societies."

Also in August, we lost Ray Anderson, former Foundation board member and the chair and founder of Interface, Inc. After coming to the life-changing realization that his business practices were harming the Earth, Anderson established a new mission for his company: achieving sustainability—operating in a way that does nothing to harm the Earth—by 2020. "Mission Zero," as he called it, was a lofty goal for any company, let alone a flooring company reliant on the petroleum industry, but two years ago, he announced in an interview that Interface was already halfway there.

Anderson's ideas and drive influenced countless people, environmentalists, and businesspeople. He gave over a thousand speeches, wrote two books, and inspired many businesses to follow his lead, including GE and Walmart.

Despite the traditional priorities of business and politics, Anderson and Layton never lost sight of what was fundamentally important—the health and well-being of humans and the environment. Both were ambitious, compassionate, and inspiring, and both succumbed to brave battles with cancer.
They will be very much missed.