Grist is turning 18, and, just like so many wide-eyed and bushy-tailed young adults, it’s ready for its next chapter. As the team and I pack up the ol’ minivan (electric-powered, natch) with Grist’s beloved irreverence, boxes of groundbreaking stories, and collection of media trophies, we’ve realized we’re ready for a big move, even if this proud papa is getting a little misty-eyed at how far the organization has come.
I founded Grist in 1999 to spread awareness of some of the biggest problems facing humanity. The organization has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, but it stands to reason that college-age Grist might look a little different and try some news things out.
To that end, we have a vital new mission that addresses the challenges of today; I’m taking on a new role at the organization; and we have a new, splendid organizational leader who will help usher in this new chapter. So: lots to share.
While most college first-years hang carpe diem signs or Pink Floyd posters in their rooms, Grist was always a little wordy and mature beyond its years. Moving forward, this is the phrase we’ll live by: “A planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.”
We know our new vision might seem hard to achieve given the country’s current situation. America has a president who’s hell-bent on upending progress, environmental safeguards, and agencies, after all. But you can’t just shout about the awfulness out there and expect the world to change. A better future is possible if we make the right choices, right now. Clean energy marches forward in California and even in red states; last month, Denmark produced enough wind energy one day to power the whole country; sustainable food continues to reach new plates; and cities around the world are choosing to make their streets more walkable and bikeable and less friendly to cars.
At Grist, we envision a sustainable world that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. We’ll be focusing on hard-hitting journalism that highlights strong solutions, uncovers injustices, and calls attention to the big roadblocks in the way.
Party at our place
I’m hitching up my dad jeans and taking on a new role within the organization to build relationships, identify new opportunities, and hatch initiatives for Grist. To start, I’m launching a new platform to elevate and connect rising green innovators and influencers — the activists, artists, technologists, policymakers, and storytellers charting a way forward. The resulting network, which builds on our Grist 50 initiative, will be where unexpected, as well as existing, environmental champions converge to share and hone ideas, and bring those solutions to life.
It’s something I’ve been noodling on for a while, but I just didn’t have the capacity or space to move forward on it. Now, with all this space in the basement, I have room to get out my tool belt and build something new. Which leads me to …
The big guy on campus
Most exciting of all, after 18 years at the helm, I’m thrilled to welcome a new partner to Grist, Brady Piñero Walkinshaw, who will help run the show as CEO. The Grist Board and I looked far and wide for a suitable match. In Brady, we found a perfect one. Plus, man, the guy brings the charm.
Brady grew up in rural Washington. His dad is an agricultural educator; his mom is a public-school teacher. So he was clued into all things food, green, and progressive from the start. Most recently, Brady was a Washington state legislator, accomplishing improbable things in the state capital, and before that worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s a strong leader with a proven commitment to sustainability and social justice — and a really great fit for us.
And I’m not just saying that because the team asked him to buy us beer during his first day on the job and he showed up with organic snap peas instead.