Ray Anderson, who died today at 77, was a candid advocate for sustainability, as well as a critic of conventional industry, whose own words serve as a more eloquent obituary than can those of anyone else. Here are some of the highlights of his public speaking in recent years.
I’d particularly recommended to you the last one — apparently is his last public message to the employees of Interface.
TED talk, 2008: “The solution I offer is to the biggest culprit in this massive mistreatment of the Earth by humankind and the resulting decline of the biosphere. That culprit is business and industry , which happens to be where I have spent the last 52 years since my graduation from Georgia Tech in 1956 … ”
Interview about book, “Confessions of Radical Industrialist,” 2009: “There was a day in August of 1974 in our startup year … and there was not a single order on the books, not one. We were one order away from corporate death, y’know, like the next heartbeat, you don’t get it you die. And of course, it brings home in a very traumatic way the fact that customer is the source of the next heartbeat. So we learned from that dramatic day to listen to our customers.”
The Corporation (documentary), 2010: “In the summer of 1994, we began to hear questions from our customers that we’s never heard before: What’s your company doing for the environment? And we didn’t have answers. The real answer was: Not very much. And it really disturbed many of our people — not me so much as them.”
Birthday greeting to Interface employees (with a frank discussion of his illness), April 2011: “I think we must all hope our lives will have counted for something good during our brief visit to this blue and green living planet called Earth, the third planet from a star named Sol. What our lives count for is our legacy.”