Follett leads Green House Network
Fueled by memories of growing up in Hawaii, where he walked on black-sand beaches, bathed in hot-water springs, and witnessed dazzling sunsets and volcanoes, Matthew Follett ’99 is committed to protecting the environment.
“How can you not have a deep and profound sense of appreciation for nature when you’ve been able to scuba dive with countless varieties of fish, walk on deserted beaches, and run through rain forests?” asks Follett, 32.
Follett’s passion is not empty idealism.
Program director of the Portland-based Green House Network, Follett pushes a both-feet-on-the-ground message around the nation about real-life science and solutions to global warming.
“The meat-and-potatoes of our organization is our speakers network of more than 100 people. They have given over 400 talks on the science of and solutions to global warming at college campuses, civic organizations, chambers of commerce, and other locations,” says Follett, one of the first students to graduate from Lewis & Clark with an environmental studies major.
The message, says Follett, is simple: Life on Earth is at risk if we fail to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, which cause global warming.
The organization’s aim is to raise awareness and prompt individuals, businesses, and institutions to reduce energy consumption and pursue a clean energy future.
“Matthew has been with the Green House Network from the beginning and has been instrumental in building it into a national organization,” says Eban Goodstein, associate professor of economics, who with Greg Smith, associate professor of education, and Lewis & Clark students created the nonprofit in 1998.
Goodstein, chair of the economics department, is the author of The Trade-off Myth: Fact and Fiction About Jobs and the Environment. The Green House Network is thought to be the first nonprofit focusing solely on the issue of global warming through outreach and education on a national basis, says Goodstein.
Now in its third year, the network’s annual Race to Stop Global Warming takes place in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Boston, and Denver. Plans call for 15 locations soon.
Father of 6-year-old Sierra and 18-month-old Nelson, Follett is married to Jill Follett, who teaches English as a second language at a Hillsboro high school. He has been accepted at Lewis & Clark Law School, but a deferment currently allows him to work with the network full time.
—by Dee Anne Finken