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Ice cream guru visits, imparts entrepreneurial wisdom
BY JOEY CARMICHAEL
STAFF WRITER Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, visited campus on Wednesday, Feb. 6, to give a lecture on his “radical business philosophy.” In a phone interview with Greenfield on the preceding Saturday, he spoke about his education, his relationship to the company, his business philosophy, Phish Food and more. Greenfield went to Oberlin College, graduating in 1973. He explained that the culture at the time had a profound impact on him, which followed him into his work. “It was the time of the Vietnam War; it was very active in terms of the civil rights movement, the women’s movement. And so, being at Oberlin at that time – it was a motivating and politicizing experience for me,” he said. “I think that experience came along with me into the business. You know, business typically does not get involved in social issues or environmental issues.” Nonetheless, both Greenfield and company co-founder Ben Cohen cared about their involvement in those issues. “I think the fact that Ben & Jerry’s became very active and outspoken on particular issues is somewhat a result of my being at a liberal arts school.” The liberal arts approach had another impact on Greenfield’s future, though not in the typical fashion: “I was pre-med, and I applied to medical school—and never got into medical school. So that—that helped me go into the ice cream business.” Today, many college students’ freezers proudly display Cohen’s and Greenfield’s success. The duo converted a small gas station into an ice cream shop in Burlington, Vt., in 1978. Over the next 22 years, they converted that ice cream shop into a global franchise, spreading ice cream euphoria across the world. Now, Cohen and Greenfield play a different role but are still very involved with the company. In 2000, the publicly-held Ben & Jerry’s was purchased by Unilever, a major consumer goods company. Greenfield explained that, at the time, their preference would have been to “remain independent.” However, “that just didn’t seem possible.” Today, Cohen and Greenfield are employed by the company, but they’re “not involved in the management or the operations. I tend to be more involved in the social mission—trying to use the power of the business to help address social or environmental issues,” Greenfield explained. Phish Food—one of Ben & Jerry’s most popular flavors, known to make people bounce around the room with joy—is an example of the ice cream company’s commitment to environmental activism. Ben & Jerry’s and the band Phish teamed up in 1995 to create the gustatory masterpiece. Since then, Phish has donated all of the royalties to the WaterWheel Foundation, which is involved in the cleanup of Vermont’s Lake Champlain. Now, Greenfield explained, the company has committed to transitioning to 100 percent fair trade and GMO-free ingredients by the end of this year. He also added that the company “has been involved in trying to get money out of politics—so I think there are some really good things that Ben & Jerry’s is involved in.” (To read further about the activism of Ben & Jerry’s, visit http://www. benjerry.com/activism/) I informed Greenfield of Lewis & Clark’s new entrepreneurial initiative and told him that the implementation has been mildly contentious. “Well, I think business has a reputation (and it’s a well-earned reputation) of thinking only about itself, about operating in its self-interest; that business pretty much tries to maximize its profits without a real concern for the community. And I don’t think business needs to be like that. I think one of the things we learned at Ben & Jerry’s is that you can have a business that cares about people, that tries to address social and environmental issues, and can still be as successful, financially, as any other business. “So, I don’t think business in and of itself is negative. I think business is a neutral tool, and it can be used for good, or it can be used for other purposes. And I think when people with good values try to bring their values into their business, business can be very positive. You can choose to ignore business and not be part of it—and that’s totally legitimate— or you can try to use the power of business to bring about a better world.” Hoping to take advantage of Greenfield’s entrepreneurial wisdom, I asked him for a business
THE PIONEER LOG NEWS
FEBRUARY 8, 2013
ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY GRAY
idea I could steal to use in Lewis & Clark’s new Venture Competition. “I don’t have any great ideas for you, but in general I would suggest that you do something that you’re really passionate about, not something that you think is a cool idea that you think will make a lot of money. I think you should do something that you, personally, are invested in,” Greenfield said.
“I think any kind of venture, and particularly a start-up, requires a huge commitment, and you will run into difficult times during that start-up period. And if you’re doing something you really are passionate about and that you believe in, that will get you through those more difficult times, rather than something that you think is a ‘trendy’ idea.”
Embarking upon LC’s “Journey Forward”
Unveiling a three-pronged plan for the future
STAFF WRITER While nibbling on lemon tartlets and mushroom puffs, students, faculty and staff from all three Lewis & Clark campuses gathered in Stamm on Tuesday, Jan. 29, to celebrate the completion and adoption of the new strategic plan. Called “The Journey Forward,” the plan outlines current strengths of the college and identifies priorities for the future. President Barry Glassner, along with Director of Strategic Initiatives and the Paul S. Wright Professor of Christian Studies Rob Kugler (79) and Director of Institutional Research Mark Figueroa, presented the plan to the assembled community members. At the top of the list are three overarching priorities that will guide the college moving forward in its quest to be at the forefront of higher education. Looking to maintain LC’s already-strong reputation, the first priority is to “be an institution to which people across the nation look for distinctive quality in general higher education.” Building upon the school’s liberal arts nature and LC’s renowned overseas programs and environmental engagement, the second priority strives to maintain and sustain LC’s goal to “educate people for life and leadership in an interdependent global and environmental context.” The third priority, to “make Lewis & Clark known to an everexpanding circle of supporters and prospective students and their families,” aims to create connections in Portland, the Northwest and the world beyond. The creation of this plan has been a 20-month-long journey of its own; from the initial “Planning to Plan” task force to the six separate work groups to the steering committee, countless students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees contributed their time and energy to make this plan happen. The initial planning task force was assembled during the summer of 2010 and the final plan brought together by the work groups was presented to the Board of Trustees in October 2012. “It [The Journey Forward] might be one of the very few times they’ve unanimously done anything, I understand,” quipped President Glassner in his remarks to those assembled at the celebration. Numerous projects inspired by “The Journey Forward” are already in the works, with many more planned for the future. “We definitely have more space to go,” said Figueroa in his speech. “Part of this job with the strategic plan is to ask those tough questions: Who are we as an institution? How are we going to get to where we want to go? Most importantly, what do we need to do? And then how do we know when we’ve arrived?” Notable projects within the plan include the introduction of an entrepreneurship program, collaborative work between the schools on environmental and international work and reassessing and refining recruitment and retention practices. The plan, in its entirety, can be found on the Strategic Plan website: http://www.lclark.edu/ strategic_plan.
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