20 questions with… Joel Solomon



Joel Solomon answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

Chairman of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest social venture capital firm, Solomon is a compelling speaker on ethical and responsible investment. He was interviewed by Blue & Green Tomorrow in 2013 and has since become a valued contributor. His 2013 TED talk on morality and ethical investment can be found here.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

My mission is to live as an ancestor, inspiring, catalysing and supporting others to do so.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Valuable, valued, contributory, kind and wise.

How would your friends describe you?

Relentless, playful, enthusiastic and all-in.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

The whole world is watching” at the Chicago police riots in 1968. I evolved it later to: “The whole future is watching“.

Who or what inspires you?

My close friend, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson. He has given himself to public service with a powerful vision of responsibility to climate and the future. My youngers give me faith.

What really grinds your gears?

Don’t get me started. The global assault on ecology as if there is no tomorrow. Corporate domination of our world. The drive for infinite wealth or power. The way we treat each other. The global divide of rich and poor. The patriarchal system.

Describe your perfect day.

Contact with lots of brilliant inspired change makers, a long walk, bike ride or swim in the ocean, and a delicious evening with my life love, my wife Dana.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

A mythical metaphorical scan of big sky, wilderness mountains, resource extraction shipping and train yards, the downtown business power, the provincial political offices, the most dynamic creative commercial neighbourhood in Vancouver, and the cruel side effects of financial rapaciousness that appear as the mentally ill, addicted and penniless.

What do you like spending your money on?

Hosting, family and friends, nature time and social change.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Dana and I go every winter to the Joshua Tree desert area. Deeply reflective, timeless and immersive. We learn a lot each time.

What’s your favourite book?

The next great novel I find.

What’s your favourite film?

The Square was a recent find.

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Overhaul the taxation system to narrow the gap of wealth and poverty, and ensure the commons is stewarded with long-term thinking.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

Someone wise, secure, loving, capable outdoors, with creative intelligence, a forward thinking perspective and a great sense of humour.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

The best: love, beauty and consciousness are the greatest riches. The worst: you will become conservative when you turn 30.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Gardening an ecosystem of change agents.

What’s your biggest regret?

That certain life lessons took me longer than they might have to learn.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

Think about your death bed. Think about future generations keeping an eye on you. Use your intelligence to craft a life of service to the biosphere and human life. You will know what to do once you choose to.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

Capitalism must serve the common good.

What’s your favourite quote?

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Joel Solomon is chairman of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest social venture capital firm. Launching in 2013, Renewal3 and the Instinct Fund now build upon the legacy of aligning money with values established by Renewal2 and Renewal Partners.

Further reading:

Do you know what your money is doing while you sleep?

Wisdom, ingenuity, morals and investing

‘We need investment that prioritises long-term wellbeing for people and planet’

TED talks: a journey of mortality, renewal and ethical investment – Joel Solomon


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