John Holden is a six-time Emmy Award winner and esteemed journalist. In his 25+ years of experience, he’s worked alongside Katie Couric and achieved notoriety in his reporting, investigating, and producing for news affiliates of NBC, CBS, and ABC.
Throughout his career Holden interviewed Fortune 500 CEOs, A-list celebrities, and political world leaders. His passion for keeping our planet sustainable for future generations sparked his own personal commitment to encourage world business leaders to do their part in saving our planet. He received a National Telly Award for his video and film work on Montana’s Glacier National Park, and two Golden Palm Awards for his production in Bora Bora titled “Tahiti by Gaugin”. Now, he’s the host of our world-renowned television series, EARTH with John Holden, created by StarMedia Productions.
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John: Welcome to another edition of the impact podcast. This is a really special edition because we’ve got with us, John Holden, who’s the executive producer, and the host of Earth with John Holden. Welcome to our show today, John.
John Holden: Hello, John. It’s great to be here with you.
John: You know, John, you have such a story career. You’re a 6-time Emmy Award winner, and just one of the most esteemed journalists on this whole great planet, which is sitting behind you, which I love. I love the background behind you. And before I get to asking some important questions of what’s going on, and what your career has been about, I’d love you to share with our listeners and our viewers, the John Holden story. Where did the journey begin and how did you even get here?
John H: I’m not sure how I got here with this planet behind me. But, you can find all kinds of great backgrounds these days. But, yeah, I was born in South Dakota. And as far as environmental, that might have been the first key to an interest in the environment because I grew up in a farm. And, we had a lot of acres of the farm, the beef cattle, the milk cattle. And so, you’re really in touch with the environment there. And, the thing about farming is, everything is dependent upon the weather, and how good you are at what you do with the land. So, that taught me to care for the land and taught me that you can get wiped out. Kind of like, people are doing right now, being wiped up because of climate change, and what’s happening. But there, it’s always been risky as a farmer, you know, growing up.
And then, broadcasting neighbor was Tom Brokaw from Bristol, South Dakota. He was born and went to the University of South Dakota. I’ve met him several times. I mean, a really nice guy, salt of the earth, and really was a solid guy. And I met him at several launches of the Space Shuttle over the years. And then, as far as getting into television, I went to the University of Nebraska. I loved it there. Big red football and-
John H: Yeah, Cornhuskers. And I really wanted to see the game. So, I kind of went and applied to work with the University of Nebraska media department. And they said, “Oh, we need a film processor.” So, I did film processing and went to all the games free. I met all the players, met Bob Devaney before coach Tom Osborne and interviewed them. But I actually was close to always brushing shoulders of them because I’d have to pick up the film, run back during halftime of the Big Red Game, and split the defense and the offense, so that they can right away, even at halftime, go in and see, “What did you do wrong?” That’s how fast things were happening.
Then, that was getting me kind of into media. I’m not into sports other than that. I love watching football, so. And then, I was in journalism. I graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska. And, I think, what really made me think that I could make it in that is, we had great guys and women in the journalism department. Fantastic. A lot more from Omaha, Lincoln, the big cities, and Nebraska. And they were from the TV stations there. They were from the radio stations, from the son of the or owner of the many of the stations. And, we had a contest where we would all write scripts for a documentary. I’m talking about the mid-70s right now. We did a contest, and I wrote a script, and I did a script on whenever I travel across Nebraska, I’d see the remains of a town sitting there, and every time it passes, it is turning more into the Earth. It’s crumbling away and it probably been a successful town in the turn of the century, but obviously, it had died years ago.
So, I did a story. I looked up information, and I decided to do story on what makes a town live, what makes a town die. I found 2 towns next to each other. One town was nearly dying, population is all moving way, very few people left. The other town was just doing really well and flourishing. So, I did an hour documentary on, “A Tale of 2 Towns.” And I wrote, and interviewed. I mean, the reason one was successful, it was the people who was the pride, and it was the religion. They were a Mennonite type. There was a cross between Amish and Mennonite in there, but they were really strong churches, and the people and anything happened, they needed something constructed, the whole town would help them construct the barn, or whatever, something burned, they’d all get together. The other town didn’t have that. So, I did that, and that script got chosen as the best script. And, the winner got to have it produced. So, I became the producer of a documentary and it aired on PBS or Nebraska public television. And so, back when I was just a teenager, or just about turning twenty, I had my first documentary produced with all the class. I was with the Nebraska, and then, we shot the interviews and kind of do the same thing I’m doing right now. This would have been the year 1976, probably, and it aired on public television there.
John: You were off to the races as it grows.
John H: Yeah. So, from there it was on to Green Bay, Wisconsin, or stations in Nebraska. Green Bay Wisconsin with the Green Bay Packers and doing stuff with them. And then, finally went down to Miami to a show called PM Magazine, which is a nightly- yeah, and, that really got me into world stories because they needed an adventure page producer. At PM Magazine, they told me, “We don’t care what you do. We like your scripts.” At this time, I didn’t do anything on air. I’m writing and producing, wearing all those [inaudible], and shooting, editing, shooting, producing, writing. Everything but on camera. But, I find the people to put on camera and stuff. So, they said, “there’s only one thing we ask of you as you find stories around the globe, it could be anywhere, is that we can’t spend one penny. You do not have a budget, not one penny. Other than maybe a hundred bucks per diem or whatever.”
John H: So, I said, “Wow, how do you do that?” So, I started looking around, and I’d look up stuff on the internet, and I’d find companies that would do exotic travel. And, I’d called them, say, “I’m with so-called PM Magazine, nightly entertainment shows.” Entertainment Tonight was its main competitor and we are beating them at the time. And I said, “I’d like to go to this-” over the Galapagos Islands is one. “I’d like to go to the Galapagos Islands and do the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin Theory.” And they said, “Oh, we’d love to have you, and we’ll take care of everything. We’ll take care of your flights. We’ll take care of your food.” And then, it became, I find places all over the world. Free food, free everything, other than the crew coming with me. We had a blast doing that.
Even went to New Guinea to discover if there’s still cannibalism, and went down this epic river in the New Guinea in search of cannibalism and found seven hundred tribes each speaking a different language. And, is there cannibalism? Yeah, they have little wars and maybe somebody will get killed and I had died from-
John: Oh my gosh.
John H: Yeah. Every village you come to, which is about every half-mile, totally different language spoken, except they would have missionary shirts on that would say Coca-Cola or something that they don’t know what it said. But, it was something from a new land or America. And, they would all speak pidgin English, they did understand that. Cannibalism simply as what my guide from Australia said, is that “Somebody gets killed, okay? And, to celebrate their heritage and their history, they all sit down and we’ll, scrape, scrape, scrape and nibble. Do a little nibble.” All gather around and nibble a little bit to celebrate their cannibalistic ancestry.
John: Wow. So when did you come up with, take all of your experiences, your education, and then, also you’re in the field, real-life experiences, and producing, and editing, and writing, and come up with this wonderful show that you have called “Earth with John Holden”?
John H: I mean, it started as a segment called “The Green Room” which was obviously about green, and then it kind of developed into Earth, because the Green Room just didn’t tell the whole story. It’s named Earth, easy. I guess really first stories for that were probably done in 2014, maybe, I mean, 2009 is when I started doing segments as environmental and I love environmental stories. I’d worked for NBC for a while and it had been a feature order and I love doing stories on people and some environmental stories and stuff. So, when I left, I became freelance way back in the 90s.
And then, in the 2000s, I started doing stuff for everybody, not just NBCn but ABC, and Fox, a lot of Fox stuff. And then, just doing stories out there. They’re always one and a half minutes to 2 minutes long and it will be people-type stories, or just crazy-type people and interesting things, but always telling a story and having a personality. And then, I just kind of- I have an interest, like I said from the beginning, in just the environment, coming from a farm. So, those were really, I think Obama would have been the president. And there was obviously interest then in saving our planet and Al Gore with what he did. So, I started [inaudible] on the time. That’s when I started doing stories, and they really took off.
John: So, for our listeners and viewers, we’ve got John Holden with us. He’s executive producer, the journalist, and the host of “Earth with John Holden”. You could find him at earthwithjohnholden.com. You can find them also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, and YouTube. You know, John, you’ve done so many stories over the years in your, no pun intended, in your story career. Who’s an individual who has significantly impacted sustainability, the circular economy revolution, and the future of the environment that stands out? I know it’s hard to choose among all your children, and I’m not trying to make you make Sophie’s choice or anything, but who’s some standouts that are inspiring to you, that you really love to cover, and that you’d love to share with our listeners and our viewers?
John H: Well, you know what? There’s a great staff at the Star Media producers and researchers. So, they’re always looking up things. Because, man, there’s so many things going on right now, and they’re such a key. Every company right now has a sustainability manager involved in marketing and stuff. So, involved in-
John: But that’s that relatively a new phenomenon.
John H: That’s new, yeah.
John: That’s relatively new.
John H: And that’s what’s happening. Now, I’m always incorporating them. But, going back to over the years of doing this, really since 2009, 2010. Star Media, to give you a little bit of a background, the company is Star Media, that I work with bunch of people, about a dozen people are the researchers, producers, and editor, and they’re coming up with ideas. When I’d found the company, you know, they look at companies who know what’s the green angle to what they really want to spend their money on because everybody wants to be thought well off.
John: Of course.
John H: I think every company I’ve ever met has an interest in the environment. And you know, you used to be, just maybe make money while now it’s make money but also do a good thing too.
John H: They found a person named Fisk Johnson. SC Johnson is the name of the company he owns. He’s the kind of guy born of the golden spoon, born into it from his family, with right away you’re born, all of a sudden, “Okay, you have a hundred companies under you, everything from Windex to Glade.” It’s a family product company of all the products you find in your home, okay.
John: Iconic brands that we all grew up with, iconic brands that we all grew up with.
John H: Yeah. I mean, the most common brands out there and I’ll bet you look in your house, you got thirty, forty, fifty items in your bathroom and your kitchen that were all-
John H: SC Johnson. They’re all separate companies and stuff and they’re all under Fisk and Fisk himself, he’s about my age, real nice guy. I thought, when I talked to him, I felt like I was talking to my brother or something. He’s not anybody you think has a lot of money. You’ll think he was just the most down to earth person you’ve ever met, and he’s a scuba diver, and forty-five years, he’s been scuba diving. And he’s noticed really how bad the oceans have gotten from plastic pollution. And he showed me just the video of what he found in like places off of Panama and Haiti and where you know the reef are wrapped in plastic and fish life are, even no matter how deep you go, even the smallest organism has remnants of plastic, they’re eating plastic. So it’s like, of course, that’s affecting us, you know. The marine life affects us too, even if they’re under the sea.
John H: He’s virtually seeing and he says, there’s over 8 million tons of plastic pouring in every year and the ocean and you see just hordes of it in islands in Indonesia, China, just it is really bad. And so, what he did, he came up with an idea of how do you at least do a part in saving our oceans from plastic by partnering with a company in Bali. And so, I flew to Bali which was wonderful long flight, but nice, I saw a lot of movies all way there. And, you know, you always think of Bali is just these beautiful beaches. But when you go to Bali, yeah, you see beautiful beaches but it’s the hotel, these 4, 5-star hotels that have crews go out every day and scrape the plastic off. And yeah, then you take the picture by every wave coming in, there’s more plastic coming in. By the end of the day, there’s waste all over the beach again, when the waves come in and leave plastic and they got to clean it again. So, you go to some of the public beaches there and they’re bad. It’s just, I mean, walking on plastic and every kind of trash you can imagine. So, he thought that was a good way to start what he started for a program in partnering with a company that would that called itself a plastic bank. And plastic banks are actually just like banks we think of, only the deal and the currency of plastic, they take plastic in, and they pay the people that bring it in, in crypto or digital tokens by the pounds or by the ton of plastic. And so, you have all these people in Bali are, a lot of poor people, a lot of people that have absolutely no comprehension of how much they’re polluting our oceans, and they’re just throwing plastic, whatever. But now, “Whoa, plastic is worth something.” Now, they’re all out cleaning up, picking up plastic, going on the waters, and every day they’re cleaning the beaches, putting it in bags, and they go into town, the villages there, to a plastic bag with big bags. They weigh them and then they say, “Okay. You got a hundred pounds of plastic here. And you can have either cash or we’ll give you a digital token,” which you can use it in, even the grocery stores and stuff there in Bali, take digital tokens.
John H: Yeah, so the people had learned how to save. It’s the first time they’ve ever saved and get this, if they’d gotten digital tokens are cryptocurrency, can you imagine-? I did the story a couple of years ago. Do you imagine what the price of crypto going up would some of these people might have had if they didn’t spend their tokens?
John: Right, right, right, right.
John H: Yeah. So yeah, I mean, it’s like they’re suddenly realizing, “Oh, I could make some money.” And so, it’s helping clean the waters, it’s helping clean the beaches, it’s helping clean the rivers going in, it’s helping the people with the economy and what does a bank do with the plastic? They sell back to like, Fisk Johnson who’s partnering with all of this. And he’s using all the plastic to be recycled to make his products now, like Windex, which the new Windex bottle is 100% recycled ocean plastic, 100%.
John: I didn’t realize that.
John H: Yes.
John: That’s great.
John H: And so, anyone can do that with all these products. So, he got this guy, he could do anything, just keep raking in money. But he’s just like trying to find this circular economy of saving the oceans of plastic, clean it up, turn it in for crypto, recycle, and we can use the plastic over again.
John: What a great [inaudible].
John H: Yeah. So, I hit that [inaudible] out of my mind to somebody who’s found a way that could catch on and get into more and more countries.
John: You know, John, you do all these very positive stories. You yourself were a very positive human being and you exude great energy that is uplifting but I can’t help to ask you about what we’re living through right now. Yesterday, I know you we, off the air, talked, shared a little bit about you just coming back from Europe. Yesterday in Italy, it rained thirty-four inches in twenty-four hours, which is more than the rainfall in an entire year in Seattle. It’s never happened before in all the history of that part of the world. And, you know, I live in California, literally the air quality control index in today, the air quality index in Fresno is in the 170s because of all the smoke coming down on us from the fires in Northern California. You know, where are we right now in our journey? You know, sometimes I feel like you’re in my generation which we’re both the same collective generation, inherited a diamond, but we’re turning over sort of a pile of tin to the Greta Thunberg’s or to our children and our grandchildren. How can we reverse that when all these big signals are happening in and around us? What are your thoughts?
John H: Well, any at least with these companies, like, with Earth, the secret is we’re looking at what companies are doing and every company seems to have different programs. It’s like what you just mentioned, sustainability managers. Every company’s got a sustainability manager and the departments are growing and they’re doing things like, “Okay, we’re doing this kind of a program in cleaning up our beach or our parks,” or whatever, or the recycling programs, and all. But every company is doing something and that’s growing because these people are becoming major players in companies now. And probably the first person I check with and check with a company to say, “Hey, there’s an issue facing our planet.” Maybe it’s, you know, the combustion engines or renewable energy or health care solutions or autonomous vehicles. I mean, just whatever your some issue, “Okay. What are we doing about it?”
Well, now here’s a company that’s doing something about it. So, I mean, I’m taking a company perspective and it might be a lot of companies doing that. But some companies, you know, really going over overboard and with ideas that are catching on and other companies can grab to because of all these environmental solutions, people aren’t saying, “Here’s my solutions. I don’t want anybody else to know about it. I’m putting a copyright on it.” It’s like, “Hey, this is for our planet and we want everybody to-”
John: Every company’s happy when you show up at their door like just-
John H: Oh, yeah. I’m not 60 Minutes, you know, I could begin to-
John: No. You’re [inaudible], you’re the opposite. You’re focusing on positivity. So, you’re saying you focus on the positivity of all these great iconic brands that are truly working to push back against all the damage we’ve done. And that’s how you stay positive and keep marching forward every day. By producing Earth with John Holden and focusing on positivity.
John H: Yeah. And it’s really fun. I mean, the ideas are just ranged from well, like, let me tell you one story I just did last month was the food problem, you know, food scarcity. We’re going to have 10 billion people, supposedly by the year 2050, how do you feed that many people? Is there enough land to grow that much food? So I found a guy with a company called IWI, I-W-I. He’s from Spain, but he’s starting up this all over the world. He’s got a way to make desert land farmable. Well, how do you do that? So, he goes to the desert- we shot the story in New Mexico and I’d flew in El Paso and drove a long distance until we got into the desert, right next to the border wall of Mexico. And here in the middle of the desert of New Mexico is a something out of the moonscape of canals that have been dug with water. That’s the aquifer underneath the desert sand, that saltwater. Well, what do you raise in saltwater? Oh, well, what comes from saltwater CLG. What is CLG good for? Filled with protein and it’s the omega-3. That’s CLG is the source of Omega-3 and people buy, you know, like fish pills and all that thinking, “Okay, that’s how I’m going to get my omega-3.”
Well, no, the only reason fish have omega-3 is because they eat CLG. So this guy thought, “Well, if I take CLG, the seeds and just seed the water of the deserts and you can dig down and it’s unlimited saltwater. So, he has literally fields of CLG growing in the middle of the desert that’s harvested every day. I mean, you think of one corn crop or something, you know, or I mean, soy beans or something once a year or once a season, this is every day, tons of CLG being produced and then they dry it. It’s being used for protein, for foods, for nutrients. And he calls it the super vegetable of the future and he thinks that every desert in the world can become an arable land of CLG that is going to be our food. And you can make CLD, might not taste really good, but you can make it taste good. I mean, you’d be amazed what-
John: You liked it. Like just say this, you enjoyed the taste.
John H: I didn’t like taking the CLG and just eating it raw.
John: No, no.
John H: I would have, “Hey, can I have a little pepper on it?”
John: No, no, no. But you enjoyed the product that he shares with you?
John H: Yeah.
John: Yeah, okay.
John H: The products, and I mean, what’s going to be coming down the pike are, I’m sure going to be energy bars, and whatnot, CLG [inaudible].
John: Right, right.
John H: Right now, it’s mostly the nutrients and the things for, you know, mind and your body and taking capsules, you know, just health foods that are being made from it and so they probably have about fifteen, twenty different kinds of health food, or-
John: That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful.
John H: Yeah, and he’s doing that in the deserts of Texas, the deserts of New Mexico. He’s from Spain. He’s getting people, you know, into his company that are partnering with them saying, “Let’s do the deserts of the world,” you know.
John: You know, John, when I was doing my prep work on you, which was just a joy because all you’ve done is really spread so much positivity over the length of your career. Well, like I shared with you, off the air, we need fifty more of you, really, because the rest of the news, the mainstream news, has become so negative in terms of what they’re putting out there nowadays. It’s such a darn shame, but one of the great stories I read about you goes back to your home, State of South Dakota, where you did a human interest story in the late 70s, on a gentleman, who was carving an entire mountain. Can you share a little bit about that story and what that meant to you?
John H: That’s kind of still a favorite just because it’s my first story and it was because I was getting into news at that time. I was a news reporter, although later on became just producer and stuff. And then, with MBC down the road, I got back on the air again.
John H: As a feature reporter. But that time, I was just getting into wanting to do people stories and this little town in Nebraska called Kearney, Nebraska and it’ll station called MTV and they said, “Hey, I like your stuff. Why don’t you just go out and find stories?” And I said, “Well, how far can I go for my story?” And they said, “Go as far as you want.” It wasn’t quite like PM magazine where they said, “as long as it doesn’t cost anything.” They gave me some money to go travel and I’d always, as a kid growing up, I’d always wanted to do a meet the guy that was carving a giant mountain in South Dakota called Crazy Horse Monument. If people have been there, it’s a monument mountain. It’s been carved down to Chief Crazy Horse, it’s the world’s largest mountain carving. It’s also known as the 8th Wonder of the world, but it’s been under carving for years. And it’s in the Black Hills of South Dakota where Mount Rushmore is the 4 faces. So I thought well, and if they’re letting me go, I just took off started driving and I thought, “I’m going to go back to South Dakota, which is the Black Hills and near the Nebraska border. So, I’m not too far out of the range, but it’s a human interest story anybody’s going to want.” So, I drove to this place where the guy was carving the mountain.
It’s a big tourist attraction, Korczak Ziolkowski, the bearded giant carving it, and he’s no longer alive. But at that time, he was at it dynamiting away. And as I drove up to the mountain, I could see blasts going off in the mountains and you can see the hand of Crazy Horse coming out in the horse’s head and the mountain itself, I think, I’m trying to remember, Korczak had worked on the Mount Rushmore in carving the 4 faces with Gutzon Borglum, who is behind the Mount Rushmore. So that’s how he knew how to carve mountains because he worked under the best. But this is Crazy Horse was forty times bigger. I mean, again, the biggest mountain carving in the world.
John: How long did it take, John? How long did it take?
John H: This can take lifetimes, the carve.
John: So, it’s still a work in progress.
John H: Still work in progress.
John H: He worked on it for, I think, thirty-six years before he died on it. This would have been the year right after I got out of college. In fact, after I did that story on the Table of Two Towns, it was the year 1978, I guess ’79, and I drove up to that mountain, saw the blast going off and I was shooting my own stuff then. I was the old one-man-band. You put a camera, [inaudible[ on your shoulder, hold the mic out, you walk up and talk to people. Unfortunately, that’s the way some camera people are again back to doing that to save money, but I went into the center there at Mount Rushmore, at Crazy Horse. And there was a woman in there, and I said, “I’m from a TV station in Nebraska. I want to go interview that guy up there on the mountain that’s carving.” And she says, “Nobody goes up to bother Korczak Ziolkowski. Nobody.” She says, “You interview me.” I said, “And who are you?” She says, “I’m Ruth. I’m in charge of the lobby here or the, you know, the souvenirs shop and everything. So I’ll let you get in free. You don’t have to pay. And you can interview me and I’ll show you the little monument that he’s carving here, a little small part of it and tell you about what he’s doing up there and then through the window, maybe you can see the mountain.”
So I said, “Well, I really wanted to do more than that. I want to meet the guy.” She said, “No, no. Everybody wants to interview Korczak. We don’t let anybody interview Korczak. He’s got a mountain to carve.” Okay, so I walk outside, go to my car, get my camera out and a jeep drives up, the kids in there saying, “Hey, who are you?” And I said, “I’m from a station in Nebraska.” “What are you doing here?” I said, “I want to interview the guy that’s on the mountain. But the lady inside said I can’t go up there,” and he says, “Wait a minute, mom won’t let you go up and interview dad? Bullshit.” Excuse me, so he said, “Jump in with me.” So, I jump into them. He takes me, you know, all over to the top of the mountain. And on the top of his head, that’s being carved, and I can see explosions going off, and here’s this bearded guy with a big cowboy hat on, and we get out of the jeep, and he just turns around sees me, and he comes at me in a rage, “Who the hell are you? How the hell did you get up here?”
And I said, “Well, your son took me up here.” He says, “Well, now that you’re up here, I’m not going to take you back. Get in.” And then, I jumped in his truck and he said, “What do you know about dynamiting?” I said, “I don’t know anything about dynamite.” He said, “I’ll teach you.” And so, they said, “Here we got to get this. Set the dynamite here.” You know, we’re trying to do so. He wanted me to set things and, I mean, I didn’t like the stuff.
John: Right, right, right.
John H: And he was pointing this. He got to get this done today. I got to do that. He said, “I got 10 kids,” and all the kids are, you know, they’re all just interested in, mostly, sons, they’re all just interested in girls, “I’ve got a mountain to carve.” He started telling me a story and so I have my camera. I’m pointing it at him and every time he says, “Put that damn camera down.” He says, “That’s all you people are interested in interviews.” I said, “I got work to do.” He says, “The last person that came here to try to interview me, I told him where to go. His name was Morley Schafer from 60 Minutes,” I said, “That’s a big show. He says, “Yeah, but I said I didn’t want that guy up here.” He says, “How do I know what he’s going to ask me and I don’t have time. So I had my wife deal with him. And so, but I wouldn’t let him up here.” That’s why he said, “I’m surprised you got up here.”
So, anyway, I did finally get an interview with him and we hit it off, and pretty soon he’s telling me all his stories of everything from getting a call from, once from a drunken party in which George McGovern called, says, “Hey, Korczak, I have a friend here wants to talk to you. Can you talk to him?”, “Yeah. Who is it?” And he gets on the phone and the guy says, “Korczak, I understand you worked on the 4 faces. Is there room for another face?” And then, Korczak said to him, “Ted Kennedy,” he says, “I can tell you’re drunk and no, there’s not room for- I can’t believe you’re asking. You think this is just a big joke?” He says, “No, there’s no room for another face. And nobody’s going to carve a monument to your brother, John Kennedy.” Then, he hung up on him. I mean, that’s just one of the stories I remember him-
John H: So, he’s taking me, and then, we’re doing more stories about, you know, what made him want to do this. He says there’s an Indian in this mountain and Chief Sitting Bull had come to him and said “You, White man, have your heroes while we have our heroes in the Indian lore too. We want you to uncover one and he’s in that mountain.” So, he’s started uncovering this giant mountain. And anyway, so I spent a day with him on the mountain, I know which sound like anybody, and in fact his own family now, Korczak is dead, Ruth is dead, his wife, but all sons are still working. I’d love to get together with his sons and tell them some of the stories I heard because I don’t think he would even told them the stories. But one thing he did was, he said, “I got to take you down and show you something.”
So, he took me to all the bottom of the mountain and it drove all the way down his jeep. And then, we come to the bottom of the mountain. And here’s this big door that says, “Korczak, Storyteller” in stone. And I said, “What’s that?” He says, “That’s where I’m going to live the rest of my life after I’m dead.” And then, so he said, “Here, open the door.” And I tried pulling open the door of this big giant mountain door, and I couldn’t get over it. So, he literally just shoved me aside, took it. And he’s a mountain of a man, pulls this thing open. And here’s his big chamber in the mountain underneath with a solitary coffin, or I mean, you know, tomb.
John: Like a crypt. Like he was like at a crypt.
John H: A giant crypt, yeah. So, he walks in, the sun was just a setting sun. The sun is just perfect. He walks in. He sits down on his tomb, his crypt, and he’s just sitting there stroking his big beard, and totally oblivious to me. And he says, “I’m going to like it here.” He says, “Ruth won’t come in here. She refuses to set foot, but it’s seventy-two degrees in here year-round. This is going to be a nice place to be.” And then-
John: He figured it all out.
John H: That was the last shot.
John: He figured it all out.
John H: Yeah, sitting in his tomb, underneath his mountain, and it was pretty-
John: He knew who he was. But he also knew where he was going to go. And he was good with it.
John H: Here’s the funny thing. I probably shouldn’t even tell this because I don’t know how many people visit Crazy Horse, but he said, “Hey, I want you to eat dinner with me and the family.” I said, “I don’t think your wife’s going to want me.” And he said, “No.” So, he took me, and says, “We’re going to eat.” So, he goes into this little, just modest little place home right next to where the souvenirs are and it’s a little checkerboard table, you know, with a cloth and plastic, everything just looks like, you know, very, very modest and they got some chicken and stuff laid out. And Ruth, his wife, is there, making the dinner and she looks and just glares at me. And then, Korczak says to her, “Ruth, I got a guest. He’s eating with us tonight.” She just looks at him, looks at me, and it turns back to cooking again. And then, so I ate with them. She never said a word to me. She was mad. But the family is around there. They are all eating and then, in the middle of the food that we’re reaching over, knocking it over every once in a while to get the butter, pass the pepper, pass the salt, reaching over, grabbing it.
And I say, “You know, this thing here in the middle of the table, as a sculpture, it looks a lot like your most famous sculpture up above in the souvenir shop that has Mona Lisa [inaudible] wraps around it. Nobody’s allowed to get near.” He says, “Well, yeah, this is my deal and band, or a deal and horse carving. It’s worth I don’t know how many million,” and I said, “Well, why is it sitting here in the middle of the table?” He says, “You think I’d put a multi-million dollar carving of mine, my most famous carving up where people can touch it?” He said, “No, that’s a fake.” He said, I’d have it here at the dinner so we can, you know, do whatever we want. I mean, it was, literally, fall over. They lift it up again.
John: Oh my God.
John H: That’s where his most famous carving is.
John: On the dinner table?
John H: On the dinner table, yeah, where everybody eating around it. So, if the Joukowsky family watches, “Hey, now, we know.”
John: Now, we know. Hey, for our listeners and viewers who just joined us, we’re so excited and honored to have with us today, the hosts of Earth with John Holden, John Holden himself. You can find them in earthwithjohnholden.com, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, and YouTube. John, your show truly is a bastion of possibilities and positivity. What do you think your effect has been on investors and other people who watch it to get inspired and then, they go on to either create companies that are making a difference in ESG circular economy or ESG, or they invest in companies that are doing like-minded things, to fight climate change, and create a better world for all of us?
John H: Well, you know, I mean, that’s kind of like all the stories and again, the company, Star Media, that I work with has the staff of researchers. So, they’re looking for companies that are green, that are concerned with ESG, you know, the environment, society, and governance and, you know, it always used to be that if you’re investing in things you’d best either number one to make money or maybe invest to do good, you know.
John H: But not one or the other because if you invest to do good, then you’re probably not making money. it’s probably costing too much. Well, now kind of like tables have turned and a lot of things now investors are looking at companies that are green that before they’ll even invest in, and that that they want to know what their environmental plans are, what they’re doing for the environment. They want to know what they’re doing for their communities and society, and they want to know that they’re going to be meeting the governance. I mean, you know, by the year 2050, we’re going to be Net Zero, is the big thing, you know. It’s all about, well, if it’s making cars, what about electric cars? You know, what’s your end, or from oil, or what about going to natural gas, you know, and in oil exploration. So, I’ve done 2 stories on a couple of companies.
One was called MFS Investment, Boston. What was the need about that is there, that was back in 1924, they started the first mutual fund. So, they invented the mutual fund that got people to the average joe to be able to invest, you know, before then, it was, you know, who knew about investing. Well, 1924, the first investment fund, they still own it. When I went to the story there. I think they’re in the Prudential Building there in downtown Boston, really neat company, their CEO is Carol Geremia. And she really was passionate about the, you know, what direction she takes investing, and they don’t even think of investing unless the company has, you know, in their portfolios, that they’re doing this green, or their doing that green and that. So, that when you invest, okay, then you’re guaranteed that whoever is your investing in is going to have a green, you know, say, or I mean, outlook, so that’s all they do. Now, from the first mutual fund now to today, they’re still doing the same, you know, responsible environmental thought. But now, it’s all about that, it’s got to be this ESG-minded in order to or else they’re not going to invest in you, you know, it’s all about that.
John: John, give us a little teaser on some shows that we’ll be looking for in 2022 that you’re either taped already or you’re planning on taping and covering. Give us a little teaser before we say goodbye for today.
John H: Okay. Well, I just got back from one trip. That was Germany, Spain. And now, the cotton fields of Tech tour, Louisiana, and in Germany, it was a company called Mubaya and what they do, you’re not going to really understand or see that name anywhere, because they do the parts that are in a lot of cars, almost all cars that make them lightweight. So, their whole thing is making cars lightweight so that they get better gas mileage. And the whole thing now is they don’t even talk about combustion engines anymore cause everybody there in Germany is going electric. And what was really interested in their showroom is that they have a 2014 Volkswagen on display called The Leader, I think it’s called the XL1. This is back in the year 2014-2015, it got one hundred kilometers per 1 liter of fuel. Okay, so put in 1 liter of fuel, you can go a hundred and that’s like going to, you know, one gallon a hundred miles, you know, and that was back in 2014. They only made 3 of them and they stopped because now it’s all about electric and it’s all about making it lightweight. So, the future cars out, it’s just going to be lightweight electric vehicles. And I mean, whether it’s Volkswagen, whether it’s, you know, the other German manufacturers of cars, it’s all going to be lightweight.
And then, in Spain, kind of interesting, it’s just got interesting too. Also, in Germany, there’s a lot of fishnets. You talk about plastic polluting our oceans. Fishnets are polluting our oceans. And so, I did a company that partnered with Aquafil in Italy and they’re taking fishnets, taken out of the ocean to make fiber and then they’re creating carpet, you know, high and carpet out of fishnet from the ocean that’s all recyclable. So, they’re also completing the circle of taking things from the ocean and using it again, making high in fiber, and then that company is called Object Carpet and you can get really great carpet, you know, that used to be fishnet from the ocean.
And then in Spain, there was a grape-growing and how sustainable grape-growing is done today and the technology to make grape growing sustainable. And one thing that hasn’t changed in centuries of grape growing is that still sustainable is they still use falcons. They have a bunch of falcons in cages that are released to go after birds that eat the grapes because they don’t want to spray the grapes, you know, that contaminates, so how do you get rid of- Right before harvest, you got this beautiful harvest ready to happen, but it’s destroyed by starlings birds. So, how do you get rid of these birds without spraying the crop? You unleash your pet falcons and eagles, they’re called Harris Eagles. And they have pet names, and they put a little hood on them, and they line them up and then they release the hoods, release them from their arms. I got to hold one too. It’s pretty neat. And then, that flies off and they scare the heck. The [inaudible] out of the birds that are out there and the rest of the stories, I’m doing this, I’m kind of like, “Well, where do I go next?”
John: Oh, right there. We’re going to have you back on to continue your great journeys and I just want to say thank you for joining us today on the Impact podcast. I wish you continued good health and success and we want you to be doing this show for the next twenty years. And guess what? I take back my words from earlier today. I don’t wish it was twenty of you. I wish we need a hundred of you telling and sharing these great stories. To our listeners and viewers out there. to find John, you could go to earthwithjohnholden.com, or find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, or YouTube. John, thank you for being who you are and thanking you for making the earth and the world a better place. I so appreciate it. And so does everyone else that’s going to watch and listen to this show.
John H: Thank you, John, for having me on. I appreciate it.
John Shegerian: This episode of the impact podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and Impact Partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps, and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closedlooppartners.com.