If you are reading this, you likely know I left a highly-successful, self-titled show at MSNBC last June in search of meaning and purpose in my work and life. I had lost both after 18 years in Manhattan and the chaos surrounding the hollow political debates permeating America’s media and politics.
After 780 hours of political cable news, 6000 hours of live financial television, 45 cities, 2 national jobs tours, 277,963 signatures to amend The Constitution, 245 pages of book and a promotion tour for Greedy Bastards, I was exhausted.
It was a three-tour Iraq combat Marine and his war-protestor wife who pointed me in a new direction. They were guests on my show last June discussing how they were bootstrapping their way to operate a high-yield hydroponic organic farm that uses 90% less water and produces three times as much food. It was a business that promised to cure food deserts – areas where access to fresh and healthy food is limited – while having the potential to create jobs for thousands of combat veterans, each of whom was the beneficiary of $1 million in military training while on active duty.
The couple even created a school where they trained other veterans to open their own farms or establish their own organic businesses in pursuit of a dream of creating thousands of American jobs and feeding millions of people.
They garnered the support of a senior military General and his wife, who were so inspired that they decided to do anything they could to help other veterans find meaningful work healing communities by teaching them how to build and run their own sustainable food-producing systems.
I returned late last summer to where I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains, I imagined those veterans partnering with industry leaders, scientists, Hollywood producers and Texas oilmen in a project that could create millions of domestic jobs while solving America’s core challenges: sustainable food, health, energy, education and infrastructure. The model had been set by my grandparents’ generation when returning World War II Veterans re-built America into a modern age.
From Imagination to Reality…
Since I left MSNBC and dylanratigan.com last June, I first started working with these inspiring visionary veterans on the phone, and then in person to expand their dream and help turn it into a reality. The process alone has restored meaning and purpose in my life, my health and spirit have taken on a renewed vitality and, because of my time with you, I have had the opportunity and privilege to literally put my money where my mouth is.
Last Fall, I moved from NYC to north San Diego County, just outside of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, to work full-time with Colin and Karen Archipley at their hydroponic organic farm, “Archi’s Acres.” After realizing how impressive their ideas and effectiveness are, I decided to invest the money that I earned for writing Greedy Bastards (which when combined with a loan from Whole Foods) to build a 30,000 square foot “farm incubator” that can serve as the prototype for job-creating, water-saving, food-producing, veteran-led hydroponic organic greenhouses nationwide. We’ve even enlisted Major General Melvin Spiese and his wife Filomena to join us in support of our mission to make this program more diverse and robust enough to build it into a nationwide network.
Our intention is to create real value and good jobs in countless American communities, by harnessing the power of the 1% of Americans who served in the past decade of war. These high capacity people have already demonstrated their unique ability to be trained and subsequently serve with distinction under most arduous and demanding of conditions, and we can leverage those qualities and skills against some of our greatest needs. We have begun redeploying returning veterans and unemployed civilians to US cities, while coordinating with city, state and federal governments to create good jobs providing local, fresh food, reduced energy waste and pollution, improved wellness and rebuild infrastructure.
With more than a decade of war winding down, we have a wealth of returning veterans. This gives us a unique and powerful opportunity to refocus their training on transitioning our nation to sustainable systems, as they transition themselves from military to civilian life.
While we are just getting started on our national rollout at Archi’s Acres, I believe all of this is possible if we work together with a shared vision. Together, we can join in a mission to learn, model and scale a high-integrity value-based culture. Together, we can heal and evolve America into a sustainable, healthy and prosperous future.
PS: You can see us in action tomorrow March 21ST on ABC’s “The Chew.” Tune in at 1PM EST / 12 PM PST to see the farm, meet the veterans and get a good kale salad recipe.
Also, on Friday March 22nd, with Martin Bashir on MSNBC at 4PM EST / 1PM PST and everyday from now on at DYLANRATIGAN.COM and @DYLANRATIGAN on Twitter and Facebook.