David Shaw is widely recognized for his leadership roles in building successful technology-based businesses, and for his public service in support of science, art, education and conservation. Shaw served as a presidential appointee to the National Park Foundation for the centennial celebration of the US National Park Service. He is co-chair of the Aspen Institute High Seas Initiative and has served as treasurer, trustee, and fellow of the world’s largest science society (AAAS). He is the founder of the Second Century Stewardship, chair of The Jackson Laboratory, chair of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, a director of Maine Medical Center, a board member at Curiosity Stream and Hurricane Island Outward Bound, and a member of the executive committee of the US-Israel Science Commission. He served on the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School and the Explorers Club, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, YPO, and other organizations.
The New York Restoration Project honored Shaw at Hulaween 2017 for his outstanding environmental stewardship. We were delighted to have a conversation with him about the environment, parks, and his philanthropic work, topics dear to his heart and ours.
David Evans Shaw, in his own words:
On Environmental Protection
I believe that treating parks as outstanding opportunities for education and science is critical to creating a greater sense of citizen stewardship needed to benefit future generations. Parks are widely appreciated for their scenic beauty, but they should be treasured for much more than that. Viewed through the lens of education and science, parks can play a powerful role in understanding the natural world and our cultural heritage. That understanding can lead to caring, and caring is an essential ingredient for wise stewardship. For these reasons, I have helped launch a collaborative program called Second Century Stewardship to benefit parks across America. Already the program has demonstrated significant benefits via a pilot program in Maine’s Acadia National Park.
On the Sargasso Sea Alliance and the National Park Foundation
It’s very rewarding when my environmental advocacy work results in greater public understanding and appreciation of the value of the natural world in our lives. And even more so when this leads to memorable experiences and a sense of ownership and responsibility for these special places. In the case of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, we were successful in bringing unprecedented attention and stewardship to this magnificent golden rain-forest of the world’s oceans. The Sargasso Sea is part of the planet’s high seas – representing nearly half of Earth’s surface.
As a trustee of the National Park Foundation, I was honored to help orchestrate an extraordinarily successful celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. The centennial campaign resulted in greater appreciation of our parks, billions of media impressions and a half billion-dollar capital campaign for a system that hosts more than 300 million visits annually. I’m very proud of our accomplishments in this historic centennial celebration of “America’s Best Idea”. And I am hopeful that we’ve created a framework for wise stewardship in the next century of America’s national parks – benefiting future generations, including my 11 grandchildren.
On Science and the Future of Environmentalism
Science, and scientific thinking, is focused on understanding the world, and discovering truth through disciplined evidence-based research. Rigorous science gives us a framework to improve the quality of our decision-making to thoughtfully and sustainably manage our interactions with the natural world. In this golden age of expanded knowledge through modern science and technology, we have an unprecedented ability to be wise, well-informed stewards of our world.
On Urban Parks
Urban parks should be, and have been, a top priority nationally and locally. National parks in major cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans and Washington, DC are highly visited and greatly appreciated, along with an extensive system of state and local parks. For example, Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City hosted nearly 9 million visits in 2016. A compelling benefit of urban parks is, of course, accessibility for city dwellers who might not be able to experience more remote rural parks.
Hulaween video by David Evans Shaw
New York Restoration Project
The New York Restoration Project is at the heart of innovative urban change in New York City. We believe nature is the fundamental right of every New Yorker, and we work to manifest that right by partnering with local communities, public agencies, and the private sector on a daily basis. Consider donating today to help us expand our footprint in all five boroughs to make a safer, healthier, and happier city.