Tribute to Ray C. Anderson

Ray Anderson was the founder and chairman of Interface, USA and a friend of the Tällberg Foundation. He participated in the Tällberg Forum in 2007 where he inspired the audience with the story of how he fundamentally shifted the strategy of the company Interface towards sustainability.

Ray Anderson – A tribute
by Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

Many have been greatly saddened and feel a tremendous sense of profound loss with the news of Ray Anderson’s passing. Ray passed away on August 8, 2011 at teh age of 77.

The outpouring for Ray has been so warm and fitting for all that he did and so many that he touched. I hadn’t really thought about how many “overlaps” we had until I got numerous requests from groups all over the world for comments to post on Ray. In addition to being on the Interface board for almost fifteen years, Ray and I were on the Second Nature board together as well as The Natural Step-US and the PCAP (Presidential Climate Action Project). We were on the US delegation during one year’s CSD at the UN, as well as for UNGASS in 1997. We were at Tallberg together in ’09 for Tomorrow’s Company and several times at GLOBE in Vancouver. Of course it all started with the PCSD (President’s Council on Sustainable Development) under President Clinton. There are too many other events and conferences to count, from USGBC, to IQLA at the UN, from CHEP to the Upper Chattahoochee River Keepers or last year when Ray became the first man to receive the WNSF “Businesswoman” of the Year award-that’s right WOMAN!. He REALLY changed my life, which is exactly what he said he intended to do when he asked me to join the Interface board. When he was the keynote speaker for the National Council on Science and the Environment a few years back, he said we have to shake up the status quo on education…Ray always knew when it was time to shake things up!

If anyone would like, I invite you to post your thoughts, feelings or wishes on the Interface Remembrance page.www.raycandersonblog.com

At Interface we have been “climbing Mt. Sustainability” as the quest of “Mission ZERO”, to by 2020 not only be a corporation that does no harm, but to actually be RESTORATIVE.
In the various pieces and notes I have written, in all the stories and metaphors I have been trying to find the right one to remember/honor and describe Ray. Well there it was, as I sat on a flight between Jackson, WY and Denver, CO. The flight continued to turn, following the Snake River,  twisting at the feet of the great beauties, the Tetons themselves.  As the rays of the sun broke over the peaks I knew exactly how I would think of Ray from now on, lost to his flesh which had fallen away, Ray is a mountain himself;  his spirit and presence is eternal, ancient, majestic,  imposing and of breath taking beauty. At that moment I realized this is  the perfect way to move past the tears and sorrow, to welcome the day, to welcome each tomorrow and to embrace the future. It is exactly what Ray would want us to do as we continue to “change the world”!

Dianne is  an Environmentalist and Human Rights Activist, Dillon-Ridgley has for thirty years worked on issues of gender, CSR, the environment and sustainability both domestically and internationally.

Washington Post: Ray Anderson, ‘greenest CEO in America,’ dies at 77   

New York Times: Ray Anderson, Businessman Turned Environmentalist, Dies at 77