You Should Know… Ben Block

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Ben Block with son Corey wife Emmy Stup (Photo provided)

Ben Block spent much of his childhood in Pikesville and Owings Mills out of doors. When he was 16 he enjoyed a summer job at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. That experience and more shaped his understanding of and relationship to the natural world, which led him to eventually pursue a double major in journalism and environmental science at the University of Maryland. Later, a Fulbright fellowship took him to Peru, where he studied rainforest conservation as a means of dealing with climate change.

Following his year in Peru, he returned home, got married and moved to Philadelphia (his wife Emmy Stup’s hometown), where he got a master’s in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania. The 32-year-old husband and father now works for a marketing and communications firm that specializes in clean energy. The birth of his son, Corey, now 1, led Block to combine his passion for nature and the environment with his writing and communications skills to build a website offering community, education and support to like-minded environmentally conscious fathers.

The website — Climate Dads — launched on Father’s Day 2018. Since then, Block has garnered about 350 active followers.

“And the numbers keep growing,” he said.

Have you always been interested in the environment?

Yes. I’ve always seen the importance of our environmental impact in how we live our lives, in how we run our economy. But we take for granted so much that we have in our own backyards and the outdoors, the air we breathe.

Climate change really resonated with me from a young age. I recall reading about it in a National Geographic and I’ve never understood how we become educated about this issue and not feel a call to action. How can we sit idly and just hope for the best?

What is Climate Dads’ mission?

If I’m walking my kid into a dangerous situation, I want to make sure that he’s protected and able to take care of himself. Becoming a parent gave me a renewed purpose. I was thinking that there is no national leadership on this issue right now and how much of a shame that is.

We hope that like-minded dads can get together, share ideas and relate to each other about what it means to be a father in this day and age. With an overarching goal that we are trying to unite and share ideas and share perspectives on how to have an environmental impact, whether that means going on hikes together, whether it means sharing ideas on the new electric cars, or someone who puts solar on their roof. There’s a social component to it as well as an educational component.

And you’re trying not to be political?

Climate change is an economic issue … climate change is a moral issue … it is an ecological issue. All that said, more often than not, we hear about it as a political issue. My kid’s right to a healthy environment should not be politically divisive.

What do you hope the world is like when Corey is grown?

I hope that he has every opportunity that I had. I hope that he can enjoy the places that I grew up loving and enjoying.

How does Climate Dads dovetail with your Jewishness?

We have tikkun olam. It’s something that we grew up knowing and understanding. For a while I thought that meant traveling around the world and helping people in far-flung places to deal with the environmental impact of our decisions that cause climate change. But the more I leaned about this issue, the more I realized that we have a responsibility here at home to change how we drive our cars and heat our homes and power our devices. It’s in keeping with our Jewish teachings and moral responsibilities to transform ourselves and our society so that we can preserve and protect the world that we love for the generations to come.

What about downtime?

I enjoy biking around the city. We like to go to some of the quieter beaches along the bay during the summer. And I still make as many trips to Baltimore as I can. And whenever I do, we make sure to visit The Cow in Reisterstown and get Italian ice.

singram@midatlanticmedia.com

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