Ask any recent U-M graduate for a list of their professional goals and they say things like "get a 6-figure job" or "make enough to build a family" or "become a senior level executive before I'm 35." Eric Weltman, RC class of 1989 with a major in Creative Writing, has a list that looks a little different. His begins with Walmart, Monsanto, and Exxon Mobil. These aren't places he's worked or places he aspires to; these are companies that his environmental activism organization, Food & Water Watch, have gone after. "Our mission is to combat corporate control and abuse of our most vital resources: the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the climate we rely upon, and to ensure that government fulfills its obligation to protect our public health and environment... Here in Brooklyn, our responsibility is to build the grassroots power, the grassroots muscle that we need to take on some of the world's most powerful corporations - and win. "
Eric has spent the last 30 years organizing and advocating around environmental and social justice issues. He is particularly proud of his groups' work banning fracking in New York, stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership, aiding to elect the first Latino to the Boston City Council, and closing nearly all the medical waste incinerators in Massachusetts. He has accomplished these and many other feats in roles including a self-employed consultant and writer, deputy director of advocacy and policy at Massachusetts Public Health Association, director of advocacy, NYC, at Alliance for Quality Education, and most recently, as a senior professional organizer at Food & Water Watch, based in his now-hometown of Brooklyn, NY. He also had a stint as a senior lecturer at Suffolk University in Boston, where he developed and taught urban politics classes.
In a 2017 video profiling Eric, published by BRIC TV - the first 24/7 television channel created by, for, and about Brooklyn - he says that a highlight of his day is walking his son to his school in the morning. After that, he walks about 40 minutes to work. His lifestyle is a testament to his values: almost no toxic emissions come out of his shoes.
At the RC's 50th anniversary reunion, Eric delivered these words to his alma mater and fellow alumni to illustrate what the College has meant to him over the years: "During my freshman year, I encountered a very drunk frat boy stumbling through 4th Cooley and, in a fit of rage, he hurled the first insult that his hazy mind could come up with, 'You people in East Quad -- you live your own lives.' I experienced a lot of freedom in the RC -- to be myself -- to be creative, to be weird, to be whacky, to have fun. I pushed a lot of boundaries at the RC -- it allowed me to be bold, to explore identities and ideas. I continue to be bold, push boundaries, and attempt to do the impossible. And I thank the RC for nurturing that spirit and providing a community of teachers and students -- an environment that allowed me to stretch myself, learn and grow."
Thank you for your service to the public good, Eric, and for putting your values and intentions into tangible results that inspire others to do the same. We are proud to call you an RC alum!