“Just dive in,” Craig Altemose, founder of the Better Future Project, advises aspiring social entrepreneurs. “There’s a lot of problems out there. We need you.”
Altemose never planned on building an organization or a social movement. As a Harvard Law student and joint MPP degree candidate with the Kennedy School, he hoped to work in government or at an established nonprofit. However, he realized that the many groups addressing climate change were neglecting its human harms by focusing exclusively on its environmental effects. He decided to grow a movement to communicate the human harms of fossil fuels. Unlike many organizations, Better Future Project does not push for policies that are immediately politically feasible. Instead, Altemose’s new venture is trying to “build the power to accomplish what is currently politically impossible but ultimately necessary for us to address the problem,” he said.
Altemose’s passion for his cause keeps him focused on the venture’s vision rather than distracted by its challenges. “I have few goals for the organization,” he said. “My main goal in life is to ensure the survival of as many people as possible in as comfortable a world as possible, and the organization is a vessel for me (and others) to advance that goal.”
While Altemose said he would “absolutely love it” if his project were no longer necessary in ten years, he would likely shift his focus to another pressing social issue. Reading a memoir of Jean Monet, one of the founders of the European Union, inspired Altemose at the start of his project and continues to shape his own career. Reflecting on Monet’s influence, Altemose mused that “Monet was always much more concerned with what he was doing rather than what title he had. I thought much less about the details of how I would be able to get paid to do something and instead focused on how I felt I could best serve the needs of people.”