Supporting Pioneers of Environmental Change

The Blackstone Story

Pat Black founded Blackstone Ranch Institute in early 2006.  Pat is a venture capitalist and philanthropist from Erie, Pennsylvania, who has had a long-standing interest in seeding entrepreneurial ventures and social initiatives that will be pioneers in the development of ecologically and socially responsible practices.  

"All these collaborative efforts are in their infancy. As more people realize that the core challenges of the Big Three global systems (energy and transportation, food and water, and material waste and toxicity) cannot be solved in isolation, these collaborations will spread and become more sophisticated, as people and groups combine systems thinking and skills in collaborating across boundaries. We are just starting to appreciate the level of collaborative systems thinking skills that will be needed, but there is no doubt this is where real leverage for the future lies."

Peter Senge, from The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World

A small group of us formed a planning team at that time and during the initial six months developed a mission statement and cultivated a way of operating that has guided us solidly ever since. When we started the institute, we had little more than intent and an idea.  We knew that we wanted it to develop organically, and we knew that we wanted to provide seed money to and serve as a catalyst for meaningful action in response to global environmental challenges. 

When we first started to support new initiatives in late 2006 and early 2007, we also knew that we were looking for those who were serious about action. We decided to focus on collaborative gatherings because it was a niche with potentially huge leverage for major change. There were many organizations that spent large amounts of money on conferences that promised networking opportunities, but most were not set up to stimulate or demand new and lasting collaborative efforts that would deal with the urgent environmental problems that so many who attend speak so passionately about.

We now know that in many ways we have been far more successful than we might have first imagined. A significant majority of the more than 70 collaborative gatherings, dialog processes and interactive educational modules that we have supported have led to significant action in the world. A substantial proportion of those has led to the creation of new networks, campaigns, and organizational efforts that might not have happened otherwise and have become foundational for the development of environmental and sustainability work in the years to come.

Learn more about the Institute's Beginnings, from our ten year review. (a 7-page, 156kb PDF)


Pat Black, President and Founder

As a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Pat has invested extensively in the development of clean, green, healthy fuel and in the purity and sustainable management of water resources. He is the Chairman and President of Erie Management Group, LLC (EMG), which counts among its portfolio of companies HERO BX, LLC (HERO). HERO is an accredited BQ9000 biodiesel fuels producer and is one of the largest biodiesel plants in the northeastern United States.

Pat is also cofounder and president of The Black Family Foundation in Erie, Pennsylvania. For over 13 years, the Foundation has promoted innovation across a broad range of compelling community issues, from educational excellence to health disparities to workforce development and the arts.


John Richardson, Executive Director

During the early 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s John investigated the world's most complex humanitarian relief operations in Africa and the Balkans as a troubleshooter for the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). He has also been an adjunct professor of international politics at the University of New Mexico, a mediator in civil disputes, and written about travel and politics for a variety of national publications. He was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in central Africa in the late 1970s.  He lives in Taos, New Mexico.