George Pidvysotski: Saving the Environment from the Streets

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Working in what can sometimes seem like a thankless job, George Pidvysotski doesn’t let the long hours break his spirit. Every day, Pidvysotski stands on street corners throughout Boston asking passersby to sign up to give monthly donations to environmental protection group The Nature Conservancy. Though it may be first instinct to brush by people like this, his easy going and outspoken personality actually makes you want to stop and talk, which is exactly what IM Boston did after running into him on the job in the North End. After chatting for a bit, we were able to arrange a time to sit down and learn more about this Belarus-born University of Connecticut student.

How did you first become interested in environmental issues?

Ever since I was a little kid [the issues] were around us. You probably grew up hearing about all this stuff. We’ve been talking about the whole water supply for like decades, pollution and animals going extinct, and fracking and all these horrible things that happen to the environment that pollute everything we need for life, and so that’s why I got into this kind of stuff. I also used to sponsor children from third world countries. That’s actually what I did the past two summers here. Before that I was doing another environmental organization, it was called Environment Massachusetts.

What do you like about your job and the greater cause it works towards?

I love the fact that I get to not be inside all day, and that I get to talk to people and it’s not just the same people, it’s different people everyday. I met you through the job and now I’m here, and this type of stuff happens to me all the time. I met some friends that I became friends with on this job. I had a lot of opportunities, a lot of job offers, especially from real estate agents they want me to work for them, but I’m still in school so I can’t really do that yet. Also I do good stuff as well, so I feel good about it.

Do you think there is something about yourself that makes you well-suited for this type of job?

Well actually a lot of people who are good at this job are introverted in real life. I feel like I’m pretty extroverted, but a lot of people aren’t, and they’re still good. They just put on the face and pretend to be more outspoken and whatever works, but I already have that so it just works for me. I’m also big, so I can just stop people, you know, body language [laughs].

Where do you hope this passion for environmental issues takes you in the future?

I actually have no idea. I’m just going to keep working, keep finding new opportunities, see where it takes me. I’m not really a man of plans… I like to flow. I like seeing where life takes me.

What kind of impact are you hoping to make on the community?

I want people to be more aware. I try to have every conversation be the most positive experience for people because even if they don’t sign up, they can do it later, or they’ll remember me and be like “wow that guy was so cool, I’m going to stop for another person that works for similar causes.” That happens to me all the time actually. I met this guy near Saint Mary’s [on the C line] and apparently I talked to him two years ago about the children’s charity, and he saw me about a month ago, and he was like “man, I remember you, you stopped me.” I was like, “I don’t remember you” because I meet so many people. And he told me that whole interaction with me changed his perspective, what he wants to put his money into. Like, he hasn’t had a job for a while but he just got a new one. So he was like, “yeah man, as soon as I get settled in, I’m going to sponsor a couple kids. I’ll see what you’re doing about the environment later. Thank you so much for having such a positive impact on me, that one day changed everything.” I was like, “wow, that’s really cool. I don’t even remember you, but wow.”

Who do you look up to? Who inspires you to go after what you’re passionate about?

No one really. I live my own life. I want to inspire people, so I  guess I look up to myself [laughs].

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