Neal Pargman is a philosopher and a man deeply committed to peace and to this planet. He is a perfect combination of idealist and pragmatist to be the president and founder of the Save the Earth Foundation. His background is in marketing, and he appreciates that through symbols and commerce, anyone can call attention to a cause that reaches millions of potential supporters who would otherwise remain uninformed.
He came up with the concept in 1972. It was a time when this country was resting from the upheaval of Vietnam and Watergate, and for the most part putting energies into seemingly more frivolous things. Like finding the perfect temperature for hot tubs, or launching what has been aptly named the “Me Decade,” forever to be recognized as what he considers being one of the most embarrassing periods in the social history of this country.
Pargman, however, knew that something else was just around the corner. Something infinitely more important that would affect the entire population – The Environmental Movement. After a serious drowning accident off the California coast in which he nearly died, he decided to devote his considerable talents to helping spearhead this movement.
Slowly over a period of time, Pargman developed his plan for the foundation. He would create a logo and a slogan that would eventually symbolize the essential global efforts in the inevitable urgency to save the most important resource of all, the planet itself. He would license manufacturers to use the art and the phrase, as long as the products were earth-friendly and socially acceptable. The public would buy the products and display the foundation logo to create awareness and begin to start a global environmental movement. The manufacturers would pay license royalties to the foundation, which would recycle these funds into grants for researchers to help find solutions to global environmental problems. The plan was brilliant in its basic simplicity. Colleges and universities get funded to help solve the crisis. Companies help to spread awareness through advertisement, while the public not only enjoys their new sustainable product, but some knowledge about the environment.
Born in the Bronx, New York and raised in the San Fernando Valley just north of Los Angeles, Pargman attended San Francisco State University in the ‘60s and even then was walking both sides of the line. While developing a social conscience at one of the most radical, student-active campuses in the whole anti-war movement, he was earning a degree in marketing at the same time.
After graduating, he went into the shoe business. First for a company that had great samples, but sadly, no shoes, and then for Genesco, a large manufacturer. It was here that Pargman created the “Captain America” jungle boot, complete with American flag insert that became the foot fashion rage of the year. He had found a way to incorporate commercial viability and a philosophical statement in one concept, something he would do again with Save the Earth.
In 1972, Pargman was living in Watsonville, California, raising and training horses, doing some outside consulting and carefully plotting the basics for the Save the Earth Foundation. The plan to market the logo and use the proceeds for research grants was in place even then. But it took fourteen years to really get the momentum going. In 1986, Pargman went to acclaimed commercial artist Robert Krogle to develop the new Save the Earth logo and he began selling stickers and t-shirts featuring that artwork. As expected, the products were soon selling themselves.
What was needed was a way to gain media exposure and that opportunity presented itself when Meryl Streep wore the Save the Earth Flag Shirt in her hit movie “The River Wild,” and then also wore another Save the Earth Shirt on Good Morning America. John Ritter was also a supporter and wore the shirt in a Daniel Steele Movie of the Week, and also on The Jay Leno Show. Save the Earth became a main story line on the Young and the Restless when they featured the “Save the Earth” concert in a Michael Damian / Danny Romalotti storyline. Link to music here https://www.soundhound.com/?t=100257858187425882
Pargman put the pieces in place and serveed full-time as founder and president of the foundation from his office in Palm Desert, California. He worked with manufacturers, designing and approving new products, the sales of which funded various grants and built several ecology centers, just like he had planned. He also worked closely with the scientists and researchers to whom the grants were made, keeping an eye on the programs and continued progress. The remainder of his time was spent studying the environmental movement in general, coming up with new ideas for raising funds and deciding who might be the next recipient of a grant.
In 2018, he saw the need for young blood in the wide-spread consciousness in the environmental movement. He proudly handed Save the Earth down to Alexandra Yeaggy, who currently manages all aspects of the company out of Los Angeles, California as the honored Chief Executive Officer, telling her, “Alex, it’s always been you. This is your baby. You do what you want. I believe in where you can take it.”