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PhiLAnthropist Interviews the Ultimate 'Do-Gooder': Ben Goldhirsh, Founder of GOOD Magazine

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'GOOD' is an understatement. Photo by Emily Lerman/LAist

On the South side of Melrose, right after La Brea, a small office building displays the word GOOD in big block letters through the large windows. Fittingly, it is the home of GOOD, the magazine 'for people who give a damn'. Founded in 2006 by the then 26-year-old Ben Goldhirsh, GOOD seeks to 'inform' and 'inspire', covering issues from Van Jones and green-collar jobs to street food to providing laptops to children in developing countries to economist Jeffrey Sachs' take on the state of the planet. It's a tough time for journalism, with the recent end of the Rocky Mountain News, Plenty and the elephantjournal, but Goldhirsh is figuring out how to use the tools of today, the energy of today and the climate of today to actively engage people and drive change. The magazine also donates their subscription revenue to one of twelve not-for-profits each year and, according to the most recent issue, has contributed over $1 million to 21 different not-for-profits to date.

The insightful and laid-back Goldhirsh, who calls LA "the sweetest city around", was kind enough to sit down with LAist and discuss his goals for GOOD in the context of where we're headed, getting involved in the community, the oceans, and a recent speech he heard about extraterrestrial life.

How did you end up here, with GOOD, and as a native of Massachusetts, why did you choose LA?

I originally came to LA to go to film producing school at USC. I dropped out to a film making company called start Reason Pictures. They made a bunch of films but it digested quickly how long it takes to get an idea all the way to the audience and we felt that we wanted to have a more consistent relationship with the audience. Whereas each film is its own business, with the magazine, it’s a consistent platform that we have every month and the website is a consistent platform that we have everyday. I called up a couple of buddies of mine from home and said come out here and start this with me.