The Wege Foundation celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding on July 13, 2007, in Grand Rapids Michigan. But for our new web friends to learn how it began and who we are is to meet the man behind it. To understand The Wege Foundation is to understand the vision and the passion of its founder, Peter Melvin Wege. And Peter will be the first to tell you that he had the resources to start the family foundation thanks to the genius of his father, Peter Martin Wege.
Peter Melvin Wege was born in Grand Rapids on February 19, 1920, to Sophia Louise and Peter Martin Wege. In 1912, eight years before their only child was born, the senior Peter M. Wege had raised $75,000 to found Metal Office Furniture. That investment evolved into Steelcase Inc., now the largest office-furniture manufacturer in the world.
Peter Wege started The Wege Foundation in 1967 out of his love for the Earth and all its people. In the book he wrote in 1998, Economicology: The Eleventh Commandment, Peter coined the word “Economicology” to sum up his environmental philosophy. A prosperous economy depends on a healthy ecology. Economy + Ecology = Economicology.
While the environment was Peter’s earliest cause—and remains his best known—The Wege Foundation has four other major missions besides the ENVIRONMENT. EDUCATION. HEALTH. THE ARTS. COMMUNITY SERVICE. For Peter, the primary thread running through all the Foundation’s missions is education.
He believes strongly that in order to address the problems of the future, we must raise the level of education in order to have an intelligent, caring stewardship of our natural resources. As Peter puts it, “If we aren’t here on Earth to solve problems, what are we here for?”
Peter Wege is not only a visionary and an author, but he is also a poet. Perhaps reading this poem he recently wrote will give you even more insight into the man behind The Wege Foundation.
My steps are limited,
but my causes great.
It may take a little longer,
but the vision grows stronger.
The walks are lighter,
but the paths are brighter.
The Almighty is watching
for all mankind to
finally arrive at a
common ground and
saying, under His breath,,
what we hope He will say:
“The Planet is safe for another day.”
– Peter Melvin Wege