Scott Martin’s unique blend of talent, ambition, and compassion, and his desire to use those traits to help others, has earned him the 2017 Rotary Peace Fellowship and the opportunity to study in the Rotary Peace Centers program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, where he will train to become an “agent for peace.”
“I was shocked and pretty humbled when I got the fellowship. I’ve never been to Thailand before, so it will be a completely new experience for me,” said Martin, who is earning his master’s degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). “Some of the larger questions I have now are around whether I’ll be moving into peace work full-time.”
At the age of 17, Martin launched his own landscape design business. Today, as a landscape architect, he is a partner in The Workshop Group, a design/build firm in Redondo Beach specializing in whole-system approaches to custom, environmentally-conscious development. He has also designed and participated in large projects around the world, including Dubai and India, and has travelled, lived or worked in nearly 50 countries during his career.
Martin is also an active member of Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBB) and is former president of its Los Angeles chapter. The organization works to bring mediation and “peace skills” to communities around the globe so that they can, in turn, build a more peace “able” world. In 2010, Martin was co-leader of MBB’s “Rwanda Team,” which trained the trainers in trauma awareness and transformative mediation.
Martin will arrive in Thailand in January 2017 for three months of training as a Rotary Peace Fellow, where he will learn to serve as leaders and “catalysts for peace and conflict resolution” at home and around the world. The program is designed for professionals, like Martin, who have already worked in international relations, or peace and conflict resolution.
“As a fellow, my role will be assisting Rotary around the world, not necessarily just doing hands on work, but talking to and training locals to empower themselves; to increase their capacity to be more effective at peace building and coalition building,” said Martin.
Rotary is a global network dedicated to addressing humanitarian challenges around the world with more than 1.2 million leaders who work within more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries. Through its Rotary Peace Center program, the organization “promotes world peace by educating and empowering peace-builders through rigorous academic training, applied field experience, and global networking opportunities.”
“Rotary International is a huge network with local clubs in practically every major city around the world, which makes them a vital partner to learning about local culture, as we did with Mediators Beyond Borders,” said Martin, who became a certified mediator after working with juveniles in victim/offender restorative justice programs after serving on the board of directors for Environmental Charter Schools. “Another part of Rotary’s push to work in peace building is the effective implementation of their other initiatives like the eradication of Polio. That interdisciplinary approach to implementation is something that attracted me to the organization—to use my skill set to help them.”
Martin’s social entrepreneurial prowess includes founding The Living Christmas Company in 2008, which rents living Christmas trees as an alternative to cut or artificial trees. In 2012, Mark Cuban, billionaire investor and owner of the NBA team the Dallas Mavericks, joined the company and expanded its impact in local communities and the environment. Martin also serves on the board of directors for South Bay Business Environmental Coalition.
As a fellow, my role will be assisting Rotary around the world, not necessarily just doing hands on work, but talking to and training locals to empower themselves; to increase their capacity to be more effective at peace building and coalition building – Scott Martin
As he continues to enjoy the work he and his partners are doing at The Workshop Group, Martin is grateful for the financial support it has provided him while he pursues his passion for conflict resolution and peace building. But he continues to contemplate his future, which alternatively could include teaching—possibly at the college level—and/or becoming a conflict resolution consultant full-time.
“I find that when you’re around like minded people it gets contagious. My experience so far in life is that if you commit, opportunities present themselves,” he said. “Sometimes it feels like balancing between bravery and stupidity.”