Edward Norton and the Maasai: A Mission of Conservation Edward Norton and the Maasai: A Mission of Conservation
Social Innovation

Edward Norton and the Maasai: A Mission of Conservation

by Amara Holstein

April 9, 2011

Edward Norton’s face is instantly recognizable thanks to starring roles in movies such as American History X, Fight Club, and The Incredible Hulk. But what you may not be aware of is his dedication to charity work—and that he’s currently the president of the U.S. arm of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

Norton became involved in the Trust a decade ago after visiting its eco-lodge, Campi ya Kanzi, as a guest. He developed a friendship with its founder, Luca Belpietro. Impressed by the nonprofit’s dedication to environmental protection, he agreed to head up the U.S. office a few years ago. Volunteering is not a new passion for him; Norton has long been committed to conservation. “[The environment] was a longstanding passion of my father,” he said in an interview with the Public Broadcasting Service in 2005. “My brother and I spent vacations working for the Park Service in the Grand Canyon….It’s part of what we grew up in.”

And when it came to walking the walk, Norton literally ran. Along with three Maasai and thirty other supporters, Norton took on the 2009 New York Marathon to raise support for the MWCT cause.  He updated people on his training and news via a Twitter feed and put out the word to celebrity friends to join in the event (Alanis Morissette, David Blaine, and MWCT founder Belpietro were among those who ran for the MWCT team). The result was an astonishing $1.2 million raised for the Trust, which topped up the nonprofit’s 2010 budget and helped put money towards the $1 million needed for 2011. Oh yes—and his race time was a very respectable 3:48.


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Edward Norton and the Maasai: A Mission of Conservation