Social Transformation Activist
Emerging as one of the nation’s most promising leaders of the green movement, Jarid Manos is at the helm of the new Ecological Health movement helping young people heal themselves through healing the Earth.
Manos is founder and CEO of Great Plains Restoration Council. Based in Houston, Texas, the organization works to restore and protect the nation’s shattered prairies and plains through developing youth leaders in ecological health. While scientists, policy makers and environmental stewards discuss America’s most affected and least protected prairies and plains, Manos is taking diligent action toward saving the world’s most precious resources – nature and humans – from the brink of extinction.
Once a drug dealer on the streets of New York, Manos struggled through a childhood of self-hatred, extreme depression, prejudice, and sexual harassment from strangers while growing up in the rural Midwest and eventually made his way to Texas as a late teen. Angry, alienated and filled with hopelessness, he fell down into the urban underworld and came to embrace a life of crime brought on by last-ditch desperation and anger. Seeking to escape the bleakness, he began trying to find refuge in nature. But in the destroyed outback of the Great Plains and American West, he instead found a level of violence and hopelessness that made anything he’d known on the streets or in normal society pale in comparison. He lashed back with sabotage, but eventually found that backlash anger and resentment just contributed to the world’s problems.
It was when Manos learned of the Buffalo Commons, an idea hatched in the late 1980s by two Rutgers scholars to reintroduce buffalo to under populated counties in middle America, that he was inspired with a vision. He transformed his life, became a vegan, and created a career in personal training, physical therapy and exercise physiology. He began networking with social justice and environmental groups and learned how to organize, eventually transforming into an activist and community builder seeking to facilitate harmony and foster a primal connection to the natural world.
In 1999, he founded the Great Plains Restoration Council with the goal to help troubled and disadvantaged youth and young adults heal themselves through healing some of America’s most damaged ecosystems.
Manos recruits young inner city victims of violence, poverty and their own bad behavior, and guides them to work on restoring their own lives through restoring that of the prairie. With Great Plains Restoration Council’s signature social programs, Restoration Not Incarceration™ and Plains Youth InterACTION™ creating positive health impacts for people and prairies, the organization works to restore endangered coastal prairies, bayous, and wetlands of Greater Houston and the Gulf Coast shore with young adults and juveniles who have been incarcerated and face high recidivism rates. His group has also prevented the destruction of a rare, 2000 acre southern tallgrass prairie near Fort Worth on the backdoor of 5 million people, and is working to re-establish a prairie dog town and reintroduce bison on a new reserve in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. From 2002 to 2009, Great Plains Restoration Council ran a satellite Plains Youth InterACTION program, operated by local Oglala Lakota people, on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and was successful in acquiring and creating a new 4,600 acre preserve adjacent to Badlands National Park that was in danger of being bought by a prairie dog killing club. The National Park Service is currently working to expand this preserve into the Park.
Manos shares his journey to self-discovery in his first literary contribution, Ghetto Plainsman, a gritty, raw and spiritual chronicle of triumph over humiliation, self-defeat, anger and violence. His story of redemption takes readers on a chaotic journey between urban survival and the life-or-death struggles of the ravaged American Great Plains.
In August 2011, Manos was selected as a member of the Obama administration’s new Relevancy Committee, through the National Park Service, to help diverse communities connect to wild nature as a matter of our own public health. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Black Vegetarian Society of Texas.
As an author, philanthropic leader, activist, and empowerment speaker, he leads national conversations that weave a common thread between the destruction and preservation of Earth and self, aiming to impact humanity through a widespread adoption and advocacy.
He has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, USA Today, Smithsonian, Congressional Quarterly, Houston Chronicle, Albuquerque Journal, among many others. He is a frequently featured guest speaker for universities, jails, churches (and other places of faith) organizations, rallies, conferences, businesses, chambers of commerce, and schools nationwide.
He is currently working on his second book, an American novel titled Her Blue Watered Streets.