Name: Jacob Greenstein
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Circle Start Date: April 3rd, 2018


What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?

The majority of my free time is dedicated to my work. I am a public affairs professional who works in and around the Capitol on multiple levels. While my background is in environmental policy, I currently work with multiple nonprofits that aim to end childhood hunger in California. When I am not working or hosting, I spend my free time trying to better myself in other ways – physically and emotionally. I recently got into the sport of powerlifting. I have always been an avid exerciser because I truly ascribe to the idea of “sound body, sound mind”. Recently, I have been exploring ways to integrate the arts into my regular life mostly by pursuing acting endeavors.

What attracted you to the Circles?

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in personal and community development. As an undergraduate student, I spent nearly all of my time in one way or another dedicated to improving myself and my community. However, when I graduated from college, I felt like this aspect of my life that gave me so much fulfillment and purpose had evaporated. I was exposed to the Ben Franklin Circles through another nonprofit that I work closely with – the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) – and immediately knew that this was something that I wanted to pursue myself and bring to my community. In college, I discovered the Muslim poet and theologian, Jalal al-Din Rumi, who wrote what has come to be a guiding mantra for my life, “yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Every day I wake up and think about this quote and how I can apply it to my life, my personal development, and how I can be my best self for those around me. When I had my introductory calls about BFCs, I understood them to be a mechanism to support my mantra; how could I not buy in?

Tell us a little about the composition of your group. How did you find members?

My group is definitely on the younger side, our average age is probably about 25 and most of them work in or around politics. That said, my group is diverse in their own ways. When I sought to build out my group, I asked: “how can I build a group with a diversity of experience and understanding of the world?” I cast a wide net to around 40 people of all different backgrounds and had a solid group of 10 people commit. While the group is young, we come from different walks of life, different family backgrounds, we have different religious and political views, different ethnic backgrounds, genders, sexuality, etc. but for all of the things that are different, we all wanted the same thing: community.

Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?

To date, my circle has discussed 4 virtues. My favorite so far has been Order which took me by surprise. I expected it to be a straightforward conversation, but it led us to a discussion on equity, human versus natural order and more. As someone who practices a simple, practical order very well (you should see my closet), I appreciate the definition of “straightforward”, but our conversation led to another level of discussion including human existence and its order and purpose. It was a conversation that riveted my soul.

Perhaps the value I am most looking forward to discussing is Humility because of the way Ben Franklin defines it. I am not a Christian myself but have always thought of Christ as a model for how to live. That said, I am curious to see how my group covers the topic knowing the religious makeup of my group and our interfaith background.

What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?

The last commitment to myself is a hybrid of Order and Resolution. As a young adult, many things are constantly in flux and it can be difficult to keep a grasp on everything going on around me. Because of this, I am spending more time deciding what is important to me, prioritizing, and creating a path to these things.