Category Archives: Silicon Valley

Full Circle Farm. The next symbol of Silicon Valley?

valleyThere is a quiet movement in Silicon Valley of people getting back in touch with the earth. Full Circle Farm is one of the most ambitious movements. A community-based eleven acre organic located at Peterson Middle School in Sunnyvale, CA, it is the largest of its kind in the nation. Started in the summer of 2007, the founders had quite a vision of improving the health and well-being of the students and local community by offering up fresh, tasty organic produce as an alternative to the fast-food diet of today. Integrating into the school’s curriculum, Full Circle Farm is not only teaching students healthy eating habits, but the business of growing, tending, managing and selling the produce.

A team of Stanford scientists headed up by Christopher Gardner is furthering the study of how Full Circle Farm will positively impact the diets of the students and the local community, and help raise awareness for programs such as this to help unite communities in the effort to turn the tide of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The long term effects of locally grown organic farming will have major benefits in terms of reducing our carbon footprint as we will rely less on foreign grown produce, thereby reducing transportation, a major source of CO2 pollutants.

As the movement continues to gain acceptance, Full Circle Farm has the possibility to be the role model for building healthy communities on the global stage. It will take work and commitment to make this happen. But after all, before Silicon Valley, this was the “Valley of Hearts Delights” We have a reputation to live up to.


Green For All founder Van Jones to Washington

The founder of Oakland-based Green For All (, Van Jones, has been tapped by the Obama adminstration for the position of spokesperson with the title of “Special advisor for green jobs, enterprise and innovation”.

Congress Urged to move climate change agenda ahead

rushhourI applaud Congressman Mike Honda’s article published in the Mercury News(6/10/09) regarding the need for congressional constituents to urge congress to take action on global climate change issues. For most of us, we are focused on the economy, jobs, housing, education and health issues which confront us in our daily lives. It is hard to look out into the future beyond the next few months, let alone the next few years. Unfortunately, time is catching up to us and we are going to have to recognize the impeding challenges ahead of us and take decisive action. This is not just a local, regional, or national issue. It is a global issue which will affect all of  us. In addition to the political, economic and social confrontations on the international stage, what to do about global climate change has stymied political leaders and scientists alike It is important for each and everyone of us to understand the gravity of the situation and reassess our own values and lifestyles to move towards a more sustainable society now and into the future. Talk to your congressional representatives, state representatives, city council and county supervisors. Talk to your teachers, educators, and other civic leaders. It is our opportunity for our country to take the leadership role in this important fight to sustain our planet for generations to come.

Phenomenal Tango Music rocks the chapel walls


Music of Astor Piazzolla

Music of Astor Piazzolla

Last month’s phenomenal performance of Tragedia, Comedia y Piazzolla at the Old Mission San Jose in Fremont, literally rocked the chapel walls as the tight-nit quintet powered through the songs and music of Astor Piazzolla. The second coming of “Quineteo Quilombo“, the classical chamber tango ensemble, to the Music at the Mission and Music@Market music series was a delight to the almost full house (or should I say full church?). Led by virtuoso performers Seth Asarnow on Bandoneon and Ertan Torqul on violin, they pushed and pulled Piazzola’s music with such raw emotion, the audience was compelled to jump to their feet and shout their praises several times during the evening.


The venue was a perfect setting for the delicate subtle interludes as well as the powerful bursts of energy that engulfed the hall. Rounding out the quintet was Bill Everett on bass, Paul Binkley on guitar and Aileen Chanco on piano. Individually each are dynamic performers in their own right. Collectively they are a powerhouse of musical mastery and innovation.

Sadly the evening ends too soon, albeit on a high, high note.

Sustainable Urbanism, Douglas Farr


Sustainable Urbanism

Sustainable Urbanism

There’s a new conversation circulating in the midst of the economic slowdown and the uncertainties of our global environmental future. Doug Farr (, architect, urban planner, author, and environmentalist spoke to a crowded theater of business leaders, civic leaders, educators, students, and anyone else who was interested in the sustainable future of our community on Monday evening (October 20, 2008) at the San Jose Repertory Theater. It was a straight forward, no-nonsense dialog of how we live, work and play and the consequences of our “excessive lifestyle”.


For newbies, it was an enlightened view into the LEED rating system for buildings and what the current trends and programs are to reduce our impact on the environment.

Yet, LEED does not go far enough, as Doug points out. We need to re-look at the total urban environment, not just a single building, and restructure our urban landscape.

As we struggle with the concept of paying millions for new public transportation systems, it is clear that the system alone won’t solve our problems, let alone coax us out of our beloved cars. We need to create new urban environments, or “Transit Oriented Developments (TOD)” where “it just doesn’t make sense to drive a car”.

We need to increase densities of housing in neighborhoods to be able to sustain businesses and services for that neighborhood. And create compelling environments that make pedestrian lifestyle the mode of choice.

The move to create sustainable neighborhoods and clusters of LEED buildings is being promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council as LEED-ND (LEED for Neighborhood Development).

Although not the only “solution”, it provides a positive goal for create a quality of life “live/work environment” for the next generation of urbanites. He presents the case that it’s not only good for the environment and economy, but it is important for our individual health. With grim statistics on the growing obesity rates in our country, Farr shows that the pedestrian lifestyle has positive benefits for our health and well-being.

Still, we have a long way to go to alter our way of life on this road to sustainability. We need to stop the worship of our cars and consider alternatives to almost everything we do on a daily basis. And it needs to be adopted by everyone in our society, locally, nationally, and globally.

This warning message is not just for us, but for our children and the future generations. What can we do? At minimum, we need to educate ourselves and dialog with our friends, neighbors, business associates, educators and government officials. As Doug has presented his viewpoints on Sustainable Urbanism, we need to take the lead and start the conversation.

Argentine Tango experience captivates the South Bay

Zero Hour… The World of Astor PiazzollaSan Jose, California, October 19, 2007

WOW! What a way to “kick start” the new 2007-2008 season for Music@Market / Music at the Mission, the tandem chamber music concert series in the South Bay. With the debut of “Zero Hour… The World of Astor Piazzolla”, the halls of the San Jose Museum of Art were punctuated with the rhythm of Argentinian Tango. The formidable cast of world-class musicians included Seth Asarnow on bandoneon (the instrument of Astor Piazolla), versatile San Francisco guitarist, John Imholz, San Antonio Symphony Associate Concertmaster, Ertan Torgul, Symphony Silicon Valley Principal Bassist, Bill Everett, and our very own, Aileen Chanco on piano. “Their timing was impeccable” as each musician wove intricate rhythms into a powerful tapestry of tempos, melodies and emotions. With two rounds of standing ovation from the full house, it was clear, Tango has arrived, and so has this fledgling new music series.

The brainchild of Aileen Chanco and Julie Wind, Music@Market and Music at the Mission bring together two historic venues, the St. Joseph Cathedral Basilica in San Jose and Mission San Jose in Fremont, as the backdrop for presenting new and exciting experiments in modern chamber music. The first concert of this season, “Zero Hour…” showcased not only the music of Tango, but the elegant dance of tango as well. The Bay Area Tango Bandeonista treated the audience to a dazzling display of footwork as dancers pranced and swayed to the beat of Argentine Tango.

The after-party reception brought audiences and participants together to share in the exuberance of the evening and sample the wine and food of Argentina. The “Zero Hour… The World of Astor Piazzolla” event has brought music, dance, culture, art and food together in a complete experience that redefines “a night on the town.” I anxiously look forward to the next offering served up by South Bay’s new cultural icons, Music@Market and Music at the Mission.

TiECON: The New Face of Entrepreneurship

What struck me about the recent TiECON event (this was my 3rd year attending) is that it has gone far beyond the “techno-engineering-entrepreneur meet venture-capital-monies” event and is attempting to address social, cultural, economic and “health and well being” issues. Sure, there are the hundreds of entrepreneurs with innovations that will change the world (or at least make themselves very rich), but there were others that were truly interested in social networks and communities as not just a “web 2.0” phenomenon, but a means to connect with others, to share experiences and to enrich lives.

At first it seemed odd to me that one of the keynote speakers, Robert Ingram, Chairman and CEO of GlaxoSmithKline was discussing the healthcare system in our nation and how 45% of the total U.S. population has a chronic disease. Does this matter to the next “Bill Gates” whose well-guarded software code is on the line for a hefty round of VC funding? Well, considering 45% is almost one out of every two people, I think it should matter. In fact, isn’t that what really matters? Quality of life? Our health and well being? Our friends, family, community?

For sure TiECON embodies the spirit of Silicon Valley: The “think-out-of-the-box” entrepreneur. The “go beyond” attitude. The ‘next great thing”. But taking Silicon Valley to the next level of personal and social responsibility, community and environmental sustainability as well as global economic leadership is the bigger picture and the greater opportunity.

Enlightened TiECON founders brought the likes of yogi Sadhguru, Founder of the Isha Foundation to talk about “inner wellbeing” and “self-awareness” as a critical core of effective leadership. Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay, spoke not only about the visions and strategies that made eBay the number one ecommerce site on the internet today, but about eBay’s social responsibility and commitment to positive changes in the world through its philanthropic endeavors.

And what about Nobuyuki Idei, the deposed Chairman and CEO of Sony, who for the past 20 years guided the consumer electronics company to become a $70B global giant? He continues to invest in the future with his new company, Quantum Leap, guiding budding entrepreneurs and the next generation CEOs. His philosophy of “soft alliances” suggests that building relationships for the long term is the only way to sustain business.

Which brings us to Anshul Samar, the 13 year old CEO and founder of Elementeo, the creator of, a board game that teaches science and chemistry in a fun and challenging way. Watching Ansul pitch his company demonstrates that the vision and hope for the future lies in our youth. Their vision is more about “understanding the world around us in order to create a better life for all” than about “going IPO and creating wealth for the shareholders”. We must nurture and encourage this valuable commodity and continue to create an environment that is healthy, stimulating and supportive.

TiECON exemplifies the “best of the best” of the Silicon Valley brain trust. Let’s hope the “New Face of Entrepreneurship” is an enlightened leader that values long term sustainability and the health and well-being of our global community. I look forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovations that will lead us to this vision of the “world 2.0”.