Category Archives: Sustainability

Kids vs Global Warming – 15 year old inspiration

Founder of Kids vs Global Warming

The Bay Area Schools Environmental Conference put on by the City of San Jose Environmental Services Department last May was nothing but inspirational. Concerned students were thirsting for new information and ways to slow global warming and rethink how we can be better guardians of our planet… for it is the youth that will be the custodians of the future.

The City of San Jose has committed to promoting awareness and activism for improving our environment. It is one of the leaders in the nation with mayor Chuck Reed’s “Green Vision” program. The Bay Area Schools Environmental Conference brought hundreds of students together to discuss their concerns and learn from the dozens of nonprofits committed to building a sustainable future.

But what was most inspirational was the keynote speaker. 15 year-old Alec Loorz, the founder of Kids vs Global Warming http://kids-vs-global-warming.com rallied the audience, young and old to come together and actively participate in the improvement of our environment from a global perspective to a personal view. “We can do things right now” he proclaimed as he advised us on things we can do on a daily basis such as reducing the use of water while showering or brushing our teeth. On a global scale he is organizing a “Million Kid March” http://kids-vs-global-warming.com/iMatter_March.html, mobilizing the youth around the world to take a stand and let our governments and corporations know that we need to make changes NOW!

If nothing else, Alec and the many committed youth at the conference gives us hope that there will be a brighter tomorrow. It is but a work in progress.

Do you know what happens when you flush?

 

It’s not something we think about everyday. Or any day… if at all. Yet it is something that affects all of us now and into the future. The San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant (SJ/SC WPCP) is one of the most advanced and largest water treatment plants in the country, serving approaching two million people in our community. Looking towards the future, we are challenged to effectively treat and manage our waste water and maintain the delicate eco-system of the South Bay.

In addition, with natural resources depleting, how do we adequately supply water for our growing population? The SJ/SC WPCP Master Plan is being developed to guide the upgrade and renovation of the plant and the development of the surrounding 2,600 acres on which it is situated. Introducing the latest technology to treat and recycle the water more effectively is at the core of the master plan’s mission. Being able to generate energy from the bio-mass waste is an added benefit. Yet the opportunities are much more. A thoughful plan of natural habitat areas, water recreation, trails, commercial, educational and industrial uses can create a thriving, sustainable destination. 

The City of San Jose Environmental Services department is inviting the public to participate and voice their opinions as to the future of this important region in the south San Francisco Bay. Community workshops are being held in a variety of locations this month. This is your opportunity to help shape the future of our community.

Saturday, May 1 – 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Milpitas City Hall – 455 East Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas

Tuesday, May 4 – 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Santa Clara Library – 2635 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara

Saturday, May 8 – 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Roosevelt Community Center – 901 East Santa Clara St., San Jose

Wednesday, May 12 – 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Alviso Library – 5050 North 1st St., San Jose

Wednesday, May 19 – 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Cupertino Community Hall – 10350 Torre Ave., Cupertino

http://www.rebuildtheplant.org

Climate Change for the rest of us

glacier

As important an issue that it is, the discussions of Climate Change in the media are generally out of reach of the average person, let alone the many who are dealing with the daily struggles of survival. Health issues, family, job loss, housing, education, financial issues and the economy in general all tend to push this discussion out into the distant future. How does it resonate with the many under-served in our population, i.e.: those challenged with handicaps or English as a second language?

This is a much bigger issue that will affect all of us. It is an issue that needs to be talked about at all levels of our society. As the global population pushes towards the 7 Billion people mark (http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html) and our natural resources rapidly depleting (http://record.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/12786.html), the next generations, our children, will be left with a world that cannot sustain the growth that it has over the past century. And with global warming accelerating the loss of the arctic ice sheet (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/10/091015-arctic-ice-free-gone-global-warming.html) there will be catastrophic climate changes that will affect every man, woman and child on this planet. We can’t ignore it.

iStock_000000925210_autumnforest-300x199

How do we engage the vast majority of the population in this conversation? This story needs to be told at all levels of the educational system. This is not one semester of science or world history, this is about changes in the way we live, work and play. Government needs to back major initiatives for change. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce needs to support climate legislation in Congress. The media needs to give access to NGOs and other organizations involved in the environment, climate change and education to help communicate the challenges in very simple, easy to understand terms. The investment community needs to step up and back more clean tech and alternative energy projects. Big business needs to realize that making a profit while damaging the environment is bad business, and not sustainable.

iStock_000002577406_rushhour-300x199How about the entertainment industries where we worship the excesses of our society? The millionaire celebrities with multiple gas-guzzlers, extravagant mansions and lifestyles that promote waste and careless neglect for our environment? There is an opportunity here to reach the masses by telling the story in entertaining but meaningful ways.

We cannot wait for new scientific developments, the next miracle energy source. Climate Change means WE HAVE TO CHANGE. And if we don’t, the world we leave to our children will be more challenging than the one we are living in today.

Flexibility, Patience, and a thick skin. Virtues of a Small Small Business Person.

Without a doubt, we, the “small small business” business owner, have the cards stack against us. When a large customer asks us to jump, we not only jump higher, we try to fly. When there’s an impossible deadline, we barrel our heads down and we make it possible. And, when we need a timely response from our client in order to push their project through, we bite our lips off patiently waiting for them to “get back to us”.

With limited budgets and time, we weather the harsh criticisms and take satisfaction in the fact that we got the job out the door and we’re still in one piece, ready to take on the next battle. And as brutal the process is, we keep going, and going and going. Yes we have to be smarter than the competition. Faster. Hungrier. More savvy. Yet flexibility, patience and a thick skin are attributes they don’t teach in school. You learn it on the frontlines of everyday business.

A business plan, a strategy, and setting goals are important first steps in the process of building a business. But how you deal with the daily, moment by moment challenges builds the character of your business and sets you apart from the competition.

A Whole New Mind

Finished Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind. The future is in the hands of the creatives http://ping.fm/0eypB

In Response to MJ’s blog on Eco-Chic.

Eco-chic can meaning driving a Prius to oen party and your Mercedes to another; depending on who is there and what the party is for? A prius for the Green Ball, but a Mercedes for the Investment Bankers Ball!

What many buyers don’t realize is marketing of the Prius pitches to only the “use” cycle of the product (car). Only a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) would really determine if the raw materials and products (manufacturing process) use to assemble the car, their manufacturing processes and the eventual “dsiposal” of the car are really “environmentally friendly”. Perhaps this LCA exists somewhere, but to do so in full would require a huge fee to an LCA consultant. 

Americans need to start realizing the entire life of products and small changes the average person (not only the wealthy who can build sustainable homes and drive Priuses vs. Pontiacs) can put into effect; what might some of these be? Ideas? And, why would the average person make such changes?

MJK

You’re absolutely right. A full Life Cycle Assessment is the only way we can determine if something is truly “green”. (Paper vs plastic???). The challenges of doing a full LCA on everything is daunting to say the least, if not totally out of our budgets (especially in this economy). But a movement towards awareness starts with everyone. And as we gain more awareness and acceptance we can continue to evaluate our choices and make adjustments as we go. When the “movement” reaches critical mass, then government has to respond to the people. And legislation and action can take place.

Short of this, the concept of “cradle to cradle” not just “cradle to grave” hopefully will give us a renewed perspective on how we use things and dispose of things, and spawn new ideas and industries to recycle, repurpose and reuse things on a daily basis.

Being “eco-chic” is not the answer to our global woes. But it is a signal that our “enlightened consciousness” has to permeate all our human activities. And when that happens, we will then ready to take the next step of altering lifestyles and taking actions to make meaningful changes that will move us towards a sustainable world.

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 http://fullcirclesunnyvale.org/ 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” http://tinyurl.com/lrtav3. We have a reputation to live up to.