Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

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.


An Interview with Uba Owl, founder of the Alterrealism movement

Uba Owl with Gloria Steinem

The Beijing China government hosted the Beijing Art Biennale  – a major exhibition held in conjunction with the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – a phenomenally successful and historic experience. Artists from around the world were invited to exhibit and 14 artists from the United States were selected. Uba Owl, a local Berkeley, California artist was honored as one of the 14 artists. Uba was interviewed for this article by Steve Yamaguma, president of Design2Market, a Silicon Valley-based design firm and  former board member of the Arts Council Silicon Valley.

It was such an honor to be selected for this prestigious exhibition, how were you contacted and how did you feel?

It is an open competition.  I felt very, very exited about being chosen to show my painting, especially when I learned that I was the only California artist to go, and one of 11 USA artists .

Which piece was exhibited, and what was the significance of the piece?

The title of the painting is “Slippers”.  It shows women swimming, only heads visible.  But there is more to the painting – it is a metaphor about life.

Do you know any of the other artists that were selected and was there a theme that connected all of the art?

I did not know any other artist.  There was a sculptor selected from California, but she decided not to do it (she said she sold the piece).

The theme was Oympics.

What was the response of the Chinese people to your artwork?

I wish I knew!

Did you get a chance to visit the exhibition?

I was selected as a speaker for the conference that accompanied the show.

Unfortunately, I was notified too late and the ticket cost was too expensive because of Olympics.

Is your artwork still in the gallery?

The painting is back in my studio.

You coined the term “Alterrealism”, can you explain?

I have been asked many times to describe what I paint.  I tried to place my art in any existing movement, but could not.  At that point, I decided to come up with the new term.  My husband was the one that created it. 

What other art pieces are you working on today?

I finished working on the Barack Obama family series.  It came about when the group “EngageHer” asked me to paint her portrait for the New York Conference

Where they were hoping for her to be a key speaker.  While looking at her photographs, I was impressed by the open loving emotion in her family, and went on to paint 7 paintings altogether.

How did you get the name “Uba Owl”?

They are  two nicknames from my childhood.  My husband suggested using them, and I liked it.

What is the future like for “Uba Owl”?

I am very excited about it, the future is a mystery, like my art.

Any exhibits coming up in the near future?

Coming up a show in Philadelphia, PII Gallery, opening April 2nd.

Thank you again and all the best to you, Uba Owl.

Engage Her Silicon Valley

Great workshop last night. Congrats Dee. http://ping.fm/AgnIb

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.

Green For All founder Van Jones to Washington

The founder of Oakland-based Green For All (www.greenforall.org), 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”.

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 (www.farrside.com), 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.

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”.