Green Bronx Machine Turns Bronx Students Into Urban Farmers

3p Conferences
| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 1 Comment

RitzBy Julie Noblitt

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli

One of the most soul-satisfying things about attending the Social Innovation Summit is the number of people you meet there who have taken great ideas for social change and translated them into action. Nowhere is the impact of social change more important than in the educational sector, and the summit, held on Nov. 19-20 in Silicon Valley, did not disappoint on this score. The incredible line-up of speakers, included the founders of such innovative educational initiatives as Nirvan Mullick’s Caine’s Arcade, Steve Mesler’s Classroom Champions and Kimberly Bryant’s Black Girls Code — to name just a few.

But one talk brought the audience to its feet for a standing ovation, and it was the one I came to the summit to see: Stephen Ritz’s rapid-fire, exhiliarating tour of how the Green Bronx Machine has helped empower and transform the lives of school children in the historically poorest congressional district in the nation, the South Bronx in New York City. How does he do this? By teaching his students how to become urban farmers.

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Video: Maya Weisinger of the Walker Art Center Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Located in Minneapolis, the host city for this year's Net Impact conference, the Walker Art Center is "a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences."

Located in Minneapolis, the host city for this year’s Net Impact conference, the Walker Art Center is “a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences.”

“Diversity is important in our society because for so long we’ve had a certain set of accepted rules and socializations that basically determined how a big group of people think — and right now this group of people is very different,” Maya Weisinger, learning initiatives coordinator for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.

“It’s the first time in a long time — or ever, maybe, in our country — that these different ideas are becoming more exposed … and we are having issues because of that. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s just new.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, we asked thought leaders from all backgrounds about diversity and how it fits into the broader sustainability conversation in business. Many of our interviewees referenced changing demographics — noting that the younger generation of top talent is different than any other that came before.

As a recent college graduate working in her hometown of Minneapolis, the host city for NI14, Weisinger is more equipped than most to discuss the attitudes of this younger generation — and why they should matter to businesses.

In this two-minute clip, she makes the business case for diversity and touches on why the topic will only become more important in the coming years.

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TransCanada’s Keystone Backup Plan

RP Siegel | Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

PipelineLast week, the Senate blocked another attempt at passing the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote fell short by only one vote. The House has already approved the measure and one might expect it will pass when the Republican majority takes over in January. The president has signaled his intention to veto the measure when it comes to his desk, but is waiting for a decision from Nebraska’s governor before committing.

The plan has been opposed by most environmental groups because the tar sands oil is extremely dirty and energy-intensive to extract. It requires all the tar to be heated before it can be extracted or made to flow through a pipe. That means enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the lifecycle of extraction, transportation and combustion. Furthermore, the proposed pipeline would be routed right over the massive Ogallala aquifer, a crucial source of water for Midwestern farmers. This elevates the risk of a toxic oil leak to one of potentially devastating consequences. All this is happening at a time when oil is at its lowest price in years because we have so much of it from fracking.

Be that as it may, according to documents leaked to Greenpeace, the Canadian company TransCanada has a backup plan in case Keystone fails to get approval.

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The Sports Industry: Feeding More Than Just Ticket Holders

Presidio Sports
Presidio Sports | Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing student blogging series entitled The Business Of Sports & Sustainability. This “micro-blog” is the product of the nations first MBA/MPA certificate program dedicated to sustainability in the sports industry. You can follow the series here.

Gameday HotdogBy Zachary Worthington

In the U.S., we waste around 40 percent of the food we produce, the equivalent of $165 billion. This happens all along the supply chain, from the produce left to rot in the field (curved cucumber, anyone?) to the pre-warmed hot dogs at the stadium that don’t get sold. Besides wasting an opportunity to feed people, (45 million Americans didn’t have enough to eat last year), food waste is also a cornucopia of valuable inputs (fertilizer, water, fuel, time). And when food is wasted in a landfill it is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is that, as a result of some diligent work in the world of sports greening, a lot of the uneaten prepared food at major sporting events — including those pre-warmed hot dogs — are now being fed to those who need it. This also means that the venues avoid paying to have that food trucked off to compost piles or landfills.

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SolarCity and Buffalo’s Transformation

Leon Kaye | Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
SolarCity, clean energy, renewable energy, Elon Musk, urbanization, millennials, solar, wind power, Leon Kaye, Buffalo, New York, green jobs

Buffalo Harbor on the shores of Lake Erie.

Buffalo, New York, is now digging itself (or actually melting itself) out of mountains of snow, but the recent megastorm and its cold winters are not going to stop the city from becoming an important solar energy hub. Earlier this fall, SolarCity announced it would build a 1.2 million-square-foot photovoltaic solar panel factory, which will be one of the largest in the world, on the site of a former steel mill in Buffalo. The massive factory, another one of Elon Musk’s projects, in part is happening because of the state of New York’s doubling down on solar as an economic generator in the Empire State.

But subsidies and tax credits are not the only reason why SolarCity chose Buffalo to build what will soon be the largest solar factory in the western hemisphere. As in the case of its “rust belt” cousins, Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh, Buffalo offers companies such as SolarCity many benefits: solid universities churning out fresh and hungry graduates, affordable living, a renewed optimism and an urban environment many millennials currently crave. The result is that an industry usually identified with Silicon Valley and America’s Sunbelt could play a large role in Buffalo’s resurgence.

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Pepsi True Savaged on Amazon over Palm Oil Controversy

Leon Kaye | Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Pepsi True, Amazon, PepsiCo, Sumofus.org, rainforest action network, sustainable palm oil, conflict palm oil, palm oil, Leon Kaye, supply chain

SumOfUs.org has led the insurgent anti-Pepsi campaign

Less than two months ago PepsiCo hyped a new soft drink product, Pepsi True, as an alternative to the high fructose corn syrupy sweet and artificially sweetened zero-calorie options the company has long pitched to consumers. This new drink, sweetened with stevia root, promised to be “a new kind of cola that is almost too good to be true” and was rolled out for sale exclusively on Amazon.

Unfortunately for PepsiCo, there has been a slight hiccup. Many activists, upset over what they see as the company’s less than robust sustainable palm oil policy, are not cutting Pepsi True any slack, and are mercilessly heckling PepsiTrue with bad reviews. According to Sustainable Brands, the ringleaders are SumOfUs.org and Rainforest Action Network. Last week the outcry on Amazon was so loud PepsiCo pulled the product from Amazon, then reinstated it, only to have complaints still flying in.

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Patagonia’s New, Decentralized Approach to Sustainability Management

3p Conferences
| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Affairs, Patagonia

Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Affairs, Patagonia.

By Maura Dilley

About six months ago, Patagonia, a global leader in sustainable apparel, dissolved its sustainability department. This is a development Rick Ridgeway, vice president of environmental affairs, is very proud of. Patagonia, the iconic outdoor apparel company founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, has lead the apparel industry’s exploration of sustainable design, production and end-of-life for textiles. The company’s path is hard won, lit by metrics and guided by sages of social innovation.

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Chevrolet Investes in Grasslands Conservation Carbon Credits

| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

north-dakota-davis-ranch-490x2 Public-private partnerships are proving to be instrumental, effective and affordable means of addressing carbon emissions and climate change.

On Nov. 17, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Chevrolet purchased third-party-verified carbon credits from working ranch grasslands in North Dakota’s Prairie Pothole region. The first transaction of its kind, the voluntary carbon credits were ushered into being by a public-private partnership and a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Totaling $161,000, the grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, has set a voluntary goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8 million tons, “comparable to the annual carbon reduction benefit of a mature forest the size of Yellowstone National Park,” the Agriculture Department highlighted.

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Video: Ian Fisk of Mentor Capital Network Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

10590632_10152537766699870_6858530667914172525_n
When we spoke to Ian Fisk, executive director of the Mentor Capital Network, as part of our Talking Diversity video series at Net Impact 2014, he identified three types of diversity to frame his approach: visible diversity, or diversity of race, ethnicity, background and sexual orientation; diversity of culture, or the way people are used to working; and diversity of perspective, or making sure a broad range of ideas come to the table.

“Intellectual diversity, which can overlap with diversity of color and of culture but doesn’t necessarily, is making sure that you are looking at a problem from different angles,” Fisk explained. “You’re going to miss something if you’ve trained your people to address a problem all in the same way.”

In this two-minute clip, Fisk touched on the two remaining types of diversity and why they should matter to businesses.

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Sustainability Accounting Standards Matter Now: Reflections from ISSP ’14

3p Conferences
| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

SASB logoBy Devon Bertram

Last week’s International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) annual conference, held in Denver, Colorado, was an opportunity for more than 200 sustainability professionals to come together. They not only shared their stories and insights from their experiences, but also learned from leaders in their fields about trends in the industry, updates on existing tools and frameworks, new resources, lessons learned, and thoughts of the future.

As a first-time ISSP conference attendee, I was struck both by the intimate nature of the conference and the opportunity to connect with the range of attendees, as well as the valuable content of the sessions and varied format that enabled an engaging and dynamic experience. While there was a wide offering of session topics, a few themes took hold:

  • We are in a time of both urgency and opportunity: While we can still be hopeful (and, in my opinion, must be to move forward with grace and support), action needs to happen now in both small incremental steps and even more so, broad and grand changes.
  • Sustainability reporting is being embraced by more and more companies and organizations as a means of sharing metrics and their story: Each are finding ways to make it relevant and valuable to their work, and their customers.
  • Collaboration and partnerships are essential to navigate the challenges that businesses and industries are and will be facing: Expertise gathered from various sectors can support a systems thinking approach and present more informed and appropriate solutions.

Supporting these themes comes the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). While SASB did not hold a focused panel or workshop, its integration and mention throughout a handful of sessions demonstrates its budding presence and relevance in the sustainability field, both today and in the future.

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Fetzer Vineyards Diverts Almost All Its Waste

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday November 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

FetzerVineyards factor prominently in my life, having grown up surrounded by them. When I read that Fetzer Vineyards, located in California’s Mendocino County, diverted 97.7 percent of its waste, I felt like shouting. An image of farm workers burning waste came to mind. It is a common practice for vineyard waste to be burned, a practice which is obviously bad for local air quality.

There is more good news concerning Fetzer Vineyards. The wine maker announced this week that it received platinum level Zero Waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). Platinum certification is the highest level USZWBC offers. The goal of zero waste is to divert all end-use material from landfill, incineration and the environment and achieve a minimum of 90 percent diversion.

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Talking Turkey and Family Values

| Friday November 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments

8069135368_cc593c4a19_zWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

In my quest for a more sustainable Thanksgiving meal this year, I decided take a values-based investing approach. Why not apply the same ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles that I write about in sustainability reports to this marquis meal?

Conscious-driven consumption

Since I believe that my purchases can change society in a way that politicians and legislation cannot, I’ve been steadily shifting more family food dollars toward locally sourced, organic foods. (Given the price of organic food, our grocery bills now often rival investment payments.) As the most extravagant meal of the year, Thanksgiving dinner presented the perfect opportunity to apply this sourcing approach.

So, I began by screening the traditional Thanksgiving menu, focusing on the most material issues, which I identified as the environmental footprint of the largest single component — the turkey. Then I looked for a more responsible alternative.

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Global Internship Program Combats Youth Unemployment

Eric Justian
| Friday November 21st, 2014 | 1 Comment
Ramzan Nasar, Phoebe Williams and Simon Howell from NGO partner The Pump, touring Alcoa, through the Alcoa Foundation Global Youth Internship Program

Ramzan Nasar, Phoebe Williams and Simon Howell from NGO partner The Pump, touring Alcoa, through the Alcoa Foundation Global Youth Internship Program

The Alcoa Foundation, in partnership with the Institute of International Education, is contributing $1.25 million to a paid youth-internship program in order to combat youth unemployment around the world. This particular international challenge is serious and daunting, and the Alcoa Foundation is taking a unique step to address it.

But first let’s go back a bit to explore the problem on a smaller scale. In 2011, even with the state of Michigan still reeling from years of double-digit unemployment, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. cited 77,000 jobs that Michigan employers struggled to fill — despite the desperately high unemployment in the state. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder even went so far as to suggest importing talent from other nations to fill these positions. The issue persists.

The problem, it seems, is a mismatch between the skills of the unemployed and the skills employers need.

It’s not just a challenge in Michigan. It’s happening worldwide. More worrying is that it manifests acutely among the world’s youth, the next wave of the workforce. The International Labor Organization estimates that 73 million young people are unemployed globally, despite unfilled positions and a demand for skilled workers.

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Video: Kathy Hopinkah Hannan of KPMG Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Friday November 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Kathy Hannan Bio_Short 250 “I don’t think you can have a discussion about sustainability without talking about talent,” Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, national managing partner of diversity and corporate responsibility for KPMG, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference. “And given the shifting demographics we have to be looking at diversity in talent.”

“When we bring together diverse perspectives, we will get the best innovation and best solutions for our customers.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Hannan goes on to describe why the business community should care about diversity and the reasons it’s important to KPMG in this two-minute clip.

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America is Aging: What More Do We Need to Know?

3p Conferences
| Friday November 21st, 2014 | 5 Comments
Genworth invited Social Innovation Summit participants to try on their R70 Age Simulation Suit and to start thinking long term about aging.

Genworth invited Social Innovation Summit participants to try on their R70 Age Simulation Suit and to start thinking long-term about aging.

By Maura Dilley

“Aging is the adults version of the birds and the bees, we need to talk about it.” — Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe, a seemly ageless Hollywood actor, was a keynote speaker at this year’s Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley. He was speaking (and sparkling) as a brand ambassador for Genworth, a leading provider of long-term care insurance, attempting to bring the subject of an aging America out of taboo and into the limelight. Rob wants you, me and Ann Perkins to get our house in order for retirement while we’re young and healthy. Good message, but what more needs to be said about aging, social innovation and the business of our near, gray future?

I caught up with Janice Luvera, global brand leader for Genworth, and Dr. Edward Schneider, dean emeritus and [rofessor at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, to dig deeper.

Aging by the numbers

  • 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day between now and 2030 – nearly seven every minute.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services projects that the U.S. population older than 85 will more than double by 2040.
  • Americans older than 40 are more likely to plan for their death than plan for their long-term care needs. While two-thirds have discussed funeral arrangements with loved ones, fewer than half have talked about their preferences for the care they might need as they age.
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