Archive for January, 2012

I AM: And the Winner Is….

January 23rd, 2012

We had so many great I AM Challenge submissions, but we could only pull one name out of the hat to win. She is Felicia from Marina del Rey, CA, and she won two VIP tickets to our Pre-Oscar part February 22. More here.

Global Green Room Interview: Jerry James Stone

January 18th, 2012
Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

Environmental writer Jerry James Stone writes about food (vegetarian dishes even carnivores like) and eco wines for Treehugger’s Green Wine Guide blog, and green cars, tech, and other fun matters for his Discovery blog. We imagine he cracked open a good (and organic) bottle of wine before answering our questions for the Global Green Room Interview.

What would surprise us about your work?

Gosh, probably how terribly un-sexy my job is compared to how sexy it might actually look. Don’t get me wrong, tasting eco-fabulous wines and food is a lot of fun and I am honored to have that privilege the few days out of the year that I do. But most of the time I am working from home in my footie pajamas, alone and with my cat. Have you seen that Oatmeal comic on the degradation of social skills when you work from home, well, I am now on year three! Please send help!

Who is your hero?

I am going to say my mom, and my dad (who passed away from cancer over a decade ago). My parents have always been supportive of me, and behind pretty much every harebrained idea that I have had. And I have had a lot for a guy with no hair. I mean, I say this as a guy who worked for the Department for Defense for eight years as a software developer, who then worked as a web developer (one job included a porn site!) and now I am a blogger for Discovery Channel and I am working on a cookbook.

That takes one supportive family. And let me tell you, the wine discount helps.

What has been your greatest success?

I would say my use of social media. They always say “it’s who you know” and quite frankly, I call bullsh*t. Social media is powered by acquaintance, plain and simple. Through it (mostly Twitter) I have connected with world renowned eco-architects like Michelle Kaufmann, e-met famous people and changemakers like Sophia Bush and Craig Newmark, but probably the one I am most proud of is raising money for a fellow eco-blogger I only knew over Twitter, who had been injured and was without health insurance.

My friend Derek Markham suffered an injury due to a climbing accident. While his broken ankle would mend, the real impact was the financial toll. Derek was without health insurance and he was his family’s sole wage-earner. When he tweeted of his injury, I jokingly shot back about my plans to start a Save the Derek foundation, but it was only in jest. So, while I’d love to take credit for what happened next, I simply cannot. Mutual friends turned my snarky tweet into an actual Save the Derek fundraiser that raised over $2,000 for Derek’s medical expenses. Mutual friends, I might add, whom I’d also never met. We were simply connected via Twitter. That is what makes social media work. It’s not the 100 Facebook friends you actually know and keep in touch with; it’s the 1,000 people you don’t.

What about a failure or challenge?

This is a tough one to answer. I mean, I have failed and many times over. I can **** it up better than anybody. I just never dwell on it. Like I will look back at this interview and ask myself why I ****ing swear so much. No, but seriously, I try to walk away from every experience (good and bad) mindful so that I can only do better the next time.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

Hmm, if I had a magic wand the first thing I would probably try to do is give myself a lifetime supply of Thai food; yum! And if that didn’t work, well, I would like to bathe the planet in peace, just for a day. Everyone, everything would know peace, know the beauty and power of it. We spend too much time thinking about work, bills, Thai food, are we too fat, how do these jeans look and all that other crap that doesn’t matter. And I do it too. But it’s those moments of true peace, they offer such clarity. I would give the world that for a whole day and then just watch the Utopia unfold as everyone works together to maintain it. It will be pure awesomeness and I am sure the Thai food will be even more tasty!

Rejected: Keystone XL Pipeline Proposal

January 18th, 2012

President Obama rejected the proposal for the Keystone XL oil pipeline today. Stopping the Keystone XL is a tremendous victory and groups like 350.org, along with activists Bill McKibben, Robert Redford, and others deserve deep gratitude for their tireless efforts. Let’s celebrate today, and then return tomorrow to the business of pushing for a more energy-efficient, resilient economy powered by renewable energy and real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

What He Said: Jerry Brown on Green Jobs

January 18th, 2012

“In the beginning of the computer industry, jobs were numbered in the thousands. Now they are in the millions. The same thing will happen with green jobs. And California is positioned perfectly to reap the economic benefits that will inevitably flow.” — California Governor Jerry Brown in his state of the state speech

Word Up: Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote

January 17th, 2012

word_up_speech_bubbleThe quote from today’s staff meeting comes from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Green Car Journal: Movies & TV Drive Home a Message

January 15th, 2012

Originally published in the Green Car Journal

We know that culture can drive change. Now we are seeing change actually drive, with the growing emergence of energy-efficient hybrid and electric cars in movies and TV — and on the road.

Just a few years ago, it would have been surprising to see the star of a hit TV show driving an electric car. But when Ashton Kutcher recently made his high-profile debut on the new season of TV’s “Two and a Half Men,” millions of viewers tuned in and saw his character drive the Fisker Karma, a luxury electric vehicle.

Since the Prius took hold thanks in large part to cultural influencers driving the car, there was a slow but steady mainstream acceptance by the public of energy-efficient vehicles. It is great to see that momentum is shifting. It was just five years ago that director Chris Paine released his documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” But this year, Paine released his follow-up: “Revenge of the Electric Car.”

We played our own role at Global Green making hybrid cars fun and sexy with our “Red Carpet, Green Cars” campaign to shuttle influencers in Hollywood to the Academy Awards.

We all know the struggling economy is responsible for a shift in consumer behavior, and saving money at the gas pump is a huge motivator for so many Americans. Companies are providing a wider range of options and developing technologies that make the vehicles more practical and attainable, whether it is the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, or Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

While it is fair to say that most viewers of “Two and A Half Men” are unlikely to spend over $100,000 on the luxury eco-vehicle driven by Kutcher’s internet billionaire character, that’s not the point. There is a spotlight on it — and now an electric vehicle is seen as aspirational.

As consumers, we all make choices, and it is good to see more environmentally-friendly choices on screen and on the streets.

Power For Haiti: Two Years After the Earthquake

January 13th, 2012
With students from Cine Institute, recipients of a donated solar tent.

With students from Cine Institute, recipients of a donated solar tent.

Today marks the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck the nation of Haiti. The rebuilding of Haiti has been painfully slow, but progress is being made.

Thanks to our supporters, Global Green is doing its part to help green the rebuilding of Haiti. We mobilized immediately after the earthquake, and generous individuals were joined by Walton Goggins, who raised over $6,000, and SBE, which raised $20,000 from their employees to help us make an impact.

I have some amazing news to share, and a way you can help us do so much more. But first let me share a report on what we’ve done so far.

Global Green has selected three partners on the ground doing important work, and we’re greening their projects.

haiti_latrines_solar

With Mark Andrews of Habitat for Humanity.

Last November, I made my second trip to Haiti to build homes for a week with Habitat for Humanity and President and Mrs. Carter. While there, I announced Global Green’s donation to Habitat to help build compostable latrines and solar neighborhood lighting.

I was also able to visit the Cine Institute in Jacmel, where we committed to make a grant to help power their film school where they train young Haitians to work in film, television, and radio. Global Green was able to get a $100,000 solar tent donated for the Cine Institute. Thanks to the support of Black Card Foundation, FTL Solar, Jet Blue, and Airline Ambassadors, the solar tent allowed the only film school in Haiti to power one of their buildings.

In March of 2011, I also visited the APJ school in Port au Prince, where secondary students from camps are getting a second chance at an education. We plan to make a donation of solar, so the students can always access their computer lab.

All these projects will benefit from Global Green’s help and our donation of solar panels, so students and families do not need to depend on the unreliable electricity grid or dirty, expensive diesel generators.

But there’s some more great news to report!

haiti_solarlightThis week, I was able to secure a donation of 110 kilowatts of solar panels for Global Green’s work in Haiti! The value is $300,000 to $400,000. This is amazing news, and is thanks to the great people at the SunPower Foundation.

To take advantage of this donation, we now need to raise the money to ship the solar panels to Haiti, safely get them to our partners, and have them installed. We estimate we need to raise another $100,000 for the shipping and installation costs. You can help us give the gift of power: the APJ school, the Cine Institute, and the community center to serve 400 families at Habitat for Humanity’s project in Leogane can be powered 100% by the sun.

Please make a donation today, and whatever you think you can give, please double it. The amazing people of Haiti need our help.

What He Said: Mayor Bloomberg on Green Cities

January 12th, 2012
Photo: Edward Reed

Photo: Edward Reed

A few choice quotes from New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg during his State of the City address:

“Finally, if we’re going to be the most innovative city in the world, we also have to be the greenest, because that’s how you attract the most forward-looking individuals and companies. So today, we’re announcing the next phase in three key areas of our PlaNYC environmental and infrastructure agenda: recycling, clean energy and clean air.”

“To begin, we’ll double the amount of residential waste we divert from landfills by 2017. By taking steps like increasing recycling in schools and streets and expanding our plastics recycling program, we’ll reduce our waste disposal costs by $50 million annually and help protect the environment.”

“We’ll also become one of the first cities in the country to turn wastewater into renewable energy and we’ll explore the possibility of cleanly converting trash into renewable energy. To attack air pollution, we’ll overhaul the city’s air quality codes, green our building and zoning codes and accelerate our work with property owners to phase-out dirty heating oils. All of this work will help move us closer to our goal of having the cleanest air of any large city in America.”

Good Energy, Good Economy

January 11th, 2012

At the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in Chicago today, keynote speaker Dr. Kathleen Hogan of the Department of Energy revealed that 600,000 homes in the U.S. have been weatherized so far thanks to stimulus funds, plus tens of thousands of jobs created. She also called energy efficiency “a virtually untapped opportunity” — we couldn’t agree more and plan to tap that opportunity as we sign on more families in our NOLA Wise program in New Orleans.

On the Horizon: 2012 Plans

January 11th, 2012
Global Green staff at our annual retreat.

Global Green staff and board at our annual retreat.

Given the importance of our green mission and ongoing goal to improve communities and the lives of those in need, I have always had the philosophy of expecting great things from the people that work for me here at Global Green. In 2012, it is no different. Each part of our organization — every member of Team Global Green, for that matter — is energized in 2012 to do groundbreaking work. In many cases, quite literally groundbreaking to create greener homes, neighborhoods, and cities. Here is a glance at the big projects lined up so far for 2012.

GREEN CITIES AND NEIGHBORHOODS

We are offering our green neighborhood design expertise to eight cities (Lafayette, Indiana; Dearborn, Michigan; Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Greensboro, North Carolina; Lakewood, Colorado; Oakland, California; Louisville, Kentucky; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

We are facilitating the development of a Green Building Policy for the city of Goleta, CA, and contributing to the climate action plan for the city of Santa Ana.

We are providing urban agriculture and sustainability expertise in Youngstown, OH, for a comprehensive overhaul of the city’s zoning and development code.

We are taking a leadership role in hearings and workshops for the implementation of AB-758 in California.

We are working with the Green Collaborative in New Orleans to develop relationships with local legislators in order to advance a green jobs agenda in the 2012 state legislative session with a focus on coastal restoration.

GREEN HOMES

We are helping families in New Orleans weatherize their homes with our NOLA Wise program (400 families and counting…) and continuing to offer assistance to help low-income families green their homes in New Orleans.

We are helping families who lost homes in the San Bruno gas explosion to rebuild green.

GREEN SCHOOLS

We are consulting with The Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, the winner of the Green School Makeover competition, as they break ground on their green school projects. We are also helping the four runners-up on their green school projects.

We are updating a new and improved mobile app for schools to use to help them measure energy efficiency, air quality, waste and water use, lighting, and more.

WEAPONS ELIMINATION

We are looking forward to further reductions of nuclear and chemical weapons under the 2010 US-Russian New START agreement and the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention; improved fissile material security under the March 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea; and renewed nonproliferation and disarmament initiatives under the Global Partnership chaired in 2012 by the United States.

RECYCLING AND WASTE REDUCTION

We are signing on new businesses for our Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) pilot programs on packaging and food waste recovery and recycling in New York City and kicking off a similar initiative in New Orleans.

CLIMATE ACTION

We are attending the UN Earth Summit in Rio in June, 20 years after the first — at a time that is critical. Leading up to the event, we will raise awareness in the U.S. and work with other nonprofits in a concentrated effort to affect real change. Stay tuned for more soon, when we announce a campaign for the Earth Summit.

EVENTS

We will raise awareness and support — and honor those helping to green our world — at our annual events and award shows: Our Pre-Oscar Party in February;  Millennium Awards in June; Sustainable Design Awards in November; and Gorgeous & Green event in late fall/winter.