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Posts from the ‘News’ Category

10 Conference intrigues

A small gathering of smart people in one of the most gorgeous places I know. Tough to beat. And to think I could only stay for about 24 hours. The 10 Conference is in its first year and brought together a stellar lineup in Leavenworth, WA at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Here’s a quick spin through the talks I most enjoyed. First, I made some bets that I have eaten more Theo Chocolate than everybody in the room except one man. Andy McShea gave us a wonderful tour through the essence of Theo Chocolate and the chocolate industry at large. Like so many things, I really appreciate the quality involved—be it the close-knit farmer relationships, organic ingredients, manufacturing process, or fair trade aspects. I’m more happy than ever to cheer for Theo with my dollars and savor their products. Oh, and a brief chemistry lesson the wonders of theobromine went straight to my undergraduate science heart.

Speaking of products, Leo Bonanni (above) showcased his team’s mapping of where products come from. Sourcemap is an exciting venture that works closely with organizations that make all sorts of products. While consumer transparency is important, Leo also talked a lot about how Sourcemap is helping organizations learn more about their own products! Maybe it helps them choose future suppliers. Perhaps the placement of a distribution center can be smartly place. Whatever the case, we need the genius of Sourcemap to raise our collective awareness.

My final favorite was Pablos Holman, who is part of Intellectual Ventures, which is partly funded by Bill Gates and has notably spun off Terrapower. Holman spent a few minutes detailing the nuclear company’s focus on using up existing nuclear waste with a fraction of the enriched fuel currently used. On a simple level, that means carbon-free energy and less radioactive waste. I’m sure there are still plenty of issues, but I’m cautiously optimistic. After Holman’s entertaining introduction, where he demonstrated several easy hacks on consumer security (mostly digital), he walked through many inventions coming out of his lab. How about a laser that kills malaria-carrying mosquitos? Pretty badass. Or a giant hose that floats into the stratosphere spraying sulfur dioxide to help deflect UV rays and decrease global warming? The modeled effect on Arctic ice melt, for instance, is appealing, but it’s a ways off and Holman didn’t say much about the acid rain trade-off. Anyways, keep tabs on this Bellevue crew.

What are those MBA’s up to?

This past Saturday afternoon offered several exciting opportunities. Most importantly, I met up with 40 or so of my fellow MBA alums from BGI (Bainbridge Graduate Institute). We collected a nice mix of graduates from most classes (operating since 2002), and organized approximately 10 short presentations about what folks were doing professionally. I volunteered 5 minutes to discuss the latest news at Silliker + Partners, along with some lessons learned over the past year. My abbreviated list:

  1. It only takes a couple days to make a website
  2. The bureaucracy and inefficiencies within LEED is significant (stay tuned for more on this in future posts)
  3. Ideas are only ideas without stellar execution
  4. Volunteer time can be both valuable and a time sink

A few of the other presenting organizations: Tango Card, Ecotality, Tangerine Power, GoBox. We were hosted at McKinstry’s Innovation Center (shown here) in South Seattle by EcoFab, which is run by three BGI alums. It’s quite the impressive place, and houses several exciting companies.

What did Bill have to say?

As one friend said, 3 years ago barely a thousand people even knew what Climate Solutions was! Yesterday morning, more than 1,300 folks turned out for Climate Solutions’ annual fundraising breakfast in Seattle. Last year featured one of my all-time heroes Van Jones and this year Bill Gates showed up. I enjoyed the seated conversation style approach—Excel inventor and Climate Solutions board member Jabe Blumenthal interviewed Gates—although I was left wondering what else Gates didn’t get to say since it wasn’t a fully formed talk. But all in all, it was fun to hear him call out the U.S. government for underfunding energy and climate change R&D. Gates is clearly investing in various energy solutions and the NY Times has a good write-up here about his approach. And he seems jazzed about the actual science. So go big, Bill. Bring us home some winners. For the future, that is.

Launching color commentary

As I assemble a more dynamic online presence, color commentary will be my space for channeling my inner Bill Rafferty and chat about the news that crosses my desk. This will mostly involve green building and sustainable business, but may, at times, include music, information architecture and home renovation anecdotes.