DiscoverSocial Entrepreneur
Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur

Author: Tony Loyd

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310 Episodes
For extended show notes, see Trees Should Capture Carbon, Not Crap We know the problems with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions: Climate change, rising sea levels, flooding, droughts, wildfires, ocean acidification, climate refugees, political instability, and a lot more. We know that it’s important to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans. We can do that by reducing the production of CO2. We can also do that by capturing CO2 in carbon sinks. In the US, forests store 14% of our annual CO2 emissions. Trees are a valuable, and powerful carbon sink. And yet, in the United States, 27,000 trees are flushed down the toilet every day. And here’s another problem. Paper-making is a toxic process. It uses toxic chemicals. It creates air and water pollution. This is especially a problem for people with chemical sensitivities. Zoë Levin calls herself “The toilet paper queen.” She is the Founder and CEO of Bim Bam Boo. They make sustainability-focused, health-forward essentials from fast-growing bamboo. Last year, they experienced 900% growth in annual revenue. And they saved 1.2 million pounds of virgin forest from getting flushed down the toilet.  Help Launching and Growing a Business with a Social Mission: If you need help thinking about these questions, take one of the free self-assessments at If you need help thinking about your strategy to start and grow a business with a social mission, you can schedule a complimentary strategy call. Also, we have provided a full transcript of this conversation at Learn More About Zoë Levin and Bim Bam Boo: Bim Bam Boo: Bim Bam Boo on Instagram: Bim Bam Boo Facebook page: Bim Bam Boo on Twitter: Lunar Startups: Free Self-Assessments: Complimentary Strategy Call:
For extended show notes, go here: 80% of maternal and infant deaths are preventable. Dr. Karima Ladhani is the daughter of immigrants. Her parents moved from India to Uganda. In 1972, Ugandan president Idi Amin expelled Asian minorities. He gave 90 days to leave the country. Karima’s mother made her way to Canada. Her father was in a refugee camp in Malta before immigrating to Canada. “We can’t take for granted the luxuries and privileges that we have,” she says. “There are people going through things. We have an opportunity and responsibility to help them. Others have helped us. We never know when we could be in that position in the future. It’s our responsibility to society to do our best to uplift all.” When Karima was in fifteen years old, she volunteered to travel to Chitral Pakistan where she taught English and Science. “It was transformative. It was my first experience of seeing dignity in places we don’t often associate with dignity.” From Finance to Free Falling As an undergrad at the University of Waterloo, Karima studied finance. “I thought my goal was to work on the trading floor and to become a trader.” In her fourth year of school, Karima had a chance to work on the trading floor. “Within two weeks, I realized I hated it. The world I was in was interesting. I always thought I could volunteer on the side. My work and these other interests don’t have to align. But I found it wasn’t sufficiently motivating for me. I decided I had to take drastic change. “Before I graduated, I emailed every professor. I told them that I have no experience in science. But I have a hunch that there is something in this medical-health field that would be more satisfying for me. Here are the transferrable skills I could bring to the table. “Only one professor replied to me. When all my friends went on to high-paying jobs, I went on to a minimum wage research assistant job in this small town of Waterloo. “That’s how I learned about public health. I was exposed to this world of population-level health. Then, I was trying to figure out my next steps. I often call this my free-falling period. I took a risk. I had no idea where I was going to end up. Taking a risk is what allows you to grow. If I continued to know what ground I was going to step on the ground in front of me, I could only land where I expected – what was in the realm of my imagination. But, by free-falling, I allowed myself to go beyond that.” Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle In North America, Giving Cradle provides a safety-certified, eco-friendly bamboo rocking cradle. Families can make a safe choice for their newborn and for a newborn in need. In South Asia, they provide lifesaving Barakat Bundles. These bundles include a Giving Cradle, evidence-based medical items, and health education to families in need. Karima pitched the idea at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition. They won enough funding to help them get started. Today, Karima is the Founder & CEO of Giving Cradle. They sell safety-certified bamboo rocking cradles to families in North America. For every Giving Cradle sold, a mother and newborn in South Asia receive a bundle of needed supplies through Barakat Bundle. “I think it is unjust that women and newborns continue to die from causes the world has already solved,” Karima says. “80% of maternal and infant deaths are completely preventable. We already have the tools to solve this problem. We just haven't figured out how to get the items that are needed into the hands of people who need them. If we do get them the needed items, we need to teach them how to use them, and they need to want to use them.” Learn More About Karima Ladhani, Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle: Giving Cradle: Barakat Bundle: Giving Cradle on Instagram:  Barakat Bundle on Instagram: to support emergency response around the world. Natural disasters are on the rise. Climate change has accelerated wildfires and hurricanes. Healthcare workers are responding to the global pandemic. People find themselves displaced without warning. Who better to provide a safe place to stay than Airbnb and their global network of hosts? To respond to the need for safe housing during disaster, Airbnb has launched is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in times of crisis. The inspiration for began in 2012 with a single host named Shell who opened her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Since then, Airbnb hosts have responded to natural disasters like an earthquake in Nepal, and manmade tragedies, like the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Airbnb hosts have provided stays to evacuees, relief workers, refugees, and asylum seekers. Recently, frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19 have benefited from the generosity of Airbnb and their hosts. More than 100,000 hosts have opened their homes and helped provide accommodations to 75,000 people in times of need. Going forward, Airbnb’s Open Homes and Frontline Stays programs will now be called Katherine Woo to Lead Katherine Woo is the new Head od She brings a wealth of business and tech experience. She has held roles at Netscape, PayPal, eBay, and Facebook. But it was her work at that helped her to realize that her work could have a direct impact on people in need. She is joined by a staff and a board that reflects the communities they serve. is building a diverse team at all levels, starting with its founding board of directors. At launch’s founding board is composed of 80% women and 40% underrepresented minorities. Board members include: Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder of Airbnb, Chairman of Jennifer Bond, Founder & Managing Director of the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub and Chair of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GSRI)Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of Ideo.orgMelissa Thomas-Hunt, Head of Global Diversity and Belonging at AirbnbSharyanne McSwain, COO of Echoing Green Learn More About Katherine Woo and  Katherine Woo on LinkedIn:
For extended show notes, see: A place and a community shaped Regina Larko. Regina Larko was born and raised in Vienna. “Three generations raised me,” Regina says. “My great-grandmother played a huge role in raising me. Her generation had experienced the hardships of the second world war. One of my great grandfathers never came home from the war.” When Regina was around nine years old, the former Yugoslavia broke apart, plunging the territory into ethnic wars. Refugees poured across the border into Austria. Many of Regina’s classmates moved to Austria to escape the fighting. She heard first-hand the stories of refugee children. “I felt immense gratitude for growing up in a peaceful, safe city,” she says. Regina also spent her summers in a small village of 300 inhabitants located 50 kilometers outside of Vienna. There, she learned the value of community. She saw how community members took care of one another. “There is so much purpose and meaning in every single small action,” Regina explains. “Neighbors and extended family members would always look out for each other. This is the reason I am so passionate about purpose-driven work that draws its energy from the community. “It has always bothered me that there is so much inequality in the world - that I had privileges just because of the place and time I was born. I always wanted to live in a fair, equal, and peaceful place. I wanted everyone to have the same rights and possibilities I have. It frustrates me that there are so many people out there suffering every day, just trying to survive.”  #impact Podcast is Born Regina launched #impact Podcast in the spring of 2017. They feature inspirational, motivational, and impactful stories. The listeners of #impact Podcast are interested in social impact and sustainability initiatives. #impact marries two passions in Regina’s life: audio and purpose-driven work. As an audio enthusiast, Regina has always loved how intimate the medium of audio felt. Listeners create pictures in her head. #impact Podcast tells impactful stories in a light, refreshing and inspirational way. Regina talks about the issues, but she also talks about solutions. #impact Podcast portrays individuals making a positive impact in the world. They talk about why and how they got started, the challenges along the way, and what keeps them going. Listeners feel inspired by the individuals that Regina and her co-hosts interview. Listeners feel empowered to create change. The podcast guests often find new volunteers and donors. “The first interviews for #impact were game-changing,” Regina says. “I was clumsily setting up my microphones. I asked very scripted questions. Yet, I saw the impact the conversations made on the guest I featured. These NGOs had never had the chance to tell their story. They humanized their work, giving their cause a voice that people could connect to. They reached new listeners. They found new volunteers. “The first listeners started to reach out, thanking me for introducing them to NGOs. Many listeners started volunteering or donating, thanks to #impact Podcast. That’s when I knew that it was so worthwhile and that I have to continue producing and expanding the show.”  Regina Larko’s Work Today Today, Regina is a TEDx speaker. She has been named “10 Women who are shaping Hong Kong for the better”. Her work has been featured in radio, print, and online media. Regina is passionate about inspiring everyone to start making a positive impact. She also mentors aspiring podcasters, empowering them to find the confidence to get their voices heard. Learn More About Regina Larko and #Impact Podcast: #impact Podcast: #impact on Instagram: Free Podcasting Guide: Podcasting Course:
How do we get more people involved in social innovation? NOTE: For extended show notes, see Tom Dawkins is the founder of StartSomeGood, the leading home of cause-driven crowdfunding, innovative partnerships, and social entrepreneur education. I first interviewed Tom nearly five years ago, on December 14, 2015. You can hear our previous interview at Tom keeps coming back to one fundamental question. How do we get more people involved? “All of us are smarter than any of us,” he says. “It’s essential in a world that is evolving so rapidly. It’s never good enough to come up with a single good idea, a single solution, because things that were proven to work yesterday won’t work tomorrow. “Those of us who care about the future, the planet, and the community, we need not just to find innovations, we need to build an innovation muscle. As a community, the best way to innovate is to ensure that every perspective is heard. Everyone has an opportunity to participate in that process of creating a better future. “One of my foundational beliefs is that all the ideas are already out there. They’re often held by someone who has lived experience of a particular challenge. “But so many people don’t know how to get their ideas out into the world. They don’t know how to turn it into a story that will resonate with people. They don’t know how to identify: Who is it for? What’s the value I create for them? “They don’t have access to a network or impact investors or other types of supporters. So, we started with crowdfunding, but since then, we’re adding all these pieces that might help people make that leap as well.” What Do Early-Stage Social Entrepreneurs Need? “There are three key types of capital they need to underpin progress and impact. “There’s intellectual capital, which is knowing how to do things or accessing the people who do. “Financial capital is in some ways to fill the gaps of your intellectual capital – to pay for things that you can’t acquire in other ways. And to boost growth and reach. “And then relational capital, which helps you not to burn out. It’s more than accessing people who know stuff. It’s people who care about you – people who understand the journey. “ The Next Level of Evolution for StartSomeGood Today, StartSomeGood builds capacity for early-stage social innovators in several ways. They run accelerators on behalf of corporate partners. They have the Good Hustle, a ten-week social enterprise design course. And they offer other workshops. They run live crowdfunding events called Pitch for Good. They run inspirational events such as their annual Starting Good virtual summit. They provide the Starting Good Network, an exclusive community for those committed to changing the world. And they continue to innovate on their crowdfunding platform. StartSomeGood now offers a recurring crowdfunding model. Learn More About Tom Dawkins and StartSomeGood: StartSomeGood: Recurring Crowdfunding model: Good Hustle: Starting Good virtual summit: Starting Good Network: Tom Dawkins on LinkedIn: Tom Dawkins on Twitter:
In season two, we’ve been telling stories of a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future. The Coronavirus is a wakeup call. If you don’t know by now, the way we’ve been living isn’t working for the earth. Most of all, it is not working for the poorest inhabitants of the earth. Climate change, extreme weather, hurricanes, floods, droughts, melting glaciers, rising sea level , wildfires, degraded food supplies, tick-borne diseases, mosquito-borne diseases, climate refugees, political instability  – these are just a few results of our current way of living. The way we produce, transmit, and store our energy, hurts the poorest among us. The way we grow, waste, and consume food hurts the poorest among us. The way we transport ourselves, and our goods, hurts the poorest among us. We way we produce and consume goods, hurts the poorest among us. The way we build, heat, and cool buildings, hurts the poorest among us. The climate crisis is a social justice crisis. But there are solutions: wind energy, solar, energy efficient lighting, smart buildings, regenerative agriculture, alternative transportation systems, and consumer trends are available to us. We must change. We can change. And we will change - if not for ourselves, for the poorest among us. That is why we produced season two of Social Entrepreneur where we’ve been telling stories of a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future. Season Two Wrap-up In Season Two, we talked with: Jonathan Foley of Project Drawdown. Jessica Hellman, Director of the Institute on Environment at the University of Minnesota. Ry Brennan. Ry reminds us that the problems with electrical generation and distribution are systemic and complex. The solutions are at the systems level. Janet McCabe of the Environmental Resilience Institute Mark Kuo of Routific Robert Blake of Solar Bear. Deepinder Singh of 75F Mary Jane Melendez of General Mills Lauren Gregor of Rent-a-Romper Steven Downey of Harmony Fuels Sebastian Sajoux of Arqlite Dave Goebel of enVerde Looking Ahead to Season Three of Social Entrepreneur We’re kicking things off with someone I admire and consider to be a friend, Tom Dawkins of StartSomeGood. Karima Ladhani will tell us about Giving Cradle and Barakat Bundle. Ruth Biza will tell us about #ThisisMyEra. One of my favorite storytellers, Denise Withers will talk about Story Design. And Nichol Beckstrand will talk about YardHomesMN. Still Looking for Guests for Season Three Our commitment is this: We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions. If you know someone we should interview, here is what we’re looking for in a guest:
enVerde converts organic waste into sustainable clean energy. The Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC) is the office at the University of Minnesota whose mission is to facilitate the transfer of technology to licensees. This allows for the development of new products and services that benefit the public good. It also fosters economic growth and generates revenue. Since 2006, the University has spun out 170 startup companies. But there is a challenge. Technology transfer is not simple. For a venture to be successful, it must be desirable (the market wants it), feasible (an organization can produce a market solution), and viable (the cost structure and returns are sustainable). There is a vast desert from license to commercialization. Research can create an idea that is desirable but is not viable or sustainable. It takes time to prove out and commercialize a technology. The time and effort to commercialize a technology is often called the commercialization gap. On today’s episode of Social Entrepreneur, we talk to Dave Goebel, CEO and Founder of enVerde. enVerde has licensed a thermochemical catalytic technology from the University of Minnesota. The catalyst converts organic material into heat energy. enVerde provides circular economy solutions by repurposing carbon-containing waste into clean, sustainable energy and chemicals. The Problem with Organic Waste Every day, the average American generates 4.4 pounds of waste. That includes paper, plastics, yard trimmings, food waste, wood, rubber, leather, textiles, and more. At the same time, the US Energy Information Administration predicts nearly 50% increase in world energy usage by 2050. What if we could use organic waste to provide clean, renewable energy? That’s the promise of enVerde. They are addressing the nearly infinite amount of organic waste and the growing need for energy. They do so in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective manner. Waste becomes a resource instead of a problem. “Waste is stored energy and we have a clean way to liberate, free, that energy for our use,” says enVerde Founder and CEO, Dave Goebel. “We economically transform organic wastes into a product called syngas. We also produce heat in the process. Both syngas and heat can be power sources for making electricity. “Syngas is also convertible into new clean fuels like hydrogen, methanol, or dimethyl ether. It can be green precursor for other chemical processes displacing petroleum products. “Agricultural, industrial, commercial, and other organizations decrease their operating expenses by significantly reducing their waste streams and creating clean fuels/heat they can use locally and immediately.” Recent Successes enVerde is finding some successes along the way. The inventor of the technology, Dr. Paul Dauenhauer won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.  enVerde was also selected as a member of the next cohort with Creative Destruction Lab. Creative Destruction Lab accelerator program is based out of Calgary, Alberta. Learn More About David Goebel and enVerde: enVerde: enVerde on Twitter: enVerde on Facebook: University of Minnesota Office for Technology Commercialization: Dr. Paul Dauenhauer, MacArthur Fellow: Creative Destruction Lab, Energy:
For extended show notes, look here: 93% of plastic is not recycled.   Only seven to nine percent of the plastic that is generated on an annual basis is recycled. Sebastian Sajoux explains, “The plastics go to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF, pronounced “Murph”), and then go into a recycling system. Still, 50% of plastics that are manufactured are impossible to recycle with current technologies.   “The number that’s really scary is, by 2050 the amount of plastic used and discarded will double.”   “We are in this race to become more efficient in separation and recycling, but we are still manufacturing products that cannot be recycled.”  Why Some Plastic is Born Unrecyclable   "Plastics are divided into categories,” Sebastian told me. “Usually, you see the numbers one through seven in a recycling system. They can only be recycled within the same stream.   “There are also rigid plastics, such as a shampoo bottle, and flexible plastic, which is a wrapping, for example, for an Oreo Cookie or Lays Potato Chips.   “For flexible plastics, because it is so thin, it requires different layers to work together to be safer, to keep the product for more time. So, you exchange thickness for another technology. If you combine two different types of plastics, it is automatically unrecyclable.   “What we are addressing is all of the flexible packaging out there that was born unrecyclable. It seems like a wrapper from, let’s say a butter toffee, it’s harmless. But people discard them every day.   “So, laminates are our main focus.”   A Solution to Unrecyclable Plastics  Arqlite takes unrecyclable mixed plastic and produces a gravel that can be used in construction.   When compared to traditional mineral gravel, Arqlite’s smart gravel is three times lighter, ten times better insulator, doesn’t break or produce dust, and doesn’t require hydration. These are all characteristics that are desirable in the construction industry.   Lighter gravel is easier and cheaper to transport. It can be manufactured locally, reducing costs and greenhouse gas emission. And, it does not require mining to produce.   Builders who use Arqlite smart gravel can gain LEED points. The material is recycled, it is locally produced, and it improves insulation.   The solution is scalable. “I didn’t want to make countertops and sell 100 countertops per day,” Sebastian says. “I wanted to make gravel and sell 100 trucks per day.”   Learn More About Sebastian Sajoux and Arqlite:  Arqlite:   Arqlite on Instagram:   Arqlite on Facebook:   Arqlite on YouTube:  
How do you reduce your carbon footprint without breaking the bank?   Did you turn on your heat this week? A lot of people in the northern hemisphere either already did, or they will soon. For 12 million homes in the US, that meant burning heating oil or propane, both of which contribute to climate change.   For single family homes, the cost of replacing oil and propane furnaces is unrealistic. According to Bankrate, only 40% of Americans could absorb an unexpected expense of $500 or more. Lots of people want to reduce their carbon footprint, but they don’t have extra money to spend.  That’s where Harmony Fuels comes in. They are the only carbon-neutral provider of home heating fuel in the US. They didn’t invent a new oil or propane. They make it easy for consumers to reduce their carbon footprints by offering carbon offsets. For each gallon of heating oil or propane its customers purchase, Harmony Fuels buys the equivalent number of pounds of carbon offsets from certified green energy projects.  Steve Downey is the president of Harmony Fuels. He admits that carbon offsets are not a silver bullet, but it’s a step in the right direction.   Learn More About Steven Downey and Harmony Fuels:  Steven Downey on LinkedIn:   Harmony Fuels:   Harmony Fuels on Facebook:   Harmony Fuels on Twitter:   Harmony Fuels on Instagram:  
For a extended show notes and a full transcript of this conversation, see Rent-a-Romper makes parents' lives easier while reducing the negative effects of the fashion industry.   For just a moment, think about your clothes. At some point in time, you chose each item and brought it into your home. Your neighbor did the same thing. So did the house down the street, and the one several miles away. The same thing happened in a house on the other side of the world.   The global population is increasing. The middle class is growing. And so is our demand for fashion.   By 2030, the world population will increase from 7.8 billion today to 8.5 billion. You can watch the world population increase in real time here.   Not only are there more people on the planet, our standard of living is increasing. The GDP per capita is growing at 2% per year in the developed world and 4% in the developing world. That means more demand on our world resources.   Apparel consumption is expected to rise by 63% by 2030, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons in 2030. That’s the equivalent of adding 500 billion T-shirts to the environment.   Why is that a problem?   The fashion industry produces about 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions.   By 2030, the industry’s CO2 emissions are projected to increase by more than 60%. That’s like adding 230 million more passenger vehicles on the roads.   And, it’s not just greenhouse gasses that are a problem. Fashion requires fresh water. The fashion industry consumes 79 billion cubic meters of water per year. That’s equivalent to 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools. But that’s today. By 2030, the fashion industry’s water use will increase by 50%.   Apparel production puts toxic substances such as mercury and arsenic into our waterways.   Most of the clothing waste ends up in landfills or is incinerated. Only 20% of clothing is collected for reuse or recycling. The amount of solid waste produced by the apparel industry is going to increase about 60% by 2030.   So, the environmental impact of apparel is increasing at the same time we need it to be decreasing. If we have any chance of limiting global warming to a 1.5°C increase, we need carbon emissions to be reduced by 45%.  One Small Step in the Apparel Industry  Lauren Gregor is a mom. She saw what was happening in her own house. With two small children two years apart, she was horrified by the parade of cardboard boxes showing up on her doorstep.   “I would get frustrated by the amount of waste that we're generating,” Lauren explains. “But also, how often I felt like I was turning around and getting back to the stores to buy them new things, especially clothes. My boys are tall, they grow fast, they grow very fast at those young ages and I just felt like I was constantly having to do things on my to-do list.”   Lauren came up with a solution. She calls it Rent-a-Romper. Rent-a-Romper makes parents' lives easier while easing the negative effects from the fashion industry. Parents can sign up for a monthly subscription and receive a customized capsule of clothing to meet the needs of their growing children.   Learn More About Lauren Gregor and Rent-a-Romper:  Rent-a-Romper Website:   Rent-a-Romper on Instagram:   Rent-a-Romper on Facebook:  
General Mills is blending regeneration and philanthropy to create impact. How do you feed a hungry world without destroying the planet? And, how do you do so in a way that is just and equitable? Agriculture and forestry activities generate 24% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The world population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050. And, a growing middle class in emerging countries is straining our global food supply. Mary Jane Melendez is Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer for General Mills. She also serves as President of the General Mills Foundation. “It’s broader than philanthropy and broader than sustainability,” Mary Jane says. “It’s those two areas coming together to drive greater social impact.” General Mills is a leading global food company whose purpose is to make food the world loves. They are a 150-year-old company that is using their scale to produce more quality food while reducing their footprint. Regenerative Agriculture “Our work is rooted in the earth,” Mary Jane explains, “and we want to restore it. We share a unique bond with nature. When there are threats to nature through changes in climate, those are threats to our business. At General Mills, this is a business imperative and a planetary imperative. “Today, about a third of the world’s topsoil is degraded. We have lost about 40% of insect species on the planet, including pollinators that are important to our food. There is nothing about that fate that should be sustained. We don’t want to sustain declining ecosystems. “At General Mills, what we’re being very thoughtful about is our responsibility to move beyond sustainability and think about regeneration.” General Mills has commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming practices that enhance soil health, pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil. It helps land to be more resilient to extreme weather events. 100% Renewable Energy Scale can be a force for good as demonstrated by General Mills’ commitment to regenerative agriculture. But scale can also be a burden on the planet. In 2015, General Mills was the first company to publish a goal approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s full value chain by 28% by 2025. That means that, no matter how much they grow, they committed to reducing their 2010 greenhouse gas emissions. Last April, General Mills also set a goal of 100% renewable electricity worldwide by 2030. “Technology changes quickly,” Mary Jane told me. “As new technologies come online, we are constantly keeping our eyes open for new ways to activate that technology, drive the investments to help reduce our greenhouse gas “ Learn More About Mary Jane Melendez and General Mills: Mary Jane Melendez on LinkedIn: General Mills Global Responsibility Report: General Mills and Regenerative Agriculture: General Mills and Renewable Energy: General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening’s LinkedIn post from June 4:
Optimizing building energy efficiency can be complicated and expensive. According to Deepinder Singh, it doesn’t have to be. The world has more than 230 billion square meters of building space with another 65 billion square meters coming online in the next decade. Buildings account for 6% of global greenhouse gasses. With the ongoing global pandemic, the CDC has developed guidelines that encourage more fresh air circulation. The goal is to maintain lower viral load in the work atmosphere. Those guidelines could increase energy consumption. Improving energy efficiency could make a significant dent in climate change. It Started with His Daughter Deepinder Singh is a computer network engineer by training. He designed some of the world’s fastest core networks for AT&T, NTT, and Verizon. In his work on complex systems, he found ways to simplify operational complexity and to make products intuitive. “If you use Verizon,” Deepinder told me, “there’s a 95% chance it goes over a network I built. My claim to fame is that I had one of the first petabit routers sitting in my garage for five years.” When he and his family moved to Minnesota, he ran into a problem that was a little closer to home. “My daughter, who was one at the time, would wake up in the night crying. The temperature in her room would drop ten degrees at night. The thermostat was in the mater bedroom, which was west facing. We were nice and warm because the sun would keep it warm in that room. In the rest of the house, the heat would not kick on. “When my daughter was this uncomfortable, I quit my job to fix the damned problem.” Since Deepinder was not trained in HVAC, he used his computer network skills to solve the problem. 75F, Born Digital to Solve Problems for Commercial Buildings After solving his own problem, Deepinder realized he had a solution with a commercial application. In 2012, Deepinder and his cofounders launched 75F, an intelligent building solution that utilizes the Internet of Things and the latest in Cloud Computing to create systems that predict, monitor and manage the needs of buildings. “I found that there was an even bigger problem in commercial buildings. People are there all day, and somebody is wearing a coat during the summer.” “The building controls industry, the last innovation that they had was in the mid-1990s. They are mechanical engineers who try to design It-controlled solutions. Those solutions are archaic by today’s standards. In the controls industry, people are taking these Lego pieces and they are building a custom solution for each building. To me, that’s an opportunity to disrupt. “I had none of this baggage. I had no idea what the heck I was doing. We were born digital, so we looked at IOT and cloud computing, and created a completely different architecture. It’s modern. It keeps getting upgraded all the time. We look at the building holistically. We use machine learning and AI to implement things that people are doing manually. The building is continuously adjusting and adapting.” 75F uses smart sensors and controls to make commercial buildings healthier, more comfortable, and more efficient than ever before, all at a disruptive price. “Normally energy efficiency and comfort oppose one another,” Deepinder commented. “We’re trying to do both at the same time.” 75F helps customers achieve an average savings of 41.8 percent in energy consumption and carbon footprint.  Learn More About Deepinder Singh and 75F: 75F: Deepinder Singh on Twitter:
Solar Bear is a Native American owned solar installation company. Robert Blake of Solar Bear has a habit of mashing up two problems and coming up with a solution. His driving philosophy is “healing is in the environment.” Solar Bear is a Native American owned solar installation company. They train people on the Red Lake Indian Reservation to install solar power. “If we can do this in Red Lake, we can bring this out to other tribal nations,” Robert explains. “We’re going to see that solar energy can solve a human health crisis. On Native Nations and reservations, there is a high poverty rate, alcohol addiction, and drug addiction. What I’m hoping is, with this energy source, we can provide opportunities and give purpose to community members.” Solar Bear also works with the Department of Corrections, and the Willow River Correctional Facility to provide a solar installation workforce development program for the inmates. “The idea here is to battle mass incarceration with climate change,” Robert says. “Here in the United States, we are one of the leaders in incarcerating our citizens. We have this existential problem. Can we get individuals that are incarcerated to fight climate change? “I believe that healing is in the environment. If we can have these individuals work in the solar industry, be installers, maybe become electricians, this will be a way to heal and give back to society. “It’s a ripple effect. When these individuals come out of the correctional facilities and are doing solar, they are taking their families off of public assistance. They show their kids that they have a steady job, and that breaks the cycle.” Robert is also the executive director of Native Sun Community Power Development. Native promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a just energy transition. They use education, workforce training, and demonstrations. One Native Sun project is creating a K -12 curriculum on climate change. In the pilot program on the Red Lake Reservation, they teach children about energy efficiency, renewable energy, recycling, and gardening. “Imagine a polar bear family that wear sunglasses. They’re solar bears,” Robert explains. “It’s going to be the kids who are going to have to deal with the aftereffects of climate change.” Another Native Sun project is to teach solar installation skills to military veterans. Learn More About Robert Blake, Solar Bear, and Native Sun: Robert Blake on LinkedIn: Solar Bear: Native Sun Community Power Development:
Routific uses AI to cut mileage and drive time by 20%-40%. Marc Kuo is the Founder & CEO of Routific. He is a routing expert with nearly a decade of experience in last-mile logistics. But he didn’t always work in logistics. “Being a fresh grad out of school, I just wanted to get into either management consulting or investment banking, simply because of its prestige,” Marc told me. “I was ambitious. I wanted to aim for something challenging. “Once I was in finance, I was on the equity trading floor for one of the investment banks in Hong Kong. It was a glamorous dream job. I was sitting on the fifty-first floor of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Hong Kong. But I just felt a little empty. I was quickly disenchanted by this glamorous job and the corporate life. “I wasn’t adding much value to society, using algorithms to move money from the retired pensioners to the rich bankers. I didn’t feel like it was value added to society.” After being on the job for a year, Marc decided to go back to what he studied in graduate school. He wrote his thesis on route optimization algorithms. From his perch on the fifty-first floor, he watched the ships, trucks, and logistics in the harbor. “I felt a calling to move physical goods and rout them more efficiently. Physical goods are being moved anyway. Why not do it that much more efficiently?” The Big Problem Transportation is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Imagine a delivery business that delivers to 500 locations every day with a fleet of 10 vehicles. The puzzle of deciding which vehicle goes where and in what order, while making sure the fleet operates as efficiently as possible, is extremely hard. “Every day we optimize the routes of hundreds of delivery businesses around the globe to save them time and fuel,” Marc explains. “Our mission? To make route optimization software accessible to every delivery business. We are passionate about helping businesses thrive and creating a more sustainable world. “Routific surveyed 11,246 businesses and found that 72% still plan routes manually. That means they plan routes using tools like spreadsheets, pen and paper, and Google Maps. Businesses dependent on manual route planning struggle with the consequences of inefficient routes—hours of manual route planning time and inflated delivery costs. “It’s hard work. And humans are not particularly good at it. Businesses report spending anywhere from one to three hours a day trying to plan delivery routes – many of which are not efficient nor optimal.” This is where route optimization software can help. “Aside from saving the manual route planner a lot of time, we also cut mileage and drive time by 20%-40% by generating more efficient routes than humans can ever find.” The fact that most businesses are still manually planning routes is a big problem for the environment. Third-party environmental consultants estimated carbon emission reductions equivalent to planting 86 trees/year for every driver that switches over from manually planned routes to one optimized by Routific. In 2019 alone, Routific helped delivery businesses around the world save 11,322 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of planting more than 500,000 trees. More Information:
The Environmental Resilience Institute helps midwestern communities understand and prepare for environmental change.  There’s something powerful about understanding how a global trend impacts your local community. For example, it’s one thing to hear about world hunger. It’s another to hear about hunger in your state. But there’s a different feeling when you realize that there’s a hungry kid in your neighborhood. As Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” It’s the same thing with climate change. You’ve probably heard about the global climate crisis. And, when your state is mentioned, you might pay attention. But, when you notice the impact on the health and wellbeing of your local community, well, there’s something compelling about that. Climate Change in the Midwest We hear a lot about the impacts of climate change in far-flung corners of the world. We are aware of the dangers of flooding along the US coastline. But what about the Midwest? The average annual temperature has been increasing across the Midwest. Warmer air holds more moisture, which changes moisture patterns. That means more frequent flooding, and drought. For each 1 degree Celsius of warming, the crop yield declines for corn, wheat, rice, and soy. Warmer, wetter winters have led to higher tick populations. The mosquito season is longer. Mosquitoes and ticks spread diseases. Helping Midwestern Communities Understand and Prepare for Environmental Change Janet McCabe is an expert in environmental law and policy. She is the director of the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University. The Environmental Resilience Institute collects data across all 92 counties in Indiana to predict changes in climate, groundwater systems, vegetation, wildlife, and more. Their goal is to help Indiana understand how a changing climate will affect health, communities, industry, and agriculture. Before joining the Environmental Resilience Institute, Janet held key positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Learn More About Janet McCabe and Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute: ·        Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute: ·        Janet McCabe on LinkedIn:
The problems are systemic and complex. So are the answers. Globally, the United States accounts for 5% of the world’s population, but we produce 15% of the energy-related CO2 emissions. Coastal flooding, hurricanes, drought, and fires are all related to climate change. And who suffers the most from the impacts of climate change? Mostly the poor and vulnerable. Bringing this closer to home, in the US, 5.9 million people live within three miles of a major coal-fired power plant. On average, these people have a per capital income of $18,400, which is 17% lower than the average in the US. A Yale University study found that Hispanics have the highest exposure rates for 10 out of 14 air pollutants. African Americans have higher exposure rates than whites for 13 out of the 14 air pollutants. 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Black people are exposed to 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. Hispanics have about 1.2 times the exposure to particulates than non-Hispanic whites. African Americans are hospitalized for asthma at three times the rate of white Americans. And, the death rate from asthma is 172% higher for African Americans than white Americans. Among children, the results are even worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black children are twice as likely to have asthma as white children. And black children are 10 times more likely than white kids to die of complications from asthma. And, that is not to mention increased birth defects, heart disease, lung disease, learning difficulties, and lower property values. The average US household spends 4% of their income on energy costs, while low-income families spend 17% of their income. African Americans spend around $40 billion on energy. Yet, 1.1% of energy jobs are held by African Americans. And, only .01% of energy revenue went to African Americans. The Solutions Can Be the Problem At one level, we have the solutions in hand. King Coal is dead. It is more expensive to generate electricity from coal than from either wind or solar. Wind is the cheapest source of new electricity generation in Minnesota. The cost fell by 16% in one year. The price of solar energy in Minnesota has declined 34% over the last five years. LED lighting is energy efficient. Electric cars don’t emit CO2 from combustion. However, as H. L. Mencken said, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” The problems are systemic and complex. The solutions are at the systems level. According to Ry Brennan, a doctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, “Solving the problems with our existing energy infrastructure requires creating resilient energy systems. These systems must be decentralized, diverse, and open to democratic deliberation. This change will require a dramatic remaking of our hard and soft energy infrastructures.” A Call to Action In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, Ry challenges us to think deeply about our electrical system. “Figure out how energy gets from the plant to your light switch. If you're not happy about it, find out what people in your town are doing about it. If they're not doing anything about it yet, ask if anyone wants to help you make some noise. If you are happy about it, share your community's good idea with someone else.” About Ry Brenna Ry Brennan is a doctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where they study energy justice, infrastructure, environmental sociology, prison ecology, and democracy, especially as these themes and fields relate to energy decentralization. They are also a community organizer working in a range of different affinity groups with the simple ambition of ending oppression in all its forms to cultivate the flourishing of humans, non-human animals, and their ecosystems. They do nothing in their spare time because they have no spare time.
If you could invent a post-pandemic world, what world would you create? I hear a lot of people talking about the desire to return to “normal.” However, normal was unsustainable. Before the pandemic, there was another crisis, an environmental crisis. A crisis in our food systems, our energy systems, our clean water systems, and our unequal economic systems. Coronavirus did not break our systems. It revealed how broken our systems already are. There is a saying, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." That is why, when faced with intractable problems like COVID-19 or the climate crisis, I like to talk to thought leaders. On the other side of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to begin again. What world can you imagine in a post-pandemic world? I asked this question to Jessica Hellmann, the Director of the Institute on Environment at the University of Minnesota. The Institute on the Environment has a bold vision for the world: Sustainable agriculture feeds the world.Renewable energy powers healthy homes, efficient transportation, and flourishing businesses.Every person has access to food, water and shelter.Oceans, lakes and rivers are clean and healthy.Communities have vibrant economies, neighborhoods and cultures.Thriving ecosystems support thriving economies and societies. Overall, humanity restores and renews resources for the benefit of all living things. IonE is accelerating the transition to this future by supporting breakthrough research across disciplines. They develop the next generation of global leaders, discover breakthrough solutions, and build transformative partnerships. “Universities have been profoundly important in figuring out what environmental issues are,” Jessica explains. “Now, it’s equally, if not more important in addressing those problems.” Jessica says, “Occasionally, there are projects or activities that are created within an interdisciplinary institute. Some ideas continue to flourish within an institute, and some go off elsewhere.” One example of a spinoff from the institute is Geofinancial Analytics. Jessica is the Chief Scientist at Geofinancial Analytics. They are a science-driven benefit corporation. Their mission is to accelerate capital flow from climate stressors to sustainable solutions. They inform investment decisions with transparent, objective facts. Learn More About Jessica Hellmann: Jessica Hellmann: on the Environment: Analytics:
In season two, we are telling stories of an inclusive and just transition to a clean energy future. Happy Earth Day! Welcome to Season Two of Social Entrepreneur. You already know that we tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions. In season two, we are focusing on stories of an inclusive and just transition to a clean energy future. Here are the kinds of guests we will feature: Underrepresented voices such as women entrepreneurs, people of color, Native Americans, LGBTQ voices, and others who don’t normally get the spotlight. The venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton refers to them as the underestimated. We highlight the true hustlers, those who have overcome the most on their journey.Are working to solve big problems, tied to sustainable development goals. In this season, we are focused on an inclusive and just transition to a clean energy future.Have a sustainable business model. We give preference to for-profit businesses. We will consider nonprofit businesses who sell a product or service to sustain their impact.Are solution-focused. Our Guests are making a lasting difference through direct action. Upcoming Episodes: We’re excited to bring you new stories about our clean energy future. Here are some examples of upcoming episodes: Jonathan Foley, Project DrawdownJessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and Geofinacial AnalyticsRy Brennan, Grad Student, UCSBJanet McCabe, Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana UniversityMarc Kuo, RoutificSteve Downey, Harmony FuelsMany more. 
Positive stories of resilient people who thrive in life, connect with others, and contribute to the world in the face of adversity. Who do you know who is modeling resilience during difficult times? Have you heard any good stories lately? In this critical time, we are surrounded by acts of heroism, both large and small. I want to introduce you to the podcast, Thrive. Connect. Contribute. Here is What You Will Hear: I am sharing stories of resilient people. Here are three examples. Episode 3: How I Overcame Anxiety, Found the Purpose of Life, and Lived a Year of Personal Bests. If you’ve been wondering “What happened to Tony?” This answers the question. It’s been quite a year. Episode 4: These Children Show Us How to Connect with Others in a Time of Crisis. I interview a 10-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister. They launched a new podcast so that kids can learn and have fun. Episode 10: Crowdsource Kindness During the COVID-19 Crisis with Morgan Schmidt. According to Morgan, the world is full of kind people. She found a way to crowdsource kindness. What I'm Doing During the COVID-19 Crisis I’m looking for these stories. I’ll bet you have heard stories like this. And, I’ll also bet that you have stories from your life. In the middle of this pandemic, I feel compelled to do this. I am calling for stories. Here’s how it works. You can nominate a story that you heard from someone else, or you can tell your own story. Why "Thrive. Connect. Contribute."? Last year I did a personal experiment called “My Year of Personal Bests.” If I boiled the entire year-long experience into one phrase, it would be this: You are here on earth to connect with others and contribute to the world. But before you can connect and contribute, you must first practice self-care. In other words, you must thrive. Thrive. Connect. Contribute. In that order. Take Control of Your Destiny So, help me out, will you? Let’s find and tell the stories of people who are thriving, connecting, and contributing in the face of adversity. Nominate someone to tell their story. Or, let us know about the story you have to tell. We need these stories now more than ever. 
Comments (6)


This podcast & the interviewees gives me hope for humanity.

Nov 18th


After listening to this podcast on a few different platforms. I think for me at least it is safe to say that this podcast is basically a bio intro for the person speaking, transitioning into a 20 min advertisement for a company. If that is what you are looking for you are at a great place. If you want more substance regarding approaches, models and so on you might want to skip this podcast.

Sep 1st

Victoria Muchiri

Great content. I'd really love to transcribe your podcasts. People who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, non-native speakers, or suffer from auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder may have trouble following a fast conversation. Transcription provides an avenue for them to absorb everything you are putting out. My email is Thank you.

Aug 9th

She Ra

Are there any podcasts in particular about disaster response or recovery? I've done a few keyword searches but nothing is coming up.

Feb 13th

Trudi Lawrie

fantastic. glad to have found you. can't wait to learn more

Oct 10th
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