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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

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Journalist Virtually Resurrects Homeless Man



Justin Huggard died last December.  In April, the Deseret News ran a 4,000-word story about him. The remarkable thing was not that the News took four months to write his obituary, rather it was that they wrote anything at all.

Justin was homeless. Addicted. Invisible.

While he died on Main Street in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City; his passing was so anonymous that even those good-hearted activists who track the casualties of homelessness each year missed his death. At the annual vigil for the homeless who die in Salt Lake, the names of the year’s victims are read, remembered and honored fleetingly. But not Justin.

Daphne Chen, a reporter for the News worked four months on the story, stalking family and friends on Facebook, piecing together the life story of Justin Huggard. In a sense, she resurrected Justin so that he could be remembered as the human being he was.

Daphne made Justin into a proxy for the homeless people living and dead in our community.

Writing a story like this is difficult, on many levels. As Daphne points out, “There are no press releases when Justin Huggard dies.”

Daphne acknowledged that she didn’t expect the story to be so emotionally difficult–she’s covered tragedies many times in the past. “It started as this gray, plastic box of ashes.” But as she took Justin from an anonymous homeless man to a full-fledged human being with a family, friends, a kind personality and a history, she began to feel a sense of loss.

Daphne works on the “In Depth” beat for the Deseret News, so she works on stories for months, several at a time. While working on Justin’s story she was also working on a story about Utah’s mental health hospital. Patients assigned to the hospital by the courts often wait for five or six months for placement. Some die in the interim.

At the same time, the paper assigned Daphne to cover the controversial firing and re-hiring of the CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the subsequent firing of the CEO of the University of Utah Medical Center followed by the resignation of the President of the University of Utah. Daphne wasn’t bored looking for things to do.

Daphne Chen, Deseret News

Daphne Chen, Deseret News

Daphne, originally from Dallas, Texas, has been with the News for one and a half years. She previously reported from New York and North Carolina where she covered crime, health and education.

The key to the Justin Huggard story was Aimee Rolfe, a friend of Justin who was eager to help Daphne find the family and tell the story. They had shared a great deal together, including struggles with drugs. While Justin struggled with alcohol and “some heroin,” Aimee’s nemesis was meth. With her help, the story came alive.

Ultimately, Daphne told Justin’s story too late for anyone to do anything for him. But that isn’t the point. Daphne Pulitzer-caliber story didn’t just “give a voice to the voiceless” but also changed our understanding of who those experiencing homelessness are: human beings with families, friends and hopes who are suffering a life and death trauma in plain sight.

She Persisted Is The Best Book of 2017 (So Far)

Naomi was just four years old on November 8, 2016, but she was devastated by the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Months earlier, she had seen Hillary Clinton in the debates on television and asked excitedly, “Is there a girl one?” From that moment, she was “with her.”

Naomi

Naomi

Naomi represents a generation of young women who almost got to see a woman become the most powerful person in the world. Instead, their hopes were dashed. Not only their hopes for a woman becoming the president, but also their personal hopes and dreams. If a woman can’t be president, what can’t I do, they’ve collectively asked.

On February 8, 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained the body’s silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King (which had previously been read and was later read on the floor by men) saying, “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” The silencing of Elizabeth Warren highlighted the persistent misogyny in America and the explanation instantly became a feminist battle cry.

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the former presidential candidate, has now written a book for Naomi and the countless young girls like her. The book, which profiles thirteen women who overcame great obstacles to do or become something great, is called, She Persisted.

She Persisted, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, profiles women like Harriet Tubman and Oprah Winfrey with whom we are all familiar and also profiles women who were unknown to me (whether that is due to my education or my own latent biases, I don’t know), including Clara Lemlich and Maria Tallchief. Lemlich was an activist for workers’ rights; Tallchief, it turns out, was the first great American prima ballerina.

This feminist teared up on every page, with every story.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a feminist–I know that word is loaded–you will be inspired by this book. If you have a daughter like Naomi, think you might have a daughter or just think you might meet someone else’s daughter you must, get yourself a copy of She Persisted, my choice for the best book of 2017 (so far).

Expert: Now is the Time to Get Solar on Your Business

Clean Energy Advisors is a sponsor of the Your Mark on the World Center.



Erik Melang, 52, the CEO and co-founder of Distributive Solar, says now is the time for business owners to put solar panels on their facilities. He should know; in under one year since he launched the business, his team has 75 megawatts of solar projects in the pipeline.
Erik recently made the case for investing in solar now in a post on Linkedin and joined me for a quick conversation (watch it at the top of this article) to talk about the reasons.
He offers four primary reasons for considering solar now:

  1. The investment tax credit on solar installations will begin to expire in 2020. Given the time required to evaluate, design and install solar, there isn’t much cushion in the calendar to take advantage of the tax benefits.
  2. Even before the solar investment tax credit begins to expire, the accelerated depreciation provisions of the tax code will begin to be phased out. In 2018, the first year depreciation on new equipment will drop from 50 percent to 40 percent.
  3. Interest rates continue to be low, allowing a business with good credit to finance most if not all of the cost using ten-year financing that will allow the business to save more in electricity than it pays in total financing costs each year, thus providing instant positive cash flow and leaving the business with a free source of electricity after only ten years.
  4. The pre-tax cost of solar is lower today than many in the industry thought possible by 2017. Commercial-scale projects can be completed under $1.70 per watt installed before any tax considerations.

There are lots of solar calculators that can help you get a more exact number, but according to one, the average number of KWH produced by each watt of installed solar is 1.44 per year. If you pay, say, $0.20 per KWH to your utility, you avoid $0.288 per installed watt per year. In this hypothetical example, you would achieve savings of 16.9 percent.

Of course, every situation is different. The further south your business sits, the more sun you tend to get. Utility rates vary, having a lot to do with your community’s proximity to coal.

Erik says utility rates are likely to rise more or less with inflation as the cost of coal, oil and gas production will tend to rise with inflation. This suggests that your future savings could be even greater than your current savings.

Because the sun is likely to shine consistently year after year and the panels are guaranteed for 25 years, according to Erik, the risks are low. With double-digit returns possible–even before tax considerations–and when those returns are highly probable, it makes sense to give serious consideration to these opportunities.

Given that many utilities are making net metering difficult if not impossible, Erik recommends installing only enough solar panels to provide for your peak daytime load (or less) so that you never have to sell power back to the utility. This approach is called staying “behind the meter.” Like conservation tactics like LED light bulbs, you reduce your power bill and keep all of the savings. No need, he says, to get mired in the bureaucracy of selling power back to the utility.

Scott Hill, President of Clean Energy Advisors, a Your Mark on the World Center sponsors and investor in Distributive Solar, says, “The cost of solar is coming down to the point where it makes sense for businesses to consider taking some control over their energy needs. Plus, more and more customers are demanding the businesses they purchase products and services from are being responsible about their carbon footprint.”

One day soon, he notes, power storage technology will allow businesses to produce all of their own power reliably and affordably, but that day hasn’t arrived, yet.
Today, he says, is the day to put solar power to work for your business to reduce but not fully eliminate your power bill.

Erik Melang, courtesy of Distributive Solar

Erik Melang, courtesy of Distributive Solar

More about Distributive Solar:

Twitter: @distrsolar

Commercial Solar Origination. Recruiting, training and supporting commercial solar consultants to present the economic, branding and environmental benefits of going solar to commercial business owners.

Erik’s bio:

Twitter: @espmel

Erik Melang is a Co-Founder of Distributive Solar and oversees the firms Recruiting, training and support of Independent Sales Representatives. Erik previously served as Managing Director of Impact Partners, where he led impact strategies initiatives and renewable energy private equity investments. It is in this role that Erik was drawn to the amazing business opportunity around Commercial Solar Origination. The industry is in the early stages of mass adoption and Commercial Business Owners are realizing the tremendous economic benefits of deploying solar panels on their rooftops. Erik is an Appalachian State MBA with strong desire to learn and teach and is an avid follower of everything solar and all things “Impact.” Erik’s interest include Clean Energy, Fishing, Snow Skiing, Travel , Guitar Pickin’ and is a child adoption advocate.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

This Entrepreneur Works To Infuse Travel With Purpose And Impact



Kathryn Pisco’s world changed when with her husband she circumnavigated the globe, volunteering along the way.

She realized, “Life was too short to fit back into what I was doing before.” So, rather than go back to work in a regular job, she launched a social enterprise called Unearth the World to help volunteers travel and have real impact.

She notes that there are three big problems in the voluntourism industry that she hoped to fix.

  1. Cost and transparency: First, she notes that some volunteer trips are unaffordable for many people. Most organizations arranging volunteer trips are not transparent about where the fees go and who is getting the money. At Unearth the World, Kathryn says they charge a small fee for their work in arranging the trip and are completely transparent about the where the money goes.
  2. Preparation: Second, she says that many volunteers arrive in the field without adequate preparation, not knowing what to expect, sometimes leading to poor outcomes. Unearth the World works to match volunteers’ skills to the needs of an on-the-ground organization abroad and then to prepare the volunteers for the rigors of the work they are expected to complete.
  3. Traveler-focus: Much of the volunteerism world is built around the traveler rather than the service and the impact. The result is that projects are often of the make-work variety so the traveler feels good about having done something when in fact the impact was marginal. Unearth the World works to get find real projects that need volunteers to that they have meaningful impact.

Kathryn visited with me first almost three years ago. You can see that interview and read that write-up here. My latest visit with Kathryn can be seen at the top of this article.

Her world changed when she traveled the world making a difference. Now you can experience what she did with her help.

Kathryn Pisco, courtesy of Unearth the World

Kathryn Pisco, courtesy of Unearth the World

More about Unearth the World:

Twitter: @unearththeworld

Unearth the World is a social enterprise that plans personalized and meaningful international exchange opportunities for professionals, students, groups, and families. Our unique model improves the volunteer travel industry by promoting cross-cultural learning, fostering reciprocal partnerships and elevating social consciousness through these responsible volunteer exchange programs. Unearth the World pair travelers with our vetted international nonprofit partners to solve real issues in global communities. Our focus on pre and post-trip training, financial transparency and social impact sets us apart. Since 2015, more than 200 global citizens have donated over 3,500 hours of their time. Unearth the World alums have started their own nonprofits, continued to volunteer in their own communities and become more civically engaged to multiply their tremendous impact!

Kathryn’s bio:

Kathryn Pisco is a social entrepreneur with a passion for travel and giving back. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended Cornell University where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications and Business. After years of working in sales for large corporations, she took a career break with her husband in 2013 and traveled the world doing a mix of personal travel and volunteer work. While she took part in some phenomenal volunteer projects, she also discovered some of the negative aspects about the international volunteering industry: lack of financial transparency, and absence of meaningful volunteer training, and a shortage of community driven projects. So, she returned from the trip inspired to create her own social venture –Unearth the World- that strives to improve the volunteer travel industry by promoting cross-cultural learning, fostering reciprocal partnerships and elevating social consciousness through responsible volunteer exchange programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and twin daughters.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

If Your Business Looked at Solar 2 Years Ago and Passed, Now May Be the Time

Clean Energy Advisors, one of our sponsors, has invested in Solar Site Design.

If your business evaluated solar power as a way to reduce costs more than a year ago and rejected it, it is time to look again, says Jason Loyet, CEO of Solar Site Design.

Solar Site Design has a national network of independent contractors who work as solar originators. The company also has a network of client contractors who pay for the opportunity to bid on the projects the originators find. This competitive marketplace is helping to accelerate projects and reduce the cost of solar installations.

Scott Hill, President of Clean Energy Advisors, explains the motivation for their investment. “We invested in Solar Site Design because we believe in Jason and in his business model. Commercial and Industrial companies need a place they can go to quickly understand if installing a solar array can be a smart business decision. He is also creating a platform where companies providing solar products and services compete for each project. These factors are bringing down costs and allowing Solar to complete against other forms of energy, which is something we’re very passionate about.”

The result of the acceleration in solar and the falling costs, Jason says, is installed costs of solar power that are years ahead of recent expectations at under $2.00 per watt. That means that in most parts of the country, a business can install solar and save enough to on utility bills to justify the expense.

While the industry has long relied on innovative financing to make projects pencil, with the current 30 percent tax credit, companies can now afford to buy the solar panels outright with traditional financing sources. Banks, Jason says, are now experienced in financing solar projects.

Typically, projects today are built “behind the meter” in that the plan is not to sell power back to the utility, but only to produce enough power at peak production to meet the business’s own need for that power at that time. The solar power becomes the primary power source and the utility is the secondary power source.

In most states, commercial businesses can’t sell power back to utilities at the same rate they buy power. By eliminating any low-priced sale of solar generated power to the utility and using 100 percent of the power produced to reduce high priced power purchased from the utility, the financial returns are improved.

Jason notes, too, that the next step the market is preparing for is the addition of storage so that companies can go ahead and produce extra power at peak production times and use it later, rather than relying on the utility. In such a scenario, the utility becomes a backup provider of power rather than a secondary power source. This near-future scenario is intriguing to environmentalists and CFOs alike.

Looking longer term, Jason sees a bright future for solar. The cost of extracting fossil fuels is unlikely to go down, meaning that the cost of generating power from fossil fuels will likely rise. He predicts an average rate of inflation of 3 percent for fossil fuel energy. Given that solar is already cheaper than fossil fuel generated power today, the spread is likely to grow dramatically in relatively few years.

The bottom line is that the economics of solar power make better sense than ever before today. The 30 percent Federal tax credit creates an incentive for companies to look at solar projects in 2017. Fossil fuel inflation combined with declining costs in solar will quickly reshape our global energy mix.

Jason Loyet, courtesy of Solar Site Design

Jason Loyet, courtesy of Solar Site Design

More about Solar Site Design:

Twitter: @solarsitedesign

Since winning the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Catalyst Award in 2015, Solar Site Design has focused on solving the next chapter of driving down customer acquisition costs for Commercial and Industrial solar energy projects. After a year of software development, we are proud to announce the newest enhancement to our platform: Solar Site Design Commercial Marketplace. For three years, Solar Site Design has become a leading recruiter and trainer of Nationwide Commercial Originators. Our Originators have deep relationships in their local market and are able to open doors wide open on highly qualified C&I projects. In addition, our Originators are trained on collecting extensive data at the site through our innovative platform available on Android and IOS. SSD aggregates the project data entered by service professionals (referral agent), connects the projects to networks of contracted fulfillment partners, thereby reducing customer acquisition costs by up to 50%

Jason’s bio:

Twitter: @jasonloyet

Jason Loyet is an accomplished solar industry entrepreneur, having founded and built three solar companies since 2005. His first company solved bottlenecks in importing solar equipment and streamlined mainline distribution to solar installers. In 2009, he founded and built a $3 million company that provided wholesale solar supply, sales and marketing services to electrical and roofing contractors throughout the United States. In 2013, Mr. Loyet leveraged the powerful capabilities of mobile phones to build an easy way for traditional contractors to add a revenue source to their bottom line by playing an active role in the solar industry. Hence, Solar Site Design was born. Solar Site Design is a collaborative, cloud-based platform that connects highly-qualified solar project referrals to leading solar companies to drive down customer acquisition costs. Our proprietary business process is designed to reduce the solar industry’s customer acquisition costs by up to 50%. Solar Site Design was chosen as a winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Catalyst Program in May of 2015. Prior to entering the solar industry, Mr. Loyet founded, developed and sold two software companies; a video-streaming service and a photo-sharing platform. Jason is a member of the Social Venture Network.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here! Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

I Will Stand Up For Women


Men. We think we understand women because we all have mothers and a few of us still have wives or girlfriends.

We also think we know how to run a restaurant because we eat.

I’d like to think I’m different, but I’m not. I don’t understand women. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.

Last year, I was invited to speak at the UN on gender diversity. I was challenged by the emcee to commit to do something—anything really—to improve gender diversity within my sphere. I agreed to ensure that 50 percent of the guests on my show would be women.

The first thing I learned is that only 28 percent of my guests had been women.

A funny thing happened when I started having more women on my show. I began hearing about women’s issues. For instance, I did three episodes of my show on menstruation. I learned that feminine hygiene products are a big deal. In the developing world, girls often miss school because they lack them. Some are even sexually exploited.

Celeste Mergens launched an NGO called Days for Girls to provide girls around the world with reusable pads, so they won’t have to miss school. She stands up for women.

Celeste Mergens in Nepal, courtesy of Days for Girls

Celeste Mergens in Nepal, courtesy of Days for Girls

After Donald Trump was exposed for bragging about sexually assaulting women, I learned that many—perhaps most women—have been assaulted. That doesn’t make it okay. That makes it a global crisis.

Nearly 20 percent of women are sexually assaulted in college. Laura Dunn, a lawyer and a campus rape survivor herself, launched SurvJustice to get the Federal Government to enforce protections for victims on campus rather than protecting the perpetrators. She stands up for women.

I still don’t understand women. I will never know what it is like to be a woman. What I do know is that women are smart, strong and powerful. They are the equal of men in every way that matters.

From now on, I will stand up for women.

#standupforwomen

CEA Targets $800M of Solar Investment With New Partners

Clean Energy Advisors is a sponsor of the Your Mark on the World Center.


Clean Energy Advisors announced a major new financing that will take the firm from having invested about $140 million in solar energy projects to about $800 million. CEA President Scott Hill also notes that building on this success, the firm will establish a foundation to fund more charitable initiatives. (Watch or listen to my discussion with Scott using the players above.)Scott explains that the unnamed financing partners, two “multinational families,” have committed about $350 million. Combined with additional debt financing, the firm anticipates reaching $800 million in financed projects, “completing the pipeline of projects in North Carolina.” He anticipates that deploying the capital will take 18 to 24 months.

Scott explains that the unnamed financing partners, two “multinational families,” have committed about $350 million. Combined with additional debt financing, the firm anticipates reaching $800 million in financed projects, “completing the pipeline of projects in North Carolina.” He anticipates that deploying the capital will take 18 to 24 months.

He notes that the cost of installation for small utility scale projects is about $1.50 or $1.60 per watt, yielding a cost of about $1.5 million per megawatt. The new financing should allow CEA to install another 400 MW in North Carolina. He also notes that the scale they are achieving should allow the firm to look beyond their traditional structure where Duke Energy is the primary “off-taker” or buyer of the energy from the projects financed.

The new scale also creates an opportunity for CEO to increase its philanthropic efforts. Scott says the firm has started the process of creating a foundation that will fund charitable work. Last year, the firm backed nonprofits Reverb and Headcount to build support for environmental causes at 25 concerts across the country. Scott says they’ll be doing that again. “People who attend concerts have a natural affinity for nonprofits.”

Scott also hopes that the firm can use the foundation to fund solar projects in the developing world like putting solar panels on schools that don’t have access to the grid. He says the firm will donate its time to manage projects that the foundation funds and hopes donors will help them make a big impact.

The acceleration of the solar industry is creating a bright future for the world, both in the developing world and here in the developed world.

Scott Hill, courtesy of Clean Energy Advisors

Scott Hill, courtesy of Clean Energy Advisors

More about Clean Energy Advisors:

Twitter: @cleanenergyadv

Clean Energy Advisors (CEA) creates ownership opportunities for investors in utility scale solar energy projects that generate tax-advantaged predictable income, preserve capital, and have positive social and environmental impact.

Scott’s bio:

Twitter: @williamandhill

Scott Hill has over twenty years of entrepreneurial experience including a significant perspective on business start-ups and building successful small businesses. Mr. Hill has been with CEA since April 2014.

His duties include overseeing the firms family office, endowment, foundation, and UHNW client strategies. He has served as a panelist at US based family office conferences and enjoys speaking on impact investing, renewable energy opportunities, and the future of Solar PV worldwide.

Scott is a 1991 graduate of Columbia University and four year member of the football program. He lives near Nashville, TN with his wife and children. He’s also actively involved in his community and church.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Are You Crazy Enough to Change the World?

People ask me all the time what I do.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my father in 1982. I told him I had decided to become an author. He responded, “You can’t do that. That’s not a job.” At the time, I wasn’t confident enough to say, “But bookstores are full of books written by people we call authors. That really looks like a job.”

For better or worse, I accepted his advice and went on to become a successful finance guy, running my own SEC- and FINRA-registered investment bank and later becoming the CFO of a global food and beverage company that became the third largest company on the 2009 Inc. 500 list.

When I got fired from that job, I launched my new career as an author, a journalist and a speaker. I call myself a champion of social good. I write and speak about people who are changing the world for good.

BATH, UK – OCTOBER 06, 2011: Close-up of an Apple iMac computer displaying the www.apple.com front page tribute to former chief executive Steve Jobs, who died on 5th October 2011 aged 56

I’ve learned one thing. Steve Jobs was right. He famously shared the following in an advertisement:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

On my show, I’ve spoken to more than 800 people who are changing the world. Most of them are not changing the world in the way Steve Jobs did. With apologies to him, they are changing the world in more meaningful ways. Ending climate change. Eliminating extreme poverty. Eradicating disease. And they all have one thing in common. They are crazy enough to believe that what they do matters. They believe that the world will bend to their will. They believe they can change the world. And they have.

How crazy are you?

I’m Not Mindful Because I’m Not a Narcissist

How many times per day do you hear “be mindful” or “be present”?

Frankly, as a social entrepreneur, I’m sick and tired of it. Here’s why.

Yes, there are demonstrable health benefits to being present in the moment, especially for good moments. And frankly, for most of us with time to read an article of this sort, most moments are pretty good. Enjoying them more makes us all healthier and happier.

But I’m not very good at that.

Right now, in Somalia 6.5 million people are at risk of starving to death, largely as a result of climate change. The entire country is experiencing extreme drought and children—the most vulnerable to famine—are beginning to die. More than 100 people died in two days from starvation-related causes. (The British Red Cross is on the scene working to alleviate suffering and prevent massive death—donate here.)

About six million women and children will die this year from the smoke of cooking fires inside their homes. That is about 11 people every minute. For some reason, I don’t feel the need to be present while I warm up my left overs in the microwave. (Learn more about clean cookstoves from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves).

When I’m out for my run in the morning, I can’t focus on my stride length, cadence or breathing because right here at home in the United States, 28.5 million people lack health insurance and another 14 million are threatened with losing theirs if Trumpcare is adopted. A study published by the Harvard Gazette reported that as of 2009, 45,000 people in the United States die from a lack of health insurance every year. While that number likely dropped in recent years due to the Affordable Care Act, the numbers could quickly spike again. (Write your congressional representatives to encourage them to expand coverage under the ACA rather than shrinking it.)

Not everything that distracts me is terrible. The number of polio cases is the world has dropped by 99.99 percent since the mid-1980s when there were almost 400,000 cases every year. Last year there were 37. This year could be the last year that anyone on the planet gets polio. Yes, I’ve said that for the past three years. No, I’m not giving up hope that this year will be the one. (Donate to Rotary’s “End Polio” efforts here.)

Two drops of oral polio vaccine cost about 60 cents and can protect a child against the disease. Devin Thorpe administers the drops.

Two drops of oral polio vaccine cost about 60 cents and can protect a child against the disease. Devin Thorpe administers the drops.

And let’s be clear, when I’m walking the streets of Salt Lake City thinking about my next article, my strategy for increasing my impact or reducing my carbon output, I’m not present. I’m not thinking about my feet in my shoes, the wind on my face or the beauty around me. I’ve seen it before. Hundreds of times over more decades than I care to count. Frankly, I’m thinking and worrying about something much more important than how much I’m enjoying my day.

Years ago, I learned that taking a few deep breaths when I’m stressed can have a big impact on my stress and my health. I do employ that technique consciously on most days because something gets me worked up. I’m ashamed that the things that really get me worked up are stupid, first-world sorts of problems. I should be getting more worked up about people starving in Somalia for starters.

You are probably more like me than you think. Perhaps you don’t worry or think about any of the things I’ve listed above. Maybe you are more focused on caring for your aging parents, or for your own young children, or keeping the job you absolutely need to keep your family fed and sheltered. Being mindful is a luxury for the wealthy and the world would be better off if they weren’t so mindful.

Someone is sure to point out that being truly mindful means contemplating the very things I’m talking about. Wonderful! Let’s all be mindful in that sense. But let’s not pretend we can be present in the moment appreciating the world around us and simultaneously be aware of others removed from us by great distances or dire circumstances. To be mindful of others is anathema to a focus on oneself.

Life is not supposed to be one continuous amusement. Your life has meaning, purpose and real joy when your attention is focused more on the wellbeing of others.

So, the next time you start to feel a bit guilty because you are not “present” or “mindful” enough, just say to yourself, “I’m not mindful because I’m not a narcissist.”

Reverb Is Making The Live Music Industry Greener

Clean Energy Advisors is a sponsor.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Lauren Sullivan and her husband Adam Gardner, a touring musician, wanted to make the concert scene more environmentally friendly. They’ve created Reverb, a nonprofit, to help the industry get its green on.

Adam explains, “The live music industry has historically been highly disposable, creating large amounts of landfill, energy and water waste. Think of all the plastic cups on the ground at the end of a concert or a weekend long festival, for example. Tour busses and trucks guzzle fuel carrying large crews, and large amounts of equipment across long distances every day on a tour. Tens of thousands of fans commute to a venue typically located 40 miles outside of major city centers, contributing to over 80 percent of a concert’s carbon footprint.”

Adam recognized that other nonprofits face that Reverb could overcome. “Local and national enviro nonprofit organizations have had variable experiences ‘tabling’ at concerts because they aren’t directly connected to the band or they don’t have the capacity to compete against all the other attractions at a show to get concertgoers’ attention.”

Working directly with the bands, Adam says, they can make a big difference. “Because I’m a touring musician myself, I’m able to speak to artists and their managers directly about how we can help make their tours more green while mobilizing and inspiring their fans to take action that adds up to real change.”

As a musician, Adam has an advantage. “I understand the challenges and opportunities live music events and tours create. We make it easy for bands to bridge the gap between their intentions and actions, as we embed our staff into their tours as part of their touring crew to handle tour greening behind the scenes while setting up a fan-facing interactive Eco-Village.”

Reverb has a crew that works the concerts. “Just like they have staff to handle setting up their lights and sound, we provide expert staff to set up biodiesel fuelings for tour vehicles, local farm food for catering, compost and recycling, etc. Out front at the Eco-Village in the concourse of each venue, fans can connect with issues and organizations that are near and dear to their favorite musicians. We also incentivize fans to participate by offering them ticket upgrades, meet and greets with the band and prizes. We want to make this fun and meaningful for fans in a way that only enhances their concert experience,” Adam says.

It is still a hard sell at times, Adam says. “The challenge is sometimes a general resistance to change, and lack of prioritizing or recognizing the negative impacts of live music. I get it–it’s hard enough to pull off a major production every night in a different city–everyone out on the road has their plates full and don’t have the know-how or capacity to take on new territory.”

There are challenges in trying to scale, too, he says. “We try to ‘teach a band to fish’ as much as we can, but ultimately the best programs have our staff onsite handling them–so there’s a limitation as to how much we can do directly to green tours. That said, the biggest impacts are with the millions of fans these major musicians have and their actions adding up to something truly significant. Impacting fans to take action is getting more and more powerful as social media and large concert events grow.”

Chris Warren, CEO of Clean Energy Advisors, says, “The work Adam and his team do is awesome. They spend countless hours on tour with musicians and make a difference one recycled bottle or locally sourced dinner for the crew at a time. Everyone I have met at Reverb is committed to the mission. It’s thought leaders like Adam who see an opportunity to make a positive impact and do something about it that give us great hope for future generations. We’re proud to walk hand in hand with Reverb to spread the word about climate change and to take actions that make the world a better place.”

Adam’s vision to leverage the bands’ fans to make a real impact in the world.

He says, “We are called REVERB because the message of sustainability starts with the musicians and reverberates out to their fans, which then take that passion and inspiration home to their families, workplaces, schools, and communities. We’ve been able to make a pretty good dent in changing the public’s hearts, minds and actions through the incredible reach and connection of music. It has taken many forms–fans have volunteered thousands of hours, given thousands of dollars to causes, taken thousands of actions in their own lives as simple as ditching disposable water bottles and using reusable ones.”

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at noon Eastern, Adam will join me here for a live discussion about the work of Reverb, making the live music industry greener. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Adam Gardner, courtesy of Reverb

Adam Gardner, courtesy of Reverb

More about Reverb:

Twitter: @reverbrocks

REVERB is a community of music makers and lovers harnessing the power of live music to tackle today’s most urgent environmental issues. We partner with major musicians, festivals and venues to green live music events behind the scenes while mobilizing millions of concertgoers to take actions that add up to real change. Leading the music community since 2004, REVERB is a 501c3 environmental non-profit founded by activist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of Guster.

Adam’s bio:

Adam wears two “hats”— Guster frontman and Co-Director of REVERB, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to educating and engaging musicians and their fans to take action toward a more sustainable future. Gardner co-founded REVERB with his environmentalist wife, Lauren Sullivan in 2004. Since then REVERB has greened over 200 major music tours and festivals and over 5,000 concert events, kept over 117,000 tons of CO2 from the air, fueled touring fleets with over 900,000 gallons of biodiesel, partnered with over 4,000 environmental groups and have reached over 27 million music fans.

The artists that have partnered with REVERB to help them go green and mobilize their fans include Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, Linkin Park, Jack Johnson, Drake, FUN., Sheryl Crow, Phish, Jason Mraz and many more. REVERB also works with the music industry to improve business practices including record labels, concert venues and radio stations. While Adam is often on tour with his own band playing to sold-out audiences from Radio City Music Hall in New York to the Warfield in San Francisco, he is busy work-ing for REVERB in the back of his biodiesel-powered tour bus. REVERB and Guster launched the annual Campus Consciousness Tour in 2006, bringing daytime environmental programming to students and a green concert event onto college campuses across the country. Past headliners include Grammy Award-winning artists, Ben Harper and FUN., hip-hop sensations, Drake and J. Cole, and indy rockers Passion Pit, Walk the Moon and X Ambassadors. Adam has had the honor of testifying to Congress twice: in 2010 about the benefits and need to support sustainably produced and community-based biodiesel and again in 2012 in support of keeping wood products such as musical instruments free of illegally sourced wood.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

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