Author Archives: Bethany Waggoner

Green Line Series NYC | Sass Brown on The Future of Fashion

GoGreen NYC | Future of Fashion

The apparel industry has a dilemma — its growing market of global middle class consumers wants their fashion fast and cheap, but the planet can’t sustain the current rate (or trend line) of resource consumption or environmental impacts. Author, editor, FIT assistant dean of the School of Art & Design, and sustainable fashion expert, Sass Brown, gives us an insider’s take on the seismic shifts pushing the fashion and apparel industry towards less wasteful systems and technology, new heights in design, and far more responsible corporate citizenship when it comes to resourcing, environmental impacts and social justice.

GoGreen Conference: From an insider’s perspective, what is the incentive for the fashion industry to address sustainability and social impact concerns?

Sass Brown: First and foremost there is the knowledge that they are doing something worthwhile that goes beyond mere profits, and aligns them better with current attitudes and values in the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. The fashion industry has always prided itself on being cutting edge, so leading by example by integrating systemic change inside their own industry has major PR benefits to a consumer who is becoming more and more conscious in their consumption, and voting with their hard earned dollars.

GG: What kind of change have you seen in the past five years in terms of industry and designer attitudes towards more responsible supply chains and ethical production? Is this trend a blip on the radar or a meaningful shift in “business as usual”?

SB: There is no doubt this is a major shift in values in corporations as well as the consumer behaviour. The fashion and related industries is a major global employer, and as such has the ability to impact the planet through the changes they make. The past few years has seen more and more designers building new models and systems instead of blindly following the existing fashion system, which is unsustainable by definition. The first wave of sustainable fashion designers concentrated on making more conscious material or production choices but within the existing systems, the newer designers are no longer trying to conform to the models which are wasteful by definition, but forging their own models and building new systems.

GG: What role is technology playing in driving sustainability in the fashion industry? Has it affected design as well as production and sourcing? Are there key technologies that are especially promising in this area?

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NYC | ioby’s Erin Barnes On Their New Platform For Neighborhood Development

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 9.28.14 AMThe three founders of the crowd-resourcing platform ioby are the type of people who like to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty on a project. It’s not hard to understand why. When we put in sweat equity, we feel ownership and pride at the results. We give more of our resources to secure a successful outcome. And we want to tell people about our accomplishments (Pinterest, anyone?). On this edition of the Green Line Series, ioby Co-Founder & Executive Director, Erin Barnes shares why the burgeoning crowd-resourcing platform is an important tool for neighborhoods to take control of projects to uplift and revitalize their communities!

GoGreen Conference: Give us a basic run down of the ioby platform and what your particular brand of change making is. 

Erin Barnes: ioby comes from the opposite of the NIMBY concept (Not In My Back Yard). It’s a digital platform for people who say “yes” —  this is a positive change that I want to see in my backyard. We work at the neighborhood scale on neighbor-funded projects that make communities stronger and more sustainable, and with the kind of people who take the initiative to start projects that bring positive change.

We do that through a crowd-resourcing platform. “Crowd-resourcing” is a word we made up that blends two concepts: Crowd funding and resource organizing. Crowd funding is a term that most people have heard of — it’s the idea of pooling lots of small donations online to a single cause or organization. Resource organizing is a way of organizing all sorts of social capital — in-kind donations, volunteer time, and venture capital from the community whom the project is benefiting. So with ioby, when we talk about crowd resourcing, we’re talking about using an online platform to organize all the different types of capital that people need to make neighborhood change and raising all those types of capital from people in the communities.

GG: Why is the community organizing aspect of what you do so important to the success of a project? 

EB: By having people who live in the communities invest in the actual projects, either by making a $35 donation (which is the average donation amount) or volunteering for four hours on the weekends, there are a few things  you know are happening in the project.

First of all, it improves community buy-in. When you have 85 people who live within a few blocks of the project site contributing financially, they are saying, “yes, the community is backing this project and this is something that is good for the community.” The second part, when you have people putting in either financial contributions or sweat equity, is that they are investing in the change and investing in that project. And we know that we can ensure some long term community stewardship of that project.

You see a lot of community gardens in urban environmental work and one of the biggest challenges that they see is long term stewardship. They  have a lot of people really excited about the project in the beginning and then the membership  dwindles over time and the garden may fall into disrepair. So anything you can to do to improve assurance of long term community stewardship is really important. For us, for ioby, we are really interested in providing opportunities for service participation to people who live in service centers and providing opportunity for people to steward in their community — at the local level.

GG: How does ioby fit into the broader landscape of what’s going on in the sustainability movement? Why did you opt to work at the grassroots, neighborhood scale instead of supporting mass scale projects? 

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Green Line Series SEA | Casey Dilloway On Funding The Change We Wish To See

Casey DillowayOne of the biggest barriers to starting or expanding a small or local business in this country is a symptom of the “Great Recession” — access to capital has significantly contracted in the past five years and small business owners have been hit the hardest. That’s where you come in. What if there was a mechanism where members of a community could help finance the businesses and organizations they want to see flourish in their city? What if a little bit of the power belonged to the people and not just the banks in choosing how the local business sector shapes up? In this edition of the Green Line Series, Casey Dilloway, co-founder and president of Community Sourced Capital, explains how the evolving democratization of finance offers a viable supplement to traditional sources of capital in a way that gives citizens direct access to funding the change we wish to see.

GoGreen Conference: What is the problem or challenge you are trying to solve via a crowdfunding mechanism and how do you specifically approach it at Community Sourced Capital?

Casey Dilloway: The problem within the financing world is that our system in general is not acting in the interest of every person. It’s acting in the interest of fewer than most. This is especially true at the local level, where people are starting to see how simply shifting habits has a huge impact on their local economy and it’s part of the greater sustainability movement.

The problem from the financial side of things is that we usually rely on banks to help support small businesses with financing and in the past few years bank loans to small businesses have been decreasing. Specifically very small loans — like those under $150,000. That’s the problem we are trying to solve — making small businesses stronger and giving them access to capital in the mean time.

When we started crafting our solution we looked at developing as much of a systems-based approach as we could. If we are going to get small businesses access to capital then we might as well get it from the very people supporting these small businesses as consumers. Our system sources capital from the people that also benefit from the business. And we are seeing really strong connections between our individual lenders and the businesses they are lending to in a way that I don’t think we’ve seen in a really long time in society.

Ultimately we’re trying to line up our money with our values. And we think that if people knew more about what their money was doing when they’re not spending or consciously investing it, they would be upset. That they would want to have more say over what their money is doing.

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King County Executive Dow Constantine Invites You To GoGreen Seattle 2013!

Dow ConstantineEditor’s note: GoGreen is proud to partner with King County on our fourth annual sustainable business conference in the region. The following is a personal invitation from keynote speaker, King County Executive, Dow Constantine — we’ll see you April 24!

I’m pleased to invite you to the upcoming GoGreen Seattle Conference on Wednesday, April 24 at the Conference Center in downtown Seattle.

This is the premier sustainability conference for business and government in the region. It is a learning experience for both public and private sector decision makers and is intended to empower attendees with the strategies, tools and connections to green their organizations with prosperity and profitability in mind.

Meaningful progress toward environmental sustainability can only happen through partnerships between governments, businesses and residents.

Your participation in this conference will help us shape the policies and investments in our community that will guide the future of sustainable living and business practices.

Maintaining our region’s leadership in environmental and economic sustainability are top priorities for King County – they are essential to our high quality of life.

During GoGreen Seattle, you will be exposed to real-world examples and ideas that our region has put into place and have taken us to the cutting edge of technology.

Sustainability is a powerful and indispensable tool for navigating the tumultuous waters of today’s global economy – as well as solving critical challenges such as climate change. GoGreen Seattle works across industry silos to foster peer-to-peer learning and collaborative solutions.

My hope is that you will take what you learn at this conference and turn it into action. That is why King County is proudly sponsoring the conference in 2013.

Environmental sustainability and economic growth are foundational goals of the King County Strategic Plan. We are taking our own actions to become more sustainable in our day-to-day operations, and in our planning for the future. And we are seeing results. King County’s actions have reduced our environmental footprint, saved taxpayers money and encouraged business development and growth.

For example:

  • King County is implementing an Energy Plan that focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy development … as well as award-winning green building and environmentally preferable purchasing programs.
  • We’re making it easier for nonprofits and businesses to gain access to low-interest financing for projects that conserve energy, water and promote environmental sustainability through the Green Community Initiative – the first of its kind in the state.
  • We’re capturing landfill gas, cleaning it and turning it into pipeline quality natural gas in volumes large enough to heat 10,000 homes – and we’re earning income while doing it.

Our sustainability and resource conservation work isn’t relegated solely to programs of a grand scale. By visiting with the King County staff at this year’s GoGreen Conference, you’ll see:

  • How we’re helping daily commuters shrink their carbon footprint through rideshare programs and our clean and efficient transit fleet;
  • How we’re bring recycling and resource conservation education to thousands of school kids in classrooms and assemblies; and 
  • How we’re offering everyday commonsense approaches to getting more value and creating less waste while shopping.

I hope you find your time at the GoGreen Conference informative and inspiring. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, April 24.

Dow Constantine,
King County Executive

King County Executive Dow Constantine will give the morning keynote address at GoGreen Seattle 2013. Register to join usApril 24, for a full day of insights, training and networking that will empower you to advance sustainability efforts at your workplace and contribute to the success of the region. View the entire 2013 program & speaker roster at our website. 

Green Line Series PHX | Courtney Klein Johnson On Building A Triple Bottom Line Enterprise

ImageOn her first day of college at Arizona State University, SEED Spot Co-Founder Courtney Klein Johnson would have told you she’d be well on her way to being the next Katie Couric by now. Instead, a life-changing experience working in rural Mexico significantly altered her life course and she is now thriving as a social entrepreneur working to catalyze and grow a business community that values impact as well as profit. Courtney will participate in our Make Money by Doing Good: Designing A Triple Bottom Line Enterprise Workshop, Thursday, December 6 in Phoenix — but first, we’ve got a primer on the Triple Bottom Line concept and how it plays out in the world of business.

GoGreen Conference: To get us started, can you give us a quick backgrounder on SEED Spot and what it is that you do there? 

Courtney Klein Johnson: Chris Petroff and I started SEED Spot in February of 2012. The name behind SEED spot comes from the idea that everyone has a seed inside of them — an idea that is yet to be born. We’re a place where you can go to get the resources and guidance to take that idea out into the real world. We’re working with social entrepreneurs in Phoenix with dreams of creating sustainable businesses that have impact via a product, service or technology that improves lives and communities. We have 16 full-time companies and 40 part-time companies that we’re supporting this year.

GG: On your website you talk about the intersection of purpose, passion and work. What happens when you align these three elements? What lies at that intersection?

CKJ: Magic. Incredible stuff. I think that authenticity lies at that intersection. People who find a cross-pollination of all those things often arrive at the most authentic place for themselves and for the businesses they create. And with that comes a loyal customer following; a base of people that believe in the “why” even more than the “what.” And I believe that brings more value to whatever project or service you’re providing.

GG: A lot of times when we talk about sustainability, the conversation can stagnate on environmental performance metrics — efficiency, consumption, technology — but SEED Spot seems to have a broader perspective on what it means to be sustainable. Fill us in on your philosophy. 

CKJ: We would argue that a sustainable business is one that is not only created in a way that is fruitful for the entrepreneur, but fruitful for the people that intertwine or interface with the company as well. That goes for your employment practices to the product or service itself — how is it made, the lineage of its components and the impact they have. Sustainability also means sustainable revenue. SEED Spot itself is set up as a non-profit organization, but we’re still charged with setting up sustainable revenue channels for ourselves. It’s important to look at setting up your organization properly in the market and assessing your costs appropriately. The tension comes in when you look at the higher costs that come with supply chains to be sustainable or eco-friendly. It matters where and how things are made, but so does the price point — and the most sustainable companies are the ones that have found the right balance between that sacrifice and sustainability.

GG: Have you seen a big shift in the Millennial and Gen Y generations in terms of better integrating the concept of “doing well and doing good” into their business models? Is the traditional belief that profit is king be on its way out?

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Green Line Series PDX | Cylvia Hayes On Transforming The Economy Via A Triple Bottom Line

Cylvia Hayes might happen to be Governor John Kitzhaber’s better half and consequently Oregon’s First Lady, but she’s a visionary in her own right. For the last installment of the Green Line Series for Portland, we sat down with Cylvia to get her unique perspective on how government and business can work together to get it right for Oregon’s economy, communities and its environment.

GoGreen Conference: Give us a sense of your role in Governor Kitzhaber’s Administration and how your own professional expertise plays into that.

Cylvia Hayes: I wear two hats around here. I have a more than 20 year career in sustainable economic development and clean energy. So I have that professional perspective. And as First Lady of the state, I’m very involved as a volunteer policy advisor for the administration on those two issues. To give you some specifics, I was the co-chair on Governor Kulongoski’s (the previous Governor of Oregon) renewable energy working group, which was the body that was put together and worked to pass several of Oregon’s big energy policies — including our renewable portfolio standard and renewable fuels standard. But towards the end of that term, my fellow co-chair and I became a little frustrated, because although we realized that we had passed a number of lofty and important measures, we had no comprehensive plan on how to actually get there.

So, now one of the big clean energy policy efforts we have underway in the Kitzhaber administration is a 10-year energy plan. The intent being that in 10 years time our trajectory is to meet and exceed our renewable portfolio standard, our fuel standard and emission reduction goal, but that we have credibly bent the curve so that we are moving towards a low carbon energy and transportation system.

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Green Line Series | W+K Tomorrow’s Nick Barham Flips ‘Green’ Marketing On Its Head

We sat down with Wieden + Kennedy Tomorrow’s Global Director, Nick Barham, ahead of GoGreen to get the scoop on his presentation and his opinions on current trends in green marketing. Check out this Green Line Series Interview for a primer on this Thursday’s talk — “We Hate Sustainability”: Moving Beyond The ‘S’ Word.

GoGreen Conference: Before we get too far, can you give us a primer on what you do at Wieden + Kennedy Tomorrow?

NB: W+K  Tomorrow is an initiative of Wieden + Kennedy, and most simply, my job is to think about how we do things that we’re not currently doing. So what aren’t we doing today that we could be, and perhaps should be? I work on our sustainability initiatives because it’s something that is a changing landscape for brands. I also work with our incubator space called the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), which works in emerging technology and I help run a publishing venture. So W+K Tomorrow is looking at how communication in the brand landscape is changing and what we should, as a communications agency, be doing to respond to that.

GG: We’ve been in the business for the past five years of teaching businesses how to improve sustainability, and we’ve noticed a definite shift in language in the market. We’ve gone from “natural” to “green” to “sustainable” now. It seems like the green marketing world tends converge on certain language and visual representations — and if you don’t use the right language, you’re not seen as credible. But your presentation flies in the face of that by saying, ‘Ditch it’. If that’s the case, what do we do instead?

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