Sustainable enterprise conference works!

EcoGo - Sustainable Enterprise Conference - Sustainable North Bay - by Christine Walker supports sustainability education taking place globally, including our San Francisco Bay home base. Pamela Lanier, who heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and, reports on the successful Sustainable Enterprise Conference in Sonoma County, CA.

Sustainable North Bay leads 10th annual event

The annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference, presented by Sustainable North Bay, took place on April 30th, 2015. It was a daylong collaborative effort focused on how sustainable and eco-minded businesses promote success. Besides the long and short term financial benefits of green business practices, there was an emphasis on developing social prosperity and environmental awareness.

This enthusiastically attended event served as a platform to showcase creative business ideas that are relevant in Sonoma County, a place where communities are committed to sustainability. Over 50 exhibitors and 48 speakers provided valuable information and insight to more than three hundred fifty attendees. Speaking topics included ideas about efficiency, developing local programs, and thinking innovatively.

Industry speakers share expertise

Two keynote speakers addressed “Capital for a Sustainable Future,” this year’s theme. In addition, wide-ranging sustainable resource topics were discussed by experts:

  • Keynoter Kat Taylor, CEO of Beneficial State Bank — socially responsible banking
  • Keynoter Marco Vangelisti, Founder of Essential Knowledge for Transition — slow money investments with communities and large foundations
  • Somo Event Center Welcome Speaker — Professor Robert Girling, Ph.D., Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, Sonoma State University, Co-organizer of the Sustainable Enterprise Conference and the Future Makers Sustainable North Bay Youth Summit
  • Water and the Future — Cordel Stillman, Deputy Chief Engineer of Sonoma County Water Agency, and Eppa Rixley, Strategic Planning Manager of Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Clean Energy for a Sustainable Future — Bill Stewart, President of Solarcraft, and Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power
  • Traditional Medicinals — Blair Kellison, CEO of Traditional Medicinals
Sustainable businesses host and participate

The Conference was held, appropriately, at Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park, a One Planet Community which is constructed sustainably and maintained and powered with clean energy. This tangible place, with realized eco-building and community, complemented the like-minded conference.

Sonoma Mountain Village is just one of many innovative North Bay businesses. The Barlow offers a unique shopping experience, where resident artisans, farm-to-table restaurants, and local wine, coffee and beer makers have come together under the banner of green business. Others, such as All Truss in Sonoma, an FSC-certified business, are leading the way in the resurgence of the building industry in the North Bay. It takes many industry sectors working together to create a truly sustainable environment.

Other Sonoma County businesses shared their success stories:

  • Bioregional One Planet Living — Pooran Desai, Co-founder
  • The Sonoma Green Business Program — Kevin Kumataka, Coordinator
  • The Food Business School — William Rosenzweig, Dean and Executive Director
Event supports future best practices

Several ancillary events encouraged momentum and a circulation of information that encouraged and promoted networking, shared insight, and support. The iHub Enterprise Accelerator held a three-hour workshop for executives and active entrepreneurs, offering information such as how to attract finances and develop stakeholder commitments.

In addition, student leaders were given an opportunity to share their visions at the Future Makers Sustainable North Bay Youth Summit. This first-ever summit was led by Kellen Watson, from Daily Acts, and Jenise Granvold, of Solar Sonoma County. As a conduit for positive change, it was a spearhead for future events of this kind.

The Conference has proven to be a place where information can blossom and reach the noses of innovative businesses, entrepreneurs, and interested consumers. Creating sustainable business enterprises is a reasonable and admirable way to address issues like greenhouse gases and carbon pricing and create solutions that work for the North Bay business community — and our stunning, precious natural environment.

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Felicia McFall, summer intern with Santa Rosa JC, and EcoGo editor Jessica Hughes.


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