Pamela Lanier

International Ecotourism Society’s inaugural North American conference

The International Ecotourism Society’s inaugural Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference North America took place January 25-27 at the University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) which is a LEED Gold certified building. This was the first major Sustainable Tourism Conference following the adoption of the United Nations Sustainability Goals and the outcomes of COP21 Climate Change negotiations in Paris, France.

Although ESTC holds international conferences every year, this is the first conference held for North America and over 200 professionals from around the world attended. The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference is an annual global conference focused on highlighting and promoting ecotourism’s role in sustainable development and aims to strengthen the industry’s commitment to the recent UN resolution, “Promotion of Ecotourism for Poverty Eradication and Environment Protection.”

“A connection with nature is integral to our survival,” said Dr. David Randle, Professor and Chair of ST at USF in his keynote. “It’s a call to action that our planet has entered the Anthropocene era. The choice for humans is clear: we can either choose to protect our planet or we can allow it to be destroyed. But by destroying the planet, we destroy ourselves.”

Mr. Richard Jordan, chief of UN operations for the Royal Academy of Science International Trust, emphasized the importance of youth participation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the overarching need to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions. Ecotourism can be a beneficial force for development of local economies especially through the economic empowerment of women.

Jon Bruno, acting executive director of TIES, note that the secondary effect of the economics of the Ecotourism industry in the local culture is that this money is actually positively and actively changing the dynamic without disrupting the community. The result is that tourism, sustainably developed and managed, is of much greater benefit than consumptive industries such as mining or logging. “The good news, as well, is 48% of millennial travelers under 30 say sustainability is one of their top three priorities for travel… this is a very hopeful trend for conservation and the welfare of indigenous stakeholders.”

The conference concluded on Wednesday, January 27th with keynote presentations from Dr. Kelly Bricker, professor and chair at the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah and TIES chair, and Dr. Thomas Henry Culhane, professor at Mercy College NY, National Geographic Explorer, and Founder of Solar Cities, debuted the home biogas system, the first commercial system that can take the food waste from a family of four and turn it into reliable methane gas that they can cook on for up to two hours a day in perpetuity, as well as providing a nutrient rich liquid fertilizer as a second product which can be used to produce hydroponic food at zero cost! Amongst other projects debuting at the conference was the textbook “The Good Company: Sustainability in Hospitality, Tourism and Wine” which Dr. D’Arcy Dornan praised, saying, “The Good Company: Sustainability in Hospitality, Tourism, and Wine is our guidebook on the journey of sustainability, helping us to become sustainability‐system thinkers…”

Conference topics included:

– The Role of UNWTO Observatories in accelerating the Growth of Sustainable Tourism

– How the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism 2017” was prepared and adopted by the UN General Assembly

– Creating Sustainable Ecotourism through Adventure travel

– Ecotourism and indigenous communities case studies

The conference concluded with a dinner, locally-sourced dinner by the Chiles Group with ingredients coming from nearby community farms and fisheries on and around Anna Maria island.

The last big announcement:

Dr. Kelly Bricker announced during the closing speech that the next ESTC will officially be held in 2017 in Ansan-Si, South Korea.

In final questions she said, “The big goal here is when the meaning of the word tourism invokes sustainability.”

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EcoFarm 36 “Regenerating our Lands and Water”

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Farmers, ranchers, and students congregate for a demonstration

The 36th annual EcoFarm conference wrapped up this weekend after four days of panels, workshops and plenary sessions and was attended by over 2,000 farmers, ranchers, other professionals and 180 scholars on scholarships.

The need for an ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable food and farming system has never been more urgent. The work of EcoFarmers has never been more needed or more relevant to the major issues —from reversing climate change to improving human health. Many answers to the problems inherent in the extractive, chemically intensive, conventional agricultural model can be found within the ecological and organic approaches that EcoFarm works to champion.

This year’s conference theme was all about regenerating our lands, water, communities, and planet.

Workshops and individual consulting covered a diverse group of topics:

Farm Marketing Clinic
Soil carbon sequestration workshop
USDA programs
B corporations
Food safety and
an annual Seed and Scion Swap

One of the primary sponsors, Blue Apron, a company that delivers meal kits, hosted a talk and reception regarding the opportunities for organize farmers to become suppliers to their meals. Blue Apron stands out for their efforts to sustainably source as much as possible of their meal ingredients and to buy organic whenever they can.

The conference attendees were themselves nourished by delicious organic meals crafted with ingredients from over 90 farmers and producers, and prepared by Asilomar’s prize winning chefs. For many farmers and ranchers, EcoFarm Conference is the one time of year when they leave their farms for a few days to connect with their peers and regenerate.

Amongst the books and films debuting at the conference was “The Good Company: Sustainability in Hospitality, Tourism and Wine” the author presented on a panel discussion about Agritourism – a timely topic today as the sharing economy reaches the farm.

Ultra-rocking bluegrass band “Hot Buttered Rum” played dancing music till the wee small hours but folks still found energy to join Save our Shores for a cleanup at iconic Asilomar Beach.

Chapter 1.5 – CONservation

EcoGo proudly shares Sustainable Tourism, a guide that’s perfect for getting “insider scoop” about the ecotourism industry. We are excerpting the entire book here on EcoGo.org.

Chapter 1 – Understanding Ecotourism

(Excerpt 1.5) Unscrupulous ecotourism operations (“con men”) that practice the act of greenwashing, or falsely claiming that their businesses or attractions contribute to conservation and adhere to the principles of ecotourism.

What you should know

In order to avoid falling victim to CONservation, it is important to first understand that different classifications of ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ tourism exist, and how to differentiate between them. For example:

• Green tourism: A general term for environmentally friendly tourism intended to reduce costs and maximize benefits.

• Nature-based tourism: A general term for a tourism activity or experience that occurs in natural areas.

• Ecotourism: A type of nature-based tourism consisting of responsible travel in natural areas that promotes conservation and education.

Ecotourism experiences should:
  • Incorporate environmental learning (knowledge, understanding)
  • Facilitate changes in environmental attitudes and behaviors
  • Move ecotourists from a passive role (nature-based recreation) to a more active role, where the activities of ecotourists (both on and off-site)contribute to the health and viability of the environment.
What you can do

When planning your next eco-adventure, use the checklist below to ensure that you are receiving a genuine ecotourism experience and not falling victim to CONservation!

Does your ecotourism experience:

  • Minimize impact?
  • Use environmental education (interpretation)?
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect?
  • Use ecologically sustainable operations and management?
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts?
  • Provide direct support and financial benefits for nature conservation?
  • Provide economic benefits and empowerment for local people?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your ecotourism provider:
  • Do they have a written policy or certification from a reputable ecotourism certification scheme?
  • What, specifically, have they done to help protect the environment and support conservation?

Small Farms – Big Impact

The California Small Farm Conference (CSFC) began March 6th with field courses taking attendees out to local farms, markets and businesses to discover Sacramento County’s best agricultural opportunities and practices. Despite the rain, the bright spots of the 2016 field courses included tours of: Natomas Unified School District’s food service program, Yisrael Family Urban Farm, and Sacramento Farmers’ Market at 8th and W. Sacramento is widely acknowledged as America’s Farm-To-Fork Capital.

This conference is the state’s premier gathering for small-scale farmers, ranchers, and farmers’ market managers. The goal is to promote the success and viability of small farming operations and certified farmers’ markets through short courses, tours and workshops, and this year’s conference gave a lot of focus to Farmers Markets, Farm-to-Fork initiatives, Farmer Veteran Coalition and Homegrown by Heroes programs, and developing technologies to assist farms.

As of August 2015, 8,476 farmers markets were listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, a 2.5 percent increase from 2014. This growth has been sustained for years now, as more and more people choose to purchase their produce directly from the farms growing them.

Manage My Market, an online tool for farmers markets, helps by eliminating paperwork, streamlining management tasks, and includes unique features for helping to grow the sales aspect.

With the release of a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance which states that children’s vegetable consumption is at a measly 4%, this conference provided a way forward to help young Americans get in the know about nutrition, where their food comes from, and hopefully introduce some to a very rewarding future alongside agriculture.Children-Small-Farms-600x450

Chapter 3.5 – Fair Trade Federation Principles

 

EcoGo proudly shares Sustainable Tourism, a guide that’s perfect for getting “insider scoop” about the ecotourism industry. We are excerpting the entire book here on EcoGo.org.

Chapter 3 – Community Development

(Excerpt 3.5) Members of the Fair Trade Federation in North America uphold these nine fair trade principles:

  1. Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers—Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Members create social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with marginalized producers. Members place the interests of producers and their communities as the primary concern of their enterprises.
  2. Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships—Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Members show consideration for both customers and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication. They create mechanisms to help customers and producers feel actively involved in the trading chain. If problems arise, members work cooperatively with fair trade partners and other organizations to implement solutions.
  3. Build Capacity—Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive communication, financial and technical assistance, market information, and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities, including among producer groups.
  4. Promote Fair Trade—Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work.
  5. Pay Promptly and Fairly—Fair Trade empowers producers to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor time, materials, sustainable growth, and related factors. Members take steps to ensure that producers have the capacity to manage this process. Members comply with or exceed international, national, local, and, where applicable, Fair Trade Minimum standards for their employees and producers. Members seek to ensure that income is distributed equitably at all times, particularly equal pay for equal work by women and men. Members ensure prompt payment to all of their partners. Producers are offered access to interest- free pre-harvest or pre-production advance payment.
  6. Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions—Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment free of forced labor. Throughout the trading chain, members cultivate workplaces that empower people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Members seek to eliminate discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, age, marital, or health status. Members support workplaces free from physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.
  7. Ensure the Rights of Children—Fair Trade means that all children have the right to security, education, and play. Throughout the trading chain, Members respect and support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms. Members disclose the involvement of children in production. Members do not support child trafficking and exploitative child labor.
  8. Cultivate Environmental Stewardship—Fair Trade seeks to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Members actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources. Members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. They encourage environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain.
  9. Respect Cultural Identity—Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. Members respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions. Members balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage.

Ecotourism succeeds through hot springs

EcoGo - Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs and Resort - Ecuador

Pamela Lanier heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and Ecogo.org. She authored an article about sustainable tourism development in a protected cloud forest. Recently the IUCN-WCPA Mountain Biome network published this success story, and EcoGo is pleased to share it with a wider audience here. 

Mountain Protected Area Update (September, 2015)

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional and Hot Springs Ecotourism, Poised at 3,300 meters

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional stands as a doorway to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Acting as a wildlife corridor for animals such as the spectacled bear, white-tailed deer, culpeo, tapir, and the Andean condor, Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve is composed of almost a million acres (400,000 hectares) of protected land. Located in the high mountain cloud forest, temperatures tend toward cold and wet, especially in winter. Annual rainfall is from 500 to 3,000 meters.

Visitor activities include trekking, mountaineering, sport fishing, camping, mountain biking, guided nature hikes or self-guided along footpaths, and ecological observation and education of the unique flora and fauna of the area. For those wanting comfort, an eco-resort is located on the upper and outer edge of the park. Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs Spa & Resort includes a hotel with 32 rooms, 13 cabins which can be either one- or two-storied, and a convention center. Each hotel room is heated and has a private bathroom, while the cabins are ideal for families, offering a warm and welcoming environment with a fireplace in each living room. The Spa features thermal waters, pools, and an assortment of private treatments.

Due to its proximity to Quito, this is one of Ecuador’s most utilized National Parks. There is a community spa and swimming pool that is priced for and extensively used by the locals. The conference center also doubles as a learning space for school and other civic groups. A marvelous exhibition garden with carefully labeled fruits, veggies and herbs and a small dairy operation are located nearby, and both are frequently toured by Quito children on school outings.

Termas de Papallacta carries historical achievements as well, such as being the first Health Spa ever approved by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health for the study, use, and therapeutic applications of its thermal waters, and the first Spa & Resort in mainland Ecuador to receive the Smart Voyager sustainable tourism certification. The country of Ecuador is the first in South America to adopt and be accepted into the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s “Country Certification Program.”

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional stands out as a very well integrated and utilized national park, both for mountain aficionados, local residents, and adventurous travelers alike. After all, where else can one luxuriate in natural hot springs in the morning, and have dinner that evening at a cloud forest ecolodge?

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The 2015 Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference

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The 2015 Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference

The World Indigenous Tourism Alliance are the custodians of the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference (PAITC), hosted this year and beginning September 12 in the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations and in partnership with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (ATBC).

PAITC will focus on the international opportunity for engagement and sharing by all peoples who have an interest in promoting, implementing and celebrating achievements in fostering Indigenous self-determination through participation in tourism. This focus is consistent with the principles of the Larrakia Declaration on the Development of Indigenous Tourism, which was adopted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2012. It represents the most important statement of commitment from the tourism sector that it intends to take on an active role in giving practical effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Acclaimed speakers at this year’s conference include Dr. Wade Davis of the National Geographic Society, Chris Bottrill on the PATA Human Capital Development Committee, and Mike Willie of Sea Wolf Adventures. “Indigenous tourism is very important to indigenous peoples,” said Johnny Edmonds, secretariat coordinator for World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, an indigenous-led advocacy nonprofit. “It provides them with the opportunity for self-determination and is typically associated with activity in which indigenous people are directly involved through control and/or by enabling their culture to serve as the essence of the attraction.”

A visit to British Columbia is not complete without at least one Aboriginal tourism experience. BC’s Aboriginal tourism industry has some of the most diverse and best developed operators in the world, especially when it comes to indigenous cultural tourism. The range of First Nation experiences available to visitors, which can last a week, a day or a few hours, is thanks to the passion and dedication of so many First Nations tourism operators and communities.
Vancouver itself is home to the recently opened Skwachays Lodge an excellent example of indigenous tourism that’s accessible but also authentic. Filled with art as social enterprise, some by artists in residence, and topped by a 40′ totem pole the boutiques hotel has a big wow factor. The Bill Reid Gallery and several world class museums (MOA,MCC,MOV) also feature culturally highly significant works And artifacts regarded by the First Nations here as belongings of their heritage.

The farm and sea to table First nation Cuisine of Salmon’n’ Bannock restaurant is another delicious facet of the experience. Examples of some groups that ensure genuine experiences include Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (ATBC), Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council, Indigenous New Zealand and American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. All have websites that provide itinerary planning and booking tools for various indigenous tourism experiences.

“When people say they want an authentic travel experience, there’s nothing truer than those of indigenous origin. They are the original guides; they know the land better than anyone else,” says Kate Rogers who works with ATBC on media.

PATA contest: market your travel destination

EcoGo - Asian Travel Contest - PATA CEO Challenge

Are you involved in Asian tourism? Do you help manage and promote a region, city or destination anywhere in Asia? Do you support sustainable tourism practices? Then reach for the the stars and submit your application by October 1st to the Pacific Asian Travel Association’s CEO Challenge 2015. With the chance of winning $500,000 in marketing support, here’s more about the contest entry.

PATA and TripAdvisor

PATA and TripAdvisor are motivated to promote Asia-Pacific travel, and make a strong team to encourage responsible, sustainable tourism growth. We would like to introduce these organizations:

Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its member organisations, and has 43 local PATA chapters worldwide. It is currently headquartered in Bangkok.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy decided to launch this contest for members and non-member travel destinations. Representatives from these places must show how marketing campaigns contribute to sustainable growth of tourism to their destinations and economic empowerment to their communities. PATA will award two new and emerging destinations, by shining a bright marketing light on them.

TripAdvisor will deliver digital marketing advice and promotion to the award winners. As the world’s largest travel site, their aim is to support emerging destinations across the globe to showcase their destination’s story and myriad of tourism products.

TripAdvisor experts will work with the destinations by: (1) guiding winners in how travelers across the globe are now inspired, research, plan and ultimately book online; (2) helping destinations to ensure they are utilizing the digital environment to encourage travelers to visit; and (3) getting small and local businesses listed on TripAdvisor.

Contest Rewards and Benefits

The PATA CEO challenge offers contests leading to two winners. Each submission requires entry fees as well as a completed application by October 1, 2015. Here are the rewards and marketing benefits:

  • Digital marketing campaign worth $500,000, presented to the winning entry in TWO categories:  (1) State, region and provine (i.e. Shandgon in China PRC, Western Australia, Albay in the Philippines and (2) Second tier and third tier towns/cities (i.e. Chiang Rai in Thailand, Guilin in China PRC, Legazpi in the Philippines
  • TripAdvisor will work with winners to develop a digital campaign with the assets provided by the winning entrants. Each entrant will have the support of a dedicated team at TripAdvisor who will work with them in the planning and structuring of a digital marketing campaign. Each entrant will need to prepare a set of items and present their destination’s tourism assets. Each destination will need to showcase what products within their destination have a special story for the global traveler.
  • Winners (one representative from each category) will be presented the PATA CEO Challenge Top Destination Award during the award ceremony at the PATA Aligned Advocacy Dinner on November 2, 2015 in London, United Kingdom, prior to World Travel Market 2015. The dinner will be attended by hundreds of industry professionals and guests.
  • Winners of all categories will receive exposure in the following PATA Communications channels:  PATA Conversations (PATA monthly e-magazines; PATA Voice (PATA weekly e-newsletters); PATA press releases distributed to worldwide media; PATA website; and PATA Social Media Channels.
  • Winners (one representative from each category) receives a complimentary pass to the PATA Annual Summit 2016 in Guam on May 18 – 21. Winners are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.
  • The winning entries receive free stand space (standard shell scheme booth) at the PATA Travel Mart 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia from September 7 – 9, with a complimentary PTM pass for one seller. Winners are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.
  • The PATA CEO Challenge Top destination logo is provided to the winners in both categories for use in collateral and promotional materials, websites and other communications channels.

Good luck to all who apply!

 

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Outsourcing hotel services, sustainably


For many hotels, it’s easier, more economical and greener to outsource cleaning services. In the United States, The Service Companies is a leading one-stop shop for over 400 hotel, casino and vacation ownership properties. The firm cleans more than 15 million hotel guest rooms annually!

The Service Companies also has been acquiring specialists in cleaning and, most recently, staffing via Acrobat Outsourcing. With this deal, clientele broadens to sports stadiums and arenas, corporate catering, hospitals, colleges and universities, and conference centers.

The Service Companies champions the goal of minimizing their environmental impact, and actively participates with clients to enhance sustainability efforts. Company teams are expected to serve as environmental leaders and stewards. EcoGo would like to share the firm’s sustainability policies and practices here.

The Service Companies:  Sustainability Policies and Practices

Landfill
  • Train employees to prevent cross-contamination of landfill trash with recyclables.
  • Color-code trash bins, to clearly mark the type of trash – green for landfill, blue for recycling.
Water & Energy Conservation
  • Work with equipment manufacturers to specify the right piece of equipment for each job.
  • Use high efficiency motors, low decibel equipment, and HEPA filters to limit impact on indoor air quality.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Limit the number of product orders per month.
  • Require chemical and equipment supply companies to use local distributors.
  • Purchase or leasing of efficient vehicles, including hybrids when available.
  • Limit time for idling of vehicles.
  • Provide 15-passenger vans for van pool service for employees.
  • Limit the use of fuel-powered equipment when work can be done efficiently by other means.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products in operations.
  • Require suppliers to provide products that are recyclable, to limit landfill trash.
  • Implement an energy conservation strategy in all operations that includes the use of heating, air conditioning, lighting, and use of devices requiring the use of electricity.
  • Turn off power strips in every office at day’s end, to eliminate current used when a device is turned “off.”
Waste Minimization
  • Reduce food waste. Food waste is redirected from landfills to agricultural farming. Food waste can either be pre or post-consumer food waste. Food waste is also very heavy and can easily increase hauling costs.
  • Recover resources. Equipment and materials are never sent to a landfill for disposal. The Service Companies contracts with local and regional resource recovery companies to recycle or redistribute material and equipment no longer needed.
  • Co-mingle recycling. Many municipalities now support co-mingled paper, plastic, cans and glass. A co-mingled recycling service increases the percentage of waste that is recycled by clients. The Service Companies recommends and supports co-mingled recycling.
  • Rake and sort. The Service Companies offers post-consumer raking, sorting and recycling services. While the job is labor intensive, it can result in significant savings.
Chemical And Water
  • Degrease without chemicals. Rather than use chemically dependent degreasers in kitchens, The Service Companies deploy multiple vapor steamers and eliminate or reduce the use of dangerous chemical degreasers.
  • Report leaks. Water leaks are environmentally and financially wasteful and can cause significant damage to a property. A process has been implemented for reporting items needing repair, including water leaks.

Sustainable enterprise conference works!

EcoGo - Sustainable Enterprise Conference - Sustainable North Bay - by Christine Walker

EcoGo.org 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 Ecogo.org, 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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