Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Opening Night San Francisco Green Film Festival – Bag It

Friday, March 4th, 2011

bag itIn the hopefully not so distant future when “paper or plastic” will be answered with “neither”, the documentary “Bag It” takes an in depth view of ubiquitous plastic bags. Actually the film graduates (with the scene from “The Graduate” about plastics) from an initial look at disposable plastic bag culture that the world lives in and moves into how plastic continues to envelop our lives, health and economy.

This relatively simple film rides on the back of director Suzan Beraza and front man Jeb Berrier. The film uses a variety of interviews, archive clips and even some animation to drive home the point that plastic bags and pretty much all plastic containers continue to take a toll on the environment, marine life and human health. Thanks to Berrier, the film floats along swimmingly as he represents an “everyman” from small town Colorado who isn’t a tree hugger but realizes that plastic has taken over his life and not for the better. Berrier comes off as a George Costanza (from Seinfeld) character with a wry sense of humor who learns how plastic strangles not only his life but also the world we live in.

In the latter half of the film, Bag It moves beyond plastic bags and looks at the pervasiveness of plastic and the toxic aspects without becoming too preachy. Director Beraza and Berrier even make fun of the American Chemical Council members for ducking all requests to appear in the film.

Bag It does a solid job of alerting viewers to chemical dangers of plastic ingredients like BPA and phthalates and offers solid interviews and explanations.

Bag It could have could have been double bagged with more of an emotional punch that would have raised this docu pic to a higher level. It also could have wrapped up with more of a group “call to action” so people can feel empowered against the chemical and plastic companies.

Bag It certainly does its best to educate and entertain audience members. With funny front man Berrier leading the charge, perhaps Bag It will do for plastic bags what Morgan Sperlock did for McDonald’s fast food.

6th Gorgeous & Green Gala: Green Meets Mad Men

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

model 6th green and grougeousEven before Gorgeous & Green co-chairs Nadine Weil and Zem Joaquin gave a shout out to the Green crowd to “enjoy yourselves and drink more organic cocktails” which many of green minions so obliged, we had a chance to leisurely sip some organic wine and meet interesting people behind the scenes.

Sure the front scenes of the hemp strolling, sauntering, strutting (how do eco models walk?) down the cat walk at the W Hotel in San Francisco for the 6th  Gorgeous & Green gala draw the most attention and why shouldn’t it? But behind the scenes, we met many people involved with Green causes who looked a whole lot less glamorous but still looked sexy green for what they believed in. Throughout the night, we encountered a Rode “Model” for the Environment, an EcoJew, and a Green Urbanism Program Director for Green Global among others.

At a energetic event like this, it is easy to lost in all of the models and cocktails but most of the people in the background, whether it is the volunteers or the VIPs have a passion for making the world a wee bit more Green and educating the masses about the right thing to do.

The night had this Mad Men theme with many women wearing second hard 60’s style dresses (reuse) and guys wearing skinny Don Draper style ties (reuse again) but the main message that we took away had to do more with Green urbanism rather than Madison Avenue chauvinism.

Rolling To The 6th Annual Gorgeous & Green Gala

Monday, December 13th, 2010

model-shotBetter than most holidays parties would be the Gorgeous & Green gala tonight at the W in San Francisco. Sure anyone can throw a holiday party but do they do it with a Green philosophy and fund-raising at the forefront? Holiday parties generally aim for drinking and merriment but do they also aim for zero waste? How many holiday events have models prancing around in eco-friendly fashion?

So, maybe tonight we too can be gorgeous but even we have our fashion limits. Even though the eco friendly fashion takes center stage (or rather center catwalk) much of the festivities revolve around like-minded people gathering for festivities.

The event generally brings a generous mixture of green-minded designers, celebrities, artists, politicians and the like. We hear that William McDonough will be in attendance, which would be entertaining and enlightening just to talk with him for a few minutes.

Even when not doing the green mingling thing or admiring chic models, we plan to distract ourselves with the 360 Vodka eco-cocktails (it is party right?), cocktail wines by eco.love, Korbel California Champagne with organic grapes (see a pattern here?) as well as organic wall displays and DJ Donavan beats.

Green fashionistas were not but we still have to get ready to roll.

William McDonough at West Coast Green 10 – Deep Dive Part 2

Monday, October 4th, 2010

mcdonough wcg10Being so busy at West Coast Green 10 and in honor of ecoMonday we post part two of the William McDonough “deep dive”, and he does get deep. While most people throw around the term “carbon footprint” or simply use it in passing, McDonough talked about a skyscraper that he worked on 21 years ago, and calculated the amount of trees that would be need to be planted not only to offset the building of the skyscraper but to operate it as well. He convinced the person financing the building that the cost of the trees could be used in place of the marketing budget. Who needs a marketing budget when the story of the tree planting ends up as a front-page story on the Wall Street Journal? Green does pay.

Speaking of trees, we fully agree that people need to start thinking about the “rights of nature” and not just human right. We need think more in terms of abundance, not scarcity.

He mentioned things like the Endangered Species Act, which seems to be thinking in the wrong direction, with the reactive thinking. We need to start thinking proactively.

Our government and other governments and entities continually throw about numbers and plans to deal with our environmental impact. Think about the lofty goals for the UN, US government whatever about reducing carbon emissions by 20% (or whatever number) by 2020 that don’t illustrate “less bad” thinking. As McDonough states, “being less bad is not good”. And that is what our country continues to do or promote. We warn people in CA entering buildings (thanks to Prop 65) that the building contains various materials that cause cancer yet they remain legal and we continue to use them to construct buildings. Isn’t there something illogical about that thinking?

Seeing McDonough makes us (and the rest of the crowd) more motivated. We’re not here to be less bad, we’re here to be more good.”

Here’s a call to action to start being more good.

William McDonough (Mr. Sustainable) at West Coast Green 10

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

willaim mcdonoughThey normally refer to William McDonough as Mr. Sustainable but after watching his unplugged marathon presentation at the first day of West Coast Green 10, we might refer to him as Green John Wooden or the Eco Vince Lombardi. Why? Because like the two notable sports coach legends they built their winning teams based on sound foundations and fundamentals. Oh, and they were great motivators.

In a wold of sound bites and 60 second You Tube videos, how could anyone would not be impressed and awed but his powerfully fact filled, logical yet often funny almost 3 hour presentation? He began by showing his upbringings in Ireland where his first house designs incorporated solar collectors. Impressive how his progressive thought goes way back in the day. He jumped forward to tell a story about his first US based project in New York when he fought to get compost toilets approved for Hindu temple. (In some places, unless you live in national park,  it sometimes remains challenging to get approved to install compost toilets).

Then in 1984, McDonough started questioning manufacturers about what was in their wood, paint, carpets and Building Materials Supplier told him, “It’s proprietary. It’s legal. Go away.” So much for transparency.

And so much for the first part of this post. We’ll post additional highlights from McDonough who, lucky for the planet and us, has not gone away.

Photo by Darilyn  Kotzenberg

Spirited Solar Talk and Tour at West Coast Green 10

Friday, October 1st, 2010
Lot's of good natural light in the solar house

Lot's of good natural light in the solar house

On the first day of West Coast Green 10, only a handful of bloggers (like Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous) showed up for an informal solar talk presented by SunPower and Luminalt but as they say, we respect the quality more than the quantity. We quality people brought about a spirited talk mentioning the progress of solar and how solar fits just a small green option in the big picture. We raised the question of considering that if someone who has only $50,000 in their pocket would they be better off installing a PV system or maybe a water catchment system, hydronics, some new eco-star appliances.

To be fair, Luminalt made a good case for just making a sales pitch. They work with GoSolarSF, which combines environmental justice and social justice for lower income neighborhoods like the Bayview here in SF. They made a point, which we have seen before, that be having a solar system that reduces their PG & E bill to sometimes nothing can transform the life of someone.

Now part of the discussion ended up being a show and tell of one of the local installation. Of course we would have preferred to see one of the homes in the Bayview but we settled for a posh house in Presidio Terrace. Honestly, the people who opened their house to us do live a mansion and the PG & E bill to them will hardly make a difference but they continue to make a conscious green effort. Besides the 3 7.5 KW solar system they repurposed much of their old furnishings to Building Resources (instead of the dump), they installed eco star appliances, used low VOC paint and drive hybrids. The couple mentioned that they will be purchasing fully electric cars soon.

Although not militantly green they do make an effort. We hope soon that we can say the same for everyone else.

Tour de Fat – Beer and Bikes in San Francisco

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Tour de Fat San Francisco 2010

Tour de Fat San Francisco 2010

Wanted to post for Eco Monday but had too much beer and biking over the recent weekend for us to stick to our schedule. Fortunately, the Tour de Fat stuck to its (or is it their) schedule.

In all honesty, a few of us made but we completely missed the festive ride but we did make it in time to celebrate the beer and bike happenings in Golden Gate Park. Let it be known that happiness reined not just because Mother Nature cooperated with a balmy 85 degrees and the cold New Belgium beer poured freely but because the stages where Mucca Pazza (like the Stanford marching band on acid or steroids) and other performed came via solar energy. The festival pretty much marks on off the grid show which makes the merriment even more merry.

On this day, bikes ruled. It might have seemed odd for some to see a young lady go up on stage an sign way the pink slip to her Toyota Corolla for for a spanking new bike courtesy of New Belgium. Some may think that isn’t a fair trade when the lady mentioned how she only drove her car in order to avoid parking tickets, we think that she may have gotten the better end of the deal.

If more festivals had this smarts to play off the grid and promoting sustainable transportation then we would all be happy to purchase just one more beer.

Photo courtesy SFbike

Keyed Up For West Coast Green

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

wcgreenimagesEven though West Coast Green remains just a shade over a month away, we’re still keyed up about the event. With the continuing housing storm and distressed housing situation, many people have not been considering sustainable aspects to real estate.

We’re sure that will change. It may take a few years to re-convince people that Green building and innovation are not just for the good real estate times. Green building should be a staple and not just a temporary fad.

As for the show, we can’t wait to see sustainable rock stars like Bill McDonough of Cradle-to-Cradle fame who will deliver a 3-hour presentation about the tradition of Buckminster Fuller. Also, on our must see list will be the Innovation Pipeline which creates an “Exploratorium-like” exhibit with smart products that always to seem to wow us.

Don’t think that we won’t be looking out for any “greenwashers” as some companies seem to only promote the hype but provide nothing sustainable in the tank.

The Green Side of Paperless Technology at Real Estate Connect 2010

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Exhibit Hall Real Estate Connect San Francisco 2010

Exhibit Hall Real Estate Connect San Francisco 2010

While wondering the exhibit hall of Real Estate Connect San Francisco 2010 style at the Pre-Conference Day, amongst all of the technology we figured that no one would go out of there way to promote Green but then we spied some of the “go paperless” inspired companies. In the race to go paperless, a few innovative companies have stepped up to create a paperless universe (at least in terms of contracts).

In the real estate world, agents often use ridiculous amounts of paper in which to disclose, offer and negotiate which in old school terms means that many trees get the saw for that counter offer.  We passed the DocuSign booth and discussed with the folks the Green benefits of using their technology, which allows people to sign contracts with an electronic signature. No more printing contracts. Just sign on-line. We can see the sustainable value in an item that eliminates paper use and general waste. But we discussed how much energy it takes to run the servers that run the DocuSign program. It would take a third party study to determine the paper, ink, transport carbon footprint savings versus the energy used to run something like DocuSign.

We brought this conundrum to another paperless company that not surprisingly goes by the name Go Paperless. Similar to DocuSign this technology allows people to sign and mark up documents using a stylus and tablet PC. Again, saving paper versus using more energy.

We all know that the cost of people runs high in terms of its impact with deforestation, transportation, recycling, shredding, printing, etc. so even at the cost of added energy use, companies that reduce (one of the three Rs) paper consumption can only improve things. We just hope that these companies use this Green philosophy inside their corporate offices as well.

Carnaval 2010 San Francisco – Sexy for Sure But It Could be More Green

Monday, May 31st, 2010
Carnival San Francisco - Green Section

Carnival San Francisco - Green Section

Carnaval here in San Francisco may not be as sexy, rambunctious or famous as its counterparts that take place in Rio or New Orleans but that doesn’t mean that the 2-day event doesn’t mean that the crowds don’t enjoy the fun, sun (the weather actually cooperated with glorious 80 degree SF weather) music and sexy costumes.

With all of the things going for Carnaval why can’t there be some added consideration given to making the event more Green. We did spy a plethora of compost and recycling canisters and the beer areas did utilize the non-plastic cups.  The event did have a small cluster of vendors dedicated to products or services at least slightly aligned with being somewhat progressive. Earthlust sold slightly dented reusable water bottles at a discount, San Francisco Vegetarian Society, Zip Car, Rainforest Action Network and some others. Sure these aren’t as sexy as some of the other venders but Green can be sexy as evidenced by some of the Hollywood A-listers creating Green events or supporting various green products.

Nos gusta gazing at the colorfully sexy costumes and gyrating to the various Latin beats but wouldn’t it be great to see some of sexy thinking combined with some Green ideas?