As an entrepreneur, strategic communications professional, and policy wonk, I've worked on social innovations in the for-profit and non-profit world, helping to develop campaigns and solutions to social and natural resource challenges.

I'm constantly tracking and analyzing what make us as humans, inspired to act and respond to new ideas. This is where I share my thoughts and notes. 


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Wired Business Conference: Bill Gates on Energy Innovation

Bill Gates opens this 56 minute video of a question and answer session from the recent Wired Business Conference with the following answer to a question about his investments in nuclear power: 

"The key in energy, I think is that the status quo is pretty unacceptable. That is in terms of security, in terms of cost, in terms of environmental impact, if we dont have innovation in energy we don't improve much at all. Energy is fundamental to farming, transport, heating...if you can think of one advance that would change society and make it better, reducing the cost of energy would be almost at the top of the list I think."


The Future of InfoActive Graphics & Digital Publishing According to Facebook (?)

If infographics are in, then get ready for the next phase: "infoactive graphics." What had started off as a post about how great learning is going to become with the marriage of new media technology and the ever evolving strategies of infographics, has quickly evolved into a story about how Facebook just snapped up the latest and greatest company working to advance the world of digital publishing. As PC World tries to answer, just why did Facebook buy Push Pop Press this past week? 

Push Pop Press has been receiving acclaim over the last three months in places like TED and in the world of infographics junkies as the creators and publishers (along with Melcher Media and Rodale) of the highly interactive, full length book for the iPad and iPhone, Our Choice. This downloadable interactive book about energy and climate change is by none other than the inventor of infographics himself Al Gore.

There is nothing I love more than good design executed in a way that makes information more accessible for people to learn how to evolve society and ideas. Along with the rest of the online world I'm overjoyed with the growing popularity of infographics and now "infoactive graphics." While the Push Pop Press shop isn't the only set of innovators using this new medium, the acquisition does raise questions about what will happen to the emerging sector with a leading player taken off the board and put behind closed doors. 


Al Gore's Our Choice from Push Pop Press, is the perfect new example of infoactive graphics at play. The digital book that can be downloaded for the iPad and iPhone, simplifying the complex issues and technologies that are so critical for all of us to understand; energy, climate change, and natural resources.

Instead of seeing where their private beta product will shift the emerging market, we're now going to have to wait and see how Facebook integrates Push Pop's technology into their platform. Instead of a major deal with let's just say, National Geographic or the Chicago Public School System following a public launch of a publishing tool for all, we'll be more focused on understanding what privacy settings are built into the applications that Facebook creates with the technology.  

It's an understandable move; there was no need for Push Pop to toil in a new space forever, waiting for the world to catch on. It's an even more understandable move for a small company to seek shelter in this economy. This acquisition signals that "infoactive graphics" are here to stay, new publishing and education with graphics, movies, and images has a real place in the market. As communicators and media developers though, we're just going to have to wait and see if Push Pop's removal from the field will be beneficial for those itching to publish at this level.

Clearly Facebook's interest in the space can't hurt interest in the space. The remaining question is how will innovation be spurred, when will the next book of this kind be published, and will Facebook actually, become a "book"?   Just read the excerpt from Push Pop's About Page, now titled Push Pop Press acquired by Facebook. For now Facebook seems to think they hold the answers to the future, right?

Well, the reality is, you can't absorb everything in an acquisition like this. The master infographic designer of the Push Pop Press five, Brett Victor (@worrydream) said on twitter yesterday: "OK. For the record. I have no plans to work at Facebook, Google, 4chan, Baidu, Arby's, or anywhere else. I'm not cut out to be an employee." 

So while we watch this unfold, I'll be checking in with @worrydream and reading more about "reactive documents" on his website, which Facebook can't lock behind a closed door.


Plant a Fish!

Plant a Fish is a newly-launched nonprofit, headquartered in New York City, by third-generation ocean explorer and environmental advocate, Fabien Cousteau, whose mission is to empower communities to become involved with responsible 're-planting' of key marine species in their local habitats in distressed bodies of water around the world. Initial targeted projects in 2010-2011 will include responsible re-planting of oysters in New York Harbor, sea turtles in El Salvador, mangroves in South Florida, corals in the Maldives.


A New Energy Future for Indian Country


Solar energy alone on tribal lands could generate up to 4.5 times the United States' total energy consumption of 17.6 TWh.  With tribal lands making up 5% of the United States with 10% of the country's renewable energy resources the role of tribal nations will continue to expand along side the country's clean energy growth scenario. 

The importance of tribal government involvement is outlined in a new report released this week by a group of collaborating organizations including the National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Rights Fund, Intertribal Council On Utility Policy, and the National Wildlife Federation. 

Indian Tribes are disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change says the report, The New Energy Future in Indian Country: Confronting Climate Change, Creating Jobs, and Conserving Nature.  But the huge potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources presents tribes with the opportunity to be a significant part of the solution through climate policy that creates green jobs and protects natural resources, detailed in a new report.

“Tribal households pay significantly more in home energy expenses than other Americans,” said Bob Gruenig, senior policy analyst, National Tribal Environmental Council. “The vast potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources means that Indian Tribes can help to provide for their own energy needs, generate clean power for a new energy future in Indian Country, and put American on the path to energy independence.”

“With 95 million acres of land under their management and centuries of experience conserving the natural world, Indian tribes can play a significant role in protecting natural resources from climate change and coping with a warmer world,” said Steve Torbit, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center and Tribal Lands Conservation Program.

As soveriegn nations, tribal energy has long been a focus for tribal governments.  However, now as the demand for clean energy grows and involvement of the public and private sectors increases, tribes are in a advantageous position to provide sustainable energy opportunities and benefit from the economic development associated with clean energy. 

In addition to the Department of Energy and NREL's work with Tribes and a handful of other organizations, my colleagues at Northwest SEED (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development) have been working along side tribal governments to develop energy planning scenarios and in the last couple years have released a number of community and tribal renewable energy best practice resources. Download a relevant guide from Northwest SEED; ENERGY PLANNING: A Guide for Northwest Indian Tribes


ENERGY PLANNING: A Guide for Northwest Indian Tribes

This guidebook, created by Northwest SEED with funding from the Bullitt Foundation, is a new tool to help Native American Tribes develop a plan to achieve energy independence. The guide contains information and resources to help select and implement projects to conserve energy, generate clean, renewable energy, construct efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and other energy related community or business projects --- all tailored to the geography of the Northwest and the people of its Tribes.


Trash City To Recycling City

"You can't copy paste systems that work in the (global) north, into the (global) south. "

For generations, the Zabaleen people have hauled away Cairo's refuse and lived on the fringes of society. But thanks to an enterprising recycling school, the poor and mostly illiterate inhabitants of "Trash City" are receiving education and job training for the first time. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Egypt.