One-time slave quarters will be recreated at former US President Thomas Jefferson's home, and more of the Declaration of Independence writer's living quarters will be restored using a $10 million gift from a philanthropist who has a keen interest in the nation's history.
Mulberry Row, the community where slaves lived on the Monticello plantation in Virginia, will be reconstructed. Monticello officials plan to rebuild at least two log buildings where slaves worked and lived and will restore Jefferson's original road scheme on the plantation. The gift will also fund the restoration of the second and third floors of Jefferson's home that are now mostly empty and will replace aging infrastructure.
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Archaeologists and historians designing the project will follow a drawing Jefferson made in 1796, describing the material and dimensions of the log structures along Mulberry Row. Over the next two years, they plan to rebuild a structure described as being among "servants' houses of wood, with wooden chimneys and earth floors."
It's believed to have housed members of the extended Hemings family, who held important positions at Monticello. Most historians believe Sally Hemings, a slave, had a relationship with the third president and that he was the father of her six children.
"By bringing back the place, we bring back the people, and we're able to put a face on slavery," says senior curator Susan Stein. "It's actually the lives of people."
Rubenstein told The Associated Press he has become a student of Jefferson in recent years since purchasing several copies of the Declaration of Independence and came to admire the man who wrote that "all men are created equal."
"I think it's important to tell people the good and the bad of American history, not only the things that we might like to hear," Mr. Rubenstein says. "And the bad of it is that as great as Jefferson was, nobody can deny that he was a slave owner.
"I think if Jefferson were around today, he would say 'I would like to see Monticello restored as it was.' "
The gift follows major donations Rubenstein has made to preserve US history at former President George Washington's Mount Vernon estate, at the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument in the nation's capital, and elsewhere.
He said he's driven, in part, by concern that Americans don't know enough about their history.
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Leslie Green Bowman, the president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, called Rubenstein's gift "transformational." It ranks among the top five gifts in the foundation's history since it purchased the estate in 1923 and began restoring Monticello for historical tours.
Monticello has been studying slavery for decades and has provided descriptions of slave life since 1993. Rebuilding sites where slaves lived and worked on Mulberry Row, though, represents a change to include even more African-American history.
"It's a huge step forward that we're including that story as an essential part of Monticello's history," Bowman says. "Jefferson did not live here in a vacuum."
Saudi Arabia has launched its first visual campaign against the abuse of women, designed to encourage female victims to come out of hiding and to have a global impact at a time of change in the kingdom.
The advertisement shows a woman wearing a full veil or niqab, her made-up eyes staring out from the heavy cloth with one of them blackened and bruised.
Underneath, a caption reads: “Some things can’t be covered – fighting women’s abuse together.”
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“Women’s abuse is a real taboo subject in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said a statement by the campaign. “Nobody really knows the statistics, as it is never spoken about.”
The goal was to create an ad that would have a significant impact worldwide at a time when women in the ultra-conservative kingdom are starting to see some changes.
Recently, King Abdullah swore in the country's first female members of the Shura Council, and the Justice Ministry registered the first female lawyer. Saudi women have been allowed to ride bicycles and motorbikes, signaling a shift toward greater freedoms in a country where they still can’t drive cars and have to be escorted by male guardians wherever they go.
“The veil does not only hide women's abuse, but it’s also a representation of the social veil behind which a lot of societal deficiencies hide,” Fadi Saad, managing director of Memac Ogilvy Riyadh, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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He said the backing of the King Khalid's Foundation – with its links to the kingdom’s royal family – was key to being able to launch such a potentially controversial campaign in the conservative country.
KKF has also identified a list of social policies they are working toward legislating and implementing, Saad added.
“It is one bold first step toward legislation to fight women’s abuse in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We believe that the authorities are ready to support such a drive today given the evolution that is taking place in the country.”
The global poor already prefer savings to loans, but add in an additional monetary incentive to save and piggy banks begin to fill even faster.
After years of hype about microlending being the key to upward economic mobility for the world's poor, relying on simple savings may seem like a set-back. But savings can be a debt-free way to build wealth, make investments, and better one's life.
And the best news is that no amount is too small when it comes to savings. Every penny counts, especially when a percent of those pennies saved is matched and awarded to the saver.
This reward incentive is one aspect of the Global Outreach Alliance’s microsavings program. GOA is a volunteer-driven nonprofit implementing sustainable development solutions in Cambodia, Kenya, Israel, Tibet, and Uganda.
GOA’s microsavings program in Kenya is successful because it:
• Provides incentives. A family chooses how much they want to save each week for a 10-week-long period. After they complete the 10-week phase, GOA rewards the successful savers with 10 percent interest. A dollar saved becomes worth more than a dollar spent.
• Offers a no-risk, debt-free solution. With news of microlending clients defaulting on loans at alarming rates in recent years, savings can be a safer way to make investments, send a child to school, and improve quality of life overall.
Debt amplifies clients' vulnerability and can further impoverish borrowers if they fail to make payments resulting in late fees, asset seizures, and a loss of good credit. Therefore, not everyone will benefit from borrowing money, but all can benefit from savings.
The risk that credit entails may be part of the reason why research finds that when savings and loans are both offered, people chose savings over loans at rates of up to 12:1.
In response to clients' desires, many institutions that were making microloans are now adding microsavings to their offerings. Some institutions have even stopped lending money altogether.
• Generates income.
Microloans are not the only option for those wanting to be entrepreneurs. The money saved plus the interest added in can be re-invested toward micro-enterprises, such as a poultry farm, soap-making, or a food stand. The GOA-Kenya team is also set up to consult savers on their micro-enterprise investments.
• Is more than a one-time deal. After GOA's first 10-week savings phase, the saver is given the chance to complete another 10-week cycle. In fact, savers can repeat the process up to 10 cycles of savings with the added interest reward at the end of each cycle.
But not all organizations with microsavings programs can provide the 10 percent interest that GOA achieves, which relies heavily on donations. Some, such as formal savings circles and mobile-phone deposits, provide other incentives, like having a community-support system or the ability to access formal savings even when living in isolated regions.
"Savings doesn’t just help people mitigate the risks posed by a medical emergency or a bad crop,” Melinda Gates said at the 2010 Global Savings Forum, where she and Bill Gates pledged $500 million to expand savings. “It also gives them the ability to marshal their resources to build something better for themselves and their children. It allows them to fund their own businesses, to look ahead with confidence. Savings helps families to take the giant leap from reacting to events to planning for a healthier, happier future."
Growing up in Los Angeles, Ted Gonder had been helped mightily by an academic mentor, employed by his parents, despite their modest means, to get him back on track in school.
Later, while a student at the University of Chicago in 2008, Mr. Gonder and friends saw how neighborhoods just off campus were being hurt in the emerging Great Recession. While college students were jumping in to assist as academic tutors, he saw a need for something even more basic: a need to help teens gain control over their finances.
American teenagers were scoring lower than ever on tests of financial literacy, the simple task of how to manage their money. Only 13 states now require high schoolers to take a personal finance class in order to graduate. Yet the need for careful money management is growing: The average 20-something today has a significantly lower level of wealth than his or her parents. Saving and spending wisely is more important than ever.
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So Gonder co-founded Moneythink, a nonprofit group that match college student volunteers with high schoolers and helps them learn about finances. As a 23-year-old college graduate, Gonder has grown Moneythink into an organization employing 300 mentors on 28 college campuses serving about 1,500 students in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York.
With Moneythink, high schoolers learn three basic skills: how to budget and save; how to use credit and borrow wisely; and how to plan and pay for their higher education. A lot of the job involves persuading teens to change their mindset: The need for better math skills usually isn't the problem.
"Most of these concepts are not that complicated," Gonder says in a recent phone interview. They're practical principles like "the idea of a budget, or saving over time," he says. Moneythink's work "is more about how do you get a student to care?"
For his efforts, Gonder has been honored with an invitation to visit the White House, where he met with President Obama. "It was an incredible experience," he says. And it has opened many doors for Moneythink.
But even more important has been Moneythink's involvement with the Civic Accelerator, a project of the Civic Incubator in Atlanta, itself a part of Points of Light, which bills itself as "the world’s leading volunteer organization with more than 20 years of history and a bipartisan legacy."
"The biggest … factor that has accelerated our growth has been the Civic Accelerator," Gonder says.
The time was right for a program like Civic Accelerator, says Ayesha Khanna, president of the Civic Incubator. The program graduated its first cohort of 10 startup companies in February.
Social technology – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – has given entrepreneurs new power to create social change, she says. "We now have tools we didn't have a decade ago that allow people to organize and scale and act in powerful ways," such as using social media to do crowd sourcing and crowd funding Ms. Khanna says.
The first group of 10 teams (20 people in all), including Moneythink, graduated from the Civic Accelerator in February. Five of the startup businesses were nonprofits; the other five were for-profit businesses that have a goal of solving a social problem. Each team received $10,000 as a seed investment. At the end of the process the teams voted among themselves for one nonprofit and one for-profit startup to receive an additional $50,000 investment.
The February for-profit $50,000 winner was UBELONG, which helps volunteers go to countries around the world to help in "a very affordable way," Khanna says, by staying for a week to six months in the homes of local families. The nonprofit winner was Generation Citizen. which uses mentors to help students put together a plan "to actually change what is happening in their communities," such as start a recycling program. It's all about "bringing civics to life," she says.
Bringing for-profit social entrepreneurs together with traditional nonprofit startups was intentional.
"The nonprofits and for-profit ventures really learn from each other, share a lot of their best practices," Khanna says. "They actually have more similar approaches than differences."
Civic Accelerator is now shuffling through 150 applications to find its next cohort of 10 startups, which will begin their program in May.
"We want to train 120 entrepreneurs over three years, we want to launch 60 ventures, but more importantly we want to engage 250,000 people as part of the solution," Khanna says.
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Whether they start a for-profit business or a conventional nonprofit group means less to today's youths. "There's a blurring of lines taking place," Gonder says. "It's really about what's the best possible way we can solve this problem."
A sea change is taking place among young people regarding their careers, Khanna adds.
"They may not say that they want to be a social entrepreneur, but when they describe what they want to do in their life, that's exactly what they're talking about," she says. They say, "I want to make a difference. I want to make money – but I also want to do good."
What's it like trying to survive on $1.50 a day? Ben Affleck and other celebrities are going to try it and tell their fans what it's like from first-hand experience.
Mr. Affleck will keep the cost of what he eats and drinks below $1.50 for at least one day to publicize and fund raise for Live Below the Line, an effort of The Global Poverty Project, according to a report from omg! at Yahoo.
The $1.50 figure is actually generous. People in extreme poverty around the world have to spend it not only on food but housing, transportation, and education – all of their needs. Donators are asked to try to live five days eating and drinking on only $1.50 per day and make a donation to the Live Below the Line cause.
So far this year, Live Below the Line has collected more than $159,000. A similar effort last year raised more than $3 million, according to Michael Trainer, the US Country Director of The Global Poverty Project.
"By living off just $1.50 per day for food for 5 days, you will be bringing to life the direct experiences of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty and helping to make real change," the Live Below the Line website says.
"We are excited to announce that Ben Affleck will be joining us in the Live Below The Line USA challenge next week," the website adds. "Join Ben, Sophia Bush, Josh Groban, and thousands of others around the world as we raise attention and funds for some of the best charities out there in the fight against extreme poverty."
Affleck recently has added movie directing to his acting career. He directed "Argo," which won this year's Oscar as Best Picture.
• To make a contribute or to learn more go to www.livebelowtheline.com/us.
My church is directly across the street from the Watertown, Mass., police department. Some might believe that small churches in suburban metro areas are antediluvian oddities in a world that has passed them by … theologically, economically, numerically, and in their Christian witness. But I humbly invite you to reflect on our small-church ministry in Watertown during the Boston Marathon terrorist attack and its aftermath.
Welcome to our world. Welcome to Watertown.
Each year we welcome friends, family, and friends of friends to our community during Boston Marathon week. We have our own "runners" who have been training along Route 20 (Main Street) all summer, fall, and winter in preparation for this huge event. We are a Boston suburb, a vibrant community of multi-ethnic, religiously diverse people from all walks of life.
Our town seal depicts an historic initial meeting between a colonist and a Native American, where they exchanged fish and bread instead of violence birthed out of fear of someone different. We are proud that only one day after the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Boston in 1776, a treaty was signed with the First Nations of Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy peoples. Not only was this the first treaty signed by our new country, historians suggest that this treaty was the only one kept and honored. We celebrate "treaty day" each year in Watertown Square beside the Charles River.
We watched the Boston Marathon along with the rest of the world – we were just a little closer. Along with our neighbors, our children, and our house guests, we were all along the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston’s finish line.
We held signs, cheered, took pictures, and gave out water and oranges. We were individual runners and part of teams that ran together. We were spectators, medical responders, and volunteers, helping to keep the raceway open for those competing in wheelchairs and running shoes.
Then, we stepped into a nightmare.
We watched in stunned disbelief and bewilderment as terrorists exploded two bombs at the finish line.
Three days later, on Thursday night near midnight, gunfire, explosions, and sirens awakened many Watertown residents in their homes. A murder had taken place at a convenience store many of us have visited; a car-jacking occurred on a road many of us use regularly.
We watched the news as a deadly chase of the two suspected terrorists came into Watertown. Law enforcement officers exchanged gunfire as bombs or grenades were thrown at police by the suspected terrorists.
Members of my congregation serve in many levels of law enforcement, in fire departments and as first responders, and for them, it was personal. For all of us who know and love them, who work beside them, who worship at church next to them, it was personal.
If we were able to sleep at all we were shocked awake by automated calls from our emergency notification network that urged us to “stay inside, lock doors, and close windows. Do not let anyone in unless it is the SWAT team.”
Some closed their blinds. Some prayed. Friday was a long day.
Thankfully, the wonderful cooperative nursery school in the downstairs portion of our church was on vacation, as it was a week of school vacation in Massachusetts. This meant that we did not have to worry about vulnerable children on site. As the pastor, that was my biggest relief. Our kids were as safe as they could be.
I am always comforted and emboldened by knowing that in death and in life, we belong to Christ Jesus. As one who has been blessed to be called to pastor Community Church of Watertown I am also confident that we will be able to walk through any valley, no matter how dark the shadows, no matter the danger, no matter how great our fear. Why?
We are people of faith who will not be held in bondage to a spirit of fear or hatred. No power or principality or terrorist scheme can defeat God. We are Easter people. We are a small church, but we are filled with a mighty spirit – a holy one.
We are gathering tonight for a church potluck dinner, and tomorrow we will be gathered for worship. We will be praying and crying. We will be singing and smiling. That’s what we do together on Main Street.
• The Rev. Roberta Barr is pastor of the Community Church of Watertown, Mass.
Rachel Thomas was busy working at Subtext, Inc., the second company she had helped to found, and juggling her job with raising two small children in 2010.
She was proud of her work at Subtext, which sold digital reading products to elementary and secondary schools, but says she had also started to push herself a little less in her career as the pressures of balancing business and family life bore down.
One Saturday morning, she fed her kids breakfast and sent them on an errand with her husband so she could get some work done. That day, she heard Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, deliver a now-famous speech called “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.” Ms. Sandberg’s message, about the need for women to “lean in” and seize high-power job opportunities, appealed to her.
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“At times there’s a bit of loneliness when you’re a woman and trying to balance career and family on a daily basis,” says Ms. Thomas, now 42. “I was struck by how we need to be talking about this more, and be more open about the experience of being a woman who is ambitious in her career but also very dedicated to home and family.”
Today Ms. Thomas brings both her commitment to open discussion and her experiences as a female business leader to her new role as president of LeanIn.Org, founded by Ms. Sandberg, whose speech was the seed from which sprouted her best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
Ms. Sandberg won’t say how much she provided to start the nonprofit LeanIn.Org, but the group’s Lean In Foundation, which Ms. Thomas also heads, owns the book copyright, and proceeds from it will support the organization.
Ms. Thomas says her experience with her first start-up company taught her that open and honest communication about a difficult subject can bring out the best in people, a lesson she hopes to apply in her new job.
In 1996, at the beginning of the dot-com era, she and a friend founded BrainTrust, a Bay Area enterprise that sought to bring promising recent college graduates into high-growth, temporary-to-permanent jobs in the technology industry and other fledgling companies.
BrainTrust quickly grew to operate in four cities with more than 350 clients, many of which were Web companies or the businesses that supported them. Five years later the tech bubble burst – and, in a matter of months, BrainTrust’s pipeline of jobs began to dry up.
Ms. Thomas and her BrainTrust colleagues were candid with their employees about the loss of business. Her company’s leaders helped workers with their job searches, even helping to polish their résumés. Because of that show of commitment to them, her employees continued coming to work and helped to keep BrainTrust afloat for almost another year.
LeanIn.Org aims to spark some candid discussions of its own, as part of its mission to foster female leadership. It plans to put the advice and research in Ms. Sandberg’s book to practical use through educational and other tools and programs for both women and men. The goal is to encourage women to retain their professional ambitions even when they start a family, while also promoting equality for women in the workplace. To those ends, the nonprofit is offering three main components:
- Lean In Community, an online space where participants are encouraged to discuss and exchange ideas.
- Lean In Education, which provides free online educational programs from researchers and experts at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Topics include how to negotiate more effectively, or how to use body language to project professional competence.
- Lean In Circles, which operate like a book club: Small groups meet monthly, share experiences, and work through the educational content Lean In provides.
In all three, says Ms. Thomas, “The goal is to focus on very practical and actionable skills that women can use in the workplace and that men and women can use to combat gender biases.”
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Ms. Thomas knows that Lean In can’t close the corporate world’s gender gap all by itself. But she hopes that some candor will help.
“People generally don’t like to talk about gender issues,” she says. “But by pushing it out into the public discourse, there’s been a very strong response to the message of Lean In.”
She adds, “We hope this national conversation becomes individual conversations between manager to employee, husband and wife, parents talking about it to children.”
Rachel Thomas, president, LeanIn.Org
Education: Bachelor's degree, English and government, Georgetown University
Career highlights: Co-founder, Subtext, Inc., a company that sold educational products to schools, and co-founder of BrainTrust, an employee-recruitment company for technology and other industries
Salary: She declined to provide it.
What she's reading: She is re-reading Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg – this time with a highlighter.
Three billion people – half the world’s population – need a safer way to cook.
According to a new World Health Organization review, 91 percent of people in the world's least developed countries are without access to modern fuels. Instead, they primarily cook with biomass or coal on open fires or unimproved cookstoves, causing major problems for themselves and their environment.
EcoZoom is a for-profit certified B Corporation based in Portland, Oregon, and a client of Mercy Corps Northwest, working to solve this problem by making clean cookstoves accessible and affordable in developing countries.
Global Envision interviewed Chief of Operations Phil Ferranto on the challenges EcoZoom faces in convincing people to invest in clean cookstoves, developing a market for cookstoves in developing economies, and what sets EcoZoom apart as a socially-minded for-profit business.
EcoZoom’s mission is to get clean cookstoves into the hands of cooks in both the developing world and developed markets. Can you tell us a little about how EcoZoom’s business model manages to market cookstoves to consumers who regularly choose to spend money on other products? Who are these consumers?
Our business model is to partner with key stakeholders throughout the value chain by setting up a sustainable commercial market. As I see it, there are three main categories of stove users: relief, development, and commercial stove users.
Sometimes we’ll start with somebody in a refugee camp whose life has been uprooted. Usually in that case we’ll work with an NGO who really knows the camp and its dynamics to make sure we find the right product for the camp – something that’s durable, something that makes sense economically for the NGO, and something that can be distributed to enough stakeholders within the refugee camp to avoid inner conflict.
Our second focus is on development markets, which are usually in rural settings where people are either finding fuel or wood, or maybe using a traditional [wood-fired] stove or a mixture of cooking, heating, and lighting solutions. In these cases individuals may not have a constant income stream or aren't spending enough money on fuel to justify the purchase of a cookstove outright.
In many cases, these individuals aren’t aware that improved cookstoves are an option. In this case we work with either NGOs, carbon finance organizations, or local distributors to craft a message about the benefits of improved cookstoves to reach end consumers.
Usually it’s hard for consumers in developing markets to justify spending $20 or $30 on a cookstove when they could have a cellphone, TV, or something with a quicker payback in their eyes. Once they use our stoves the consumer often sees health and time benefits.
Our end goal in the developing world is to build sustainable commercial markets. We work with distributors and retailers to reach consumers, who, in developed countries like the United States, are a big part of our market.
We’ve marketed the company to this crowd by bootstrapping – we distribute our stoves to influential bloggers, have them try it out, review it, and then raise interest among their followers. We target survivalists and people interested in emergency preparedness, but also more casual people like car campers.
How do you advertise your cookstoves in such vastly different markets?
Where we like to focus as a social business is in the impoverished commercial markets, where people are spending upwards of $1 to $2 per day on charcoal or wood. Our products can cut that outlay by more than half, and up to 70 percent by those who are really good at using the stoves. In these cases you can find a very motivated sales force, so we’ll work with distributors who really know the local market and the distributor can really own the training and education about the stove.
In the more developed markets, we highlight the versatility and ease of use of our stoves. For example, you don’t go home from camping at a state park with everything smelling like smoke. The stove still produces smoke, but not as much as an open campfire. Cleanup is also easy, and if there are kids around you don’t have to worry about safety because it’s a contained fire. You also cut down on fuel, so people who are interested in sustainability can use the stove for recreational purposes.
What are the specific ways EcoZoom convinces people in developing economies to choose a clean cookstove over a cell phone or a TV?
I think people in a developing world context are pretty skeptical that their investment is going to be sound. If they’re going to spend $20 or $30 on a cookstove they need to know it’s going to last a long time. From the consumer’s standpoint it’s hard for them to look at a cookstove and say, “This cookstove is going to save me $800 throughout its life, so a $40 investment is a no-brainer.”
Things like integrating a warranty into the purchase experience are important. Having a maintenance and repair program is also important. Consumers want to know that someone is there to help them if something goes wrong with the stove.
A lot of the time it’s really about finding sales agents who truly believe in the product. When we were into Nairobi, we passed a couple of guys working and they came up and said, “A jiko!” which is Swahili for cookstove. In Kenya, everyone has a "Jiko” – they’re like refrigerators to you and me. So two guys came over to us and started stopping people who were walking by and telling them about the stove. They were so excited about the product that they started selling it for us, and we were there just testing the stove to see if it was working!
There is also a consumer finance piece that can be integrated – like a microfinance loan, microbanking, or the use of mobile money. These reduce the barriers to someone making a cookstove purchase. In the past, some groups have been pretty creative about finding incentives for using cookstoves. Our cookstoves have been used in carbon-credit projects, where each year the stove will mitigate two or three tons of carbon. This also has great marketing potential for some crowds.
The last piece is marketing to potential consumers where there is already a high demand, where people spend up to 20 percent of their income on fuel. In these cases the education process and market awareness are a lot easier to do. A person who has been cooking over an open fire all of his or her life will realize the benefits a lot quicker than someone like you or I would. In these cases we will partner with a distributor on crafting an educational program. We focus on the ways the stove makes life more convenient and how the stove ends up saving the buyer money in the long run.
Has EcoZoom modified its product to tailor to specific geographic regions or climates?
Yes. For the project we have ongoing in Nigeria we looked at the size of the family, which is important: Bigger families tend to cook in larger pots. So we made a bigger cast iron top for the stove. We worked on keeping the science of the stove the same, but looking at what we could do to cater to the market.
Another example of a change we made for consumers was La Mera Mera. In Latin America, families will cook tortillas, but then they’ll also cook rice, beans, or a soup simultaneously. There was a big need for fuel, and a lot of the time cooking was done inside the house – so adding a chimney to our stove in this case made a lot of sense. We also learned that some communities cook 24-inch tortillas, but in other regions they’ll cook a five-inch tortilla. For the group that cooks the larger tortilla, even the biggest stove we brought to market was almost too small. So we changed the stove.
We always have to look at the possibilities of what our product can be. We’ll always make sure that our stove is right for the market.
Where do you think the business of clean cookstoves is headed?
I think the industry as a whole is working to catch up to have an answer on what happens once a stove is given, sold, or subsidized and what the lasting effect will be. The cookstove itself has been around for many years. The wood-fired cookstove has been around for centuries. But the cookstove industry is still in its infancy, and I think it’s becoming more commercialized. I think we’re at the point where we’re starting to capture good data, and over the next few years you’ll really start to see the benefits that clean cookstoves have to offer.
Are there any unique partnerships or exciting developments on the horizon for EcoZoom?
Right here in Portland we’re part of the Social Innovations Incubator alongside Portland State University, which just became an Ashoka Changemakers campus. They’re on a great track, and it would be great to foster more of a focus on social innovation here.
We’re also working with several other partners: designers, manufacturing. From our perspective we would love to see more international development happen in Portland. We’d love to see Portland be made into a “hotbed of change!”
What’s the most inspiring part of your job?
The most inspiring moments for me are when I’ve gone into the field and seen the impact that we’re making. When you’re in the field it’s like night and day when compared to selling a stove here in the states to someone who will use it recreationally, where most of the time it will sit in someone’s garage.
At least from my family’s context, food and just being around the table was always an important part of growing up, and that’s universal. If you cut the pain of cooking by over half, it makes a big difference in people’s lives. Seeing the tangible health benefits, and seeing the way people have the ability to really improve their lives, is really what inspires me.
Among the first sights to greet visitors to Denmark on the descent to Copenhagen’s airport is a sweeping arc of wind turbines rising from the harbor. From the airport, passengers can board an automatic Metro line that hustles them to the city center in just 15 minutes, crossing the path of the City Circle Line, a subway project that will place 85 percent of Copenhageners within 650 yards of a Metro station when the line opens in 2018.
Everywhere, visitors are greeted by streams of bicyclists; 36 percent of trips to work or school in the Danish capital are made by bike, and more than 20,000 cyclists enter the city center at peak hours, filling Copenhagen’s 249 miles of cycle tracks. Less visible are state-of-the-art facilities where waste heat from power plants is used to keep buildings warm via the world’s largest district heating network, or where waters from the city harbor are deployed to cool department stores, office buildings, hotels, and data centers.
These innovations are just a prelude to what is planned in the coming years, all designed to make Copenhagen the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Acting on a City Council plan approved last August, Copenhagen intends to replace coal with biomass, to add more wind and solar electricity to the grid, to upgrade energy-guzzling buildings, and to lure even more residents onto bikes and public transit.
“Copenhageners like the ambition, they like being part of the idea of going green for the whole city,” Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen said in an interview with Yale Environment 360. “Our focus as a city, as citizens, is all about livability.” The mayor said that city residents are putting their own money into the low-carbon drive, noting that half of the turbines in the harbor wind farm, known as Middelgrunden, were funded by individual Copenhagen shareholders.
Clearly, Copenhagen’s plans face significant challenges, especially since city planners expect Copenhagen to add more than 100,000 residents by 2025. But at stake is the notion that a growing, modern city with more than a half-million inhabitants can systematically wring carbon from its economy. The battle to slow climate change will be won or lost in cities, which are responsible for more than 70 percent of global CO2 emissions and two-thirds of worldwide energy consumption.
Copenhagen has already made major progress, reducing its emissions by 21 percent from 2005 to 2011. The city currently emits about 2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and earlier initiatives were on target to reduce emissions to 1.16 million tons by 2025. The new plan approved last year will slash CO2 emissions even further, to about 400,000 tons by 2025. More time will be needed to wean private cars from fossil fuels. So Copenhagen plans to add at least 100 wind turbines to the grid over the next dozen years, and wind electricity not used in the city will be exported to other parts of Denmark to offset Copenhagen’s remaining several hundred thousand tons of transportation emissions.
Nearly three-quarters of the emissions reductions identified in the 2025 plan will come by transitioning to less carbon-intensive ways of producing heat and electricity. The goal is a diverse but complementary clean energy supply: biomass, wind, geothermal, and solar. “The Danish energy system is very much a systems solution – it’s not power as one, and heat as one — it’s integrated,” Jørgen Abildgaard, Executive Climate Project Director for the city of Copenhagen, says. Wind turbines now supply 30 percent of Denmark’s electricity, and under a national energy plan passed last year that share is set to rise to 50 percent by 2020.
Though not as visible as Copenhagen’s bicyclists and wind turbines, its heating and cooling infrastructure is playing a key role in slashing CO2 emissions. One of Copenhagen’s most innovative infrastructure projects is the Adelgade cooling plant, sheltered within the brick-clad shell of a retired power plant in the historic city center. Opened in June 2010, the plant is the hub of the country’s first district cooling network and a model of climate-conscious engineering.
The Adelgade plant draws cool seawater from an intake pipe located near the picturesque Nyhavn Canal and then delivers the chilled water through insulated pipes to buildings; the pipes are located below ground in the same tunnels in which steam is distributed via Copenhagen’s district heating network.
Thomas Grinde, an engineer with Copenhagen Energy — a private firm owned by the city — took me on a tour of the plant. He said that every degree Celsius saved by pre-cooling with seawater saves 15 percent on electricity at the site’s absorption chillers. The city estimates that district cooling reduces carbon emissions by nearly 70 percent and electricity consumption by 80 percent compared to conventional air-conditioning.
From the cooling plant, Grinde drove me south to the Amager power station complex, which sprawls across a spit of land jutting into Copenhagen Harbor. There, a pilot project supplies geothermal heat directly into the district heating system. In March, construction began nearby on a clean-burning waste-to-energy plant that will provide electricity and heating to 150,000 households. According to Mayor Jensen, half of Copenhagen’s indoor heating comes from combusting waste.
The two major combined heat and power (CHP) stations that serve Copenhagen, Amager and Avedøre, largely burn coal. But because waste heat from the stations is sent to the district heating system, they operate at around 90 percent efficiency, compared to around 40 percent for conventional coal-fired power plants. Rather than use furnaces or boilers located in individual buildings for heating, Copenhagen delivers hot water or steam to radiators via a network of pipes covering 98 percent of the city.
Under the climate plan, district heating is to be carbon neutral by 2025. The Amager and Avedøre plants, which today burn a limited amount of biomass imported from Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the Baltic countries, will replace coal entirely with wood chips and straw certified as sustainable by the Danish Energy Association.
Copenhagen’s pursuit of carbon neutrality also rests on its ability to meet demanding energy efficiency and transportation goals. Commercial and residential buildings are to reduce electricity consumption by 20 percent and 10 percent respectively, and total heat consumption is to fall by 20 percent by 2025.
In an interview, Bo Normander, director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Europe office and a Copenhagen City Council member, noted that new buildings in Copenhagen must now be constructed to Denmark’s Low Energy Class ratings; the 2020 standard calls for near net-zero energy buildings.
It will be considerably harder to achieve energy savings in existing buildings. More than 70 percent of Copenhagen’s buildings were constructed before the introduction of Denmark’s energy efficiency standards, and a major hurdle is the so-called landlord-tenant dilemma, since many Copenhageners rent and neither tenants nor landlords have a strong financial interest in retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient.
“Most of the people here rent,” Marianna Lubanski, executive director of the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster, told me. “If I own a building, and I have 10 people living there, and I invest a lot of money in energy savings, my tenants will get the savings, not me. We need new ways to share the costs and gains of energy efficiency... Copenhagen can’t succeed with their plan if they don’t find a way.”
She said she would like to see an ESCO (energy service company) market launch in Denmark, where private firms take on the risk of guaranteeing energy savings and in return are paid a fee by landlords or tenants.
Another key component of becoming a net zero-carbon city is further reducing the use of cars. Bo Normander, like many Copenhageners, does not own a car and bikes to work. “It’s the most convenient, quickest, and healthiest way to get around,” he said.
Newcomers to Copenhagen quickly learn the same, as did I. Within a few weeks of starting a job in Copenhagen, in 2008, I abandoned the Metro for a bike, which became my year-round way of getting around, no matter the weather. Weekday mornings, I pedaled along the perimeter of the cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard rest, girding myself for the merge into the horde of bicycle commuters racing along Nørrbrogade, Copenhagen’s busiest bike corridor, toward the city center. It was exhilarating and invigorating, and easily the fastest way to my office. Why would anyone own a car here? I often wondered.
The question is even more relevant today. Intent on reducing transportation’s share of the total city emissions, currently 22 percent, Copenhagen is expanding its cycling and public transit infrastructure to attract even more users. The improvements include “green wave” traffic signals set to the speed of oncoming bikes, angled footrests that enable cyclists to rest without dismounting at intersections, and an additional 44 miles of cycle tracks — paved paths separated from cars and pedestrians by curbs. To entice suburban commuters to abandon cars for bikes, Copenhagen is partnering with neighboring cities to add wider, smoother, better-lit cycle tracks. In April 2012, the first so-called “bike superhighway,” an 11-mile link connecting Albertslund with Copenhagen, opened. Two more are under construction and a total of 26 are planned, Normander said. By 2025, the city wants 75 percent of trips to be made by foot, bike, or public transit.
The city will also invest in alternative fuels. Abildgaard said Copenhagen is looking to convert its bus fleet to models powered by hybrid drives running on biogas. The city projects that 20 percent to 30 percent of all cars and small trucks, and 30 percent to 40 percent of all heavy vehicles, will run on electricity, hydrogen, biogas, or bioethanol by 2025. By 2015, 85 percent of the city’s fleet of 1,000 small vehicles will run on electricity, hydrogen, or biofuels, officials say.
What will all this cost? Direct city investment in the 2025 Climate Plan is estimated to be $472 million through 2025. Add private funds and total investment could hit $4.78 billion over the same period, Copenhagen officials say. “We can see that we have to invest a lot of money to reach the target,” Mayor Jensen told me. “But we can see also that we can create a lot of new jobs with that huge investment. Copenhagen can be a green laboratory for developing and testing new green solutions.”
Normander was upfront about the challenges. He will be watching to see, for instance, if the Avedøre and Amager power plants can sustainably source enough biomass. And he worries that as Copenhagen adds 1,000 residents per month, traffic will increase, even though the city lacks room for additional cars.
“It’s a very ambitious plan,” he said. “But it’s also something we can do.”
• Justin Gerdes is an independent journalist specializing in energy issues who is based in Concord, Calif. His work has appeared at Forbes.com, Motherjones.com, GreenBiz.com, and Chinadialogue. From October 2008 to December 2009, he worked as an editor and writer for Monday Morning, a publishing house and think tank based in Copenhagen. The reporting for this article was supported by a grant from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Press Initiative.
They rushed toward the street with towels to help the wounded, and evacuated customers, including an infant and a toddler, by guiding people to the restaurant's back staircase.
Some patrons of Forum, a Boylston Street restaurant near the twin bomb detonations at Monday's Boston Marathon, are lauding the efforts of staffers they said kept calm after the afternoon devolved into chaos.
The restaurant had been hosting a race watching party that doubled as a fundraiser for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a nonprofit that the former New England Patriots player started to raise money for cancer patients. Now it's part of a crime scene.
Melinda Kearney, a schoolteacher from Kansas, was on the second floor with her family after watching her son-in-law finish running the race a bit earlier. She said it was the speaking tone of employees that got her group moving in the right direction.
"They had no panic in their voices," she said April 17. "They were calm and assertive."
Kearney had spent most of the day watching the race through an open upstairs window, an experience she called thrilling. Among those with her were her 2-year-old grandson and 3-month-old granddaughter.
"There was this constant noise of cheering," she said. "And then you just realized there is silence. It's like turning off the ocean."
Kearney remembers first seeing a shot of something that looked orange. People were screaming, glass was on the floor, and no one knew if the second blast would be the last.
"I heard a man behind me say 'I love you,' and I thought, 'He's saying it to his wife.'"
Then a few restaurant workers approached the 20 or so people upstairs, walked them down a hallway and down a stairway that led to the street.
"The employees just said 'Here, down the stairway,'" Kearney recalled.
Dustin Stock and his wife Kylie were also part of Kearney's group.
The car dealer from Kansas said the building shook from the impact of the bombings and the first instinct was to flee. He said employees went above and beyond their duties by sticking around to help with the evacuation.
"They could have run like the rest of us, but they stayed there and showed us the way out," Stock said.
By pointing patrons to a back way out, Stock said they missed seeing some of the trauma that happened out front.
"The experience would have been worse. We would have seen things we couldn't forget," he said.
Suffolk University senior Ethan Long was on the business' first floor by the bar when the devices exploded outside. Glass blew past the 22-year-old's face, and he said that in the first panicked seconds, there was a yell to get down because it was thought someone had a gun.
The smell was as if someone had fired a musket right in front of him, said Long, who edits a weekly newspaper at his school.
He said before he escaped out the back, he saw employees bringing towels to the front to help the bloodied masses outside.
Later, Long saw a news photo of Andruzzi carrying a victim away from the scene.
"That's a person you have to cherish," he said of the ex-athlete.
A Tuesday posting on Forum's Facebook page said some staff were among the injured. It also thanked emergency workers who tended to the victims, along with staff and guests who pitched in.
"We will prevail," the Forum's post said. "We love you Boston."