A message from Sustainable Change Alliance Board Chair, Jonathan Gartner . . .

I wanted to share some personal thoughts about the Sustainable Change Alliance (SCA) event held on March 27, 2018.  I enjoy the SCA events because I always learn something from our speakers, and the entrepreneurs who present their companies always inspire me.  But our recent event on Energy and the Environment really hit home.

Perhaps it is because of the recent fire and floods that have devastated our neighborhoods and brought tragedy to so many lives.  Perhaps it is because, of all the impact-oriented themes we have presented, the environment is the one issue that resonates most profoundly with the SCA community.  Or perhaps it is because our speakers spoke with a wonderful combination of deep technical knowledge and a palpable passion for sharing their mission.

Regardless of the reason, the event showed me why I love being part of SCA. 

Sigrid Wright, CEO of the Community Environmental Council, joked that she was a horrible dinner party guest because before the soup is finished she is already talking about heavy topics such as climate change, severe weather events, and the threats to our surrounding environment.  Yet I found Sigrid’s presentation to be fact based, realistic, and compelling.  We really are suffering from more frequent and more severe weather events, we really are approaching the limits of the environment to absorb the effects of our lifestyle, and we really do have limited time to make significant changes.

If Sigrid sobered us, our next two speakers, James GP Dehlsen and Catherine von Burg, gave us optimism that there are very real solutions to the issues of generating and storing clean energy. 

Jim is widely considered to be the father of the American wind power industry and he is now turning his very impressive technical and leadership skills to harnessing the power of ocean currents and tidal power.  The American South-East is a bit of a black hole in terms of installed solar and wind power.  Yet, the energy potential available in the Gulf Stream just off shore dwarfs the land-based clean power sources.   Jim’s firm, Ecomerit Technologies, is working to develop the technology to harness this energy source.  Having proven his ability to build a clean energy industry on shore, it will be absolutely fascinating to watch the developments in the underwater energy world. 

Regardless of how it is generated, a fundamental issue for energy consumers of all types is how to manage and store energy so that you can have access to it when, for whatever reason, the grid is not able to provide it.  Catherine’s firm, Simpliphi Power, is providing that storage solution through sophisticated deployment of batteries.  Catherine was introduced as a woman who just loves batteries and her knowledge of the industry, and passion for the solutions it brings, was evident through her presentation.  The battery industry is very complex as it involves sophisticated chemistry, a complex production chain, and is subject to many hyped claims and counterclaims.  Simpliphi, based in Ojai, is bringing practical solutions for companies, individuals, the military, NGOs and other users.

Finally, in our members-only reception after the event we were joined by Congressman Salud Carbajal.  What a perfect Santa Barbara afternoon.  We learned a lot, had the opportunity to get a bit of insight into two interesting investment opportunities, and then got to socialize with our Congressman!

As a follow-up to this meeting, a group of meeting participants will join an on-going committee to start the dialogue of what the vision of resilience for climate change is in Santa Barbara.  What does resilience look like and how can it be brought about?  Where does impact investing fit into that vision?  If you are interested in participating in that exploration, contact us at the website below.

It will be hard to top this most recent presentation but the SCA Executive Committee is already working on a number of events that will bring fascinating speakers and interesting impact investment opportunities across a wide range of themes; including disabilities, property, and diabetes. 

As always, if anyone wishes to learn more about SCA, feel free to reach out to me at info@sustainablechangealliance.org.  

Regards, Jonathan