Posts Tagged 'Environment'

1% for the Planet

Last weekend, we made the trip to Waitsfield, Vermont for the 1% for the Planet 10th Anniversary Party. 1% is one of our favorite not-for-profit organizations. 1% leverages its membership network to increase corporate giving to approved environmental groups around the world.

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At Horst Engineering, Thread Rolling Inc., and Sterling Machine, we have a strong orientation towards conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental organizations. Much of our community support/philanthropy goes to non-profits in this sector. We contribute to many organizations who do good work in the regions where our operations are located. New England and northeast United States organizations are the main beneficiaries of our giving, but we have also supported groups in Arizona and Sonora.

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It was nice to meet the core of the 1% crew at their home base in Waitsfield on the Mad River. Debbie and I have had a longtime affiliation with Patagonia, Inc. through our trail running/ultrarunning dating back to Debbie’s time on the Montrail/Patagonia Trail Running Team. The company is a stalwart of sustainable business and founder, Yvon Chouinard, is also the co-founder (along with Craig Mathews) of 1%. Through Patagonia, we were introduced to 1%.

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In Waitsfield, we heard several of 1%’s leaders speak passionately about their desire to grow the organization through its new marketing campaign, “Give Back to Blue.” 1% is updating its strategy in an effort to increase the number of businesses who contribute to environmental causes. With the right execution, this network effect should generate the desired results and the Earth will benefit.

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Last Saturday was one of the best nights of the summer. The weather was awesome. Aside from the mosquitoes, we had a blast. The party was literally in the backyard of their HQ on Bridge St. in the heart of the village. You could see remnants of damaged Mad River bridges that were left on the banks of the river after Tropical Storm Irene devastated many Vermont communities.

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1%’s neighbor is the eclectic Madsonian Museum of Industrial Design, which is so cool. Industrial museums are my favorite types. I love mechanical things and this little building was packed with examples. The little place was jammed with toys, furniture, and other cool inventions from the 20th century. The museum was open and we were invited to play with the toys and explore. They had working Lionel trains, Lincoln Logs, LEGO bricks, and some real classic games. Our kids absolutely loved it. It was a neat place to see and it was fun to learn more about the inner workings of 1%. We wish them the best in their growth.

The Connecticut Forest & Park Association Matters

Earlier this week, I attended the Connecticut Forest & Park Association annual meeting. It’s a great time of year for CFPA. Trails Day is a short four weeks away. There have been some great spring trail running races on Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails. Bimbler’s Bluff, Northern Nipmuck, and Traprock 50K are all history until 2013, but Soapstone Mountain, NipMuck Marathon and several others are on tap. The new eTrailhead initiative is taking off.

Last week, Eastern Mountain Sports had a  grand opening for its new store in Manchester, Connecticut, and donated 1% of the first weekend’s proceeds to CFPA. We attended the fun pre-grand opening event and got to see all the new inventory. We love outdoor gear!

I’m a member of the CFPA board of directors and Horst Engineering is a strong supporter, so I have a special place in my heart for Connecticut’s oldest and most venerable conservation organization. At the annual meeting, we heard from Senator Richard Blumenthal, who offered words of encouragement and shared some funny stories about his first year in the United States Senate. He mentioned the recent victories that CFPA was part of on behalf the outdoor recreation community. Recreational liability protection has been a key part of CFPA’s advocacy agenda in the past year.

Those of us at the meeting also saw the trailer for a new film, due in 2013, about forestry legend, Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot was featured prominently in 2007’s Forces of Nature, a play that was commissioned by CFPA. CFPA has been making a name for itself for 117 years and the momentum is sure to continue. CFPA is responsible for the Connecticut section of the New England National Scenic Trail. My other favorite conservation organization, the Appalachian Mountain Club, is responsible for the Massachusetts section. We will be on that section of the NET this Sunday at the 7 Sisters Trail Race.

Catching up with the Appalachian Mountain Club in Boston

The Appalachian Mountain Club is cranking. We recently closed on the purchase of 29,500 additional acres of land in Maine’s 100-mile Wilderness Region. This came at the end of a successful $45MM campaign to support the larger Maine Woods Initiative. Known as the Roach Ponds tract, this land abuts the 37,000 acre Katahdin Iron Works property that we already own, and extends our reach in a region that was already threatened by land development.

The Fed tower

The vision that AMC’s leaders had more than five years ago has come to fruition much faster than anyone expected. Debbie and I got a nice update on the club’s growth when we attended a Board of Advisors meeting earlier this week in Boston. The progress with MWI has been remarkable and our club is now positioned to take advantage of our land conservation efforts. Our system of Maine Sporting Camps will expand again in 2010 with the addition of the Gorman Chairback Camps. Debbie and I haven’t been to the KIW property since our last trip to Little Lyford Pond Camps nearly six years ago. Acquiring LLPC was the first step that AMC took towards establishing our major presence in Maine.

MBTA's South Station

Our trip to Boston was a quick one. Since our BOA meeting was at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, I dressed like a banker. The Fed was an interesting place to have a meeting, but as you would expect, the conference facilities were top-notch. It was somewhat ironic that we were in a city skyscraper discussing the expansion of our wilderness land holdings. AMC recently revised its mission. We are the oldest recreation and conservation organization in the country, with more than 100,000 members. With the global environment facing such challenges, AMC is uniquely positioned to make a difference and it is cool to be part of that process.

The Fed

Climate Change Trifecta

For the third time in three weeks, I sat through a presentation on climate change. This particular talk was given this evening at the quarterly Connecticut Forest & Park Association board meeting.

Eric Palola, of the National Wildlife Federation, presented the topic “Importance of Northeastern Forests/Forest Management to Climate Change” to the directors. NWF’s scientific data was similar to that presented by the speakers at last week’s Appalachian Mountain Club Board of Advisors meeting, and to that presented two weeks ago at the ISO New England Energy Summit.

The charts and graphs speak for themselves. The images offered clear proof that the United States needs to take the lead in reducing energy consumption and make an all out effort to reduce the production of carbon by cutting fossil fuel (coal, oil, propane, natural gas) use.

Climate change will effect everyone in the world. The directors got some insight into the emerging markets for carbon trading and carbon offsets. The topic is important to CFPA because our mission supports the management and conservation of of sustainable working forests and agriculture lands. A lot of landowners are seeking ways to profit from their ownership of these “carbon sinks.” Forest and adaptation (the safeguarding of natural resources) funding is a critical step in the process of reversing the effects of global warming. Maintaining trees and other plant life is as important as energy conservation and renewable energy production.

I came to the conclusion that tackling this issue is going to be one of the most important objectives for every Presidential administration–forever. The issue has to be brought to the forefront of the current administration’s agenda so that we can debate it now. Congress is moving forward with some legislation, but the clock is ticking. There are far to many government (local, state, and federal) agencies seeking funding and our government’s massive stimulus package only complicates matters. When you add all of the non-profit organizations that have a stake in the matter and all of the private enterprises with an interest ino the mix, you soon see that we need someone to take the lead.

Appalachian Mountain Club and the Climate Change Discussion

After last week’s visit to ISO New England, I had renewable energy on my mind. The environmental theme continued this past Wednesday when I visited the Appalachian Mountain Club headquarters on Joy Street (Beacon Hill) in Boston, Massachusetts. I hooked up with some like-minded individuals to discuss AMC happenings and learn a bit too. Don’t think that everyone who loves AMC thinks totally alike. We explored a variety of topics and the entire spectrum of opinions were shared. For the second time in a week, I heard from various experts on the subject of climate change and renewable energy technology. The discussions were stimulating. 

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Particularly important was a panel discussion with Paul Cunha, AMC’s Director of Facilities, Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Roger Stephenson, Executive Vice President for Programs at Clean Air-Cool Planet. Each spoke about their work and their own efforts to shed light on the climate change debate, before fielding questions from the advisors.

There is a lot of disagreement, even amongst environmentalists about the pressures that our environment faces. Noted environmentalist, Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature,  wrote a March editorial that has raised eyebrows. It was first brought to my attention at the ISO New England Energy Summit, and again came up at the AMC meeting. McKibben has sounded the alarm and is willing to set aside some of his previous issues in an effort to accelerate the move to renewable energy technologies. I’ve been moving more in his direction lately.

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I believe that we have to measure the trade-offs and take advantage of the current momentum in an effort to rapidly reduce our carbon (fossil fuel) consumption, while ramping up the investment in renewables. Every business, every household, every person, must apply themselves to learn more about these issues. We all have to change the way we live now.

Energy Summit @ ISO New England

Earlier this week, I attended an Energy Summit at ISO New England. I’m up on this stuff, but the information was still very good. One of the highlights was hearing Dan Esty speak. It was great to personally meet the Yale University professor, and author of Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value and Build Competitive Advantage. Esty was surprisingly pessimistic about our country’s ability to overcome the environmental challenges that we face. He didn’t just talk about the hot button issue of global warming; he commented on the Obama administration’s environmental policies and the role of business in solving these challenges. He travels the globe (he has been to China five times in the past couple of years) working with businesses and governments on the number one issue that we all face: environmental sustainability. Of course, that is my opinion, but if you listen to Bill McKibben, and other experts, we are running out of time. Each of us bears the personal responsibility (businesses included) for changing our consumption patterns and shifting towards conservation and preservation.

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ISO New England is the not-for-profit manager of the New England power grid. It manages the bulk electric power system and oversees the market for electricity in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The headquarters and control center is in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Seeing the control room with its NASA like displays and giant monitor was very cool. It was a slow day in the control room with regional electricity demand at about 50% of capacity. Of course, it is warm today, will be hotter tomorrow, and everyone will be cranking up their air conditioners. Demand will spike by Monday and that control room will be a lot busier by then. 

We heard speakers from the clean energy agencies of both Connecticut and Massachusetts. There were also several speakers who discussed simple energy saving techniques for businesses. It was a stimulating day of learning about a topic that I love.

CFPA Meetings

Last month, our family attended the annual meeting of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association. It was the night before Curly’s Trail Marathon and a tempest was raging in Connecticut. We made it safely to Derby where the meeting was being held at the Kellogg Environmental Center located on the Osborne Homestead Museum. It was the first time we had been in either building. Actually, it had been years since I was last in Derby for a bachelor party. 

Well, this was a different kind of party. CFPA is one of the leading environmental organizations in Connecticut. I recently joined the board of directors, so I’m an insider now. We have been long time members. Most Connecticut trail users don’t realize that CFPA is responsible for the 825+ Blue Blazed Hiking Trails that criss-cross our state. In addition to trail maintenance, CFPA produces many conservation education programs and advocates at the State Capitol. That is just the tip of the iceberg. The organization has a broad mission. 

 

Flash forward to yesterday. I had a board meeting in Lyme, Connecticut. It was one of those spectacular October mornings with great light and lots of mist hanging low in the valleys. Before the meeting, I stopped to snap photos. I took some great shots of a meadow on Ferry Lyme Rd., then went down to the ferry landing. The Connecticut River was gorgeous.

Eventually, I made it to my meeting on Joshuatown Rd. That road has to be one of the best I’ve been on and I wished I had a bike to ride. The views from our host’s property were spectacular. It was right near Selden Neck State Park, where I’ve never been and now need to visit. We could see straight down the river to Old Saybrook with the shape of Long Island clearly visible 12 miles beyond the Connecticut Shore. It was idyllic.


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Some sights and sounds from yesterday’s Secret Squirrel CX. #cyclocross #teamhorstsports @horstcycling #crossspikes #teamhorstjuniorsquad
Connecticut XC State Open Championships #running #cc #crosscountry #trailrunning
Fantastic day in #hartford at the #aerospacealley trade show. The morning workforce development session included 40+ schools and 1,200+ students. Crossing the #connecticutriver at sunrise and then at sunset was spectacular.
Senior Night at Bolton High School: Bolton vs. Somers vs. Coventry. Made it from the middle school race in time for the boys race. Missed the girls but stayed for the festivities. #xc #running 🏃🏽‍♂️
Fantastic evening for XC at my middle school alma mater. Bolton vs. Vernon vs. Porter. @trailrunningmom is a wonderful coach! #running #xc 🏃🏽‍♀️
From #newyork Sunday for @pearljam at @thegarden to #Chicago on Wednesday for @imtschicago it’s already been a busy week with lots of planes, trains, automobiles, and jet packs! Amazing technology at the show.
#usa
A final @hardrock100run update for now and it’s a bit of a bummer. @trailrunningmom stoped at Animas Forks Aid Station just shy of the 59 mile mark. Persistent nausea and the inability to eat or drink weakened her. She arrived in Ouray in this condition and even a 40 minute nap didn’t improve the situation. She is at peace with her decision to stop and it helps that she finished this beast of a race in 2017 going the other direction. I unexpectedly joined her between Ouray and Animas Forks because I didn’t want to see her go alone. We got to suffer together for eight hours and enjoyed an amazing moonlit night. In our household there is always more to learn when you miss a goal than when you hit one.
@trailrunningmom has quite a crew assembled in Ouray at the @hardrock100run We await her arrival. From the looks of the tracking she was likely suffering in the climb and dealing with the t-storms. She might have had to hunker down because her location didn’t change for a long time. Now she appears to me hammering the six plus mile descent to the LOW point in the course in Ouray at a 7,792 feet.

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