Genomics & Synthetic Biology - Next Sector for Entrepreneurship?
The New York Genome Center is set to open May 2013 and will be the largest bioinformatics and genomic research center in North America.
This indicates that the private sector is primed to innovate using DNA sequencing information.
In 2003, Human Genome Project successfully identified all the genes in human DNA and sequenced the 3 billion chemical pairs that make up DNA.
The project was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health to gather information and make it available to public and private institutions.
In the past ten years, the cost of technology to read and write DNA sequences has dramatically dropped, and barriers to entry into the genomics industry are dipping to a place where the general public may be involved.
Which means, now that genes have been identified and the information in publicly available, DNA programmers are able to hack DNA to behave however they like.
Predictions that life sciences may become the largest sector in the US Economy indicate an emerging market in Genomics.
I’m just beginning this education in DNA and genomics - but the opportunities for new business and innovation are intriguing. Keep an eye on this space thanks to Spencer Adler for a long walk and introduction to the conversation.
Unite For Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference
I heard about the Unite For Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale University two days before the event and registered without a second thought. As I rode the Metro North to New Haven at 5:30 am on a Saturday morning - I understood completely that listening to people tell stories of adventure, solving health problems and finding real innovative solutions to human issues inspires me.
After spending 4 weeks in Nicaragua I vowed to return to Central America more informed. To improve my Spanish, attend lectures and events around social impact, learn to write grants, take first aid classes, understand philanthropy, learn to scale social impact businesses.
The Global Health and Innovation Conference offered two full days of panels, lectures and workshops and the chance to gain an understanding of the public health and social impact world.
Below are some quick notes from two sessions I found interesting:
"The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs are Transforming the Global Economy," Philip Auerswald, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy, George Mason University
- Social entrepreneurs are the people who exist in the innovative space between small business and corporations. They test business solutions to social problems where current markets fail and work hard to develop solutions. Once solutions are knowable they require evaluation, once solutions are known they require funding.
"From Start-Up to Scale-Up: The Path to Becoming Industry Leaders in Reducing Indoor Air Pollution," Ron Bills, Chairman and CEO, Envirofit International
Ron spoke about the design thinking involved with creating an improved, affordable and scalable solution to problems caused by traditional indoor smoke cookstoves.
Social impact businesses need to be scalable and sustainable - Businesses that can develop an affordable, high quality, beautifully designed solution to have the power to change lives, eliminate pollution, save resources, help consumers save money and improve. Really, it’s possible.
A sustainable social impact solution means a profitable business - a business able to support operating and production costs on its own while improving lives. Ron made the point that it is very difficult to run a social enterprise in philanthropic donations alone.
Zuke Pickled Things Featured in Fast Company
A recent Fast Company article beautifully captured the true personalities of Willow King and Mara King, two lovely Boulder based mom-entrepreneurs.
" Why Parents Make Great Entrepreneurs " - FastCompany.com
The comments below the article are perfect examples why I love my work with Good Point PR - When we tell honest, interesting stories, the media can inspire people to start a business, consider improving business practices or contribute positively to society.
"Mara and Willow are a prime example of mothers taking charge of their lives, doing what they love and finding success in it. More mothers need to follow their lead, identify what they’re good at, what it is that they have to offer and then go for it!" - Skooltopia
"Very inspiring story.
I’m a father who just quit the day job to launch an all natural salad dressing (Hanley’s Sensation salad dressing), I can honestly say that starting up a food company and raising children is NO easy task at all.
I will read this story every month to remind me that anything is possible and I’ll never give up. The food industry (especially natural/organic) is a hard industry yet it can be extremely rewarding — these moms showed just that.” - Richard Hanley Jr.
I’ve been so fortunate to work with Willow and Mara - two mothers who have found the time and energy to thoughtfully build a business by creating a high quality product for a healthy lifestyle.
A community in Las Parcellas, Rivas, Nicaragua votes to select six families to receive new roofing material purchased with funds raised by The Latitude Project.
My most recent project with Good Point CO brought me to Nicaragua to develop a media kit for Maderas Village.
At the end of each day, guests and residents of the Village gathered at two long tables to eat dinner together and talk for hours about the day.
On one of the last nights of my scheduled stay, I met Alanna and Jennifer Tynan, sisters and co-founders of The Latitude Project.
They told me about their winter 2013 project - to replace corroded roofs for six families in each of five villages in Rivas, Nicaragua.
I knew I needed to see the project - so - I abandoned my flight back to NYC and booked a return trip departing two weeks later.
We traveled to two villages, Tortuga and Las Parcellas, with the Mayor of Rivas - to listen to the community nominate and select six families most in need of new roofs.
The entire community gathered and made a case for the families most in need. They democratically selected the recipients by simply raising hands to show support.
Roof needs were determined by the current condition of the wood and zinc over the sleeping quarters, the number of children living in the home, and the number of families living in the house.
We walked through the village to tour and measure the selected homes. The homes mostly had one bedroom with one or two beds and dirt floors. There were 5-9 people living in each room and sharing the beds.
Alanna and Jen sisters (25 and 27) run the project. They spend half the year fundraising in the developed world and the other half in Latin America working with communities to provide resources to solve principal needs.
The Latitude Project introduced me to the realities of poverty in the developing world and has helped me to understand the problems many of my Good Point clients are working to solve.
This trip is the first time I’ve felt that random adventures of my past have aligned to reveal the possibilities of an entire career that provides a life full of excitement and important work.
In February, I escaped NYC to enjoy working in Central America.
The owners of Maderas Village - some friends of friends - asked me to visit to help with number of marketing projects. I flew down to Nicaragua without expectations and was wonderfully surprised by the lifestyle and the improvement in my quality of work.
Maderas Village is a secret home for short term and long term travelers. It’s a place where people come to live a simple, beautiful lifestyle in the small surf village of Maderas, Nicaragua. Some practice a trade, learn to surf, and live their days tranquilly.
The interesting people, freshly grown fruits and vegetables, natural pace of the days, and beach side jungle environment allow humans to feel like humans. Within a few days of leaving NYC I found myself falling into a true natural rhythm - I woke when my body was ready, fell asleep in hammocks, and worked when projects required attention.
Each day, I felt that I was shedding a different cultural expectations of the developed world. Social media, marketing, advertising, fashion trends, glossy magazines, body image concerns and corporate career tracks become such foreign concerns in a place where food, water, shelter, health and income are uncertainties for my Nicaraguan friends.
It quickly becomes difficult to relate to the habits of Americans when I see how simple and wonderful life can be when we let ourselves enjoy the gift of having access to the most basic resources and needs.
Maderas Life attracts intellectual adventurers. People who love to laugh and talk and enjoy full days of surfing, exploring, beach combing, reading and writing.
Each night, residents and guests eat dinner together around a long table and stay up late - deep in conversation talking about our days.
My days were lovely - I worked from hammocks with my computer and interviewed the owners and guests to develop a media kit for the hotel. And, helped to establish a small micro finance fund for The Maderas Village Foundation to help fulfill financial aid requests from the community.
After a natural disaster the first phase of relief comes from partnerships between self organized community groups, volunteers and local government agencies.
When Hurricane Sandy damaged the New York City area - there was so little information about how to help, where to go, how to volunteer. Word spread through the neighborhood that if we wanted to help - we just had to do it.
So, a group of us listened to the call and hopped in the car to serve hot food to people who had been without a hot meal in almost 2 weeks.
A few friends from our unaffected neighborhood headed out to The Rockaways to serve trays of salad, rice and grilled meat to people who were stranded due to the road and transit damages caused by Hurricane Sandy.
This video was recorded about 14 days after the storm. The local and national governments and aid organizations were still mobilizing and surveying the damages - Rockaway residents had lost their belongings, their homes and access to heat, electricity and fresh food. They faced incredible uncertainty about recovery.
When we arrived the Rockaways were devastated. We drove past flooded cars, piles of sand, flooded homes and lines of people in need - and searched for a place to set up a grill.
We found a line of 150 people waiting at a pop-up distribution center to collect donated clothes, water, medicine, flashlights, sleeping bags and toiletries.
Most residents had been eating cold canned food and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 14 days straight.
We learned that aid work is about listening to others and recognizing what people need then using all your strength, brains, resources, compassion and network to provide access to whatever the principal needs are at the moment.
Matt, a friend from Axios Productions, came along with us and made this video of the day.
This photo was taken on November 6, 2012 - Election Day on The Rockaways. Despite the daunting task of recovery and an impending snowstorm - residents made efforts to go to the polls.
Volunteers Risk Empty Gas Tanks to Deliver Supplies from Williamsburg to The Rockaways
It may not seem far, but the 17-mile trip from Brooklyn to The Rockaways on a dwindling supply of gas carries weighted uncertainty.
On a Tuesday afternoon donation run, three neighbors and I drove past gas stations along the route that were either taped off and out of fuel or surrounded by a line of cars that stretched for many blocks in snarled traffic nightmares.
We wondered if our half-tank would provide enough gas to allow the return trip back to Brooklyn after delivering our cargo.
Casey Farnum – the driver – had been saving the gas for days to make sure the trip would be as impactful as possible. The goods included four volunteers, trays of hot meals donated by local restaurants, flashlights, diapers, paper towels, blankets purchased from dollar stores, and cans of cat food.
As we drove through Howard Beach toward Broad Channel the no-electricity line appeared. Traffic police directed cars to slow down and wait to proceed at each intersection. We navigated the road past marooned boats and heavy construction vehicles, while dump trucks waited to haul trash, and bulldozers, fork lifts and sanitation trucks worked to replace sand and remove debris.
We passed the first collection point, where donations are sorted and redistributed before being sent across the bay to stations and shelters on The Rockaways. We crossed the Cross Bay Bridge and drove to Veggie Island – a local juice bar and meeting spot next to the Taco Mansion.
Matthew Calendar runs a donation distribution operation at Veggie Island in connection with Williamsburg’s Pilgrim Surf Supply, which collects and sends drivers out daily to replenish relief supplies and return with news.
Many businesses in Williamsburg are doing the same – setting up donation drop points, organizing drivers and adjusting to shelter needs. <a href=”http://www.malinlandaeus.com/Malin_Landaeus/Welcome.html” target=”_hplink”>Malin Landaeus</a> has organized more than 12 carloads out to the Rockaways from her storefront on N6 and Bedford in the past few days.
Now, nine days after the storm hit, Williamsburg businesses have called the first collaborative meeting, set for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night at <a href=”http://union-pool.com/” target=”_hplink”>Union Pool</a>. The idea is to combine efforts, create a strategy and develop a more long-term solution to assist the affected areas.
Williamsburg has a special connection to The Rockaways, as many residents head to the surf town to escape the city. In the past few years, the Rockaways have gained popularity as Roberta’s beloved pizza, Blue Bottle Coffee and other Brooklyn restaurants set up on the boardwalk.
That boardwalk is now entirely washed down 91st and 92nd streets. Year-round Rockaways resient Sam Fleischnier requested chainsaws, crowbars, a circular saw and screw guns, and says he plans to up-cycle the boardwalk wood into a fence.
Other residents are well into their own process of home restoration, cleaning out basements, bleaching floors and walls to mitigate mold, shoveling mud and sand piles from unexpected places, removing debris from front yards and then starting to rebuild.
This work is made difficult as many residents attempt the clean-up without the proper supplies. The next round of donation requests might be hardware and construction supplies, and volunteers with strength and building knowledge are also in high demand.
Also in demand are cold weather health supplies. Merry, a resident, requested cold medicine for her 19-year-old daughter, and blankets to combat the wet, coastal cold front that has moved in. As Merry told me about her needs she smiled through her words.
“I smile because I don’t want to cry,” she said. “When you see everything outside, you want to cry.”
The gas – however sparse – is worth the trip out to The Rockaways. Gather supplies, fill the car, hand donations directly to the people who need them, and provide hope with your kindness and compassion. Speak to people – ask their needs and gather contact information, and spread the word.
On the return trip you might wonder how you ever considered staying home to save gas.
Most of these piles of damaged furniture, clothing, electronics were thrown away before being documented - homeowners lost their chance to file insurance claims without realizing it in order to remove dangerous debris that had been contaminated by the floodwater.
Photographers needed to document losses
Photographers + Videographers Needed IMMEDIATLY to Volunteer to Document Losses For Homeowners Affected By Hurricane Sandy
November 5, 2012 – Brooklyn, NY - Governor Cuomo has announced a rule which requires insurance companies to accept photographic + video documentation of losses so local governments can move quickly to remove dangerous debris before the predicted storm moves in this week (11/5/2012)
A tour of the Rockaways this weekend revealed piles of furniture, clothing, electronics, and other damaged debris in front of hundreds of affected homes. All this debris must be documented for insurance claims and removed prior to the storm.
“If debris is creating unsafe conditions, people must be able to clear it away without hurting their right to make an insurance claim.” Governor Cuomo said.
“If debris is dangerous, homeowners should carefully document their losses then dispose of the debris. Taking photos and videos and even keeping samples of damaged materials is a good idea.” Says Superintendent Lewsky
But, where do the cameras to record the damage come from when most electronics have been lost to the flood and areas have no electricity to charge the batteries?
Typically, an adjuster would visit the site to inspect insurance claims. As the debris have become dangerous – homeowners must remove debris before adjusters are able to visually inspect the premise.
Volunteers are needed to work with homeowners to create a photographic record of the losses to be presented with an inventory list, to an insurance claims adjuster upon inspection.
Homeowners have lost so much – now is a vital time to document losses to ensure proper insurance claims can be filed.
Photographers are needed to:
1. Inventory the damaged area
2. Take color photos of damaged property, targeting any high ticket items
3. Videotape high ticket items and property
4. REMEMBER: Have timestamp record date + time
5. Inventory should reflect corresponding photograph for validation
6. Keep the information in a secure location until the adjuster arrives
7. Take samples of carpet, wall paper, furniture, upholstery, window treatments and other items where quality will be a claims factor.
Tips for volunteering in an affected area:
Be sure to pack a backpack with your supplies: food for the day, water, sneakers, warm clothes, sunblock, work gloves, a charged phone, printed maps of the area as service is spotty.
Ask people for updates of what they need and collect contact info so we can deliver direct aid and stay updated on changing needs.
Document addresses of drop off points and shelters - post updates to www.SparkRelief.org