In Episode 101 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 29, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-host of The Wendel Forum and co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group and co-host of The Wendel Forum (did you get all that?).

Bill Acevedo

Bill Acevedo

In 2008, when Acevedo became chair of the law firm’s Green/Sustainable Business Practice Group, he wanted to take the group from start-up mode to an established business mode. The group was founded in 2003, around the time Wendel Rosen became the first law firm in the country to be certified as a green business. By 2008, the sustainable business space was really heating up. As practice leader, Acevedo’s challenge was to understand the paths and different focuses of various partners in the group and to demonstrate to clients the firm’s commitment to the space.  He did outreach to explain what it meant to be a green law firm and to let clients know the partners in the group shared the passion and ideology of the people and companies they represented.

Even when the economy suffered a setback, the sustainable and organic companies represented by Wendel continued to thrive. Today, the biggest challenge for these companies remains access to capital. As natural products companies want to become more mainstream, they need to scale. And to scale, they need more capital.  Experienced legal counsel can help with funding options.

Acevedo’s favorite Wendel Forum shows have been those focusing on surfing companies and organic food companies. With a longtime interest in the health of the ocean and in natural foods, the show has been a great way to marry Acevedo’s work and personal passions.

What was your favorite episode of The Wendel Forum?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Acevedo:  Episode 101 of The Wendel Forum (26:06 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 15, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev, which provides seamless interoperability and clearing among multiple electric vehicle charging networks.  The Collaboratev service will allow EV drivers to charge anywhere and receive a single bill.

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

There are now 100,000 plug-in vehicles in the US.  Although that number is small compared to regular cars sold, it’s an important milestone.  Not surprisingly, early adopters are looking for more charging options, according to Wolf.

Collaboratev is working towards building a seamless transactional experience for EV users by which they will be able to recharge their vehicles at any station regardless of where they are or what charging network they belong to.  The company allows EV drivers to use a single authentication credential, which generates one monthly bill, thereby opening up any charging station for use by EV drivers.

Like the corner gas station using pumps that accept credit cards, Collaboratev envisions corner charging stations that accept its payment system.  Benefits include removing the need for multiple memberships, alleviating range anxiety, and allowing long-distance travel among multiple EV charging networks.

Although talks are in their initial stages, it is envisioned that each charging station, which will be owned and operated by independent charging network operators, will have different characteristics – coffee bars, retailer shops, media and even gasoline, all of which are intended to enhance the EV user’s experience while recharging his or her vehicle.

Will more charging stations and a seamless payment system inspire you to purchase an electric vehicle?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Wolf: Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (27:42 mins; mp3)

Collaboratev website: http://www.collaboratev.com/about.php

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 94 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 30, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Michele McGeoy, founder and executive director of Solar Richmond, which offers free solar training, staffing services leading to temporary and permanent employment, and green business ownership opportunities for low income and under-employed residents of Richmond, CA.

photo of Michele McGeoy

Michele McGeoy of Solar Richmond

McGeoy spent the beginning of her career running several software companies and later founded a non-profit that sought to tackle the digital divide.  Eventually, she “burned out” on the computer industry and transitioned to the solar field.  A longtime Richmond, CA resident, she wanted the city to be part of the green economy.  Solar, she thought, was the antidote to pollution, and jobs were the antidote to violence.  Solar Richmond’s mission is to “catalyze transformative change,” which includes providing training and job opportunities related to solar, including installation, service and back office jobs, for 18-24 year olds.

Partnering with Berkeley City College, Solar Richmond has placed more than 140 young people in green collar jobs in which they acquire skills transferable to many industries and careers.  Recently, Solar Richmond became a worker-owned cooperative, in which graduates of the program become part owners in the company. McGeoy hopes to have 10 worker-owners by end of next year and continue to add new employee-owners every year.

Solar Richmond logo

Solar Richmond logo

Solar Richmond works on both residential and commercial solar projects and recently completed a power purchase agreement with a Walnut Creek church.  The City of Richmond also hired Solar Richmond for six of its buildings, including community centers, fire stations and libraries.

Would you consider hiring Solar Richmond for your solar project?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with McGeoy: Episode 94 of The Wendel Forum (27:20 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Solar Richmond’s Website: http://www.solarrichmond.org

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 93 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 23, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Mark Massara, general counsel and vice president of social responsibility for O’Neill Wetsuits.

Mark Massara of O'Neill Wetsuits

Mark Massara of O’Neill Wetsuits

Massara grew up in Santa Barbara and witnessed first hand the devastation caused by the 1969 Union Oil spill along the coast.  As a result, he decided early on that he wanted to be involved in preventing degradation of coastal resources.

After graduating from law school, Massara joined the Surfrider Foundation (the first non-profit dedicated to coastal conservation) to work on a massive case against pulp mills dumping pollution into prime a surf area.  The case involved 40,000 violations of the Clean Water Act, making it the largest water pollution case in the US at the time.  During that three-year litigation, Massara watched the Surfrider Foundation grow from a few hundred members to 50,000.

In 1991, he joined the Sierra Club, directing the organization’s coastal programs.  In that role, he enjoyed a “front-row seat on the most pressing environmental law questions in the US.”

Three years ago, Massara moved to O’Neill Wetsuits, a company founded 60 years ago.  As vice president of social responsibility, Massara works to protect and enhance coastal resources in the areas where the company does business.  In particular, O’Neill Wetsuits is devoted to teaching children about coastal conservation in the Santa Cruz region.  The company has donated a building, built a laboratory and buses children in for educational programs.

Massara has dedicated his career to protecting the California coastline. In what ways is coastal preservation important to you?
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Massara: Episode 93 of The Wendel Forum (27:45 mins; mp3)

O’Neill Wetsuits Website: http://www.oneill.com

Surfrider Foundation Website: http://www.surfrider.org

Sierra Club Website: http://www.sierraclub.org

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 9, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots, producer of gourmet mushroom growing kits nourished with recycled Peet’s Coffee grounds.

 

Back to the Roots co-founders Alex and NikBack to the Roots co-founders Alex and Nik

Back to the Roots co-founders Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora

Arora and his co-founder were about to graduate from UC Berkeley in 2009 when they learned during a class lecture that it’s possible to grow gourmet mushrooms in used coffee grounds. Inspired by the notion of turning waste into fresh, local food, they founded Back to the Roots. Since then, connecting families to food has become Arora’s “true passion,” and the company’s slickly designed, easy-to-use urban mushroom farm kits produce a gourmet crop of oyster mushrooms in about 10 days. Back to the Roots now also sells a three-gallon aquaponics garden, perfect for growing an herb garden on a kitchen counter or in a classroom.

Last year, President Obama invited Arora and his co-founder to the White House to discuss how the administration could support small businesses.  Arora says it was “cool to be representing Oakland,” which he describes as the epicenter of the start-up food culture.  In addition to a loan from the city, Back to the Roots received redevelopment funding to move its warehouse to Oakland.  The company also received a $25,000 loan from Whole Foods (which is fitting because produce guys from the Berkeley store were early advisors) and raised nearly $250,000 via Kick Starter.

With a core commitment to sustainability, Back to the Roots is a certified B Corporation.  Today, they’re working to build a global, “hip and fun” lifestyle brand that connects people to food.

Are you interested in growing your own food?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Arora:Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum(27:37 mins; mp3)

Back to the Roots Website: http://www.backtotheroots.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 89 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 19, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Karen Engel, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (the “EDA”), a public-private partnership serving the San Francisco East Bay, including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The EDA strives to establish the East Bay as a world-recognized destination to grow businesses, attract capital and create quality jobs.

Karen Engel, Executive Director of East Bay EDA

Karen Engel, Executive Director of East Bay EDA

The EDA has been pursuing its mission for the past 22 years. It serves as a platform for community, government, academic and business leaders to examine and improve the region’s economy so that local businesses can grow and thrive. To that end, each year the EDA creates strategic priorities that respond to and proactively address issues in the region, which is home to 2.5 million people and many micro-economies.

The clean tech sector, in particular, is a critical part of the East Bay’s economic future. In fact, the East Bay has the second largest clean tech sector in the country, following only Silicon Valley, and is home to cutting-edge research into biofuels, alternative energy storage and battery technology. Similarly, with UC Berkeley and its attendant national laboratories, the East Bay boasts more life sciences square footage than even San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

Addressing workforce strategies, the EDA is building educational systems and integrated courses in local high schools, community colleges and universities that support the East Bay companies and business sectors. Similarly, addressing infrastructure and transportation, the EDA is working to promote transit-oriented development so that new projects are centered around the region’s transportation nodes.

On January 31, the EDA will host its first ever East Bay Innovation Awards at the Fox Theater in Oakland, where it will bestow awards to the most cutting-edge of 85 nominated companies.

What draws you and your spending dollars to the East Bay?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Engel:  Episode 89 of The Wendel Forum (27:46 mins; mp3)

East Bay EDA Website: http://www.eastbayeda.org

Innovation Awards event info: http://www.eastbayeda.org/iawards/innovation_home.html

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 88 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 12, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Knox, executive director of Earth Island Institute, a non-profit, public- interest membership organization that supports people working to protect the planet.

John Knox of Earth Island Institute visits The Wendel Forum

John Knox of Earth Island Institute visits The Wendel Forum

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Earth Island Institute can be viewed as an umbrella or incubator organization that assists local and global non-profits creating improvements to the environment, explains Knox. The Institute gives project directors autonomy in executing their work and also offers groups the streamlined benefit of one board, one annual report and one yearly audit. In its three decades, Earth Island Institute has supported 135 projects, including Food Shift (dedicated to curbing waste and building a more sustainable food system) and the Plastic Pollution Coalition (a global alliance of individuals, businesses and organizations focused on ending plastic pollution and its toxic impacts).

Beyond serving as a fiscal sponsor for environmentally-focused organizations, Earth Island Institute also educates the greater public through its quarterly Earth Island Journal, which features investigative journalism and thought-provoking essays about the environment. The Institute also hosts public programs at the Goldman Theater in its David Brower Center (a green building in downtown Berkeley named for the organization’s founder), and bestows Brower Youth Awards to North Americans ages 13 to 22 who have shown outstanding leadership on a project or campaign with a positive environmental and social impact.

What organizations do you know that work towards protecting the planet?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Knox: Episode 88 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

Earth Island Institute’s website: http://www.earthisland.org

Food Shift website: http://www.foodshift.net/

Plastic Pollution Coalition website: http://plasticpollutioncoalition.org/ 

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

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