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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Happy 8th Birthday, Ei!

On February 5, 2010, Elemental Impact (Ei) incorporated as a Georgia non-profit corporation and embarked on an incredible journey. Whew, the first eight years were action-packed while the Ei Team lived the tagline: Sustainability in ACTION!

Ei was formed as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launched in 2009 by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) within the Georgia Restaurant Association. Over the years, Ei's work evolved well beyond zero waste initiatives.

The following is a recap of Ei's evolution:
2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the ZWZ were sold to the National Restaurant Association catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis.The ZWA Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.
2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - in 2013 the three-platforms approach for Ei initiatives | pilots emerged from a metamorphosis stage. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduces three Ei platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement (RR) and Water Use | Toxicity
2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, provides a summary of the platform foundations. 
2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION! The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION, summarizes the empowering year.
2016: Year of Recognition - in 2016 Ei's important work was recognized in published industry case studies and Ei-hosted national conference panels. In addition, the Ei Blogs' readership significantly increased and Holly was recognized as a respected environmental journalist. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2016: A Year of RECOGNITION, gives an in-depth overview of accomplishments, completions, and recognition. 
2017: Year of Shifting Gears - in 2017 Ei announced Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life, was a prime focus, replacing the prominent RR work. In addition, Ei Leadership experienced a changing of the guard and Ei welcomed new Strategic Allies.
The Ei Team is comprised of Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers. Experts educate, advise and support the Pioneers; the Pioneers craft new standard operating practices within their operations that make good business and environmental sense. Once tested and proven effective, the Pioneers share the evolved practices with their industry colleagues. Ei’s work is complete and the Team moves into a new industry frontier.

Since 2010 the Ei Team served as a leader in pioneering frontiers with a myriad of completed projects | programs. The Mission Accomplished page lists Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished!

Soil Health
In 2017 Ei shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on RR and food waste collection for compost to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life.

GWCCA Team on
Hickory Grove Farm Tour
Initial work relates to the education of depleted soils' direct relationship with out-of-balance carbon cycles, contaminated waterways, excessive water usage, erosion control, stormwater management, and production of nutritious food. In addition, Ei addresses the microplastic pollution within the soils, similar to the plastic smog prolific in the oceans. The inaugural Soil Health focus areas are:

Ei served on The Compost Story Launch Team for the impressive May 2017 release in conjunction with the International Compost Awareness Week. As The Soil Story sequel, The Compost Story explains compost's role in soil regeneration and balancing the carbon cycles.

Ei-hosted panel during
Q&A session
In the November 2017 released Kiss the Ground (KTG), how the food you eat can reverse climate change, heal your body and ultimately save the world book by Josh Tickell, the well-searched chapters dive deep into the destruction of the Earth's soils. The ZWA Blog article, Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions, was inspired by KTG; the article explains trigger points for the mass desertification and ocean acidification underway across the globe, culminating in a pending oxygen deficiency and food crisis.

At the January 2018 U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Conference in Atlanta, Ei Founder Holly Elmore moderated the popular Ei-hosted panel, Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils, to a near room capacity audience. Per the program, the following is the panel description:
Soil is the foundation of life. Healthy, vibrant soil eco-systems are the building blocks for healthy communities with effective stormwater management programs, solid erosion control systems, and nutritious urban food production. … and compost feeds the soil eco-systems!
Industry experts shared about compost’s empowering role in carbon sequestration/climate change, soil management systems grounded in solid economics, and green urban infrastructure.
The ZWA Blog article, GAME WON: 2018 compost conference a record-breaking success, features the Ei-hosted panel. PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei-Hosted Conference Panels page.

Simultaneous with the Soil Health platform announcement, the RR platform was moved to Mission Accomplished. RR, zero waste, and other related expertise are available via Holly's private consulting practice at

Changing of the Guard
SFCI Chair
In August 2017, Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined the Ei Leadership Team as the new Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Chair.
Past SFCI Chair Doug Kunnemann
& current Chair Tim Trefzer

Founding SFCI Co-Chairs Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks lead the SFCI through grand successes within the RR and Post-Consumer Food Waste focus areas. With Ei's shift to a Soil Health focus, Scott and Doug pass the SFCI leadership baton to Tim with strong accolades.

The ZWA Blog article, Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team!, gives a brief SFCI history, chronicles Tim's impressive achievements, and includes Scott and Doug's accolades.

The SFCI evolved into the Sustainable Facilities Initiative (SFI) with a soon-to-be-announced leadership team. A formal SFI launch is slated for late spring 2018.

Strategic Allies
To support new directions in Soil Health endeavors, Ei welcomed Kiss the Ground, One More Generation and Park Pride to the Ei Strategic Ally Program. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies, provides a brief synopsis of each non-profit and their strategic role related to Ei work.

Michel Halicki & Tim Trefzer
With impeccable timing, Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki and Tim were recognized for their outstanding environmental leadership at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce's E3 Awards. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei Leadership Recognized for Contributions to Atlanta's Economy & Environment, gives details on the impressive awards.

Respected Industry Resource
Urban Biocycles scoping paper
On March 28, 2017, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) issued the groundbreaking Urban Biocycles scoping paper as an introduction to a Circular Economy approach for urban nutrient cycles. The paper addresses the valuable nutrients within current organic waste streams and how urban environments disrupt nature's perfected nutrient cycles.

A combination of global, long-term, research-oriented planning coupled with immediate, action-oriented, grassroots efforts is a recipe for a Circular Economy to emerge. Ei is honored to support the global planning and grassroots efforts.

The Urban Biocycles paper credits Ei Advisory Council Member Brenda Platt with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Holly as Expert Input and Case Study Contributors.

The ZWA Blog article, A Circular Economy Approach to Urban Nutrient Cycles, introduces the important EMF scoping paper.

Southern Farm & Garden feature article
Holly provided the copy and photographs for a seven-page, multiple-article feature in the Southern Farm & Garden fall issue. An Icon in Sustainability and Hickory Grove Farm: Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems, gives an overview of Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) stellar sustainability commitment at the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality, The Commons (KSU’s Gold LEED certified dining hall), and Hickory Grove Farm. 

The Ei-hosted Hickory Grove Farm tour for the GWCCA team, including Tim, GWCCA Grounds Maintenance Manager Steve Ware, and Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach, is featured in an article sidenote along with a photo of Tim.

Ei Blogs
The Ei Blogs, The Impact Blog and Zero Waste in ACTION Blog, detail project status and tales from Ei's empowering journey. In July 2017, the ZWA Blog pageviews surpassed the coveted 350,000 views milestone – the article, Ei: Respected Journalism, chronicles the blogs’ evolution from a powerful industry voice and resource to respected journalism.

As of this article's publication, The IMPACT Blog's views were at 142,450 while the ZWA Blog boasted 371.250 views.

GaTech Facilities Sustainability Forum
On October 24, 2017, Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech) hosted the first annual Facilities Sustainability Forum to an enthusiastic audience from the university and beyond.

At the invitation of Ga Tech Associate Director, Office of Solid Waste Management & Recycling Cindy Jackson, Holly was the forum featured speaker. Within her opening remarks, Holly shared the long-term, powerful Ga Tech | Ei relationship dating back to the ZWZ's 2009 launch.

The ZWA Blog article, Collaboration + Culture = Sustainability Success, is a forum overview featuring the impressive Building Services, Office of Solid Waste & Recycling, and Landscape Services presentations. A comprehensive forum PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

The Power of Connection
Ei plays a valuable industry role by introducing organizations and individuals who share synergies for powerful relationships and action. The year began with a series of Ei Farm Tours for SFI Chair Tim Trefzer, culminating in the Southern Farm & Garden article referred to above.

Lambda Alpha International (LAI)
At Holly's invitation, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) General Manager Scott Jenkins gave an empowering Sustainability: an economic driver presentation at the February 15, 2017, LAI Atlanta Chapter luncheon meeting.

Ei entourage @LAI meeting
A strong Ei entourage attended the LAI meeting to show their support for their close Ei friend: LAI member Wayne King (U.S. Composting Council | ERTHProducts), Boyd Leake (City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability), Jim Harrell (Renaissance Technology) and Tim Trefzer (GWCCA).

The IMPACT Blog article, Sustainability: an economic driver, gives an overview of Scott's presentation. Scott's PPT presentation is available on the LAI page for download. 

LAI is a prominent, global land economics honorary. In December 2013, Holly was inducted into LAI and in early 2017 joined the Atlanta Chapter Board. SFI Chair Tim Trefzer and Ei Strategic Ally Michael Halicki accepted their 2017 LAI membership nominations on December 1, 2017.

U.S. Green Building Council Atlanta Visit
In late July 2017, Ei hosted U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger on a whirlwind Atlanta zero waste-focused visit. For three days, Stephanie met with Atlanta's sustainability leadership to educate on the USGBC Zero Waste Certification and their commitment to building a Zero Waste Economy. 

The ZWA Blog article, Building a Zero Waste Economy, one city, one step at a time, gives the history of the strong relationship dating back to the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council timeframe along with details on the whirlwind visit.

Laura Turner Seydel | Kathy Kellogg Johnson 
On August 22, 2017, Laura Turner Seydel hosted a Sustainable Soils luncheon at the EcoManor, her LEED Certified home. An impressive cross-section of industry professionals representing the USDA Forest Service, The Conservation Fund, U.S. Composting Council, Turner Foundation, Captain Planet Foundation, Park Pride, Emory University, Ei, Growing a GreenerWorld, and Kellogg Garden Organics attended the empowering luncheon.

Kathy & Laura embrace before
the USCC plenary conversation
The luncheon was in honor of industry icon Kathy Kellogg Johnson's Atlanta visit. When Ei introduced Kathy and Laura in the spring, a lovely friendship blossomed.

At the 2018 USCC Conference closing plenary session, Kathy introduced her dear friend and joined Laura on stage for a conversation on an array of topics. In her opening remarks, Kathy graciously thanked Ei for the introduction to Laura. The profound conversation is one of three main features in the ZWA Blog article, GAME WON: 2018 compost conference a record-breaking success, chronicling the conference. 

Kiss the Ground
During pre-USCC conference activities, Ei hosted Kiss The Ground Co-Founder Finian Makepeace on a series of introductory meetings focussed on regenerative landscape & grounds maintenance. The busy day included meetings with Ga Tech, GWCCA, Southern Farm & Garden and the Atlanta Airport.

The Ei Connects page details an array of Ei introductions over the years. Photos from important meetings are included in the Ei FB album, Ei Connects.

2018: Year of Regeneration
With gears shifted and new leadership in-place, Ei soars into a Year of Regeneration!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ei Leadership Recognized for Contributions to Atlanta's Economy & Environment

Michael Halicki & Tim Trefzer at
the LAI Fall Meeting
At the October 4 Metro Atlanta Chamber 2017 E3 Awards, Ei Strategic Ally Park Pride and Sustainable Facilities Initiative Chair Tim Trefzer were recognized for their exceptional contributions to Atlanta's economy and the environment. 

According to the Chamber website:
The Atlanta E3 Awards recognizes companies, organizations, and individuals working to conserve metro Atlanta’s natural resources, develop clean technologies to enhance our economy and environment, support sustainable projects and initiatives, and collaborate on solutions through university connections, marketing, and education.
Elemental Impact (Ei) applauds Park Pride and Tim on their impressive recognition with their respective E3 Awards.

Trident Award
Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Sustainability Director Tim Trefzer was the E3 2017 Trident Award recipient. An award designated for an individual, versus an organization, the Trident Award recognizes visionary leaders advancing sustainability in Atlanta.

With his stellar sustainability track record, Tim is more than worthy of the prestigious award. Under Tim's leadership, the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) - the fourth largest conference center in the nation - earned Silver LEED Silver certification in 2014; the GWCC is the world's largest LEED-certified conference center!

As host to the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe, Atlanta set a high standard for sporting event sustainability practices. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (ALOC) stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." Tim took the helm for achieving the lofty goal.

SUCCESS: the comprehensive ALOC plan culminated in impressive green footprints before, during and after the games. The ZWA Blog article, Final Four green footprints continue after the games, gives an overview of event sustainability stats; the May 2013 Final Four Sustainability Report is the official in-depth report.

Bill Strang presents Tim
 the E3 Trident Award
photo courtesy of the E3 Awards
Post-event, Tim and an EPA colleague drafted the Final Four Sustainability RFP sustainability section. Thus, new industry standards were established!

For the past two years, Tim consulted with the College Football Playoff and the Super Bowl leadership on establishing sustainability standards at their prestigious sporting events. In addition, Tim is the sustainability liaison for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and the 2019 Super Bowl host committees. The events are hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, located on the GWCCA campus.

Validating Tim's significant contributions to sporting event sustainability, National Football League Director of Environmental Programs Jack Groh honored Tim, along with two other icons, in his 2017 Green Sports Alliance Environmental Leadership Award acceptance speech:
Tim & Jack at a Super Bowl Event
"There are too many people to thank everyone by name but I need to mention a few. I have been blessed to work with the “three musketeers” of sports sustainability for several years. David Crawford of the Vancouver Olympics, Nate Gassmann of PepsiCo, and Tim Trefzer of the World Congress Center in Atlanta. Three of the smartest and hardest working people in the sports sustainability movement.
My original partner, Ed Augustine, along with Scott Jenkins, David Crawford, and I represent the “old guard.” There are new folks like Erik Distler, Nate Gassmann, and Tim Trefzer who form a new generation of leaders to carry on the work and build the future of this movement."

In August 2017 Tim joined the Elemental Impact Leadership Team as the new Sustainable Facilities Chair (SFI). The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team!, includes an overview of Tim's professional achievements, along with accolades from the outgoing Co-Chairs; the Ei SFI - GWCCA page lists impressive sustainability accomplishments at the GWCCA campus under Tim's direction.

Community Strong Award
Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki accepted the E3 Community Strong award on behalf of the Proctor Creek North Avenue Study (PNA Study) The Community Strong Award recognizes a nonprofit or university program that promotes collaboration and community involvement in making metro Atlanta more sustainable.

Micahel accepts the E3 Community
Strong Award from Mark Berry
photo courtesy of the E3 Awards
Completed in 2010, the PNA Study is a forward-thinking visionary plan for Atlanta’s Westside that addresses a lack of greenspace and the need for stormwater solutions, both long-time challenges for the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods. The vision is a series of interconnected parks that address stormwater management and the value of neighborhood public parks.

In his acceptance talk, Michael emphasized the tremendous teamwork culminating in the plan's ongoing success with current accomplishments and future park development.

The PNA Study is unique in three distinctive areas:
  1. Community-driven, the PNA Study is multi-faceted; local challenges beyond park development including community revitalization, job creation, stormwater management, and public health are addressed.
  2. Local technical experts were generous with their contributions. Eberly & Associates provided hydrology expertise and Perkins + Will produced many of the maps included in the plan.
  3. A long-term endeavor, the PNA Study has a persistent impact over time. The projects completed in 2010 continue to provide community benefit while future projects build upon the collective impact.
The IMPACT Blog article, The Power of Parks, chronicles the history of parks, the intrinsic value parks bring to the community & the environment, and the Trust for Public Land's ParkScore ranking system. In addition, the article gives an overview of Park Pride's empowering contributions to Atlanta and Dekalb County parks and the communities as a whole.

Beyond their respective 2017 E3 Awards, Tim and Michael were nominated for membership in Lambda Alpha International, a prominent land economics honorary with local and global impact. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

Tim and Michael join Ei Founder Holly Elmore and Ei Advisory Council Member Wayne King, Sr. with ERTHProducts as active LAI Atlanta Chapter members.

Congratulations to Tim Trefzer and Park Pride | Michael Halicki on the Metro Atlanta Chamber's recognition of your valuable contributions to Atlanta's environment and economy. Ei is honored to partner with you all on many of your important projects.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Power of Parks

Beginning in Britain around 1760 and ending between 1820 and 1840, the first Industrial Revolution was responsible for global shifts in population class structure, lifestyle, and urbanization. Factories located within cities required a strong workforce and rural residents responded with urban relocation. Public parks emerged as a way to enhance urban life with recreational outlets and natural beauty.

Victoria Park, London
photo courtesy of
London's Victoria Park ignited the movement of communities investing in public parks. Feeling disconnected from nature, over 30,000 London residents petitioned Queen Victoria in 1840 to create a public park open to the entire population, regardless of class. Victoria Park was also known as the "People's Park" due to the number of political meetings hosted at the park,

In 1859 Central Park in New York City, co-designed by renowned landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, opened as America's first purpose-built park. Olmsted used the term "landscape architect" in the Central Park submission; it was the first time the now prominent profession was mentioned.

Parks are recognized as the lifeblood of a city's sense of community. Beyond their original recreational purposes, urban public parks are a valuable metropolitan asset and a strong indicator of a city's vitality.

The Value of Parks
Parks play a dynamic, valuable role in a city's infrastructure. Per the City Parks Alliance, leveraging the power of parks, urban public parks provide tremendous value to a city:

Restored wetlands @ Toronto's
Corktown Commons
photo courtesy LAI Toronto LEW
  • Economic value - Parks support public health, the economy, the environment, education, and community cohesion. Parks are critical to workforce development, particularly green career tracks. Parks make our cities sustainable, livable, and vibrant. In addition, parks produce measurable health, environmental, and community savings.
  • Public health value -  Parks help lower stress, improve physical and emotional health, reduce hyperactivity, and build stronger immune systems. With abundant foliage, public parks "clean" the air through the photosynthesis process within trees and other plants.
  • Environmental value - Parks with natural landscapes are vital to preserving regional ecosystems amid growing cities. By absorbing carbon dioxide and pollutants fueling climate change, parks and green infrastructure offset the warming effects on cities, making them cooler. Strategically planned urban green spaces transport and store stormwater runoff within the park or safely into waterways. Otherwise, the runoff could overpower sewer systems causing costly flood damage and environmental pollution.
  • Community value - Parks control urban sprawl and reduce crime, creating safer communities. Green revitalization in a distressed area is often a beacon of change for the entire community. New or refurbished signature parks in city centers or redeveloping communities can promote social health, generate jobs, and spur economic growth. 

Park Rankings
The Trust for Public Land issues the annual ParkScore based on a 100-points system with three categories: acreage, facilities & investment, and access. Within acreage, parks earn points based on median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Facilities and investment points are earned based on spending per resident and amenities. For access, points are based on the percentage of the population within a ten-minute walk (1/2 mile) of a public park.

Chicago's Lakefront Trail, an urban park
Only the top three ranked cities received a greater than 80 Parkscore: 1> Minneapolis (87.5), 2> St. Paul (82.5), and 3> San Francisco (80.0).

With 51 points, Atlanta ties with Dallas for #50 in the ParkScore 2017 rankings. Atlanta boasts 4,991 acres of parkland, serving 91 people per acre. With an average of 3.1 acres per park, Atlanta parkland is 6% of the city's total land. Annually, Atlanta spends $134.46 per resident on parks.

Park Pride
Grant Park, Atlanta
Summer Shade Festival
photo courtesy Michael Halicki
Founded in 1989, Park Pride is the only nonprofit organization working with communities all over Atlanta and Dekalb County to improve their parks. Under the helm of Executive Director Michael Halicki, Park Pride adopted a new strategic plan in 2016 focused on deepening impact in the communities and parks served. The 2016 Impact Report shares the strategic plan components and successes.

The Power of Parks: Park Pride helps neighborhood groups make the best use of greenspaces that contribute to the overall health and well-being of Atlanta. Per the website:
Park Pride Philosophy: Park Pride believes in the Power of Parks. Great parks have the power to increase our quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our cities. They are places for members of the community to gather, play, relax, and lose themselves in nature, encouraging mental and physical health. Great parks promote community engagement, safety, and revitalization. They spur economic development and benefit tourism. Great parks make our citizens happy, our communities strong and our cities sustainable.
Park Pride Mission: To engage communities to activate the power of parks.
Park Pride Vision: We envision a nationally recognized network of locally inspired parks, greenspaces and trails that engages individuals, strengthens communities and transforms Atlanta.
Through the Friends of the Park program, Park Pride empowers local groups to build and maintain a strong network of neighborhood parks via a wide range of services and programs:

Friends of the Park meeting
at Standing Peachtree Park
photo courtesy of Park Pride
  • Park Visioning Program - professional assistance to communities for neighborhood parks master plan development.
  • Grant Programs - matching grant programs offer multiple options for communities to create and fund their ideal greenspace.
  • Fiscal Partners Program - easier access to funding for park projects.
  • Organized Volunteer Workdays - access to a team of volunteers to help with park projects.
  • Monthly Park Meetings - community gatherings designed around education, networking, and support related to improving parks and the park system.
  • Workshops - opportunity to attend workshops that serve the community and parks.
  • Park Tool Shed - free service that provides basic landscaping tools and equipment to more efficiently equip volunteers for park projects.
  • Park Play Library - rental recreational equipment packages for all kinds of activities.
In February 2017, Park Pride received a $60,000 Home Depot Foundation grant in partnership with the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) for the “Pollinators in Parks” pilot initiative; the pilot purpose is to increase the presence and impact of pollinator gardens in five Atlanta Parks. 

Winter Pollinator Garden Sign
ABG Pollinator Garden Coordinator Melina Lozano Durán explains “Pollinator gardens are not only necessary to help natural ecosystems and their plant and animal communities to thrive within cities, but they also nurture our connection to nature.”

The five "Pollinators Parks" pilot locations are Blue Heron Nature Preserve (Buckhead), Four Corners Park (South Atlanta), Gilliam Park (East Atlanta), Grove Park (West Atlanta) and Welch Street Park (Southwest Atlanta). 

Lambda Alpha International Meeting
Michael accepted his nomination to Lambda Alpha International (LAI), a prominent land economics honorary, and joins Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore as an active Atlanta Chapter member. At Holly's invitation, Michael presented at the LAI Atlanta Chapter fall meeting in mid-October hosted by Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Michael introducing
Stephen in the background
In addition to a nice welcome to Atlanta's most visited park, Piedmont Park Conservancy President Mark Banta educated on the park's intriguing history.

As the meeting keynote speaker, Michael presented on Engaging Communities to Activate the Power of Parks. Instead of a formal PPT presentation, Michael used the 2016 Impact Report as his visual tool. The LAI Blog post, Fall LAI Atlanta Chapter Meeting, includes the meeting notes by LAI Board Secretary Bill de St. Aubin, Sizemoregroup CEO.

During his presentation, Michael invited Cox Conserves Hero Finalist Stephen Causby to speak on his impressive neighborhood park success. At the helm of a grassroots effort to transform a vacant neighborhood lot into the Mattie Freeland Park, Stephen oversaw the park development, managed cleanups, executed programming, wrote grants, and solicited community support. The park transformed the neighborhood into a community. Park Pride nominated Stephen for the Cox Conserves Hero awards.

The Ei FB album, Lambda Alpha International, is a pictorial recap of the fall meeting.

As Industrial Revolutions continue to evolve from water & steam (first) to electric power for mass production (second) to technology to automate manufacturing (third) to the current digital era, the Power of Parks gains strength and importance with each evolution. The Power of Parks is well beyond the immediate tangible benefits of recreation and within the intangible, yet measurable, benefits of economic, public health, environmental and community value.


About Lambda Alpha International:
Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

LAI operates through a network of chapters. LAI Chapters provide a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

In December 2013 Ei Founder Holly Elmore was inducted into membership and serves on the LAI Atlanta Chapter Board. In addition, Holly serves on the LAI Global Public Relations and Communications Committee.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies

In July 2017 Elemental Impact announced a new primary focus: Soil Healthregenerating the foundation of life. The Recycling Refinement platform was moved to the Mission Accomplished website section and new Ei leadership was announced.

The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announces the new Ei primary focus; the Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team! article passes the baton from Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Co-Chairs Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann to new SFCI Chair Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer.

To support new directions within Soil Health, Ei welcomes Kiss the Ground, One More Generation and Park Pride to the Ei Strategic Ally Program.

Kiss the Ground
Founded in 2013 by Ryland Engelhart and Finian Makepeace, Kiss the Ground (KTG) is a California-based non-profit focused on supporting farmers build healthy soil everywhere.

In August 2015 KTG released The Soil Story, a four-minute video that explains the Earth's carbon cycles in an easy-to-understand format; soil is the hero for regaining carbon cycle balance. The ZWA Blog article, Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance, showcases The Soil Story within the carbon dialogue.

Ei served on The Compost Story Launch Team for the impressive May 2017 release in conjunction with the International Compost Awareness Week. As The Soil Story sequel, The Compost Story explains why compost is a regenerative solution for depleted lands.

Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World  by Josh Tickell is scheduled for a mid-November 2017 release. A full-length documentary film based on the book and narrated by Woody Harrelson is slated for a 2018 release. Per the KTG website:
Kiss the Ground (2018) is a feature-length documentary exposing the lives of scientists, farmers, ranchers, activists and policymakers on the front-lines of the battle to save the world’s soils – and our species. Experience the hope, passion, and commitment inspired by a solution at once complex, and yet so simple; a solution long overlooked because no one thought to look right under our feet. Directed by award-winning filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell of Big Picture Ranch.
At the January 2018 U.S. Composting Council Conference hosted in Atlanta, Finian presents on the Ei-hosted panel, Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils, moderated by Ei Founder Holly Elmore.

With a strong foundation in-place, Ei is excited to explore future collaborations with KTG.

One More Generation
In 2009 8-year old Carter and 7-year-old Olivia Ries founded One More Generation (OMG), an Atlanta-based non-profit with a profound global impact. The OMG mission is to ensure the children of tomorrow have the opportunity to walk alongside each of our living species of today.

Though initially an animal conservation non-profit, OMG quickly understood the dramatic impact plastic pollution has on animal welfare. Thus, OMG launched the Plastic Awareness Coalition on February 22, 2011, Carter's 10th birthday.

World-renowned for their work on plastic pollution education and animal conservation, OMG shares their important message through a variety of vehicles:

Olivia & Carter @ CPF Gala
(CPF – John Amis)
  • Awards - Carter & Olivia were the 2014 Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) Young Superheroes for the Earth Award; there are many other awards.
  • Prominent blogs - Olivia writes for The Huff Post and the National Geographic Education Blog.
  • Local media - OMG is featured in a plethora of local, regional, and national media.
  • Speaking engagements - TEDxYouth May 2016 talk and many more.
  • Personal appearances - OMG President Jim Ries (Carter & Olivia's father) often dresses up in a 500-bags costume for public appearances; the costume is made with the average number of bags used by a person annually.
The One Less Straw Campaign educates on the travesty caused by the 500 million plastic straws used by Americans each DAY; the campaign aligns with Ei's focus on the Macro Cost of Micro Contamination, targeted at microplastic pollution in our soils.

With a vast hospitality, foodservice, and corporate network, Ei will promote the One Less Straw Campaign to established connections. 

Park Pride
Founded in 1989, Park Pride (PP) is the only nonprofit organization working with communities all over Atlanta to improve their parks. Under the helm of Executive Director Michael Halicki, PP adopted a new strategic plan in 2016 focussed on deepening impact in the communities and parks served. The 2016 Impact Report shares the strategic plan components and successes.

The Power of Parks: PP helps neighborhood groups make the best use of greenspaces that contribute to the overall health and well-being of Atlanta. Per the website:
Park Pride PhilosophyPark Pride believes in the Power of Parks. Great parks have the power to increase our quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our cities. They are places for members of the community to gather, play, relax, and lose themselves in nature, encouraging mental and physical health. Great parks promote community engagement, safety, and revitalization. They spur economic development and benefit tourism. Great parks make our citizens happy, our communities strong and our cities sustainable.
Park Pride MissionTo engage communities to activate the power of parks.
Park Pride VisionWe envision a nationally recognized network of locally inspired parks, greenspaces and trails that engages individuals, strengthens communities and transforms Atlanta.
Michael & Tim Trefer @
Fall LAI meeing
Ei is excited to partner with PP and the City of Atlanta on park projects where compost is used for simple, effective erosion control and stormwater management systems at area public parks.

Michael accepted his nomination to Lambda Alpha International (LAI), a prominent land economics honorary, and joins Holly as an active Atlanta Chapter member. At Holly's invitation, Michael presented at LAI Atlanta Chapter fall meeting in mid-October hosted by Piedmont Park Conservancy. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

Building off established relationships, Ei is excited to partner with the new Strategic Allies on empowering programs focused on soil regeneration.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

CUBA: rich in spirit, history & restoration

In January 2017 Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore visited Cuba on a family vacation cruise with three ports of call: Santiago de Cuba, Havana and Cienfuegos. As Americans, the visit was through the People-to-People Visa program with required Authentic Cuban Experience Tours at each city. The tours were well orchestrated, educational and led by delightful Cubans benefiting from the emerging tourism industry.

Santiago de Cuba shoreline
Santiago de Cuba was the perfect inaugural port as the education spanned the days of Jamaican pirate invasions to African slavery to the first action in the Cuban Revolution. The stage was set to appreciate the tours in other Cuban cities.

The cruise itinerary included two phenomenal days in Havana, filled with comprehensive tours of Old Havana and beyond. With the port literally across the street from Plaza de San Francisco, a walking tour of four of the five Old Havana Plazas was a perfect introduction to the grand, elder city.

Cubans earn tourist funds
with a creative entrepreneurial spirit. 
Though fun and educational, the government-run tours herded tourists through the Old Havana Streets causing crowded conditions. In the tourist zone, the Cuban entrepreneurial spirit was evident and inspiring. Rather than begging for money, the enterprising Cubans used their talents to earn tourist dollars (or CUCs). Talent ran the gamut from superb musicians, excellent mimes, dogs in clever outfits to eclectic individuals dressed in character with over-sized cigars. Amazing for-pay photo opportunities were abundant!

The Cuban government is committed to authentic restoration of the once elegant Old Havana buildings that fell into complete disrepair over the past 50+ years. When practical a building is restored with similar materials & style as its original design. Examples of the impressive Old Havana building restoration were prominent within the tour.

A vibrant urban garden replaces the ruins
of a dilapidated building.
When the interior structure is beyond repair, the facade is repaired to original standards. Yet the interior is built out for a modern business, often a restaurant or hotel. If the entire building is beyond repair, the ruins are removed and the space is re-purposed into a park or other public area.

Per the July 2015 Tourism, Historic Preservation and Urban Renewal: The Case Study of Old Havana published on the Urban Sustainability Laboratory Blog:
Habaguanex, a Cuban corporation that works with the historical and cultural product in Havana, was created to take over all publicly owned businesses in the region, partnered with The Office of the City Historian to redevelop Old Havana. Habaguanex invested in hotels and restaurants in Old Havana and redirected the profits generated from the investments towards historic preservation in the municipality. Sites like the central plazas (Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza San Francisco), and places with the potential for tourism like Earnest Hemingway’s old residence have been restored, in addition to the ongoing restoration of aging buildings in order to maintain Havana’s architectural heritage.
Habaguanex investments led to an increase in tourist related business and employment for local residents. ... Political reforms in 2010 allowed for specific openings to the private economy, and residents who own businesses in Old Havana often work in the tourism trade and make substantially more than those who are employed by the state.
Built in the early 1600's as a mansion,
the Hotel Santa Isabel Old Havana opened
in 1997 following a major building restoration.
In 1994 the Cuban Council of State created the Habaguanex in response to the famous 1993 Old Havana building collapse witnessed by a British journalist. The same evening another building collapsed along the Havana Malecón (officially Avenida de Maceo), a five-mile walkway along the city's waterfront. The Independent October 1993 article Architecture: Walls came tumbling down: Jonathan Glancey, our man in Havana, finds one of the most beautiful cities in the world crumbling under a US trade embargo documents the building collapse along with related commentary.

A typical street corner in a non-tourist
section of Old Havana shows a city
in disrepair, yet rich in life and spirit.
In the Human Settlement Development, The Central Role of Cities in our Environment's Future Constraints and Possibilities, Volume 1University of Chicago and Centennial Visiting Professor, London School of Economics, USA Saskia Sassen documents the Habaguanex launched with a mere $20,000 in state financing. As one of the few Cuban entities that retains most of its profits for program projects, the Habaguanex may form joint ventures with foreign capitalists for historic preservation within Old Havana.

Additionally, the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana (OHCH) assesses hotels, stores, museums, and restaurants a 1 percent tax, 60 percent of which goes to the OHCH restoration program and 40 percent to social work. According to the February 2017 Cuba Sets The Example For Historic Preservation article by Anne Surchin:
The revenue tax for OHCH not only funds the restoration work but also the salaries of a staff of 200 including a team of architects, sociologists, historians, environmentalists, geographers, civil engineers, and supporting specialists such as cartographers, computer technicians, archivists, and transit and traffic engineers. The office is 90 percent female. OHCH also runs four restoration schools providing training in 12 different trades for students between the age of 18 and 25. Graduates of this program receive certificates as restorers in a specialty trade. There are 13,000 restorers working for OHCH today.
A dilapidated building is under renovation
within the Old Havana restoration program.
Even with the restoration commitment, there are dilapidated neighborhoods filled with memories of Havana's pre-Castro grandeur; families live within the near ruins. The scenario is astonishing yet the folks are cheerful and seem content with their lifestyle.

With a basic understanding of Old Havana's layout from the walking tour, Holly spent her "free" afternoon exploring beyond the tourist zone. It was stupendous to stumble upon prior mansions and grand buildings in unbelievable disrepair. 

Throughout Old Havana marble staircases
within elder buildings are reminders
of pre-Castro grandeur
Doorways, stairs & windows are entryways into the unknown where memories often remain within their untold stories. Old Havana was filled with an array of eclectic entryways, often in disarray, that whispered of another era where opulence was common place.

Another common sight within the Old Havana neighborhoods was thriving plant life whose roots were grounded within buildings, whether ruins or restored. The vibrant plants echoed the resilient Cuban spirit. Despite obvious hardship, the neighborhood was filled with an optimism woven within daily life.

A classic, working car awaits
its faithful owner at a popular
tourist brewery.
Classic 1950 American cars are one of Cuba's trademarks. Though the cars are meticulously maintained, most engine parts, or the entire engine, are other than American-made due to the trade embargo. Thanks to the Cuban entrepreneurial spirit, the cars are vehicles to funnel tourism dollars to support families.

Once out of the tourist zones, there are plenty of older cars in good working order yet rust, instead of shiny wax, define their character.

One of Havana's street dogs takes an early
afternoon nap in the Plaza de Armas.
Old Havana is filled with a strong feline and canine population who calls the streets home. Filled with the resilient Cuban spirit, the cats & dogs are friendly and loved by fellow human residents within their territory. It was heartwarming to witness a neighborhood man reach down to pet a street cat as he continued his daily routine.

The final port-of-call was the delightful city of Cienfuegos. Nestled on the Caribbean Coast, the rich artist culture permeates the city and enriches the experience. It was interesting to note Cienfuegos appeared free of the dilapidated neighborhoods prevalent in Havana. The city seemed grounded and centered with a more moderate lifestyle during the pre-Castro times.

A stunning morning view welcomed
the cruise ship to Cienfuegos.
The Holly Elmore Images FB album, 2017 Cuba Cruise, documents the profound Cuban experience in a comprehensive fashion with photos segregated into topic segments.

As an island originally colonized by the Spaniards after Christopher Columbus's discovery in October 1492, Cuba is a country who arises from dominant foreign rule. In Santiago de Cuba, El Morro - formerly Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca -  is a fortress built in 1638 at the Santiago Bay entrance to protect the city from pirates; the fort remains a prominent reminder of necessity to protect from foreign invasion.

Though the current economic state was driven from within, Cuban tenacity of spirit will sustain the fundamental restoration necessary to restore its rich heritage. A work-in-progress, Cuba is indeed rich in spirit, history and restoration.