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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Austin: growth through redevelopment

The Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Austin Chapter hosted the Fall 2019 Land Economics Weekend (LEW) attracting a global contingency eager to learn about Austin's history, challenges, and accomplishments. With limited time, the LEW tours and presentations focused on Austin's compassionate approach to addressing the homeless population, affordable housing for the growing population, and innovative redevelopment of once vital yet closed facilities.

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.

Operating through a network of twenty-nine global chapters, LAI provides 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 designated purposes.

Twice per year chapters sponsor "Weekend Experiences" giving members an opportunity to meet and learn about land-economic issues in cities throughout the world. Open to LAI members and their guests, the LEWs address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city.

Austin LEW - business meetings
In early November the Austin Chapter welcomed over 100 LAI members and guests from around the globe to their grand city for the 2019 Fall LEW. The day prior to LEW festivities was slated for global LAI business meetings, including the Executive Committee, Land Economics Foundation (LEF) Board, President's Roundtable, and the Board of Governance meetings.

Hyatt Regency Austin
At the Board of Governance meeting, the biannual executive committee officers slate was voted upon with new roles effective the following Monday morning. Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore was voted onto the Global Executive Committee in her new position of Assistant Scribe.

At the Spring 2019 Puerto Rico LEW the LEF Board approved a grant for a land-economics project spearheaded by University of Georgia Associate Professor Velma Zahirovic-Herbert. Thanks to LEF VP Jon DeVries' introduction to Holly and fellow Atlanta Chapter members Ron Thomas and Bill de St. Aubin, Velma is slated for LAI membership induction in December. Additionally, Velma accepted the nomination to serve as the incoming Atlanta Chapter Vice-President and successor Chapter President in two years. Thus, the LEF grant was instrumental to the LAI Atlanta ReFRESH underway!

Founded in 1965, LEF is a not-for-profit charitable foundation organized to administer an investment fund which provides grants for research projects related to land economics. LEF commits capital (5% of assets) to a number of significant and worthwhile endeavors across the country on a matching basis with other non-profit entities. After the LEF Board of Directors' review, qualified applications are submitted to the LEF Board of Trustees for approval.

As the business day closed, the LEW opened with the President's Reception where attendees were treated to delicious cuisine, cocktails and a heartfelt welcome to the hosting city. The Austin LEW President's reception was held at the Hyatt Regency located downtown on Lady Bird Lake and the LEW host hotel.

Austin LEW - Day#1
Jon Hockenyos at the podium
Each LEW day the program began at the Hyatt Regency with a presentation on Austin's economic landscape addressing historical contributions to current successes | challenges. Additionally, work-in-progress to harness the explosive growth with healthy outcomes was addressed and discussed. On LEW Day#1, TXP Economists President Jon Hockenyos' Austin Economics presentation was a perfect LEW opening session and set the stage for the two days of Austin tours and education.

Not shy, Holly ventured to the back-of-the-house. Impressed, Holly witnessed how the Hyatt "walks-the-talk" with recycling and food-waste collection for compost as standard operating practices for their meetings and banquets. Additionally, the breakfast service included reusable dining-service ware; waste was reduced by serving condiments (cream, honey etc.) bulk instead of in individually packaged servings.

Following the presentation, the LEW group boarded buses for tours of the Mueller Airport redevelopment, Circuit of the Americas, Community First! Village, various Austin urban districts, and finished at Barton Springs | Zilker Park. Attendees were on their own for dinner.

Austin Chapter members joined the bus tours and shared their Austin experiences and wisdom. On Holly's bus, Chapter VP Randy Williams, JLL Valuation and Advisory Services Executive VP, provided superb, often humorous, dialogue while traveling between destinations. Chapter Treasurer Laurie Logue, Broadway Bank Executive Vice-President, supported Randy and ensured his dialogue followed the well prepared narrative; Randy and Laurie were a perfect team!

View from the COTA Turn 1
On the first tour stop, the LEW group learned about the ambitious redevelopment of the closed Mueller Airport into a mixed-use urban community.

Circuit of the Americas (COTA,) the home to the only Formula 1 and MotoGP races in the country, was the second-tour stop. After lunch and before the tour, there was a presentation on the COTA's history, economic impact and current scenario.

In the Race Control Room, 44 cameras monitor the track for any necessary action related to accidents, fires and/or infractions. A maximum of 85 cars are permitted on the track at any point in time. At the venue's highest elevation, the Turn 1 grandstands showcase the grade 1 FIA-specification 3.426-mile motor-racing track and facilities. The 251-feet observation tower was designed by MirĂ³ Rivera Architects and built by Patriot Erectors as a landmark for the venue.

What a treat to tour the world-class motor sports and entertainment complex!

The most inspirational tour was Mobile Loaves & Fishes development The Community First! Village (CFG,) a permanent safe haven for chronically homeless individuals. One qualification for residency is ten years living on the streets. LEW attendees were gifted with an autographed copy of Welcome HomeLess, One Man's Journey of Discovering the Meaning of Home by CFG Founder & CEO Alan Graham.

Due to inclement weather, the group toured the village in the buses versus walking the grounds. Below are Holly's iPhone notes taken while Alan guided the tour bus through the village:
As an innovative approach to the chronically homeless population, the Community brings in the disabled (physical, emotional, mental & addiction) so they may heal from life on the streets.
Currently there are about 235 residents. With under-development phases slated to bring the population up to over 500 residents.
The community operates a 6.5 acre organic farm including chickens and goats. Food is free to residents.
There are community kitchens and bathrooms, deliberate to get the residents out & about to create a sense of community.
3D-printed home
iPhone image
This year the community will distribute $800K in dignified income to residents via working within the community. The community is well taken care of with no cigarette butts or other human-generated remnants.
Residents must abide by three rules:
1) obey civil laws
2)  pay rent
3) clean-up after yourself
The Community has the second three-dimensional printed home in the world. The plan is to print a total of six 3-D homes.
The community is located in the county. Thus, there is no applicable zoning.
Children are permitted within the missionaries yet not with the residents. The average age is 55 years; the mean death age is 59 years from rough years on the streets.
The final DAY#1 tour destination was an urban oasis with views of the nearby Austin skyline. Located within the Zilkar Park, the three-acre Barton Springs pool is a treasure. Spring-fed, the pool maintains a consistent 68 - 70 degrees, ideal for year-round swimming. In recent years, Barton Springs Pool attracted record-setting 800,000 visitors annually. Beyond the famous pool, Zilker Park is filled with historical relevance.

Barton Spring pool with
Austin skyline 
Designed in 1929 by prominent Austin architect Hugo Kuehne, the Zilker Caretaker Cottage housed park supervisors from the 1930's until 2010. In 2012, the cottage was remodeled to serve as a park-ranger headquarters.

Located in the Caretaker Cottage's backyard is an underground fallout shelter, which opened in April 1960 as the first of two models, The shelter has interior dimensions of 8 feet by 8 feet, with 8-inch reinforced concrete walls. Austin’s shelter was also the first to have custom furniture built inside to best use the minimal space.

By 1971 there were more than 200 public fallout shelters in Austin, though there is not a record of how many private shelters might have been built into backyards or as basements in new homes. (“Nuclear Attack Alarm; From Panic to Apathy.” 1971. The Austin Statesman. May 9.)

Globally, the only remaining moonlight towers reside in Austin and are recorded on the National Historical Register. Installed in the mid 1890's, the Zilker Park moonlight tower transforms into the anticipated Zilker Park Holiday Tree each year.

Since LEW attendees were on their own for dinner, LAI Past President and prior Austin resident Steven Gragg hosted a group for dinner at a local popular dining destination followed by two-step dance lessons at Broken Spoke.

Austin LEW - Day#2
As the final LEW day ended with the Awards Banquet, the program was light on Saturday so attendees may relax before the evening festivities.

After a Municipal Codes & Austin's Recent Experience panel discussion, the LEW group embarked on the Day#2 tours. Beginning with a bus tour of South Congress Avenue and the University of Texas Highway area, the destination was The Domain mixed-use project located in the high-tech corridor of northwest Austin. In its prior use, The Domain was home to a large IBM manufacturing facility and corporate campus. Post-lunch, the final Day#2 tour was back downtown at Seaholm District, the power-plant redevelopment.

Downtown view from the
Shoal Creek Trail
As the formal The Domain presentation ended, Austin LAI Chapter President Jim Nias presented the prestigious Skyline Award to the Endeavor Real Estate Group.

After the Seaholm District tour, Holly and Jordan Peters from the Chicago Ely Chapter walked back to the Hyatt via the Shoal Creek Trail that leads to Lady Bird Lake. With camera in hand, Holly enjoyed capturing the stunning trail and gorgeous lake within downtown Austin.

Austin LEW - Awards Banquet
Following tradition, the LEW ended with an Awards Banquet where LAI awards were presented and the LEW baton was tossed to the next LEW Chair.

Good friends from Chicago, Madrid,
and San Diego enjoy the reception
Named after the late founder of The Salt Lick Barbecue Thurman Roberts, Thurman's Mansion was an excellent location to host the Awards Banquet. The 7,000 square-food, two-story native limestone building was once slated for the Roberts' family home. Established in 1967 as a restaurant, The Salt Lick Barbecue has local history dating back a century when the Roberts family moved to Driftwood, TX.

Prior to the formal dinner and awards ceremony, LEW attendees enjoyed a casual reception with an open bar. Though the typical banquet attire is business formal, the Austin LEW attire was "Texas tuxedo" and attendees obliged with their creative versions including an eclectic array of hats.

With the dinner service complete, Global President Robert McBride opened the awards ceremony. First on the agenda was presenting the Barcelona Chapter charter to Chapter President Juanjo Martinez. Next Awards Committee member Gary Leach presented LAI Treasurer Sheila Harris with the International Member of the Year Award.

Robert McBride passes the
presidential gavel to Sheila Harris
LAI Fellow Ian Lord bestowed the organization's highest honor of LAI Fellow on Sheila and Steven. Keeping with tradition, the spouses attached the prestigious Fellow pin on the inductee's lapel or blouse. Sheila is the first female LAI Fellow!

Closing the awards, President Robert McBride joyfully passed the baton to incoming President Sheila Harris.

The Ei FB album, Austin Land Economics Weekend, is a pictorial recount of LEW activities through Holly's lens.

Congratulations to Austin LEW Chair Jim Nias for spearheading an amazing weekend. Thanks to the dedication of a strong committee, LEW attendees left Austin impressed with the city's compassionate approach to addressing its homeless population, dedication to addressing affordable housing issues for the increasing population, and innovative approaches to reinvigorating the community with redevelopment plans for once vital yet closed facilities.

... and the Spring 2019 Chicago LEW is a mere six months away!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Happy 9th 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 nine years were action-packed while the Ei Team initiated and completed the Ei Era of Recycling Refinement (RR) and segued into the Era of Regeneration.

Since inception, Ei lived the tagline Sustainability in ACTION! Working with a powerful team of Ei Pioneers and Ei Industry Experts, Ei evolved into a respected national non-profit known for introducing sustainable best practices within a range of industries.

Beginning with the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), Ei initiatives epitomized the following mantra:

Ei is a creator, an incubator. 
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done. 
Ei brings the possible out of impossible. 
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

Ei was formed as the home for the 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 - until fall 2013 Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage. As the year drew to a close, the three-platforms approach emerged. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduced the three platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity. The IMPACT Blog article, Another Year, Another Annual Ei Partner Meeting, recaps the formation of the new Ei three-platform approach for pilots and initiatives.

2014: Year of Foundations | Evolution - 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' following significantly increased and Ei was recognized as a respected 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 IMPACT Blog article, Happy 8th Birthday, Ei!, recaps the empowering year as Ei segued from the Era of RR to the Era of Regeneration.

2018: Year of Regeneration - in 2018 Ei welcomed new partnerships, participated in global events, revitalized the Ei site, and embarked on Ei Explorations. It was an action-packed year as Ei lived the new tagline Regeneration in ACTION!

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 website section lists Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished!

Global Impact
In 2018, Ei segued from national to global impact via three profound events.

2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo
At the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the educational plenary program on day three was dedicated to Feed the Planet. A World Chefs' initiative, Feed the Planet is designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals.

Presentations focused on the current global food-waste scenario along with empowering programs committed to evolving the seemingly broken food system. After the "big picture" presentations, the focus narrowed down to local, effective initiatives and case studies on food-waste reduction in culinary operations.

The RiA Magazine article, Feed the Planet: an empowering WorldChefs' initiative, gives an overview of the session presentations and introduces the WorldChefs' Food Waste Challenge.

Holly speaking on the plenary
panel at the WorldChefs Congress
During the Feed the Planet session, Ei Founder & CEO Holly Elmore presented on The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food-waste reduction. After a quick overview of the successful ZWZ 2009 launch in Atlanta, GA, Holly shared a recipe for food-waste reduction success. In addition, Holly outlined the basics of where and why back-of-the-house food waste is generated.

Through powerful case studies, Holly emphasized key ingredients for success with the bottom line message:

A well-run kitchen generates minimal waste!

The Profitability of Waste presentation case studies featured three Ei Supporters' impressive food-waste reduction practices to a global audience:
  • Ted's Montana Grill: Stopping food waste starts with prevention.
  • Affairs to Remember Caterers: Sustainability is integral to the business model.
  • Georgia World Congress Center | Levy Restaurants: A hospitality industry pioneer.
The RiA Magazine article, The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food-waste reduction, highlights Holly's recipe for food-waste reduction success as well as the three prominent case studies.

Subsequent to the WorldChefs Congress, Ei and the WorldChefs Association Feed the Planet program officially joined forces for the January 7 launch of the Feed the Planet Food Waste Challenge. Ei is listed on the Feed the Planet website as a Collaborative Partner and Feed the Planet joined the Ei Strategic Ally program. Below is copy from a WorldChef's Food Waste Challenge Facebook post:
Chefs have a special responsibility to reduce food waste in their kitchens. Worldchefs can help. Together with Electrolux, AIESEC, and Elemental Impact, we’ve committed to doing our part to #feedtheplanet. Join us for the Food Waste Challenge! 
In the RiA Magazine article, Elemental Impact /  WorldChefs Collaborate on Global Food Waste Challenge, the Food Waste Challenge parameters are detailed as well as the long-term history at the foundation of the powerful collaboration.

From a Circular Economy to a Circular Society
A POCACITO - Post‐Carbon Cities of Tomorrow - delegation from Croatia and Munich, Germany visited Atlanta September 17 and 18 for two whirlwind days of meetings, tours, and vibrant dialogue. Ei co-hosted the From a Circular Economy to a Circular Society Town Hall Meeting.

In January 2014, the Ecologic Institute created the POCACITO project as a platform to educate and share challenges, lessons learned, and successes between European and U.S. cities.

POCACITO delegates at the
town hall meeting
Ecologic Institute US (EIUS) orchestrates delegations of European industry leaders on visits to select U.S. cities. Delegates represent a diverse cross-section of government stewards, activists, entrepreneurs, and non-profit executives from the European Union. For a POCACITO visit, EIUS organizes a series of meetings, tours, workshops, lectures and town hall meetings designed for interactive sharing of in-place circular-economy practices.

It was an honor the EIUS selected Atlanta for a POCACITO delegate visit. Events over the two days were perfect venues for the delegates and Atlanta hosts to share their accomplishments and benefit from each other's experiences. Ei facilitated numerous introductions for EIUS President Max Gruenig as he planned the excellent visit.

The RiA Magazine article, From a Circular Economy to a Circular Society, introduces POCACITO and gives an overview of the two-day visit, highlighting the town hall meeting.

In late 2018, Max connected with Ei on a return visit to Atlanta in 2019. Discussions are underway for a potential fall Atlanta visit with a German delegation.

The Savory Institute (SI) Global Network Reunion
The first annual Savory Institute (SI) Global Network Reunion held on November 10 & 11, 2018 at White Oak Pastures (WOP) was a global gathering with attendees traveling from around the world: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Argentina, France, Scotland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Canada, and across the U.S residents attended the event.

Holly attended the reunion as a SI guest. On Saturday, Holly represented Ei while on Sunday she wore a dual Ei | media hat. Ei Partner Nancy Suttles of Veracity Media Group joined Holly on
Sunday as media covering the event.

Reunion attendees heading into
lush field for soil tests
Dating back to 2005, Holly has a long-term relationship with WOP. In 2008 Holly orchestrated the first chefs tour of WOP's recently opened beef slaughterhouse. The tour was in partnership with the American Culinary Federation, Atlanta Chapter. The November 2011 The IMPACT Magazine article, White Oak Pastures - Dignity & Respect @ Its Core, chronicles the early years of the WOP metamorphosis from a conventional cattle ranch operation to an icon in regenerative agriculture.

A comprehensive introduction to WOP, SI, regenerative agriculture as well as an overview of the Global Network Reunion is provided in the RiA Magazine article, Regenerating a Bright Future for Planet Earth. The Ei FB album, Savory Institute 2018 Global Network Reunion, gives a pictorial recount of the powerful weekend from Holly's camera-lens perspective.

Ei Explorations
Tours are excellent vehicles to learn first-hand about industry practices and fellow partner business expertise. During the Era of RR, Ei hosted a plethora of tours including Sustainable Food Court Initiative, Industry, and Ei Partner Tours. In the Era of Regeneration, Ei evolved beyond tours to Ei Explorations.

Ei Explorations bring industry leaders and experts together to strategize on solutions for challenges facing humanity and life on our planet.

Ei Team members at the
On October 16, 2018, Ei hosted the first Ei Exploration. A group of diverse, passionate industry leaders traveled from California, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to participate in the Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger in Upstate South Carolina. The empowering day was in partnership with Ei Strategic Ally Feed & Seed.

Many profound seeds were planted at the Ei Exploration. Time will reveal how, when, and where the seeds germinate.

The RiA Magazine article, An Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, & World Hunger, chronicles the empowering event; the Ei FB album, An exploration of Fungi, Soil Health & World Hunger, gives a pictorial recap.

In 2016 Ei segued from a valuable media and industry resource into respected environmental journalism. A few years earlier press-interview inquiries validated Ei as recognized industry media. ... and then the prominent invitation arrived in early November:
The U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
In June 2016 Holly, author of the Ei magazines, launched as home to the Fingertip Press. When she publishes a magazine article, Holly writes a Facebook post beginning with “PREVIEW: Hot off the Fingertip Press an article …” Thus, the Fingertip Press evolved into Holly’s nomenclature for her published articles, documents and other written communication.

The Ei Magazines continue to garner impressive global readership! In 2018 The IMPACT Magazine surpassed 155,000 views and the RiA Magazine topped the coveted 400,000 views milestone on October 22. Below is a quick blog stats overview:

The Impact
  • 158,200 pageviews 
  • 131 published articles
  • Average 1,200 pageviews per article
  • Most popular article: Ei New Mission Statement (12/12) 2,974 views
Regeneration in ACTION
Holly expanded her communication repertoire beyond publishing articles in the Ei Magazines and trade journals and crafting industry papers to photojournalism in nationally distributed Southern Farm & Garden (SF&G). Rather than document Ei's important work, the SF&G articles complement and intertwine Ei Pioneers, Strategic Allies, and initiatives within the copy.

In the SF&G spring 2018 issue, a six-page feature article, Restoring Pollinator Populations, gives an overview of challenges facing pollinator populations along with tips for pollinator-friendly gardens. Announcing the SF&G article, the RiA Magazine article, Redefining WASTE: impact of common landscape & grounds maintenance practices on urban wildlife, introduces the paradox of how neat, clean yards and landscapes are wasteful to the local ecosystem. 

Ei Strategic Ally Park Pride's Pollinators in Parks program was featured in the RiA Magazine and SF&G articles. Park Pride Visioning Coordinator Teri Nye educated Holly on the empowering role of pollinator gardens and proofed the articles for accuracy.

The Ei Digital Books launched in August 2018 are in partnership with Holly Elmore Enterprises and comprised of Fingertip Press publications supported by Holly Elmore Images photos. Created and published by Ei Partner Veracity Media, the digital books augment Ei’s profound work within the Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms.

Mission Accomplished
During the Ei RR Era, Ei inception through June 2017, the Ei Team accomplished a tremendous amount of impressive, important work within an array of zero-waste frontiers. The projects, initiatives, and grant work are well documented in a myriad of Ei Magazine articles, conference panel presentations, and as award recipients. 

Refreshed website homepage
With the Ei Era of Regeneration launch, the Ei RR Era website pages were moved into a comprehensive Mission Accomplished section and out of the main site navigation. Thus, it was time to relaunch the Ei site with a refreshed design, new colors, and updated navigation. The Mission Accomplished section is included as the final sub-navigation item under Ei in ACTION.

Thanks to In-Kind Ei Partners Thompson Creative and Atlanta Web Design, the refreshed Ei site launched as 2018 came to a close.

2019: Year of IMPACT
With the Ei Era of Regeneration well established, 2019 is staged for the Year of IMPACT!