Just a few questions from the Liquid Salt interview:
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background?
I was born in Baltimore and spent summers growing up in Ocean City Maryland. I moved to Rhode Island to attend the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000. I started shaping boards while I was still a student in 2002 and was hooked on the experience of shaping and riding my own boards. I kept shaping more and more boards for myself and eventually friends were asking for them too. I was turned off by the negative environmental aspects of the polyurethane foam and resin though. I began to look for more sustainable means to shape boards while maintaining a high performance standard, and being an artist the aesthetics of the boards is important to me too.
What’s next for Kevin Cunningham and Spirare?
I’ve been working with reclaimed found marine debris lately. I am currently using fishing nets and lines that wash up on the beach to make fins and accessories. It’s amazing how much trash you can find on the beach when you start to look for it. I hope to develop more uses for this material in the coming months too. Other than that I’m going to keep shaping as many boards as I can and push the performance of my shapes as far as possible.
Can you walk to stores, schools and a park from your home? If so, your house or condo may be worth substantially more than those in more isolated, pedestrian-hostile neighborhoods.
That’s the finding of “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities,” a study by Joseph Cortright that analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets provided by ZipRealty and found that in 13 of the 15 markets, higher levels of walkability, as measured by Walk Score, were directly linked to higher home value.
The report found, in short, that walkability is more than just a pleasant amenity. Homes located in more walkable neighborhoods—those with a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance—command a price premium over otherwise similar homes in less walkable areas. Houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability in the typical metropolitan areas studied.
In this day of the $6 cup of coffee, when bragging rights mean knowing not only the varietal but the beans’ latitude, anything exotic gets the antennae waving. Which may explain why Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics is inundated with requests to visit his north Santa Barbara County farm, where he is the only person cultivating coffee in California. He’s been turning down the requests—until now. This month the curious can sign up online for an agritour and the chance to see how Ruskey coaxes a plant inextricably tied to Latin America and Africa to flourish on U.S. soil.
The coffee-growing experiment is part of the UC small farms initiative, which supplied Ruskey with bushes and an expert, Mark Gaskell, who has worked in Central America. While coffee is normally grown at altitudes approaching thousands of feet, Ruskey’s farm sits at 650. The beans thrive in his coastal canyon largely because of the lack of extreme cold or heat and the low winds.
He now has 470 trees in the ground, which would fill half an acre if they had been planted in a continuous block. By chance, he planted the young trees among mature avocado trees and found that the two were good companions, as the coffee benefited from the rich soil generated by the avocado trees’ mulch.
…his mature trees are mostly Typica, the Arabica type from which most others developed, and Caturra, a mutation of Bourbon discovered in Brazil. He also has 100 young trees of Geisha, a rare Panamanian strain of Ethiopian origin, legendary for its superb quality.
He is sufficiently convinced of the feasibility of his project that he and Gaskell are working to organize a Santa Barbara coffee growers association with several other farmers who have planted or committed to planting coffee trees.
B Corporations are a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. (It’s like a LEED certification or Fair Trade certification, but for a business, not just a building or a bag of coffee.) B Lab, a non-profit, describes the B Corporation movement like this:
When you support a B Corporation, you’re supporting a better way to do business. Governments and nonprofits are necessary but insufficient to solve today’s most pressing problems. Business is the most powerful force on the planet and can be a positive instrument for change.
B Lab provides a rigorous independent third-party framework for assessing how you’re doing as a business when it comes to employee, community, and environmental interests. Etsy has gone through the assessment and we learned so much about what we are doing right and where we can improve. After successfully completing the independent B Lab assessment, we are proud to announce that Etsy is now a Certified B Corporation™. There are over 500 certified B Corps but Etsy will be among the biggest, along with mission-driven companies like Patagonia and Seventh Generation.
I think becoming a Certified B Corporation is one of the most important things Etsy has ever done. It helps us keep an eye on the “mindful, transparent, and humane” values we aspire to, and also keeps us focused on our intention to “plan and build for the long-term,” not just when it comes to Etsy but for the world at large. Like other Certified B Corporations, B Lab is publishing our scores from the assessment. In being transparent, we are openly challenging ourselves to continually improve how we impact the world with our company. Like most businesses, we are imperfect, but we are publicly committing ourselves to upholding our values and grading ourselves for the long-term. This is how we hope to make a better world and inspire other companies to do the same.
Etsy has closed $40 million of funding from a roster of investors who have been believers in Etsy for a long time. I couldn’t be happier to have such a committed set of partners who “get it” along for the next stage.
What do we plan to do with the money we’ve raised? Two simple things, really: we plan to grow Etsy into an economic force all around the world and we want to provide more products and services to help sellers succeed and build their businesses on the Etsy platform. You’ve seen a start in some of these areas — our Etsy in German and French launches…
Looking back, Etsy was quite small by today’s measures — the community sold $7.93 million of goods in September 2008. We had about 50 employees and we were in an office in downtown Brooklyn with a broken elevator that famously had a sign that read, “You gotta press up to go down.”
Almost four years later, many things have changed. We have different offices near the Brooklyn Bridge, a working elevator, almost 300 employees, and last month alone, the community sold about $65 million in goods. Each month, 40 million people around the world visit Etsy, with 15 million registered members and 875,000 sellers generating those sales in 150 countries.
(2011 sales – $525 million)
We believe, more than ever, that Etsy can help fundamentally change the way the world works by making it possible for individuals to make and sell things to other people around the globe — a people-powered economy.
…we published last fall provides an inspiring blueprint for the better world that we envision:
Decades of an unyielding focus on economic growth and a corporate mentality has left us ever more disconnected with nature, our communities, and the people and processes behind the objects in our lives. We think this is unethical, unsustainable, and unfun. However, with the rise of small businesses around the world we feel hope and see real opportunities: Opportunities for us to measure success in new ways… to build local, living economies, and most importantly, to help create a more permanent future.
Any computer gamer old enough to remember floppy disks probably paid at least a fleeting visit to SimCity, the legendary franchise that let players build — and destroy — the metropolises of their imaginations. After passing through half a dozen incarnations in the two decades since its debut, the game is back, and its creator, Maxis Studios, says that this time, it’s putting more than bricks and mortar into the mix.
Slated for release in 2013, the new SimCity invites players to grapple with tough choices about energy generation, environmental costs and the responsibilities shouldered by inhabitants of a planet with finite resources — choices faced by real policymakers on the very real planet Earth.
To the game’s original repertoire of fire stations and governor’s mansions, power lines and city budgets, Maxis is adding a cocktail of new challenges, including limited resources and the spillover effects of pollution.
In a first step toward restoring one of Southern California’s few remaining wetlands and opening it to the public, the state has approved spending $6.5 million for planning a massive restoration of the degraded Ballona Wetlands.
(In the plan) initial proposals call for spending $100 million to remove concrete levees and truck out tons of sediment dumped on the property, allowing water from Ballona Creek and the sea to flow into the wetlands. Bike paths would be built atop earthen flood-control berms on the reserve’s perimeter and public boardwalks would allow visitors access to the site without disturbing plants, birds and other wildlife.
“We have the potential at Ballona to restore this degraded and damaged habitat and return it to a beautiful, sustainable natural refuge for people and wildlife,” Luce said.
The vast coastal wetlands once spanned 2,000 acres at the mouth of Ballona Creek, covering much of what is now Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Venice. Only a quarter remains today, much of it a dry, fenced-off expanse of brush that is littered with garbage in places, surrounded by high-rises and subdivisions and criss-crossed by congested boulevards.
Developers and environmental activists wrangled over the site for decades before the state agreed in 2003 to spend $139 million to acquire it as an ecological reserve.
A national wetlands inventory released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that between 2004 and 2009, the lower 48 states lost a net average of 13,800 acres a year. That compared with a slight annual gain in wetlands during the previous six year-period.
“Wetlands are at a tipping point,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “While we have made great strides in conserving and restoring wetlands since the 1950s, when we were losing an area equal to half the size of Rhode Island each year, we remain on a downward trend that is alarming.”
In our inaugural film, we visit the Breuckelen Distilling Company, the first gin distiller in Brooklyn since prohibition. Founder Brad Estabrooke talks about starting from nothing and the imperfect process of perfecting a craft.
“It was challenging to get people to take me seriously. ‘Hey, I just got laid-off from my job and I have a little bit of money. I want to start a distillery.”
DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY – Keith “keef” Ehrlich
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY – Joshua Kraszewski
EDITOR – Matt Shapiro
TITLE DESIGN – Mandy Brown
MUSIC – Roman Zeitlin
SOUND RECORDIST – Robert Albrecht
RE-RECORDING MIXER – Nicholas Montgomery
SPECIAL THANK – Brad Estabrooke, Breuckelen Distilling Co.
Made by Hand – films to promote that which is made locally, sustainably, and with a love for craft.