Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizen’s Committee
Sixth Plenary Meeting - Menlo Park Library
May 23rd, 2007 – 4 to 6 pm
These comments come from the participants at the May 9th, 2007 fifth plenary meeting of the Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizen’s Committee - MPGRCC.
Welcome from Mayor Kelly Fergusson
Welcome, welcome, MPGRCC, do we have any newcomers? There are a few people who are here for the first time. Please do a quick introduction.
We are going to dive right into headlines today. I’d also like to report we have $40 in uncovered expenses and will be setting up a jar for your donations, which would be greatly appreciated.
Yahoo Co-founder David Filo was joined by actor Matt Dillon and Global Green USA CEO Matt Petersen to launch a national call to action in Times Square on May 14th. The "Be a Better Planet" campaign includes an competition for which city has the most eco-minded residents, with the reward being a fleet of hybrid taxis or the cash equivalent in city greening projects with Global Green, along with CFL lightbulbs while supplies last. Filo discusses the program in his blog here
Two pieces of news:
1. PG&E announced it is backing Oakland's environmental and economic development plans with $3 million in programs and incentives over the next three years.
2. The city of Berkeley updated its measurements and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 8.9% from 2000 levels over a five year period, and is launching a new initiative to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. One disappointment, Ken adds, was there was only a 3% reduction in transportation emissions.
Reviewed the recommendations to get environmental considerations into the city's current budget cycle, including taking the time to develop a thoughtful letter with "well baked" proposals for the budget. He thanked committee members for taking the time to review and produce a tight cover letter for the council and staff.
At this point, a team from the design and business consulting firm IDEO (Palo Alto) introduced themselves. They included:
- Craig Lawrence, a fellow Menlo Park resident.
Craig described some of the work IDEO had done to help the Palo Alto Green Ribbon Commission, and noted the firm is sprawled among seven buildings on Alma and High Streets in downtown Palo Alto, where it is that area of the city's largest employer with more than 500 people. The company is headquartered in a landmark building which once housed Ellison's auto shop. IDEO was founded more than 25 years ago, participating in an early incarnation of itself in the first Apple mouse design, while it has more recently been involved in many designs including the Palm V PDAs and Treo phones, etc. The company's been more and more focussed on sustainability, and intends to have at least a couple of it team available and participating in the MP GRCC plenaries going forward.
- Grace Wong - resident of unincorporated MP and a product designer
- Steve Bishop - designer, design for sustainability lead at IDEO, and a "fully incorporated resident of Mountain View."
- John Foster - who has a background in organizational development and tracks town and community development work at IDEO
Sally Madsen - a San Francisco based product designer
The team described further how through 25+ years IDEO had developed a process to design products, gaining recognition for being particularly innovative and successful, primarily through use of rapid prototyping. For example, a team working on a surgical tool for sinus surgery began prototyping a handle for the device using tape and common household items right from the start. The concept was not simply to do a lot of talking and thinking, but to take some of the initial ideas and put them quickly into action.
"Everyone can come up with good ideas - it's how you prevent them languishing at the bottom of someone's pile on the desk," is the challenge.
1. "one conversation at a time - stay engaged, etc."
2. "just a simple sketch"
3. "visualize views"
4. "go for quantity - try a variety of ideas"
5. "ask "how might we?' questions
6. spend time going over the ideas - rehashing...
At this point, the group broke down into its component committees for about 40 minutes of brainstorming and prototyping with an IDEO facilitator in each group.
Among the highlights of the group summary presentations:
A) Land Use and Buildings
Structured its ideas around the following concepts:
INSPIRE - EDUCATE - INCENTIVIZE - SOCIAL NETWORKING - SPREADING INFORMATION
AND WORKING WITH CONTRACTORS/ARCHITECTS
For example in the area of working with architects - this would include polling about green building, etc.
B) Energy and Materials
Worked with the concepts of promoting:
- Energy efficiency...
- Cleaner, renewable energy...
- model home tours in the city...
- using resources the most efficiently...
On the tour example they discussed tis being similar to realtor tours - with an 'artists open studio' feel and community involvement and interest...
Such a program doesn't need to have city authority, yet could include discussions around solar - encouraging more solar use, developing photovoltaic and solar water heaters on city buildings and other facilities and structures.
C) Green Business
There was a focus on incentives to attract more [and greener] businesses here, especially those seeking to create green products...
The subcommittee grouped the opportunities into four categories...
a. create more connections - broker relationships between current players
b. certification programs
c. funding or financial/fee incentives, such as greener transportation
d. in-kind programs
For example, one person bikes, and could trade this 'offset' with others - trading different types of things
The group then worked to prototype a networking event... people who are well know and less known green businesses together share what they're doing...a lot of people interested in being greener don't know that they actually co-exist in menlo park.
a focussed "Green Block Party" networking sharing of ideas event could tie together
2. cool hydro - van
3. using council chambers - public speaker
4. famous van [?!]
5. retail folks
6. green business fair
7. demonstrate a green community
8. play, dare, eat, a/b/c/ - interact
D) Communications Subcommittee
Committee went through 101 or so ideas we'd generated, then described our chosen project, which would be to open up a short video competition to invite citizens to enter short examples which could be aggregated under the theme of "101 Green Practices" and perhaps be marketed as best practices not only for Menlo Park but for other cities embarking on these activities.
A number of ideas, including:
- developing a virtual school bus ... by bike - foot - school - instead of parents driving vehicles and idling engines in line for schools...
- a greener than thou challenge...
some planning steps to bring people closer together biodeisel- solar on roof
Then the group concentrated on two of these:
1... get kids to school without having to take a trip...
requires review of safety issue, sidewalks... etc.
an opportunity for the city to see the residents as customers...
an opportunity to employ traffic calming and similar mechanisms...
to incent certain practices, issuing credits, for example.
2... some kind of contest.
Could involve telecommuting - telepresence- tele-meeting...
developing a system of incentives for employees... etc...
At the conclusion of the meeting IDEO announced it plans to have a couple of staff attend each plenary meeting, as reference above.
Meeting concluded approximately 6:03 PM PDT.