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Pocono Organics Farm Breaks Ground

Rodale Institute

Third Generation Takes Farm Back to its Roots with Vision of Sustainability

2018.07.27-PoconoOrganicGroundbreaking

Sometimes the best way to create a brighter future is to go back to your roots. That’s the vision for Pocono Organics as its farmland, once a thriving spinach farm in the 1940s, is now poised to be one of the first and largest public-facing regenerative organic fruit and vegetable operations in North America.

The 50-acre organic farm is the vision of Ashley Walsh, a third-generation business leader in the Mattioli family who learned first-hand from her grandfather and Pocono Raceway founder, Dr. Joe Mattioli, that a big vision could create progress and progress could create change.

“What started out as a lifestyle and health choice for my family and I became a larger mission when I thought about how we could utilize our land to grow organic food to help others, create jobs in our community, and ultimately become an example of what a fully sustainable regenerative organic farm could be,” said Walsh, president of Pocono Organics.

Pocono Organics is designed to be self-sustainable in order to reduce its environmental footprint. Constructed to LEED standards, the farm will draw its power from the 3MW 25-acre solar farm that also powers Pocono Raceway. Organic crops, such as fruits, grains, herbs, vegetables and flowers will grow in both outdoor fields and in nearly 40,000-square-feet of greenhouses. Water for these crops will be reclaimed rainwater that will be collected and filtered through a living, vegetative roof atop the “State-of-the-Art Barn,” a nearly 30,000-square-foot processing and storage building attached to the greenhouses. Pocono Organics will also install its own septic and well water systems.

“We are committed to Regenerative Organic Agriculture and are launching innovative programs to create a closed-loop growing system,” Walsh continued. “For example, our Farm-to-Track program will supply our organic crops to Pocono Raceway for events and in turn, the track will supply us with compostable waste for our regenerative soil program needs. We couldn’t do this without partners like Rodale Institute. They bring us decades of experience and leadership that will accelerate our ability to serve our communities and help us become an incubator for organic research as well as a destination for agritourism.”

Read the full story.

Can Sports Teams Be Role Models for Inclusivity?

By Susan Hunt Stevens, WeSpire

2018.07.26-Role Models for Inclusivity-IMAGE

Photo credit: The George Voice https://thegavoice.com/sports/atlanta-hawks-welcome-lgbt-ally-fans/

Last week, I had the honor of speaking on the mainstage at the 8th annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. It was my second time speaking, but six years ago the topic was what you would expect from WeSpire at a sustainability conference:  how to inspire people to save energy, waste, water and fuel. This year, the topic was “Inclusive Culture: How to Create Safe and Empowered Workplaces and Fan Zones.” As I sat on the stage with the first ever head of diversity for an NBA team, Nzinga Shaw from the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, I reflected on how much convergence has taken place in the sustainability and diversity and inclusion fields, which has directly influenced how WeSpire has evolved to meet these needs.

Green Sports Alliance Board member Jen Regan, who facilitated the panel, said they added diversity and inclusion as a focus to the Summit because “our ability to improve the environment is intrinsically linked with our ability to include all members of our community. The Green Sports Alliance wants to set the leaders of the sports industry up to win for now and the future which means focusing on both social and environmental impact.” We’ve seen similar expansions at other major sustainability conferences like Greenbiz and Sustainable Brands. What links these two seemingly disparate topics are actually similar underpinnings: urgent need for changes in practices and behaviors, a rapidly changing culture, the need for alignment amongst business practices (ie are you really a sustainable company if you are net zero but turn a blind eye to racial discrimination) and the ability for the “right thing to do” to also be the “smart thing to do” in terms of ROI.

I found the journey of the Atlanta Hawks to be incredibly compelling. What inspired hiring a Chief Diversity Officer initially was a crisis – driven by racially tinged, disparaging remarks made by a now former owner and coach. What has emerged is a playbook for how a professional sports team can be a role model for a community of what inclusivity looks like. And how valuable that is to the team, employees and fans. As the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks said, “We don’t see ourselves as a sports team. We see ourselves as a cultural touchstone for Atlanta. We see ourselves as a unifying force that brings together black, white, Muslim, [and] Jewish [people]. Everyone can agree on wanting a great sports team in Atlanta. So the ownership changed, the culture has changed, and we’re just in the infancy of it.”

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Jim Spellos, Rock and Wrap It Up! Partner to Fight Food Waste

By Tyler Davidson, Meetings Today

Rock and Wrap It Up! Food Donations

Rock and Wrap It Up! Food Donations

While he’s known as one of the top meetings technology educators in the industry, a lesser-known aspect of Jim Spellos’ contribution to both the meetings industry and those with an acute need of nutrition is his efforts working with Rock and Wrap It Up!, an award-winning anti-poverty think tank.

Rock and Wrap It Up! started, as the name implies, as a charitable organization that primarily worked picking up leftover food from concerts and then delivering that food to the needy. The organization, now entering its 27th year, has since expanded the specialized services it offers to help those in need.

“I went there and I was a converted from that point,” said Spellos, who is the group’s director of digital media, about how he got involved with the organization founded by Syd Mandelbaum, its CEO.

Spellos has been working with the organization for 16 years.

Besides food donation, Rock and Wrap It Up! dedicates it efforts to the following projects:

  • The Mardi Bra Initiative, which raises awareness and encourages the collection of feminine hygiene products for at-risk teens and other women.
  • Feed the Veterans, which aims to get its databases of pantries and soup kitchens into the hands of caregivers and agencies that support at-risk veterans and their families.
  • Providing Whole Earth Calculator Climate Literacy Lesson Plans to its academic partners to enable students to undertake actions to reduce poverty and carbon footprints.

Read the full article here.

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