Free Energy for Everyone! Light Up Malawi’s First Pilot:

Thanks to an amazing partnership with BuildON and Energy For Opportunity we had a very successful first pilot on our renewable education tract.
Over a three day workshop we taught 17 teachers from 4 different communities in the Kasungu District how to do basic electrical, and basic solar maintenance, and a solar installation. Simon Willans of EFO led the instruction. The learnings were amazing: Malawians are hungry for knowledge – we had full attendance, attention and more people interested every day. Watching the teachers create a basic circuit for the first time was fantastic. Their understanding spread from the classroom to the installation. We left tools for each student and a professional solar instruction manual for each community and also placed this manual in the library of the Wimbe School. Every one of the teachers is committed to taking this knowledge to all of their communities, and spreading the instruction into all of BuildOn’s Community Education Programs.

The panel we installed will power the lighting for two classrooms and even a laptop. Stand by as we hear feedback from the community on how one panel is changing their lives and helping them in small and large ways.


We also placed some solar mobile charging stations and dynamo lanterns for clinics in the Chiradzulu District, and Thyolo District and gave a donation to Goods for Good CBO in Luzi and met with several ministers to begin talks about Malawi’s energy policy and tariff reduction on renewable energy products. While in Kenya we attended the Lighting Africa conference where we met with key stakeholders working in renewable energy in Africa.
All in all, a very productive time in Malawi.

Please support this project !


Light Up Malawi

UPDATE: We’ve raised $6500 and secured a spot at the Unreasonable Institute! Thank you to all of our sponsors and tweeters that helped make us winners in the crowdfunding competition.

This is exciting news, because through the institute this idea hatched during a trip to India in November will get connected to some great advisors and fantastic funding. Light Up Malawi is indeed a very ambitious project, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are determined to bring sustainable energy solutions to one entire country. That’s one nation completely off the grid – using solar, wind, biomass, and kinetic to achieve this. Malawi is where my mother grew up, and I have family there to this day. I grew up hearing her stories about the country and the people. We believe that Malawi is the best place to start on a mission of this magnitude. And we believe we can do it. I hope you’ll join me on what will be a remarkable journey to prove to the world that poverty can be solved with sustainable, strategic solutions.
For more: Go to Lightupmalawi.org/about

light-up-malawi-logo-color

Picture 1

Project: Bordeaux Repositioning

How does a legacy brand like Bordeaux remake itself in the US market where California wine is king, and where Frenchness is both a boon and a liability?
Solution: While all the details can’t be exposed of this ongoing campaign, I identified several key factors along the purchase chain and in the perception of the word Bordeaux itself. I wasn’t rebranding a brand, but a region and at the most basic level a heavily associated word. By conducting focus groups from coast to coast as well as tons of research from online surveys I came up with a strategy that hits practical and socio-cultural needs and leverages social media activation in an organic way.
Results: The campaign is now in the hands of the talented people at Creativefeed for execution, and you’ll be sure to see the work out and about.
Role: Strategic Brand Planner, Digital Strategist, Scenario Planner, Researcher

Saturday Service- Sponsoring Responsibly

charity navigator screen shot

Every Saturday I do something for someone or some living thing. I find that on Saturday mornings, its a great reason to get out of bed and take a walk looking for my ‘mark’. Its not always an intense thing – like, 3 saturdays ago, I fed some birds. The Saturday after that I dropped off a bunch of bread and jam at the Bowery Mission (who doesn’t like toast and jam?). And a few Saturdays before that I started a year long commitment and have sponsored a child through children.org. This sponsoring business however, needs to be completely re-examined in the digital age, and I plan on looking at all the major children’s charities over the next few months and see which one actually brought the most direct benefit to the children.

Websites like Charity Navigator can give you some idea, but I don’t think anything but your own experience and research can really give you the satisfaction of knowing you are not being fleeced and you are indeed HELPING someone.

So far I’ve received a letter from my (adorable) sponsor child in Ecuador (Guillermo) handwritten in spanish telling me he likes to play soccer and he likes to read. But I wonder if getting him a mobile phone might be a better use of money…and why couldn’t I just do that without the charity?

I love the emerging set of ‘do good’ sites that allow you to see the direct impact of your donation such as Jolkona. Websites like these actually serve to create a lasting connection versus a paper trail. I’ll get back to you with a more blown out point of view as I track this subject over the year.

Knitta, Please…

Nothing makes me appreciate analog more than spending way too many hours immersed in digital executions and products. Several years ago when I was learning Java programming, I also developed an insatiable desire to knit, knot, crochet and otherwise do something with my hands and yarn. I used my render times during edits to make scarves and it staved off carpal tunnel. It was the call of the real. It kept me sane. And now, when I see new forms of knitting come up such as the guerilla knitters from Houston called Knitta Please and their many other cohorts creating fabric based grafitti street art and yarn bombing industrial objects, it simply makes me happy that there is no screen, spray cans or pixels to process. Finally a format that really does shock the streets yet knits into our urban fabric. While it does seem a bit in its early stages tea-cozy-esque – I can’t wait to see who takes this format to the next level.

472px-knitta_on_delancey_m-cropped