Tech Solutions

How can I ask you to do good,

When we’ve barely withstood

Our greatest threats yet:

The depths of death, despair and disparity,

Atrocities across cities, towns & countries,

Lives lost, climactic costs.

Exhausted, angered, we are endangered,

Not because of our numbers,

But because of our numbness…

 Amanda Gorman – “An Ode We Owe

BCL10 began our residency at HULA Lakeside by listening to the powerful words of Amanda Gorman, ringing out at the UN General Assembly in the fall of 2022.  When we explored the climate crisis through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals a few weeks earlier, students quickly understood that every system in Burlington is connected to the preservation of the Earth. However sustainability is also deeply personal. In the early days of the semester, we took time to consider our own relationship to the land. On our second full day together, Courtney Mulcahy, from Shelburne Farms, invited students to compose two lists: one of what the land gives us, and one of what we give the land. The juxtaposition was eye-opening, and resonated once again when Gorman underscored social injustices and “climactic costs.”

But what about potential solutions? Our time HULA offered a unique opportunity to work with innovators, and to rethink systems. As we toured the innovative technology-driven workspace on Burlington’s waterfront, students considered how values could be built into the design of a building itself.

The values of HULA Lakeside are evident in its net-negative emissions…
…and its unique approach to community-building.

And once we settled into comfortable red office chairs in the Isthmus Conference Room, we were ready to meet with people who embodied this spirit of innovation. Over the course of two days, students met with visionaries from Glavel, Encore Renewable Energy, iSun, Myti and Plink. Although each is different, all of these companies uses emerging technologies to address the sustainability goals.  

John Sullivan, CFO of iSun, talks with students about solar’s game-changing potential.
Signe Daly convenes a consultancy in which students helped Glavel CEO, Rob Conboy, align the company’s mission and its communication strategy.
Students highlighted the importance of authenticity.

Collaboration took many forms. Our consultancy with Glavel demonstrated students’ ability to address complex, professional-level dilemmas. Maxwell Luthy, co-founder of Plink, asked students to bring their playfulness and creativity. Max gave students a Tik-Tok challenge: in 90 minutes, they had to produce and share a video that inspired people to join Plink’s vision of a post-bottle economy.

Students listen as Max lays out the challenge.
Students’ short videos told a story about the impacts of bottles on the health of the planet.
Drink Plink!

(To see the winner of the Plink Tik Tok Challenge, click here! You can check out a few of the other clips here and here).  

It was a full two days. Students explored the space; they met with CEOs, CFOs, Product Managers, and activists; they worked on small-group design challenges small groups; and they made themselves right at home in HULA’s comfortable furniture. Not surprisingly, being in such a radically different setting changed many students’ perspectives. Their insights resonate with that energy.

I feel like our time with the people at HULA has given me much more hope, and there needs to be more HULA-type places in other places of Vermont and the world, as they are consciously funded off of the mindset of supporting both the earth’s health and the peoples of the world. There simply need to be more places like this, as they seem to actively call into question anything regarding the earth’s wellbeing. Issues seem to be approached level-headedly. The big piece that’s missing is just how you could work in an environment like HULA? What is their criteria for allowing you to work in their space and collaborate with others with a similar mindset and values? How can I find myself in a HULA-type workspace?

– George

Businesses are starting to learn and understand that they leave a huge carbon footprint. Some businesses are starting to take action, but not enough. The work that needs to be done can’t be completed if we all don’t start working for a cleaner healthier planet. The action businesses are taking are an insane amount of work, but barely any of it is seen/acknowledged….

– Summer
Students meet with engineers from Encore Renewable Energy and an outreach worker from
Students share their journal reflections in small groups

Our time at Hula helped me be more faithful that we can overcome climate change. It’s surprising to see how many people just in our own community are helping and are so passionate about [facing] this crisis. Our time at Hula has also made me realize how much needs to change.

– Djani

Being at HULA definitely gave me more hope to change/solve problems. I feel like talking with businesses and people in the industry was helpful, and gets us closer to getting these problems solved. Also just getting our voices heard makes it so much better and easier to get to our goal. Also my question was what can we do to give these same opportunities to students at BHS, because not everyone does BCL

– Annemiek
The spaces at HULA invited open dialogue.

HULA is a really nice and open building to learn in. It makes me feel like the things we are learning are more important and relevant. I learned a lot about the environmentally safe technologies we can add to buildings, renewable energy, and how buying from local stores helps the community. I can see how much Burlington is doing to solve the climate crisis. It gives me hope that our problems will be solved and it inspires me to start working towards solving the climate crisis. Although it does make me a little doubtful because it is pretty bad. It makes me wonder how much of an impact these environmentally safe companies will have in 5 to 10 years.

– Sofia

If I am being honest, our time at HULA gives me less hope that we will solve most of the world’s problems. Being at HULA makes me realize that most of the problems that happen are just talked about and never actually solved.

– Majeni

Yes, being at HULA does give me more hope, especially seeing companies that have a lot of potential for success being mindful of their actions and being human. Before I was hopeful, but this just adds to it.

– Ethan

I think that this experience does give me more hope, because all of these companies are working and trying to cut down on emissions. This can then lead other new and starting companies to [follow this] good idea to cut emissions and make the earth healthier.

– Kiernan

Businesses have a bigger role in our community than I thought. I knew, for the most part, how much a business can affect things like climate change and communities...It’s good to know that there are businesses trying to do better, even if there is still need a lot more work to do.

– Sasha
At The Spot, lunch was great…
…and so was the company!

…To anyone out there:

I only ask that you care before it’s too late,

That you live aware and awake,

That you lead with love in hours of hate.

I challenge you to heed this call,

I dare you to shape our fate.

Above all, I dare you to do good

So that the world might be great.

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