On this week's episode, we talk about the affordable housing crisis from a different perspective - how we got here and how we might address it, with our guest Rob Fredericks.
People continue to flock to the urban hubs of America, but our cities have struggled to keep pace with the people, leading to Americans who spend more than a reasonable share of income on housing, all the while there is not enough public assistance (or housing laws) to solve the problem.
On this episode of Solutions News, we talk about the affordable housing crisis from a different perspective - how we got here and how we might address it. We’ve touched on this subject in several previous shows in other ways, but since it shelter is one of those basic needs, and lack of housing continues to challenge many communities in California, as well as across the nation, there is always more to say. We are excited to welcome our guest, Rob Fredericks, the CEO and Executive Director at the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, who has been at the forefront of this challenge for several decades.
After the interview with Rob, and some didyaknows, we end the show with a brief look at the importance of the personal relationships that can develop within neighborhoods - and specifically an innovative program called “Cool Blocks”. (Produced by Kristy Jansen, with assistance from Benjamin Schwartz)
Building strong relationships within neighborhoods can lead to good things
On this episode of Solutions News, we focus on economic independence and how it helps everyday people stay out of poverty. Access to money - knowing how to earn it, how to manage it, and how to keep it, can be one of the most powerful forces in a person’s life.
Our guest is Kathy Odell, CEO-elect of Women’s Economic Ventures, known locally as WEV. For over two decades, WEV has been a leading provider of microenterprise development services to women along California’s Central Coast. We will explore the broader micro-lending movement, both in developing economies and as it’s been working in the USA, and share some tips on how we can help our children become strong money managers as well.
Our first story Micro-Lending: How a little bit of trust can go a long, long way, Explores the micro-lending field, with a particular spotlight on Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Banks, Grameen America, and FINCA. To quote Dr. Yunus, “To me, the poor are like Bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a six-inch deep flower pot, you get a perfect replica of the tallest tree, but it is only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted; only the soil-base you provided was inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong with their seeds. Only society never gave them a base to grow on.”
We end the show with some thoughts on how parents might use allowance as a tool to teach children good money management skill.
See Kathy's bio for more details on her background, as well as to find links to WEV and its programs.
-- Dr. Muhammad Yunus
Nobel Peace Prize winner and microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus.
On this week's episode, we welcome Dr. Brian von Herzen, Executive Director of the Climate Foundation, who’ll be talking with us about marine permaculture and some amazing things he’s developing to help the world.
On this episode of Solutions News, we welcome Dr. Brian von Herzen, the Executive Director of the Climate Foundation, who’ll be talking with us about marine permaculture and some amazing things he’s developing to help the world. Our topics today are focused on the ocean: first a story about how bacterial microbes “eat” carbon dioxide all while providing a food source for fish and cleaning up industrial waste in the meantime, and another about how man-made artifacts in the oceans are being turned into marine habitats where life is thriving! Later on, we have some great didyaknows, and a final story on some health benefits of eating ocean greens.
The oceans are a carbon sink; they absorb 25% of all of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. This is in large part because of the bacteria that live in the sea. Many of these bacteria live in the deep sea, where they take in carbon dioxide and serve as the base of an ecosystem for higher level predators. A recent study of these deep-sea bacteria in Pacific Ocean extrapolated to find that worldwide, the deep sea ecosystems accounts for 200 million tonnes of CO2 being turned into biomass each year. That is 10% of the total carbon dioxide removed by the ocean, meaning that these bacteria have serious potential. And this is only one aspect of a new field - dubbed Synthetic Biology, or “Synbio” - that uses a suite of techniques to manipulate living microbial cells and turn them, in effect, into tiny factories--factories for fuels, fabrics, fish food, you name it. It's the redesigning of a microorganism to make it functional.
For example, NovoNutrients, is a company developing a product called Novomeal as a high-protein replacement for the fish meal typically used to feed fish for aquaculture. It’s made from bacteria that thrive by eating CO2, and turning it into proteins. The bacteria are mass produced in a bioreactor that is saturated with extra carbon dioxide, some starch, and the other perfect conditions for growth. In addition to CO2, the bacteria can also break down other toxic chemicals spewed out by oil refineries or coal power plants. And as long as they have CO2 or another toxin to feed on, they keep reproducing and become an indefinitely sustainable food source. And since they are so tiny, don’t have limbs, skeletons or brains to incubate, they reproduce much faster, and at a much lower level of the food chain than an animal or plant ever could.
The bacteria themselves release proteins and along with other single-celled organisms, are ground into a fish powder and then can be used to feed aquaculture fish. Currently, the food for carnivorous fish like salmon, tuna, sea bass, or trout, is made by grinding up other smaller fish, called forage fish, like anchovies, herrings, and menhadens. While these fish are relatively low on the food chain, it’s extremely wasteful because it requires huge amounts of the smaller fish- more than that the natural environment is made to sustain. It’s also increasingly expensive as fish populations decline all over the world.
Currently, feeding is the largest cost in the fish farming industry. The price of the protein based fish meal has more than quintupled since 1995. As a result, Novomeal actually has the potential to fundamentally change the $332 billion farmed fish and aquaculture industry to make it completely sustainable.
Since the bacteria replicate themselves and rely on carbon dioxide and other industrial waste products (which we have more than enough of), healthy fish can be produced without the use of GMOs and humanity can stop overfishing the oceans.
Fish Friendly Housing: Sunken Ships and Retired Rigs
The second story this week is a spotlight on how nature changes and adapts based on human interaction with the environment. On our May 10th show, we had a "didyaknow" about tiger sand sharks that have continued to return to shipwrecks near North Carolina.
Scientists call this phenomenon, where animals return regularly return to the same habitat, site fidelity. Newly published research in the journal Ecology documents the same group of six female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks year after year. While this is an interesting fact, it raises the more broad question about animal adaptation to human structures.
The sharks and the shipwrecks add to a growing body of evidence that these wrecks and other man-made artifacts are very special and important habitats for a diversity of marine life, including top predators like the sand tiger shark. These shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina are critical habitats and some argue they must be protected to sustain the local ecology. The same is true for other structures that have developed a niche environment for marine life.
Take offshore natural gas and oil platforms for example. In the Gulf of Mexico alone, there are over 7,000 oil and natural gas platforms. Because they are built for long term use, over time they too have become an important marine habitats. The Coastal Marine Institute found that a typical eight-leg structure provides a home for 12,000 to14,000 fish.
While many rightly believe that production from these platforms must be shut down for both the danger they pose and the polluting fossil fuels they produce, let’s take a minute to consider how this is actually done.
The typical process involves a full decommissioning of the site and a complete removal of all equipment. Besides a complete removal, “reefing” is an option that takes the marine environment into consideration by keeping much of the existing structure in place. This is also significantly less expensive.
There are three ways reefing can be done.
Of the three options, the third is by far the least detrimental to this new marine environment that has been created, while also ending the possibility of damage caused by fossil fuels. Moreover, leaving part of the platform creates infrastructure so that the closed well can be monitored for leaks.
This topic is also being heavily debated here in Santa Barbara because there are six oil platforms scheduled to be retired and potentially removed. As the debate continues, it is important to consider the options and what is best for the marine environments that rely on the shelter the platforms provide.
Health Benefits of Seaweed
A few weeks ago we had a "didyaknow" about how farms are changing cows’ diets to reduce “Methane Burps” - just by swapping out 1% of a cow’s diet with seaweed, it reduces methane emissions by 60%, 70%, and by some reports up to 90%!
But didyaknow, that seaweed can be great for people too? For our last story today, we wanted to list some amazing Health Benefits that come from Adding Seaweed to your Diet.
First, A few seaweed facts:
Seaweed or sea vegetables are forms of algae that grow in the sea. They’re a food source for ocean life and range in color from red to green to brown to black. Seaweed grows along rocky shorelines around the world, but it’s most commonly eaten in Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and China. What’s more, seaweed is highly nutritious, so a little goes a long way.
Here are a few of the documented health benefits of seaweed.
Platform Holly in California’s Santa Barbara Channel (via AP)
On this week's episode, we interview Barry Schoer, Executive Director of the Sanctuary Centers, and a lifelong advocate for the humane and effective treatment of those who live with addiction and mental health issues.
On this episode of Solutions News, we interview Barry Schoer, Executive Director of the Sanctuary Centers, and a lifelong advocate for the humane and effective treatment of those who live with addiction and mental health issues. We explore the cultural implications of the current addiction crises in the United States and the world. We discuss how community based supportive living situations are a more effective and humane solution for the seriously ill rather than abandoning them to fend for themselves on the street or in the prison system. We end the show with a look at the crisis for connection that affects much of the world, and how we each might find our way towards human connection.
Story #1: The Culture of Addiction
There are many types of addiction: the ones we hear about, like the current crisis that is the opioid epidemic, and the others, such as shopping or watching television. Addiction is taking over society partly because of deteriorating family and cultural ties and pressures of the modern day.
Dr. Bruce K. Alexander spent years researching rats and their responses to morphine in efforts to better understand addiction. He found that rats were deliberately injecting themselves with the drug, often times to the point of death. It was eventually discovered that rats, much like humans, are social beings. Because of this connect, we can start to understand why people in horribly miserable situations are pushed toward addiction. We must focus on the human interpretation of this rat research, understanding that kindness, sociability, friendship, and love are often better antidotes for addiction than the criminal approach we are using now.
Story #2: Humane Treatment of Mental Illness
It is estimated that over 355,000 inmates in America’s prisons and jails suffered from severe mental illness in 2012, and it is likely much worse than that today. Over 100,000 homeless Americans also suffer from severe mental illness. The mentally ill are now often left to fend for themselves on the streets due to the country’s lack of adequate outpatient services.
Community-based approaches to mental health care are providing hope for the mentally ill. New York is working on this approach beginning with Kendra’s Law in 1999 to legalize Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Various studies show promising results for this type of treatment with 46 states now having them enacted. We are in need of novel approach to mental illness care, keeping in mind the difficulty of forcing treatment on patients.
Story #3: Curing our Crisis of Connection
There is a type of addiction that is quite different than the others we have talked about on this show, and that is the addiction of connection (or lack thereof) and social media. When we feel disconnected, we very quickly experience loneliness due to a lack of meaningful social interaction. We feel pressured to “fit in” and “suck it up,” always forcing ourselves to be polished and strong. Social media has taken over our lives, frequently replacing in-person socialization.
According to Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Professor Brené Brown, it takes courage to stand alone and actively seek true connection. We discuss several ways to make these human connections, ranging from weekly dinner plans with friends to simply asking for help. While social media may be dominating us currently, there is hope to evolve away from our phones and back into a comfortable, sociable, and lively state.
Are we doomed to addiction because of the "rat race" world we live in?
Rob Fredericks currently holds the position of Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer for the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB). Employed by HACSB since 1996, he has held several positions within the agency, but most recently as Deputy Executive Director/Chief Administrative Officer. The balance of Rob’s professional career was on the Central Coast of California where he managed several entry‐level market housing developments with his family’s Real Estate Sales and Land Development Company. He holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Real Estate Financial Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Rob’s other civic commitments includes immediate past President of the Pacific Southwest Region of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO); a board member and treasurer of the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County; a board member and President of San Felipe Independent Living; He also serves as an officer of the Housing Authority’s two affiliate 501c(3) non-profits, 2nd Story Associates and Garden Court, Inc. Rob is also a licensed California Real Estate Broker
As promised, his phone number is: (805) 965-1071, e-mail: RFredericks@hacsb.org
Kathy Odell will assume the CEO role at Women's' Economic Ventures on January 1, 2020 upon Marsha Bailey’s retirement.
Kathy is a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of leadership experience. She began her entrepreneurial career in 1985 as co-founder Medical Concepts, Inc., which over a five-year period became the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of video systems for minimally invasive surgery, resulting in its acquisition by Karl Storz Endoscopy in 1990. She remained with the company through 2000, when she resigned to pursue new entrepreneurial ventures.
From 2002 to 2008, Kathy served as CEO of Inogen, Inc., a manufacturer of advanced therapy devices for treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). During Kathy’s tenure, Inogen received over $53M in venture capital. Today Inogen is a public company with a $2B market cap [NASDAQ:INGN].
From 1998 to 2012, Kathy was a director of Pacific Capital Bancorp, N.A. [NASDAQ: PCBC], a regional community bank with $6.5B in assets, where she served as Chair of the Compensation Committee and as a member of the Enterprise Risk and Governance committees.
Kathy has been committed to supporting women entrepreneurs throughout her career and joined the Women’s Economic Ventures board in 2010. In addition to her work with Women’s Economic Ventures, she serves on two non-profit boards, the UCSB Economic Forecast Project and the Sustainable Change Alliance, a community-based impact investing group. Kathy is a graduate of Stanford University.
Kathy Odell, our guest on Dec. 13, 2019
Dr. Brian von Herzen obtained degrees in physics, engineering and planetary science from Princeton and Caltech, respectively, where he was a Hertz Fellow. At Princeton, Brian worked closely with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). His dissertation on global climate models validated orbital variation effects on climate. At Caltech, Brian worked on the overabundance of carbon in Jupiter's atmosphere. Little did he know that a decade later we would be addressing this very problem for the Earth. By restoring natural carbon cycles, we can restore food productivity of Earth while concurrently balancing carbon.
Brian serves as Executive Director of the Climate Foundation and leads projects on land and sea with research groups in India, Africa, USA and the Pacific Ocean. Over the last decade, Brian has developed Marine Permaculture to restore fish productivity in subtropical oceans, to ensure economically and ecologically sustainable food security. Brian has been conducting research in Woods Hole regarding autonomous guidance of Marine Permaculture arrays. He also researched, developed and commercialized biochar reactors for sanitation that produce biochar (organic charcoal for agricultural purposes) which holds carbon in the soil for thousands of years.
Today’s warmer surface waters limit natural overturning circulation and vertical mixing by increasing density stratification in the upper ocean, particularly in the subtropics, reducing available nutrients for algae, fish habitat and forage fish upon which other fish depend. Warmer, more stratified oceans require new approaches to managing marine ecosystems. In order to increase food security, bolster marine ecosystems and export blue carbon, infrastructure associated with Marine Permaculture (MP) restores overturning circulation locally, thereby regenerating key ecosystem services supporting seaweed forests. Cooler, nutrient-rich water from the deep provides favorable conditions for seaweed growth and thereby regenerates habitat and food at sea for forage fish.
Currently, the Climate Foundation is deploying a Phase 2 Marine Permaculture in the Indian Ocean to validate benefits to seaweed mariculture and to demonstrate the biological response of commercially relevant macroalgae to deep water upwelled to the surface. This is a key step in developing scaled MPs, which enable larger offshore open-ocean seaweed cultivation that use the vertical shear of mesoscale eddies for maneuvering. Renewable energy sources provide the power needed for seaweed irrigation and guidance, enabling cultivation across subtropical oceans, eliminating the limitations of nearshore cultivation. We plan to operate MPs as ocean-going vessels under Admiralty Law, with its 500 years of precedent, or alternatively under regulations for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. Regulations for vessels tend to be much faster to meet than zoning and permitting fixed sites, enabling us to accelerate permitting relative to California coastal conventions.
Dr. Brian von Herzen, our guest on Dec. 20, 2019
As a child growing up in New York, Barry Schoer couldn’t understand why his mother behaved the way she did and why he couldn’t help her. As a teenager, he was advised by a high school counselor to volunteer at a school for disabled children. Unfortunately, Barry was never able to help his mother, but his experience helping developmentally disabled children led him to find his purpose in helping others.
Barry worked as an undergraduate to help change the laws in New York State so that individuals with addiction were placed in treatment rather than in jails and prisons. During his graduate program, Barry interned at Bellevue Hospital, where he was trained and then hired as a licensed psychiatric technician. It was Bellevue Hospital where Barry observed everything he believed was wrong with mental health treatment. This included inhumane conditions, excessive use of electroconvulsive therapy, the overuse of psychotropic medications without regard for long-term side effects, and the complete lack of any type of individual or group therapeutic engagement.
Barry eventually moved to California because he had read that treatment of mentally ill individuals was far more advanced and compassionate on the west coast. During his years working in the psychiatric unit at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, various nonprofits, and the County of Santa Barbara, Barry focused on finding ways to improve treatment and open new opportunities for children and adults living with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues.
In 1983, the President of the Board of Sanctuary House called Barry and asked him if he would take the position of Executive Director. He committed to staying a maximum of two years as he had other goals he wanted to pursue. Thirty-five years later, he is still here because the Board of Directors has continuously allowed him to nurture and grow Sanctuary Centers into a comprehensive system of care that puts respect for each and every client first. Barry remains unwavering in his commitment to Sanctuary Centers and our ongoing goal to treat each and every client as an individual not a diagnosis.
Barry Schoer, our guest on Dec. 27, 2019.