Tackling Sustainability Through Food: How a Burlington Restaurant is Making a Difference

This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17

In SEMBA, we are encouraged to connect and learn from other social entrepreneurs that are currently driving business to create a social and environmental good. As part of an assignment for our Entrepreneurial Leadership and Mindset class with Dita Sharma, my classmate Julie Allwarden and I sat down with the owner of Pingala restaurant, Trevor Sullivan, to talk about what inspired his business.

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A Recipe for Quick Creativity

This post was written by Adam Berry, SEMBA ’17

What can we do when we need to be creative, but it’s not there? We’ve all had it, be it writer’s block, artist’s block, entrepreneurial block, etc., the dreaded block is a creative type’s worst nightmare. What if we had a way to break through this block that was fun, easy, and took less than 10 minutes to complete? It may sound crazy, but I shared a tool with my SEMBA classmates this March that touched on all these requirements. I call it On Demand Creativity.

The alternative uses task, as it is more commonly named, was created by J.P. Guilford in 1954. At its very core, the task looks at an everyday object and aims to discover alternate uses for that object. For example, a paperclip’s primary use is to bind papers together. A paperclip may alternately become a ring, necklace, or earring. Within eight minutes, alone or in a group, one can look for as many of these uses for a paperclip, or other object, as possible. The aim is number of ideas generated. As a byproduct of looking for the highest number of alternatives, creativity starts to flow. Questions are asked: how many paperclips am I allowed? Can I manipulate them? How much time am I allowed to make the new object? Is it just me or can many people work on this? Over time, assumptions are either created or shattered, and in this brief timeframe, our minds open up to new possibilities and our proverbial creative juices get flowing.

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Iqbal Quadir: Increasing Productivity through Connectivity

This post was written by Brett Spusta, SEMBA ’17

“Connectivity is productivity,” a mantra which has guided entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir to put cell phones in the hands of over 100 million Bangladeshi people. A country once thought to be synonymous with poverty is now seeing unprecedented economic growth due, in part, to the success of Iqbal Quadir and his venture, Grameen Phone, a micro-loan based company which allows those at the base of the pyramid access to modern communication. Iqbal, who is a SEMBA advisory board member, visited the SEMBA class as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence series. He proved to be a model of the disruptive and visionary values that SEMBA represents. He demonstrated that capital is not the source of innovation and development; rather, development is the source for capital.

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One Student’s Journey to Address Sustainability through a Vegan Lifestyle

This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17

“It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness. I think that’s where movements are started.”

– Shawn Heinrichs

Margaret feeding a cow in Haridwar, India

Growing up I would not touch anything that even resembled a vegetable. My Puerto-Rican and Cuban roots offered daily dishes of fried meat or chicken with rice and beans. At 21, I stopped eating meat for health reasons which slowly transformed into ethical concerns. Three years later, I read a book called “Vegan Freak” which revealed to me the atrocities and environmental havoc of not just the meat industry, but dairy and eggs as well. Sometimes once you know something, there is no degree of feigning ignorance that could turn you away from the truth. I immediately eliminated all animal products from my life, including eggs, dairy, wool and leather. People around me told me I was silly, expressed concern for a lack of protein and gave disapproving looks with my lunch plate filled with just veggies. However, I knew the only way to save our dying planet was to stop pillaging that which is not ours to take.

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The “SEMBAllers”: Winter 2017 CoRec B-League Broomball Legends

This post was written by Ted Carrick, SEMBA ’17

Broomball is a game of grace and athleticism removed. Remaining are only uncoordinated attempts to slap a mini soccer ball into a hockey net with a small plastic “broom,” on ice, in sneakers!

Some SEMBA students and other UVM undergrads formed a squad with the intention of enjoying a weekly moment of respite from their studies, a fun way to get some exercise, and have a few laughs. But the team did more than that. They broomed their way through the regular season 2-0-1!  With a no-loss regular season, the team’s confidence was high heading into the playoffs. The team had their eyes set on the prize: t-shirts branded with “SEMBAllers, 2017 Winter CoRec B-League Broomball Champions” across the chest.

Captain Brett Spusta, SEMBA ’17, sent out this inspirational email the day before their first playoff match:

“Hey team!

Big week! Playoff time! First game is tomorrow at 10pm, I know it is late, but we need to bring our A game. We are playing the Ball Sweepers, who we tied in the regular season. In play-offs, there are no ties; we will run some shoot out drills for warm up. Because it is so late, we have some time to run the tapes and do some strategy planning over a refreshing beverage before.

We need to carry big-mo with us from last week’s win. We are now in single elimination territory, if we lose we are done, if we win we play next Monday (2/27) at 9:15.   

“I know we have a test tomorrow, but broomball should be a priority.”

Remember: the champion team gets an intramural champion t-shirt! It is a coveted prize. I know we have a test tomorrow, but broomball should be a priority. LETS GET THE SHIRT! GET FIRED UP! We have come a long way; I am not ready to end our run now!

Stay hydrated, stay loose, and visualize yourself on the ice. Visualize yourself scoring the game winning shot, the high fives, the SEMBA pride. Wow: what a picture, what a story!  

 -Coach Brett

 P.S. Our name is officially SEMBAllers.”

What do the 2017 Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots, the 2004 World Series Boston Red Sox, and the 2017 SEMBAllers CoRec B-League broomball team have in common? Heart. Heart and grit. No, they were not all supreme champions of their sport, the SEMBAllers having lost in the first round of the playoffs to what proved to be insurmountable opposition. But the team nevertheless reveled in the joy of good natured competition, laughs, and friendship. They never gave up, and when it was over they high fived their opponents and congratulated each other on a game well played.

Hero’s get remembered, but legends never die: 2017 SEMBALLers CoRec B-League broomball team.

 

SEMBA, Women Leaders Gather to Work for Change

This post was written by Karen Barnett, SEMBA ‘17

To enact change, you need to know the actual problem. This statement is far from revolutionary, and perhaps it even sounds a bit boring. Yet not every organization dives deep to fully understand the issues it aims to address. Change the Story VT, however, is not one to fly past the diagnosing stage. Instead, the organization knows that data drives effective goals, without which meaningful change is impossible.

Tiffany Bluemle, Director of Change the Story VT, shared her inspiration last Thursday night at a gathering with SEMBA women and the Vermont Chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), an organization that connects women leaders from all different fields to build better leadership for the future.

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Soft Skills Needed to Support your Sustainability Efforts

This post was written by Aditi Datta, SEMBA ’17, and former student editor of “The SEMBA Review.”

Erin Meezan

Erin Meezan,Vice-President of Sustainability at Interface, Inc. and member of the SEMBA Advisory Board, offered her insights and tips for success with the SEMBA class through the program’s Executive in Residence speaker series, in which leading-edge practitioners share their personal stories and perspectives with students.

Environmentally-friendly carpet manufacturer Interface is a progressive, innovative organization that leads the industry in its full commitment to sustainability. Yet, Erin Meezan still faces resistance and apprehension each day. Meezan’s specific tools, tips and skills are valuable assets to utilize in any career that challenges the status quo, and are especially relevant to SEMBA students.

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Ecotourism in the Face of Sustainability Challenges

This post was written by Karen Barnett, SEMBA ’17

I am 40 feet below sea level at a coral reef site in the Bahamas, unsettled by the scene in front of me. Surrounded by marine life, 11 other tourists, and our scuba diving guides, I first notice one diver’s fins scrape the reef below as he attempts to steady himself. To my right, a diving guide taps a stingray so that the animal will swim away to the visitors’ delight. Another tourist feeds the fish, with feed sold directly from the dive shop.

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” These guidelines stand in contrast to my diving experience, soliciting tourists to enter nature as an observer, not an actor. The same way we don’t visit a national park and expect the weather to perfectly accommodate our schedule, we should not expect wildlife to show themselves for our entertainment.

“How much responsibility do businesses profiting from the natural environment have to enact ecotourism principles in their business models?”

How much responsibility do businesses profiting from the natural environment have to enact ecotourism principles in their business models? A great deal if they want their businesses to thrive in the future.

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Sustainable Business — A Catalyst of Innovation and Investment Returns

vermont-works1

This post was written by Robert Zulkoski, Chairman, Vermont Works Management Company, LLC; Member, Board of Advisors, SEMBA at the University of Vermont; Member of the Board of Directors, BTV Ignite; and Chairman, Greenlots

The integration of environment, social and governance factors (ES&G) into corporate and investment decision making has been gathering momentum over the last decade. Several well-researched reports highlight one of the key drivers underpinning this shift: sustainability and financial performance are linked.

A multitude of constituencies – governments, public companies, impact investment intermediaries, opinion leaders and investors – have contributed to the development of the global social impact investment market. A movement is afoot that represents a significant opportunity for businesses and markets to drive improved social value. By allocating assets towards products, services, and companies that generate positive social impact, the movement toward “impact investing” has the potential to create real value for both investors and for society.

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