29 January 2013

Robert Frost, Electric Cars, and Poetry

Poet Robert Frost died 50 years ago today, and Poets & Writers magazine offered the challenge of writing a poem using Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" as a model.
Robert Frost

Frost was born in 1874, some time after Robert Anderson (a suspected relation to this author) invented a crude electric carriage in Scotland, and some 39 years after Thomas Davenport of Brandon, Vermont, built his own small-scale electric car. Davenport also invented the first American-built DC electric motor.

Robert Anderson's Electric Carriage, circa 1832

Perhaps because I was working on some electric vehicle materials in my day-job today, I couldn't resist penning this over lunch, with apologies to the poet:

"Stopping by the Roadside on a Snowing Evening"

Whose car this is I think I know;
No keys I need to make it go.
You may not hear me driving by
'Cause electric cars are soft as snow.

My finger on the button here
Will make the engine start and gear
And waken not the woods and lake
--the quietest engine of the year.

I give the foot-pedal a tiny tap
And feel the seat belt on my lap.
The only other sound's the hush
Of lofty wind and goosewing flap.

The road is lively, quick, and steep.
But I have batteries to keep,
And miles to drive before I sleep,
And miles to drive before I sleep.

Davenport's Electric Car, 1835

17 January 2013

How the Internet Gave Me a Voice: Skepticism and Poetry

Craig Newmark via Paper Camera
Today is Internet Freedom Day and Craig Newmark asks "How does the Internet give you a voice?"

When Craig asks something, I feel compelled to respond. Not because he is the founder of Craigslist or because he posts some awesome photos of birds or because Leonard Cohen is his Rabbi.

Rather, it's because he is a champion of causes like veteran's issues and Internet Freedom. (Well, maybe his bird photos do have a special appeal.)

The Internet gave me a voice --actually two voices. One for my skepticism and another for my poetry.

First, the poetry. It was the late 1990s when I first realized the power of the Internet to give voice to my poetry or, more to the point, gave me an audience.

My poems had recently won the Nebraska Review Award and Aldrich Emerging Poets Award, but you couldn't find the winning poems anywhere. The Nebraska Review had to scrap the initial printing of the issue with my winning poems because of a printing error.

Then I got an email from an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts college in Cupertino, California. She had found some of my poetry on the Internet and wanted to write about my work for her assignment. (You can read her essay here: Essay on the Poetry of Scott Edward Anderson)

A total stranger all the way across country found my writing on the Internet.

And now, all these years later, many more have read my work through online magazines and journals and my poetry blog: Seapoetry

More readers have read my poetry than ever could read it in the Nebraska Review or almost any other print publication.

And since 2004 this blog, The Green Skeptic, provided a platform to question the assumptions we make about how we conserve the earth's resources and invest in green technology.

The Internet is many things. At its best, it is a community of voices where there was formerly silence.

Like any community, to paraphrase Parker Palmer, it is where the some of the writers you least want to read do their blogging. But the community of the Internet is richer for the diversity of its voices.

Visit Craig's call to action here: Craig Connects

How does the Internet give you a voice?

11 January 2013

Mosaic Shows Crowdfunding Cleantech May Get Its Time in the Sun

"The road is paved with ideas -- good, bad, and disastrous," I wrote in a blog post about how I nearly started The Disaster Channel, a 24-hour cable network devoted entirely to disasters and their impacts.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Timing is worth a lot more.

When I set out to develop my green energy web marketplace, variously called "Seat 28B" and "VerdeInvesting," among other names, it was the fall of 2008. 

That's right the fall of 2008. Should be a capital letter on that Fall, maybe even all caps, FALL of 2008.

What seemed like a great idea that summer -- actually, it was an evolving idea that I and my friend Lucinda had as far back as 2006, only then it was for conservation projects -- turned into a really good idea whose time had most decidedly not come by that Fall.

The collapse of the financial markets and downwardly spiraling oil prices conspired to make timing for that idea um, to say the least, problematic. 

Add to that mix the SEC challenges raised early on by the venerable Steve Goodman at Morgan Lewis, and we had a kind of perfect storm against our retail alternative energy investing business. 

As I've said before, we were too small to fail, hadn't taken anyone's money and hadn't hired anyone, so it was fairly easy to downshift and turn it into a consulting practice

I still believe the idea of a web marketplace for cleantech is a good one. And this week proved it, as Mosaic, which I've written about here back when they were SolarMosaic, fully funded four projects in its first day of activity.

Mosaic connects ordinary investors to high quality solar projects. Their mission is "to open up clean energy investing and fundamentally change the way energy is financed."

The economy is still bad and some seasoned investors are starting to move away from cleantech. So what's different and why is Mosaic working?

The JOBS Act. 

In 2012, President Obama signed into law the JOBS Act, which stands for Jumpstart Our Business Startups, effectively making it easier for public solicitation by private companies raising money.

The SEC still has to file some rules on the matter, which it didn't do within the 270 days they were given to do so by Congress. Mosaic does not have an official approval from the SEC, but worked with state officials to open their platform to residents of California and New York.

Mosaic had a private launch in early 2011. Since that time it has raised $1.1 million from 400 or so investors and funded 11 projects. This week, they raised $300,000 in 24 hours to fund 4 projects. 

Crowdfunding for cleantech may yet get its time in the sun.

10 January 2013

Upcoming Event: Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology: Investment Opportunity, Not Science Fiction

Breakthroughs in advance materials are happening every day. 
Whether it’s catalysts and solvents improving energy generation and storage or membranes for better water filtration and air purification; from materials that foster greater energy efficiency to nanomaterials for use in the latest clean technologies, advanced materials provide solutions to make products more efficient, less expensive, safer, and even longer lasting.
Join us for an informative and lively dialogue with industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors on the current state and future potential of this emerging growth sector.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Morgan Lewis
1701 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology: Investment Opportunity, Not Science Fiction
David ParatorePresident and CEO, NanoSteel
Tucker TwitmyerManaging Director, EnerTech Capital
Joseph King, Managing Director, DuPont Ventures
Michael A. DeSimone, President & CEO, DeSimone Group Investments
Moderated by:
Scott Edward AndersonGlobal Marketing Director for Cleantech, Ernst & Young, and CAMA co-founder

For more information, contact Jennifer Cohen.

Sponsored by: