Earthday 2014: Hangout with thought leader, Alex Lightman

Robert Jacobson: Hi, this is Robert Jacobson, and I’m with my friend Alex Lightman.  He’s a noted author, entrepreneur, and thought leader based in Santa Monica, California. Happy Earth Day, Alex!

Alex Lightman: Happy Earth Day, Robert! How are you?

Robert Jacobson: Very well. Thanks for doing this last minute hangout today. What does Earth Day mean to you today, here on April 22nd, 2014, as we –

Alex Lightman: I think it’s a day for people who care about making the world more sustainable for human life, for animal life, for nature, so that we have as many living things, different living things, able to live in ecosystems that won’t experience predictable, catastrophic crashes. I think it’s very poignant and sad that we’re having an Earth Day during the midst of the sixth great extinction and we don’t put those things together. So, I think everyone should ask themselves, at least on Earth Day, at least once every 365 days, hmm, if we’re in the middle of the sixth great extinction, should we, are we doing all that we can to stop leading to our own extinction, and the extinction of the vast majority of all species? Over 99% of all the species that have ever lived are extinct, and so, the odds aren’t all that great for Homo sapiens sapiens if we don’t actually ever ask ourselves that question. And if we don’t ask ourselves that question on Earth Day, what other day do we ask it together as a group?

Robert Jacobson: Wonderful. So, Alex, what is one thing that each person could do to make a difference as they go forward from Earth Day and beyond?

Alex Lightman: Well, I’m not sure how this looks, you’ll have to tell me, ’cause I’ve never done this before. Believe it or not, this is my very first –

Robert Jacobson: Bring it a little south. Yep. Okay, up. It says, U.S. Power Capacity By Source at End of March 2014, and I see these figures are in gigawatts, and at the top I see natural gas, but I cannot read the number, and then, I see natural gas, coal, I think that says nuclear, this is very –

Alex Lightman: Yes.

Robert Jacobson: – and then, and then, you’ll have to read the rest to us, Alex.

Alex Lightman: Sure. Okay. Basically, the natural gas, this is in gigawatts, so for natural gas, it’s 484 gigawatts, for coal, it’s 330 gigawatts, nuclear 107 gigawatts, hydro, it’s about 100, wind, it’s 61, oil, it’s 46, and then, way down here at solar, we have 8.86, and we look at this, I don’t know if it’s possible to see. You’ll have to tell me whether, how do I hold it?

Robert Jacobson: A little closer, a little closer. Okay, stop. Okay, so I see that says we’ve got coal at, coal installed capacity in percent of total capacity, and then at the bot-, it goes through the list of different energies, so maybe you can turn it around and –

Alex Lightman: So, the main I wanted to show here is that, right now, 28% of our total capacity is for coal, about 42% is natural gas, about 9% is nuclear, 4% is oil, about 8.5% is water, 5.25% is wind, and then we get down to solar is 0.75%, so it’s down there towards the bottom, okay?

Robert Jacobson: Yep, just above waste, just above waste heat.

Alex Lightman: Yeah, just above waste heat, exactly. Now, here’s what’s interesting. So, that’s the whole capacity. Now, if you look at what we did last year in 2013, you’ll see that natural gas is by far the most, natural gas is number one, solar’s number two. Now, isn’t that very interesting. And then, number three is coal, number four is wind, number five is biomass. Okay, with me so far? Now is where it gets interesting. Now this says first quarter 2013, it’s actually a misprint in the internet posting, but it’s actually 2014, and what you see is solar is 594, can you see that? Is that clear?

Robert Jacobson: Yup.

Alex Lightman: Solar is there, number one, far and away more than anything. And then, number two is wind at 427, and then there’s a little bit of new natural gas going in at 90, and then we have geothermal, biomass, water, other. Coal, zero. Nuclear, zero. Oil, zero. So, I just wanna say that, on Earth Day, ’cause I started with a downer, that this is pretty good news. The new sources of the United States are overwhelmingly, for the whole country, solar and wind. And if we wanna go and look at those numbers, and we wanna look at them by state, we see something interesting. This is a picture of the major solar projects happening in the United States and –

Robert Jacobson: Can you bring it just a little closer, Alex?

Alex Lightman: Sure. The California number, like where all the little dot-, the blue, light-blue, kind of mauve-ish color –

Robert Jacobson: Yup.

Alex Lightman: – I’m not completely –

Robert Jacobson: It looks like there’s a bunch in the southwest.

Alex Lightman: Yes, if you see that, the vast majority, that’s all new projects, the vast majority are California. And you might wanna say, wow, are those projects getting finished, is stuff happening? And the answer is, hells yeah. So, if you look at U.S. power plant capacity additions by state, what you’ll see is the top one is California, and even if you can’t see all the details, you can see that, basically, California only has about 12% of the population, but we accounted for more than half of all the power plant additions, and that yellow part is solar. So the solar –

Robert Jacobson: Wow. It looks like it’s almost a little more than a third.

Alex Lightman: Yeah. It’s incredible, it is. And then we can even see this a little bit closer. So this is the power plant additions in 2013 top five sources by state. So what you see is the natural gas part, notice that natural gas in California is more than all the other, you know, four next leading states combined, and the solar from California is more than the next states combined. The little black stuff in the upper right corner is coal, and then we have over here, is wind. So, because the tax credits for wind expired, we had a big jump, and then we’re not having so many. But my point is that, from this point on, the vast majority of power plant additions in the United States will come from solar. Now, why is that interesting, you ask? Would you like to ask? Would you like to know?

Robert Jacobson: Yeah. Why, why is it, why should we know?

Alex Lightman: Because the more solar that’s there, the lower the marginal cost of electricity from solar will be. So, right now, the average cost for electricity in the United States is 13 cents a kilowatt-hour. There are power purchase agreements with the utility that’s at the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, which is adjacent to the Stanford University campus. I would argue that, because of Stanford and the Sand Hill Road, that that’s one of the main money-pumps for Silicon Valley. And they have a long-term purchase price contract that’s about 6 cents a kilowatt hour.

Now, that number’s pretty damn important for a single reason. Electricity has three components: generation, transmission, and distribution. So, imagine you have a Hoover Dam generating power from hydropower. Then, you have to take it on the power lines and bring it into LA, and then you have to take it to the homes, meter it, and then charge each individual home. The average cost in the United States for transmission and distribution is 7 cents. So if you have a coal-fired plant, a gas-fired plant, or a nuclear-fired plant, you have to actually charge zero. In fact, you have to charge negative rates to go and have transmission and distribution cost 7 cents, but the overall cost be less than that.

So basically, solar has already won, and it’s just a matter of people getting the news. William Gibson said, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. The future in which 100% of America’s electricity comes from solar is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Now, that’s not even the lowest price. While you could have in Hawaii 30 cents, 35 cents a kilowatt hour, or peak hours in Texas in the summer can be up to five or six dollars a kilowatt hour, you already have a Texas utility, El Paso Electric, getting solar for 5 cents a kilowatt hour.

Now, there’s this thing called the learning curve that was developed in the ’30s, and Moore’s law is one instance of the learning curve, so, the idea that, basically, things get less expensive. Lithium-ion batteries are getting cheaper at about 22 to 25% a year. Solar gets cheaper at about 30 to 35% a year. So basically, you have what amounts to a reduction of about half every two or three years in the cost of solar, and you have a doubling of solar installations. So, let’s just say that we picked a time in the past when solar was 0.1%, tiny, tiny fraction. Seven doublings gets you to solar at 1%, and that’s where we are right now. So we’re at 0.75% of U.S. power as of Christmas of last year, 2013. Now, April, right now, we just hit that milestone of 1%.

Now, that may not sound like much, but the good news is, if you looked at doublings, if you looked at 0.1% and then seven doublings, from there, there, there, there, to one, it’s only seven more doublings into the future before solar provides over 100% of all the electric power in the United States. It’s already won. In the human genome project, they had a fifteen year timeline, and they got to about 1% seven years in, and people said, oh my god, it’s behind schedule. No, because they were doubling their capacity every two years. So basically, they finished ahead of time.

What’s exciting about solar is that we could provide 100% of the electricity of the United States, over one terawatt a year, from an area that’s 108 miles on a side, so 108 miles by 108 miles. That can all be in one place, it could be one county, it could be in Los Angeles county, we wouldn’t even notice it. It could be in any county in Nevada, it could be in any county in Arizona. But, that could provide all the electricity in the United States. You go, okay, well, but the United States is using about five terawatts a year, only one of that is electricity, the rest is oil, and coal, and all that.

Well, you actually can produce a liquid fuel in the form of ammonia, NH3, from air, water, and electricity, and so, right now, you can get solar at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour, in a couple years you’ll get it at 4 cents, a couple years more, 3 cents, 2 cents, you can theoretically get down to 1 cent a kilowatt-hour. There’s no reason we can’t get there, and once we’re there, we’re talking about producing ammonia for less than $100 a ton. We’re talking about something that will fit in your existing gas tank with a slightly better seal, that costs maybe 20, 30 cents a gallon, made from air and water. And it can be recycled water, it can be salt water, it can be water that is run off, you know, that’s from a eutrophied lake that’s been reclaimed.

So, the whole point I’m making here is that we can be 100% renewable, and we can be 100% renewable by 2030, not only in the U.S., but also worldwide. So, that’s the message I’d like to give on Earth Day.

Robert Jacobson: Well, that’s sixteen years from now, that’s the sweet sixteen, that’s pretty amazing.

Alex Lightman: Yeah. So, what industries will be crushed by this? Oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, biofuels, which are not very green, they use 1.8 million times as much water as solar does, traditional automobiles, internal combustion engines, and the traditional utility model. All these will be crushed, and either transform themselves or basically give their investors big losses in their portfolios by then. Most people who have IRAs, individual retirement account or pension funds, who are working today, have to think sixteen years ahead, and those investments will be terrible, which is why groups like Ceres, C-e-r-e-s, which represent people who manage about $11 trillion have sent letters to the leaders of fossil fuel companies saying, if you burn all those fossil fuels that are in your balance sheet, you’ll actually heat up the world and cause climate change such that it would wipe things out. Now, then they’ve asked for an answer, like, how do you guys deal with that? They haven’t got an answer.

But my point is, I don’t post about global warming, I don’t care about global warming, because it’s a waste of time debating it. It takes away the chance to look at the fact that solar already beats natural gas and all these other things. Even though they have 150 acres of effectively stolen federal land and all this water that they take, thousands of times more water than solar uses, and I think if people realize that they’re arguing about Bundy’s cattle, and whether that federal land is a good land and stuff, like, if you care about that cattle, why aren’t you worried about 150 million acres?

Now, the reason that you might want to care about that 150 million acres is that if you used only 8% of it for solar, you could provide all the electricity in the United States, and if you used 20, 25% of it to provide solar that would feed and create fuel in the form of ammonia, or hydrogen, but ammonia can actually go into tanks without cryogenic hydrogen, you don’t need special freezing capabilities, you don’t wanna have the risk of freezing your hand off and breaking a finger, then you basically have the ability to power all the United States just with a tiny fraction of the land that the oil and gas companies are using on public lands, and with maybe a hundredth to a thousandth the amount of water that’s taken out. All these droughts? It’s caused by the fossil fuel industry. We wouldn’t have all these droughts if we weren’t using all this water for fossil fuels. So, most of the major big problems that seem unsolvable will be solved if people were just aware of the land and water subsidies given to oil and gas producers.

Robert Jacobson: So, going forward, for an Earth Day resolution, what type of resolutions would you like to see individuals making?

Alex Lightman: Well, I had a conversation with a famous military historian, who’s a famous conservative, and he’s been famously skeptical about renewable energy because he feels it hurts people in the central valley of California where he lives. And I asked him, I saw him on Sunday for two and a half hours, and I asked him, well, why don’t you get solar? Because there’s so much sun in the central valley of California, and all these farms that don’t have water, they could be making money from solar. And he said, because I don’t want a subsidy. I want someone to tell me what it would cost to get solar without federal subsidies, without state subsidies and stuff.

So I just would ask people to say, what does it take for you to get solar, or to get a friend of yours to get solar, or a place where you shop. For instance, Ikea, or some people pronounce it Ikea, Ikea, I pronounce it Ikea because I lived in Sweden for a while, wants to have more than 100% of all of its electricity from solar and wind renewables. Well, if Walmart put solar on the roof of all the Walmart stores, that would provide 20% of all of America’s electricity. So, I guess the resolution I would have is ask the stores where you buy products, why don’t they install solar? Or the people who run malls where you shop. Or people who have roofs.

In Australia, between 2008 and 2012, they installed solar on over one million residences. Australia only has 23 million people. That’s incredible. America has about 318, 320 million people. So Australia – and we only have 320,000 or so solar installations – so Australia has less than a tenth of the people, what is it, maybe about a fourteenth of the people, but they have 300% more solar installations. People in Adelaide, the city of Adelaide in south Australia, some neighborhoods have 100% of the homes with solar. So just ask, why not put solar? Because every single roof we put solar on gets us closer to that 108 mile by 108 mile square that provides all of our electricity, and means we don’t have to have any pollution.

I would be remiss, though it’s not exactly an Earth Day if I didn’t say that the studies that I’ve seen show that the use of fossil fuels are responsible for one third, $886.5 billion a year, of U.S. health care spending. Why on earth would we want to waste $886.5 billion trying to deal with the poisoning and the cancer caused by fossil fuels, when today we could replace them all? I don’t get that. So, go and either install solar, or get a quote, or help someone else get a quote, and encourage people to do it. I personally would love to be able to say that I buy 100% of my products and services only from vendors that get 100% of their energy from renewable resources, and if people came up with resolutions like that, or something even better, we’ll get there so fast it will make people’s heads spin. Certainly, we should at least match Australia in total solar, which we don’t yet.

Robert Jacobson: So, what does it look like in 2030? What does April 22nd, 2030 look like?

Alex Lightman: Oh, well, we produce more electricity from solar than we do from all sources today. The oil companies have gone out of business in America. The natural gas companies are out of business, the coal companies are out of business, the nuclear reactors are all shut down. Nobody’s buying internal combustion engines. In fact, nobody even knows somebody who, in recent memory, has bought an internal combustion engine. About 7 to 8 million cars are sold a year in the world, but they’re all electric, and they’re all auto-driving cars, because every auto-drive car, every self-driving car, replaces 15 internal combustion engine cars that require drivers. Cars take kids to school and bring them back again. Accidents are down. There’s no need to build additional highways, because the auto-drive cars can increase throughput by 273%.

People are riding bikes everywhere. People are running, walking everywhere. There’s showers almost everywhere, so when people get someplace, if they’re sweaty they can just shower off. America has solved its obesity crisis. America never has a fuel crisis. The U.S. dollar is still the dominant currency. China will have gotten bigger than the U.S. in economics for a couple of years, but then collapsed in a haze of choking smoke, as they caused all their population to lose about 20 years of life through pollution. And the contrast between a company that has wiped out use of coal like the United States, and one like China or India that gets two thirds of energy from coal, could not be more stark.

Robert Jacobson: Wow. That’s something to think about, and it’s gonna be great to look back at this video sixteen years from now, and to celebrate all of these accomplishments that we potentially have for the world. It’s not just the United States, but it sounds like there’s many opportunities globally to kick the fossil fuel habit.

Alex Lightman: I agree.

Robert Jacobson: Alex, well, thank you very much for joining us today. It was fun, and we should do this more often, because I think, you know, you’re a pioneer in getting, hopefully getting the word out. You’re just, you know, ringing the bell that we need to solarize and energize ourselves with the electrons that we all have access to.

Alex Lightman: Well, if I would give one recommendation to people, I would say it would be –

Robert Jacobson: Oh, excellent, a book recommendation.

Alex Lightman: Get this book, ‘Solar Trillions’, by Tony Seba. He has a new book coming out called ‘Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation’, and most of the information that I have here about which industries are doomed comes from Tony Seba. So, thank you for this, and I look forward to talking to you soon.

Robert Jacobson: Okay, thank you Alex Lightman, everybody. Bye, Alex!

Alex Lightman: Bye, Robert!


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Non Toxic Hair Services: Shades Salon


Robert Jacobson:  Hi, this is Robert Jacobson with GatherGreen and I’m with Jeremiah Williams, of Shades Natural Color Studios in Beverly Hills, California.  Good afternoon Jeremiah.

Jeremiah Williams:  Hey.

Robert Jacobson:  How are you doing today?

Jeremiah Williams:  Doing well and yourself?

Robert Jacobson:  Very well, great.  Well thank you very much for joining us.  We’re working in an area that we’ve done a little bit in the past.  We’re kind of doing something new, which is sort of non-toxic hair services.  And because a lot of people don’t think they realize that there’s a lot of nasty chemicals when it comes to hair treatment, hair coloring.   And can you share a little bit about like, you know, what the differences in your practice between I guess conventional styles of hair services.

Jeremiah Williams:  Yes.  Well I have been working with, with conventional hair color for years and years now and getting it all over myself and breathing it in.  And I’ve always been very aware that it is full of some pretty noxious, questionable, pretty sketchy stuff.  And Susan Henry who owns Shades Salon, who created Susan Henry’s Natural Process Color which we used there, has been a colorist for about as long as I’ve been alive.  And she developed ammonia poisoning.  And got so ill that she had to stop doing hair.  And that’s when she started trying to cook up natural color in her kitchen.  And now, over a decade later, we have an excellent non-toxic color line and ammonia-free salon.

Robert Jacobson:  Terrific.  And now, are there any, when a client comes in experiences, goes for a coloring, a cut and color, is there going to be anything that’s going to be — are they going to notice anything different?  You know, are the smells different, or the lack of smells different?  And in terms of durability, you know with roots and that sort of thing, how, what would you say about that?

Jeremiah Williams:  Well, one thing that turned out very  nicely with Susan’s Natural Color is that it just so happens to stick even better than the normal colors that I’m used to using.  Which is amazing.  So we have to let them process on your hair a little bit longer.  And we use heat, which is normal for all colors.  But it’s incredible how well it sticks.

And people do often remark on the lack of smell.  They’ll walk in and say wow, there is no offensive — there is no unnatural, chemical smells in here, I love it.  And you can actually stick your face up to a bowl of color that I’m using on your hair, and take a good huff and you won’t smell anything, other than a little funky natural kind of an organic smell.  Which is wonderful.

So I get it all over my hands and breath it all the time and it really feels like a positive thing not to have that — those harsh chemicals and petroleum byproduct smells that I’m used to.  And I really love being able to be in that environment and feel good about what I’m putting on peoples’ heads.

Robert Jacobson:  That’s terrific.  So Jeremiah, you were working with conventional products for a while and then you’ve made the switch.  Is it difficult to go as just a — you know, when you are getting your hair or is it difficult for you to go back to the salon when you smell the aerosols.  Is it like once you go this way, is it more difficult to go back.

Jeremiah Williams:  I think so.  I think that’s true.  Yeah, and I think it’s the same for clients if they move, if they find themselves somewhere else then they’ll get online and they’ll start ordering our color from us and trying to get another stylist to put it on their head.  Or trying to apply it themselves because they don’t want to go back.

Robert Jacobson:  Well everybody I encourage you today to go to where we are featuring Jeremiah Williams of Shades Natural Colors Studio and we’ve got a great promotion on hair services.  So, when you go to you can also, there will also be links to the Shades Hair Salon, where you can see more of the specifics about that.  And, we would love for everybody who’s looking for hair treatment — and I think this includes a blowout as well.  You know the haircuts, if you are going to get a haircut, instead of a color something, that includes a blowout, correct?

Jeremiah Williams:  That’s correct, yes.  And you can use your voucher for any service which also includes our amazing scalp treatment.  So a lot of women find our salon because they’ve been through chemo therapy.  Or have been losing hair for whatever reasons.  And we have, Susan’s developed a beautiful scalp treatment with a blend of essential oils, all natural and it’s incredible to watch clients’ hair return in places where they were losing it.

Also, women who are pregnant find this because they don’t want to put chemicals in their head that they don’t want to live with their roots or their grey hairs.  We even see clients with grey hair and doing scalp treatments regularly and we have actually seen their hair turn back from grey to brown, which is not something that we expected and kind of blew away our minds.

So, you can use your voucher for scalp treatments.  You can use it for a cut which will include an awesome blowout.  You can use it for any color service. So there’s really a lot you can do with it.

Robert Jacobson:  Wonderful Jeremiah.  Well thank you again for joining us today.  I just want to encourage everybody to check out Shades Natural Color Studio promotions with Jeremiah, specifically with Jeremiah Williams, who we are featuring today at

Thank you for your time Jeremiah and we look forward to speaking again soon.

Jeremiah Williams:  Thank you.

Robert Jacobson:  Awesome.  Have a great day.  Bye everybody!

Jeremiah Williams:  Bye bye.

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Bringing the Farm to L.A.

Robert Jacobson: Hi everybody this is Robert Jacobson from GatherGreen and I am with Nick Spano founder of LA City Farm. Good day Nick.Nick Spano: Aye Matey.Robert Jacobson: Thank you, yes, I decided to dress up today in honor of Wednesday, of hump day. I’m not really sure why we have the pirate theme going on but we do. So Nick how are you doing?Nick Spano: I think it’s great. I’m doing fantastic. It’s a great day.

Robert Jacobson: Nick, how did you get involved with running farmer’s markets here in the Los Angeles area? It’s probably not the most typical career path but exciting.

Nick Spano: Yeah, I don’t think anything I’ve done is typical. There’s definitely not one solid through line in anything that I’ve chosen to do with my career. Started off in entertainment for 15 years as an actor, was successful in that and started to invest in real estate in my own business six years ago opening the first solar powered spa and it was through that experience as a business owner and someone who was really engaged in the community that I found farmers markets. Obviously, well, I grew up in Pasadena, in Los Angeles and I come from a big family. I Have eight siblings and so farmers markets were a common part of my childhood. And in 2008 when the economy was really struggling and there was a lot of business owners struggling to stay open I sensed there was a real need to create community. Find a way to get people out together and support each other and one of the ways that I think farmers markets have the potential to do that. And so I started seeking out farmers to start our own farmers market. This was in the Cahuenga Pass  near Universal Studios and that was pretty much it. Six months later I was able to get he confidence of a few local farmers and several other vendors to start our first market. That was met with some resistance from the community in terms of the demand for parking and the kind of traffic it would bring in on a Sunday morning. So we eventually had to move that market which we did. We moved it to a restaurant called Yamashiro on the Hollywood Hills and it was really from that point forward that it kind of took off and became a real popular event. And we have since then been able to participate in developing and managing five other markets. So that’s kind of how it all came together.

Robert Jacobson: And what are those markets, Nick?

Nick Spano: We have Yamashiro, Warner Brothers., Cal State Long Beach where I’m at now, we’re on campus with a small farmers market we do here. We have on in Carson, SouthBay Pavilion. We had one at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park on Saturdays which we just recently closed at the end of 2013 and our newest market which has been a great success so far in the city of San Marino.

Robert Jacobson: Terrific. So I want everybody to go to and you can see the markets listed there, there’s a calendar and there’s some good kind of food related blog posts and you know in farmers markets, you touched on something, they’re about a lot more than just bringing healthy food but bringing people together. It seems like farmers markets are a place in Los Angeles where we can socialize, we’re not in our cars, we get to see our friends, our neighbors, our restauranteurs, the people that are providing the food for our local restaurants. Really great quality food that we can bring into our own homes to feed our families.

Nick Spano: Yeah, for us that’s really the main point that we try to drive home whenever we are developing a market. You know I’m not an expert in agriculture. I’m not an expert in organic farming. It’s really about creating a space for all of that to happen. You know San Marino is a very tight knit community, a very wealthy community but strangely enough there’s really no gathering space for everyone to interact and one of the responses we got when we opened the market was how exciting it was to see their neighbors out and I think it’s, so many things today have lost that common interaction with each other. Especially in business, you know? Right now you and I are communicating via webcam, you know? It serves a certain need or demand, at the same time there’s really nothing that can replaced that face to face interaction. It’s important for business to be able to shake the hand of your customer. It’s important for relationships to be able to sit down and talk with each other. But not only that it’s really important in terms of what we eat to have that personal relationship with where our food is coming from and everything today is so disconnected. You have no idea where most of the food that you put in your body is coming from. You have no clue and nowadays we don’t even think to ask. We just consume, consume, consume. I think farmers markets really bring us back to the basics and create a great space for relationships for great relationships with friends, family, and neighbors for a stronger community, but it creates relationships with, you know, entrepreneurs and new businesses that are trying to start out and also it reestablishes the relationship with the farmers where our food comes from.

Robert Jacobson: What message would you maybe shaw with people that aren’t in the Los Angeles area that maybe there isn’t a farmers market yet and maybe somebody wants to start one or or or doing something in terms of community building along with the food. I mean how would you tell people to start if they want to explore this in their own community?

Nick Spano: I think the most basic way to start is to start. That’s the first thing you have to do. I’m not an expert at really anything except for getting things done. You know sometimes I sit on a panel, I sat on a panel at USC and I’m a Bruin so it’s kind of funny to begin with, but, I was at a panel on sustainability and everyone there has a great title as a professional of some kind and I don’t really see myself in that same category, you know? I consider myself a doer and when it comes down to it you can have a lot of great ideas and great intentions but you have, you’re unable to start. Or you don’t know where to start or you’re looking for the perfect place to start. There is no perfect place. There is no perfect path. It’s simply just get out and start doing it and you will figure it out. You’ll find your way and especially with community. You will hit so many hurdles and so many people that don’t agree with maybe the direction that you’re going in and if that’s going to stop you then you won’t ever get anywhere. You kind of have to just, hit the streets, you know? Really start, start working the beat as they say. But, the other thing is if you can find support within the city. That’s a huge help. When we started our first market we got the support of Tom Lebonge our city councilman and that was very helpful especially when we had to move the market. But that was also, there was some challenges there as well because they have to tell it to their constituents and when the constituents weren’t happy with the parking situation they were also the first one to let us know that we couldn’t continue. So, but that relationship was a really important one to establish because it set the tone for our next market. So I think that, and the same thing in San Marino. In San Marino we approached the city manager and a farmers market had been proposed to city council wife in the previous years and had been shot down. So once we went to the city manager and kind of got their blessings with some background on the challenges that farmers market proposal had faced in the past it really allowed us to address some of the concerns of he community and made sure that we did go to city council, we were well prepared and we had the city on our side at that point and we also had the chamber of commerce on our side at that point. So, you know, you taken, whenever you’re trying to take on any community event you really take on the role of a political figure in some ways.

Robert Jacobson: Terrific. So whether, so there’s a little bit of politics involved whether you like it or not in terms of you know, you have to make sure the neighbors are happy, address their concerns, the local politicians, city managements and of course you want to provide a, you want to be a good revenue source for these farmers.

Nick Spano: Absolutely. At the end of the the day it’s a business for these guys and I try to remind everyone of that too that you know, everyone wants to see a market, they love it, they want the farmers to come out. Well for these farmers it’s a job, it’s, they don’t really want to be at the table selling they want to be in the field working. They want to be cultivating crops, that’s what they want to do and so if they’re going to spend three hours that night before loading the trucks and then a three hours to drive in the morning to get to market and then a three hour drive back they better make some money. And it’s our job to make sure that they make money. If they don’t make money they’re not going to come to our markets anymore. So we’re only a good as our last market. If we have a successful market where the farmers know they can, they can make a profit then they’ll keep coming to our markets. And it’s even more challenging with organic. Everyone wants organic but the cost of the product for the organic farmers is much more than your conventional farmer. So, you know, they have to make almost twice as much as the conventional farmer does to be in a market. So, it’s an education for everybody, not just in terms of the food we’re eating and where it’s coming from but really the business, you know, the business of farming.

Robert Jacobson: Thank you very much Nick for sharing. Hopefully that will be a little bit, it’s insightful for me and hopefully everybody else who may be watching this out in cyber land. That’s about all the time we have for today but I want to thank you Nick. Nick Spano from founder of LA City Farm. You can find them at Cal State Long Beach,Warner Brothers. Yamashiro, which is I guess seasonally, is that correct?

Nick Spano: Correct, yeah.

Robert Jacobson: And in San Marino, I think I’m missing one.

Nick Spano: Yeah, in Carson.

Robert Jacobson: Carson.

Nick Spano: SouthBay Pavilion.

Robert Jacobson: So everybody check out and You can subscribe here for more hangouts and we appreciate Nick for spending a little time for us on a farmers market day.

Nick Spano: Thanks Robert.

Robert Jacobson: Thank you Nick. Bye!

Nick Spano: Take care.

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Meal And A Spiel: Do It Yourself Snacks



Robert:  Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening wherever you are at. My name is Robert Jacobson. I’m with Gather Green and with Elana Horwich, of Meal and a Spiel. Elana, welcome.

Elana: Thank you. Hi Robert.

Robert: How are you doing?

Elana:  I’m great. How are you?

Robert:  I am really well and I am looking, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite subjects, which is food. And I’m a big snacker, and we have our sort of premier debut promotion with you on Gather Green. Before we get into that, how did you get into, you’ve been kind of a lifelong culinary master. How did you get interested in spending a lot of time cooking and then sharing it with the world? Tell us a bit on your entrepreneurial story.

Elana: I will. I’ll share that with you. I just wanted to say, a lifelong culinary master, well it did. I started cooking as a child and the joke is that basically the kitchen was the only place in the house my mother couldn’t find me, because she was a not a cook and no one cooked in my house, so that’s where I would go to play. So I did start cooking at a really early age, but when I was 20 I took time off of college and circumstance, luck brought me to Italy, and I ended up staying there for nearly five years. And I learned to cook a lot from my friends’ mothers and so I really had a huge appreciation for Italian food.

I didn’t actually do that professionally. I was, for a long time, it was just something that I was really passionate about and really learned a lot about cooking. And I also, I grew up in California. I grew up in LA. I happen to have food allergy, so I’ve been eating on this healthy, wheat free, low sugar thing for a long time. And so I’ve sort of made a marriage between these two particular types of food, and I started doing it for myself really. And a few years ago a friend of mine, who didn’t know how to cook at all, mentioned that she would like to learn to cook, but that she would have, but she said she would be unable to because she didn’t have the feel for it. And I, in the moment, like whipped up a plate of pasta with her from whatever we found in my fridge, and it was so good and so easy that she told her mother and they called me the next day and offered to pay me to teach them to cook.

And basically my cooking school started from that. Like I had a full, I had like six people, and then the next class I had a full class of people, and there’s a need for people to learn cook, and what I learned in Italy is needed. What they do in Italy every day, I just happened to learn and now I get to share it with others, and I love doing that.

Robert:  And so, for the promotion, the deal that you’re running with us, Do it Yourself Snacks, what I like about it is, II’m gluten free, and this one I know is particularly, it’s a no dairy, gluten free and low sugar Do it Your Snacks. Can you give us a couple examples on what the experience is gonna be like participating in one of your classes?

Elana: Well, participating in one of my classes is always, I have to say it’s a lot of fun. Like, people have a lot of fun. It’s a really intimate environment. It’s in a private home, which is really nice because you’re learning to cook in a kitchen that’s going to mimic your kitchen, and that’s very different from a lot of other cooking classes. And, just to say like, we even start each cooking class just going around the room saying our name and what level of cooking that we’re at, so we create a group unity and there’s just a lot of support. It’s a really fun environment.

The Do it Yourself Snacks class, I mean, this is the way that I eat. This is the way that like, people always want to know what do I eat when, what do I make for myself. This is the kind of food that I eat. And it was actually, the idea for the class came from a mother who wanted to have, a few mothers who wanted to have a class for their tween daughters, like 12 and 13. It’s sort of the age when girls begin to put on more weight, because self-conscious about their bodies. And opposed to trying to put these girls on diets, which is like, just kind of a traumatizing thing for girls that age, I know from personal experience. Like, let’s just teach them to eat healthy and thing that are gonna taste really good. And as we discussed this in a class, other adults in the class wanted to do it as well.

So I opened up the class and put it on the schedule for everyone to do. So we’re gonna make brussel sprout chips. So yummy, something that I just recently started making and I’m like in love with them. And I’m gonna show some of like the, desserts that I’ll make for myself late night when I have munchies. So, like my Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with my sunflower seed butter, and just things that really will meet your cravings, don’t take a long time to make, and are good for your body. They’re not gonna set you back.

Snacks usually set us back in our health regime, and like, this is just to show you how you can have a lot of options so that you can stay on your clean eating path or start a clean eating path and feel really satisfied.

Robert:  Very good. I’m looking forward to, I know I’m gonna at some point this spring, I intend to take, to participate in one of your classes and join up. And then you have a lot of other great classes there. People should check out, and the promotion will be running through So there’s some really fun looking dishes, I mean like, I’ve not heard of a brussel sprout chip. That sounds great. And snacking is something we all do, probably siding a little more on the unhealthy side, so learning how to make healthy snacks sounds wonderfully tasty and fun.

Elana, tell us, so do you typically, how many people do you have in your class? These are pretty small. They’ree pretty intimate. Is that correct?

Elana:  Yeah, they’re intimate. We have about, it depends who signs up. We have around 10 people per class, so that’s basically the number that we go for.

Robert:  Perfect to bring a friend, relative or meet a new friend there.

Elana:  Absolutely. People definitely make friends, and it’s also really fun, it’s also fun date night. People, it’s whoever. If you want to come alone you’re totally in good hands. I just want to tell people that, that they don’t need to bring a friend. A lot of people show up on their own and they will feel incredibly comfortable immediately, because I make that a priority. So I just want to let everyone know that if you just want to come and learn some snacks, and you don’t know anyone, you don’t know me. No problem. Like, you will be welcomed into the family immediately.

Robert: Spoken like, it seems like, just spoken like from the good Jewish tradition of just bring it all into the family.

Elana:  Absolutely. [laughter] Exactly. I was raised well. What can I say? [laughter]

Robert:  Elana, thank you very much for joining us today, and everybody subscribe to the YouTube channel for more hangouts. Check out where they’ve got other classes too. And then we’re going to have the promotion on snack fuel over on So Elana Horwich, founder and chief, I guess culinary master of Meal in a Spiel, thank you very much.

Elana:  You’re welcome. Thank you. Thanks Robert.

Robert:  Thank you very much. Bye everybody.

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Chocolate as Functional Medicine: YES CACAO

GatherGreen Hangout with Justin Polgar, Founder of Yes Cacao.



Speaker 1: Hello everybody. This is Robert Jacobson from GatherGreen and I’m with Justin Polgar of Yes Cacao. Good afternoon Justin.

Speaker 2: Yes, yes, yes, it is a good afternoon.

Speaker 1: How are you doing?

Speaker 2: I’m feeling pretty fresh, pretty renewed. I mean as far as breathing, that’ good. I’m hydrated. That’s also good. So check, check, I’ve eaten a good dose of chocolate today so that’s also doing good.

Speaker 1: So chocolate is our theme today. So Justin you have a special brand that you have been working on for a number of years that your, wonderfully gifted world. And tell us a bit about your medicine bars, your special chocolate from yes cacao.

Speaker 2: So, something that we have going on is original medicine bars here. Something that I was trying to figure out exactly what it is that these bars are called because what we are doing is we are taking wild cacao and we are infusing medicinal herbs into the cacao, so what is that called? Is it a chocolate bar? Yes, but it’s also kind of like this herbal daily dose of your herbal medicine. OK cool so what do we call it? It’s called an original medicine bar. The beauty of that is a) original we are talking about original medicine not our allopathic pharmaceutical medicine so we are redefining that. Original as in we are going back and using ayurvedic herbs, Taoist herbs South American superfoods really old school herbs and medicines and then it’s also original in that these are original formulas that came through me. I am very grateful to have a sensitive palette and a sensitive vessel here. Yeah, original medicine bars is what we came up with as our offering for now at least.

Speaker 1: And you just had the privilege of taking a little business trip down to Ecuador. You have to get your beans somewhere and you have to do some of your own original research on the ground. Tell us about your experience in Ecuador and what you did there and why you went.

Speaker 2: Well, in continuing, it’s important for me to have clarity about what I am doing, what I am offering to be able to speak from a continually strengthened integrity. I want to know what’s going on down there so sometimes we have to bite the bullet so to say. We have to take important trips and sacrifice our time and go down to tropical Ecuadorial countries and explore. In this case really what I was there to explore I really wanted to make a connection with the land with the beans themselves and with the source which is a unique source because we are getting it from the wild meaning this is wild cacao. We are not working with farms which I can go on with and there are some blog posts and there will be more blog posts going into the details why I believe that working with wild cacao has some benefits. And GatherGreen customers you guys are conscious pretty awake peeps so you are aware that when you put good things in your body good things come out in your expressions so yeah I went to Ecuador to explore and got to see some donkeys taking down like sugar cane from volcanic soil which is beautiful knowing that goes into the chocolate that we are using. Also, harvesting some wild cacao and feeling really connected to the, just really, really connected to the source of it and something else I leaned while I was down there is the importance of the fermentation process which there’s a lot of controversy and also a lot of conversation more so around how you ferment chocolate to bring it to its absolute best really to make it so it’s most beneficial to humans. And part of the process of the fermentation is cultivating the microorganmistic [sp] activity the live in the cacao that opens the pineal gland. That’s what we are really going for. We want chocolate for waking up. So that along with the herbs really helps a lot.

Speaker 1: So once you get these beans and you bring them back to your magic lab, what are some of the flavors that you currently have going? I know it there but I think people at home need to try them because they are wonderful.

Speaker 2: They are truly unique in the flavor profile and then as well in your experience in the physiological sensation. I am really a fan of instead of saying there are things in these chocolate bars I want people to really feel. I want you to eat the bar, you make a wish you take a bite. It’s the only rule and I want you to feel in your body the sensation of shifting into a better version of yourself. A more awake, a more alive version.

We have three bars that we currently offer. The dirty chocolate bar which is the original bar of yes cacao. And it’s a very grounding bar it has shalijit in it which is the conqueror of mountains, destroyer of weakness also has Tulsi which a lot of people are familiar with. Tulsi is like an analog of an anti anxiety. So those are the king and queen of ayurveda also we use Reishi mushroom so for those mycologists out there and fans of the mycelial world this mushroom is just spectacular for both opening up your connection and then strengthening your immune system. It also has a peppermint fennel thing going on which is really nice.

Then another bar we have is the caramel which happens to be the best seller. It’s a golden chocolate bar. There is just nothing like it in the flavor profile. When I ask people so what does this taste like to you? I get a lot of like this reminds me when I was 5 years old at this campfire. So I get like this smore thing. Some people think it’s graham crackers. Sometimes it’s caramel. Sometimes it’s like is that spicy or is that sweet. It’s got a whole profile. That one is all brain food functionality. So that’s actually we are using a 96% curcumin cold water extracted turmeric, it’s a medicinal grade turmeric in the chocolate to open up the flow of blood and oxygen to the back of the brain where we then use other herbs like bacopa and lions mane mushroom and gingko to clear up the synaptic channels so you are actually thinking a little bit more on your feet and able to pull things out of the amazing mind that you have there. And then the last bar that we put together is Gaba Baba which is fun to say. You guys can

Speaker1: Gaba Baba

Speaker 2: Chant that out as much as you want. Gaba relaxation bar, that one is allowing us to pull out of fight or flight. Gaba is gamma amino butyric acid which is a naturally produced hormone in our brain that balances melatonin and serotonin. When we can be really relaxed that’s when the creativity flows. This is also a bar that you can eat right before you go to sleep. Because of the relaxation of the gaba and it also has kava kava and blues lotus you are cruising

Speaker 1: Good stuff

Speaker 2: We are super stoked to team up with gathergreen and offer some deals if you will on these bars.

Speaker 1: Everybody you want to learn more at yes and we will be offering some periodic promotions of yes cacao via but it’s really something you can read about it. Justin does a wonderful way of articulating about this but until you really experience it, it is different than any chocolate that you find out there. I say that. I’ve enjoyed all of them and even some of them that predate days of you making some of the bars so I’ve tasted the alchemist, I guess some of your roots.

Speaker 2: It’s an evolution all of my fans and family of fans of yes cacao who witnessed the evolution and especially now we moved into a new production facility and updated our equipment so the texture, the smoothness of bars has come a long way which is great for palatability and to draw out the flavors. .Some people like chocolate as a candy some like a healthy snack now that we are learning about antioxidants in dark chocolate. I choose chocolate more as a staple food and more of something this is daily dose. This is my vehicle to get my herbs. If I get to eat chocolate and get the herbs that are maintaining my ability to be awake, aware enthusiastic and alive say yes to life that’s win win win win win so come win with us.

I know we have a deal where we have one of each so you get like a variety pack so one Dirty, 1 one Karma Mellowl, 1 Gaba Baba, and I believe that’s $15.99 and we are doing free shipping as well. So that’s the deal. As well we are also doing a deal with an 18 pack. Anyone who is familiar with taking herbs, it just gets better. The more regular that you eat the bars, the more regular that you take these herbs, the more compounded the effects are, the more natural way of living in your power, in your yes as we like to say it.

Speaker 1: Justin, wonderful. Thank you very much for joining us. Again we have Justin from yes cacao. I want everyone to check out yescacao.ocom and go to so you can take advantage of this wonderful introduction from yes cacao. Oh wow look that is the grounding bar so you have got some dirty chocolate there.

Speaker 2: little cameo there

Speaker 1: Yeah there you go. He has got a cool design too. The packaging is definitely. I like, well you guys have to experience it for yourself.

Speaker 2: Jump on the yes train just come over

Speaker 1: That’s right. Thanks Justin.

Speaker 2: Thank, Robert, always a pleasure to hang out.

Speaker 1: Until the next hangout. Bye everybody.

Speaker 2: Bye gathergreeners

Speaker 1:And subscribe to us here on youtube channel. Go to Youtube/gathergreen. A little shameless self promotion. Alright, ciao.

Speaker 2: Ciao Ciao

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21 Days to Better Health: Interview with Monica Klausner of Veestro

GG Hangout with Monica Klausner of Veestro: Monica will share about a new offering of meal deliveries.

Transcription of interview:
Speaker 2: Hi everybody. This is Robert Jacobson from Gather Green and I’m with Monica Klausner of Veestro. Good day!

Speaker 1: Hi Robert, how are you?

Speaker 2: I’m doing great Monica. Thanks so much for joining us. So this is our second hangout. It’s, we’re getting a lot better at this. It’s becoming a little easier each time we’re doing one.

Speaker 1: At least we’re trying.

Speaker 2: We’re trying. Yeah, we’re making use of the technology. So we have a new offering today that we’re going to be sharing to Gather Green subscribers. A 21 day challenge. Want to tell us a bit about that?

Speaker 1: Yeah. So we created this 21 day challenge because a lot of people are interested in kind of jump starting their body into a new healthy lifestyle — or healthier lifestyle. And, they just don’t really know where to start. So, you know, it takes 21 days to form a specific habit. So we figured, if we put a package together that allows you to eat one healthy meal a day, for 21 days, then it will give you that push that you need to kind of get you in the habit of eating healthier.

So, we made it pretty flexible. You know, we created it with 21 meals and six juices. So the juices can be used to get a cleanse going, to kind of just like get you started. So you would drink, you know, the juices for two days and then get started with the food. Or you can just use the juice as breakfast or with breakfast or as a snack. And just kind of go along with it.

Speaker 2: Terrific. So everybody, check out That’s V as in Victor, and so you can get all the details on this great deal. We don’t want to share everything so you got to check it out.

And make sure to, you know, if you like this company and end up buying the deal, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter. You know, follow them on social media. And the really — one thing I love about Veestro is ship, you include shipping.

Speaker 1: Yes. Actually this package is a particularly interesting package because it will get you started on a road to a, you know, better health. But once you get done with this, what you can do is come back to us and just basically pick and choose the things that you like. Or do another 21 day challenge. Or we are about to launch a subscription-based weight loss plan. So there’s a lot of exciting things coming up for Veestro. So check us out!

Speaker 2: Well everybody, check out Veestro. And Monica — we had Monica Klausner, co-founder of Veestro. We want to thank you very much for joining us today. And we are looking forward to hopefully our next one having an in-kitchen visit which,

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Which would be a fun, future hang out.

Speaker 1: That would be great. Anytime Robert. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2: Thanks Monica.

Speaker 1: Bye.

Speaker 2: Bye.

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Thank you: Message from GatherGreen

Friends of GatherGreen,

Today, we are renewing our commitment to each of you in building a prosperous and sustainable community. Our collective mission to build a more enduring, sustainable economy goes unchanged. 

**If you know of a business who could benefit from working with us, please let us know. We’d be happy to make that referral worth your time (the most valuable asset we might all have).** 

Reach us via email, Support AT GatherGreen Dot com or call us (323) 393-0190.

We’re in this effort together to make the world a better place and are appreciative of your continued support. 

Have a healthy and prosperous 2014.

In Gratitude,


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