San Francisco Happy Hour Brings Together Urban Innovators

By Jessie F. Hahn

Jessie F. Hahn is the Executive Director of Meeting of the Minds. She is an experienced urban planner, specializing in urban-regional policy with a particular focus on sustainability and clean energy. Previously, Jessie launched the successful Regional Energy Policy Program at Regional Plan Association in New York City. She has written numerous articles which have been featured in RPA’s Spotlight on the Region, The Hartford Courant, Urban Age Magazine, The Record, NPR, among others.

Jan 4, 2013 | Announcements | 0 comments

Join us on February 7th at Churchill in San Francisco for the next happy hour meet-up.

Add to calendarMore information Last night a group of like-minded urban sustainability geeks gathered at a bar in San Francisco for the first Meeting of the Minds happy hour.

The meet-up brought together approximately 30 people working in or interested in urban planning, sustainable development, renewable energy, transportation, smart and connected cities, as well as innovations in any of these areas.

In a digital age where social networking happens more online than at the local watering hole, we rarely get to just relax, have a drink, and meet people who pique our interests. Last night demonstrated that we all crave a bit of face-to-face interaction with other passionate people in a laid-back setting.

A few highlights of the Minds who attended demonstrate what a hot-bed San Francisco has become in the field of urban sustainability.

Clara Brenner and Julie Lein

Clara Brenner & Julie Lein of Tumml talk with filmmaker Ron Blatman and MotM Dir. of Communications Dave Hahn

Clara Brenner & Julie Lein of Tumml talk with filmmaker Ron Blatman and MotM Dir. of Communications Dave Hahn

Clara Brenner and Julie Lein are the co-founders of Tumml, a new urban ventures accelerator that empowers entrepreneurs to help solve urban challenges. Tumml will host its first cohort of companies during the summer of 2013. Clara and Julie graduated in 2012 from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow them on twitter @Tumml.

Ron Blatman

Ron Blatman is producing a new show called Saving the City: Remaking the American Metropolis. The national TV series will feature four one-hour programs highlighting successful and unsuccessful examples of urban redevelopment throughout the US and Canada. The TV component is only part of a much larger education effort to raise awareness about the importance of cities and the quality of the urban environment through film, lesson plans and a national outreach agenda. Visit for more on the project — the TV Series section has outlines of all four episodes. The recently launched Facebook page is

Mike Boss

Mike Boss is the General Manager at Rock & Rose Landscapes in San Francisco. Mike is working on a new start-up concept that plans to “make traditional turf obsolete.” Turf and grass are the most water and energy intensive components of landscaping and use the most pesticides. Mike and his partner believe they can solve this challenge and are working on a bio-diverse plant alternative to turf that is reminiscent of the historic meadows in the United States. They are currently looking for funders and developing a business plan.

gordon feller and jenny fogarty

Cisco Director and MotM co-founder Gordon Feller takes a photo with San Francisco urban planner Jenny Fogarty.

Paul Vosbeek

Paul Vosbeek (Founding Partner of Real Energy Inc., pictured above) and his team from OrangeGoesGreen are building a green and clean energy cluster. OrangeGoesGreen is a private-public partnership initiative harnessing economic diplomacy, promotional activities and the transfer of knowledge between Dutch and North-American government agencies, knowledge institutes and companies. The primary goal is to secure business deals for the members and partners involved. OrangeGoesGreen is focused on the US and Canada, who, together, are the world’s largest investor in renewable energy and sustainability. The west coasts of the US and Canada, in particular, are leading the way with ambitious renewable portfolio standards and emission trading systems. Over three years, a minimum of 15 projects will be developed. For each project, a complementary combination of partners will be aligned to provide a complete value-chain solution. The OrangeGoesGreen program is a model for a new and innovative approach to doing business in the international arena. If the program is successful, it will serve as a model for future public-private partnerships with the government of the Netherlands.

Sean Randolph

Sean Randolph, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute has launched a new website called Global Green Cities. This site presents the best thinking and analysis on sustainable urbanization and green growth in cities and regions around the world, and provides connections to ongoing discussions that define the state of the art in green city design and planning. They also just released a new report on Global Green Cities summarizing the findings from their last symposium (links to PDF report).


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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

Big Data, Automation, and the Future of Transportation

In recent years, a variety of forces (economic, environmental, and social) have quickly given rise to “shared mobility,” a collective of entrepreneurs and consumers leveraging technology to share transportation resources, save money, and generate capital. Bikesharing services, such as BCycle, and business-to-consumer carsharing services, such as Zipcar, have become part of a sociodemographic trend that has pushed shared mobility from the fringe to the mainstream. The role of shared mobility in the broader landscape of urban mobility has become a frequent topic of discussion. Shared transportation modes—such as bikesharing, carsharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing/transportation network companies (TNCs), and microtransit—are changing how people travel and are having a transformative effect on smart cities.

Smart Cities and the Weather

A study by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 2008 found that the impact of routine weather events on the US economy equates annually to about 3.4% of the country’s GDP (about $485 billion). This excludes the impact of extreme weather events that cause damage and disruption – after all, even “ordinary” weather affects supply of and demand for many items, and the propensity of businesses and consumers to buy them. NCAR found that mining and agriculture are particularly sensitive to weather influences, with utilities and retail not far behind.

Many of these, disaster management included, are the focus of smart city innovations. Not surprisingly, therefore, as they seek to improve and optimize these systems, smart cities are beginning to understand the connection between weather and many of their goals.  A number of vendors (for example, IBM, Schneider Electric, and others) now offer weather data-driven services focused specifically on smart city interests.

Meeting of the Minds is made possible by the generous support of these organizations.