Photos from Last Night’s Twestival 2013 Supporting Ronald McDonald House Houston!

Twestival HoustonTwestival = Sharing Online Community Love Offline!

Twestival was born in 2008 out of a desire for people who are connected online on Twitter to connect offline for a good cause. It has since grown from that first meetup in London to a worldwide presence where local Twestivals happen in communities across the globe. Twestival organizers have raised over $1.83 million in total to support 307 charities! Wow.

Twestival Houston: Supporting a Great Local Cause!

Each year, Twestival Houston is organized by local volunteers. The Twestival team puts the vote up to Twitter to choose a local charity to support. This year’s nonprofit recipient was the Ronald McDonald House of Houston – who also happens to be a Tendenci client (their new site is in development, look for more coming soon!).

The event was full of local beer (courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Brewery), local food, live music, and lots of opportunities to support RMH Houston with donations and raffle prizes!

HUGE THANKS to Mandy Graessle (aka @favouritethings) and all the volunteers for all their hard work on putting this event together!!

Here are a few of our pictures from the event:

Twestival Houston 2013 Supporting Ronald McDonald House of Houston

Tendenci Team Carla Fiorito and Caitlin Kaluza with RMH Houston Marketing Coordinator Catie Tuley!

 

Messages to the Kids and Families of RMH Houston

Twestival Houston 2013

Messages to the Kids and Families of RMH Houston

 

Raffle Tickets support RM Houston

Our team got in on the raffle – ticket sales went to RMH Houston as well!

 

Twestival Houston 2013 at Buffalo Bayou Brewery

Live music + local beer from Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company at Twestival Houston 2013

 

 

More Twestival Houston Love!

SXSW Eco Panel – Behind E-Waste – Recycling Electronics

E-Waste dumping - photo by Curtis PalmerThe success of SXSW’s March event each year has brought a year-round calendar of mind-expanding events like the 2nd annual SXSW Eco conference  a few weeks ago. SXSW Eco brings participants together to focus on areas of Sustainability. The popular SXSW format, panel discussions and meetings over the three days, allowed experts to share their ideas, successes and challenges with audience participants. I was able to attend a variety of sessions including one important to both Schipul and our clients who use technology to support their business or non-profit.

The Good, Green & Shocking Truths

Panel Summary: Many factors such as planned obsolescence, consumer trends, and updated technology contribute to e-waste becoming one of the largest societal waste segments. Exactly how recyclable are our electronics, and what are the most responsible methods of disposal?

Moderator:

Maia Corbitt – Executive Director at  State Of Texas Alliance For Recycling

Panel members speaking:
Clive Hess, President of  CompuCycle
Dag Adamson, CEO of LifeSpan Technology
Terry Levy, VP Sales for ARCOA

The panelists discussed the history of electronics recycling in Texas and the ways their organizations, alongside our state’s legislature, have gradually increased the ease of recycling for businesses.  The panel shared the different local electronics recycling programs and explained which programs were legitimately  using state approved certifications and processes so that Houston business owners could confidently select a certified recycling center.

History of Electronics Recycling in Houston

15 years ago in Texas, most waste was being shipped overseas, and low grade metals were one of the main waste products.  Within the last ten years, we’ve seen this change as more businesses are seeing the value of sustainability programs.  Granted, some of this was instigated by policy change.  For example,  Texas passed the 2008 Computer Take Back Law making computer manufacturers responsible for providing recycling to residents and small businesses.

In 2011, there was only one certified center in Houston and now there are 5 certified centers indicating a move towards easier and more responsible waste management.  The increase in facilities comes from  businesses who provide recycling services moving towards end of life asset management for businesses, including refurbishing and  re-use  as much as possible, and encouraging recycling when re-use is not possible.  Combined with policy changes, taking out the hazardous materials and doing the right thing has become a profitable business focus. Recyclers also recover more value when possible for the business or consumer than they did in the past.

E-Waste Sustainability in Houston Today

Yesterday’s technology included much more solid metals waste and was larger (think old Desktops). Today’s recycling stream allows removal of metals and proper disposal. Current electronics are smaller and more efficient in their production. This already eliminates some of the bulk of recycling. Both of these are results of policy changes bringing a change in practices and new business opportunities.

Clive Hess, President of CompuCycle – Houston’s first  R2 recycling center,  brings success stories that share how CompuCycle has expanded their services to include data management and data sanitization, and provide better opportunities for Houston businesses to incorporate sustainability programs.  At CompuCycle, many recyclers now securely erase, sanitize and provide warranties on products they resell. No products are sold as-is, but only with a warranty and if it can’t be sold with a warranty, then it is recycled.

CompuCycle also participates in the unique recycling challenge called the WhatIf? campaign  where you can donate your eWaste and they will hire and train individuals to recycle the components. This creates jobs and training for a local non-profit organization. The plan is to continue beyond the campaign as a sustainable endeavor, but they ‘need your junk’ to be successful.

Seek Out R2 Certified Recyclers

Most companies are not quite educated yet on R2 certification  and the panel shed some light on how to evaluate and find the right certification options for your business. There’s still a long way to go for the recycling industry to be a recognized standards bearer and the EPA encourages companies to find out if the  recycler you’re considering is certified by an accredited, independent certification auditor such as the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

The panelists agreed that  Education  will become key for Chief Sustainability Officers in companies and for your Chief recycler in your home.  The people who fill these roles will want to seek updates and stay informed with both the changes within the recycling services corporate world as well as with Federal and State policy changes. Some rrecycling businesses are only registered and will include this as part of their marketing materials, but doesn’t mean they are certified for recycling responsibly.

Our future should include policies that put pressure on electronic manufacturers to build upgradeable devices and longer life cycle products to reduce waste. But, this will require individuals to let their lawmakers know how to write these policies. Lawmakers listen to their constituency and particularly parents.

Want to Help Improve E-Waste?

Manufacturer’s need collection goals and the public needs easy locations to drop-off.

  1. Require retailers to provide information about recycling to consumers.
  2. Require state agencies to recycle assets via certified vendors.
  3. Recommendations that state computer Take Back laws include ALL electronics including TV’s and other waste.
  4. Find local R2 Certified Recycling facilities in your area.

Concerned about the future of materials in your landfills near your children? Let your  State Representative  know your concerns.  The EPA’s website also has a list of Recycling Resources where you can go to stay up to date on changes in policies and find tools to help individuals and businesses develop and implement sustainability programs at home and in your office.

Silver Lining for Urban MiningUrban mining and rare earth metals can be found locally instead of offshoring with other countries.  Opportunities exist for job creation and has even been part of the lawmakers focus in Colorado for underserved markets. A de-manufacturing site provides jobs for disabled or underserved markets, and a refurbishing site can provide high-tech jobs for engineers. Recycling E-waste is a reverse supply chain position taking one part and producing many parts from the whole. The recycling industry is a consumer driven market. Imagine what happens if everyone started sending all electronics to recycling? It would be an influx of materials. A typical middle-income household has four or more devices per person in their home. Game consoles, cell phones, old iPods, CRT screens, printer, etc.

Business is good for current recycling facilities. What happens when there is no longer a market for glass or other low grade materials? There are electronic parts that have value such as copper, gold and metals, but it is getting harder to handle materials such as glass, lead and plastic. Panelists were quick to suggest as invention increases, there is opportunity with the challenges. Glass is now used in aggregates for road construction to help the roads last longer with addition of silica to increase life span. Reground ABS plastics lower the cost of many manufactured items. There will be a greater need to find opportunities like these for our increased e-waste.

Take Action Recycling your Electronics

Find a certified recycler near you, and find your representative. Have eWaste? Let us know and we can help you find the means to recycle responsibly!

Hansel & Greatness – The ArCH Gingerbread Build Off is Saturday December 8!

This Saturday December 8th the Schipulites will once again participate in the annual Gingerbread Build Off  put on by the Architecture Center of Houston  (ArCH)!

Schipul Gingerbread Build off Team 2011

Schipul’s 2011 AIA Gingerbread Build Off Team: “Hansel and Greatness”

Event Details ~ Come Out and Vote for Your Favorite Gingerbread Creation!

The build off will take place at City Hall’s Hermann Square  from 9 – 4 PM this Saturday December 8.

Over 20 teams will be competing – creating Gingerbread Masterpieces out of completely edible materials. Come out in the afternoon to see all of the completed pieces!  Judging begins at 3 PM – this is also when you can vote for you favorite team. (We hope you’ll vote for us!)

Local food trucks It’s a Wrap, Ladybird, Monster PBJ, and Porch Swing Desserts will be on site selling food.

Full Event schedule:

9:00am Teams check-in
10:00am Competition begins
10:00am Kids Construction Zone Opens
12:00pm – 2:00pm Santa!
3:00pm Judging and public favorite voting
4:00pm Awards

Hansel and Greatness Competes Again!

Houston Alabama Theater Gingerbread

At  last year’s Gingerbread Build Off  we created a Gingerbread version of the historic Houston landmark the Alabama Theater, complete with vintage movie posters made of fondant and decorated with edible markers. This year we hope to top last year’s creation!

>> Check out photos from last year’s Gingerbread Build Off!

Follow Schipul on Twitter and Facebook!

We will be updating our Schipul Twitter and Facebook page from the event!

And you can check out all the action on Twitter by following the official hashtag  #ArCHgbbo

We hope to see you there!

Thankful for You Houston.

I have so much to be thankful for. I’ve written here in the past about how I’m thankful for LOLCats, Aggieland, and my mom’s wise advice to always stay positive.  Today in particular I am thankful for the democratic process, my rights as an American, and those who serve to protect our freedom. And Twitter. I am definitely thankful for Twitter.

Thank You Houston!

This year for my 30 Days of Thanks post I want to take a moment to personally thank you – the people and the city of Houston, for all you have done for me over the last four years.

It was January 3, 2009  when I moved to Houston. In the years since then you have welcomed me and supported me every step of the way.

Houston is a unique place – the most diverse city in the country, a town that fosters business and supports the arts  – and earlier this year topped Forbes’ list of America’s Coolest Cities.  I have tried my best to take in as much of it as possible – taking in museums and restaurants and festivals and trying to keep up with everything Houston has to offer. Honestly, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

The Big D will always be my hometown (don’t hate), but I have been incredibly blessed to find a great home here. And I cannot be grateful enough.

A Few of My Favorite Things about Houston:

1. A Full Events Calendar    In a city as big as Houston, there is always something going on!

I am privileged to get to go out and support fantastic clients like Miller Outdoor Theatre, Susan G. Komen Houston, and The Art Car Parade. Some of my other favorite events have been Comicpalooza  Comic Convention, Free Press Summerfest, and the Rodeo!


Left to Right: Houston  Rodeo, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Free Press Summer Fest, Houston Beer Festival, Comicpalooza

2. The Food! – I often tell people the best part of moving to Houston is the food. The diversity of backgrounds and cultures in Houston meld into a mixing pot of delicious opportunities to explore. My latest obsessions are El Gran Malo, Benjy’s, and Petrol Station. (And I am always open to suggestions!)

Houston Food Truck Fest 2011

3.  The Schipulites  –  I work with some of the most talented, hardest working people I have ever met. I learn from you every single day. I have great mentors here and a great team. I couldn’t ask for more.

Thank You!

I have to thank you to all of you in Houston for welcoming me with open arms. Here’s to many more Houstoniversaries to come!

Kooza! Cirque Du Soleil Opens in Houston

This week started off by cleaning popcorn and  confetti  out of my camera bag and uploading photos because last week we had the  privilege  of attending the opening night of Kooza by Cirque du Soleil. Having never had the chance to see Cirque du Soleil in person but only hearing good things, I had no idea what the shows were all about but jumped at the chance to go find out.

Kooza is described online as, “An adrenaline rush of acrobatics in a zany kingdom” and definitely lived up to the hype. Exiting typical Beltway traffic, arriving at Sam Houston Race Park, parking in the giant lot, then walking in to the tent is really like entering another world.

From the minute you take your seat the fun is already beginning with a cast of characters working the crowd until the show gets rolling. From there it is act after act of not only exciting but funny performances. And not just funny… pretty hilarious. At one point my wife turned to me and said, “my face actually hurts from laughing so much“. What a great problem to have.

Among all of the balancing chairs, contortion, high wire, and trapeze acts what really stood out to me were the Wheel of Death and the routine by The King and the Clowns. I won’t spoil their acts but just leave it at saying they are probably worth the price of admission alone.

Then it was intermission, a champagne toast (not sure if this happens every night or if we were just spoiled), a trip to the port o potties (which there seemed to be plenty… and they were nice), and back in for the rest of the show.

A few photos from the night:

Courtney and Derek taking photos
Courtney and Derek taking photos
Cirque du Soleil - Kooza
Charivari
Cirque du Soleil - Kooza
Wheel of Death
Cirque du Soleil - Kooza
The King and the Clowns
Cirque du Soleil - Kooza
Contortion
Cirque du Soleil - Kooza
Heimloss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want even more photos? View the full album of Cirque du Soleil Kooza photos.

Two “know before you go” tips:

  • Parking is $10 and cash only (there is an ATM on site but also hits you with a $3.50 fee).
  • If you would like to enjoy the show with a couple beverages, plan to bring plenty of cash (around $10/drink if I remember correctly).

Short version of the story: we had an absolute blast and could not have enjoyed the  performance more. Now I’m looking forward to catching a show next time Cirque du Soleil is in Houston.

Or maybe a Vegas trip is in order…

 

Special thanks to Elmore PR for making us feel special with official media passes.

Tickets for upcoming Houston shows are available from the Cirque du Soleil website.

Photos by Courtney Pemberton and Derek Key. All photos are Creative Commons  Attribution. You are free to use for promotional purposes with “photo by Schipul” next to the image.

TEDxHouston 2011

TEDx Houston 2011 at Wortham Theatre University of Houston

This past Saturday, members of the Schipul team (Alex, Jonti and Ed) and I (Sarah) had the privilege of attending TEDx Houston 2011 at the University of Houston Wortham Theatre.   This was my first TEDx conference to attend in person’ having been a longtime TED video watcher and fan.

The conference asked all of us the question “Where do we go from here?”

First, all of us at Schipul want to give huge props to the Culture Pilot team and the amazing volunteers and sponsors that enabled TEDxHouston to run smoothly Saturday. Running a conference for a bunch of smart out-of-the-box thinkers is a challenge, and they were incredibly successful.

All of the speakers were amazing, and their speeches sparked new ideas that I scrawled alongside my notes from their presentations, including:

  • Dr. Robert Ness’s speech on Innovative Thinking in education’ I wondered to myself if evolution and creationism had to be two distinct concepts or if perhaps, life does have a plan to it and the diversity and struggles within “survival of the fittest” is part of the intent?
  • Micki Fine asked the audience the question “Where are we now?” and talked about mindful living.   As someone who falls asleep the moment I sit down on a yoga mat, (really’ ask me to sit still and 5 minutes later I’m dreaming), I loved that she didn’t just talk about how to meditate and slow down’ she gave me questions to ask myself like what matters to me most and how do I act from true intentions?

Here are three TEDxHouston presentations that struck a chord with me’ read on for other Schipulite feedback on this great event and check out all the TEDx Houston photos taken by Ed Schipul:

Kurt Podeszwa, Director of Camp for All

(Disclosure:   Camp For All is a Schipul client) Kurt spoke brilliantly on “How do we promote service above self?”   With an emotionally moving, or as Kurt would say “creates contact problems” presentation,   heshared his viewpoint that the work he does is “selfish selflessness” and that those who volunteer their time and energy “do not promote service above self, rather it is service because of what we get back from it.”

This discussion brought light to the notion that when we volunteer, we are helping those who make the real sacrifices’ the ones who take the real risks.   For Kurt, he was helping those children who had to deal with their scars, diseases, disabilities and keep living life joyfully.

Michael Holthouse, Founder of Lemonade Day

Michael Holthouse, a tech entrepreneur and founder of Lemonade Day, presented on “Entitlement: now what?”.   Entitlement and generation Y seem to go together nowadays and in a lot of ways, I suffer this plight.   Michael began by talking about economics and the great depression and welfare.   He used the parable of giving a man a fish versus teaching a man to fish to transition to how our society in America has created this sense of entitlement in our culture by not teaching our children how to do the work needed to succeed.

Lemonade Stands held at TEDx Houston 2011 raised over $600 that was donated to TEDxHouston!

Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs

After lunch, TEDx Houston presented a video of Aimee Mullins that was from TED 2009 entitled “Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs.”   It is difficult to believe that I not only had never seen this presentation, I had never heard of Aimee Mullins until Saturday.   Aimee Mullins had both legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant.   She has had to learn from the beginning of life to walk on prosthetic legs and she told the stories of 12 pairs of prosthetic legs she owns, including a pair that look like glass and a pair that adds 6 inches to her height.  Aimee ends her speech with a story about an evening out with friends. As Aimee walks into the restaurant wearing her extra-tall legs right after they were made, one of her girlfriends remarks “But you’re so tall!” and then “But Aimee, that’s not fair.”  Hearing how the conversation has now gone in reverse where the disadvantage doesn’t necessarily go to the disabled person anymore really changed the way I will think.

Some of the Amazing Women @TEDxHouston from Alex

The day started with a talk by Dr. Roberta Ness about the hot topic innovative thinking. Steven Johnson’s recent book brought this issue to the front of a lot of people’s minds last year, right after a Newsweek cover story told us that we are in the middle of a “creativity crisis” in America. As an issue that seems to pop up all over the place, this was a great way to start the day and get people thinking differently about how to answer the conference’s theme question: where do we go from here? Dr. Ness spoke about the desperate need for innovation and creation to solve the most pressing problems in our world (many of which we delved into deeper later into Saturday) and encouraged us all to break the frames that we use to see the world. It couldn’t have been a better way to set the tone for the day, as many of the subsequent speakers challenged us to “frame break” with them.

Angela Blanchard of the hugely successful Houston non-profit Neighborhood Centers challenged us to think differently about underprivileged areas in our city and throughout the world. Although we typically associate negative, broken images with these areas, Angela encouraged us to figure out what is working and build on these assets to make improvements. Like she said, nobody ever got into college by listing all their flaws on their application. The personal touch that Angela brought to her story is, I think, a hallmark of TED talks that makes these videos and conferences different and even more inspirational than those from many other events. The work that Angela and the Neighborhood Centers crew is doing in Houston, along with her story, had many of us close to tears’ sometimes also a hallmark of TED talks.

Super-smart businesswoman Nina Godiwalla spoke in the afternoon about the topic of her book Suits, being a minority woman on Wall Street. Nina has a very specific and unique story, but her experience’s are common to many fringe and minority groups who find themselves in unwelcoming environments. The current that ran throughout her talk was that the small picture of her story was not the important part. What is important to Nina is clearly that men, women, old, young, all ethnic groups, etc. were able to read her book and relate to her experiences. Nina’s call to action at the end of her talk was to stand up and speak up whenever groups become exclusive of people for the wrong reasons.

I so wish that I could write about each and every talk I heard on Saturday; they were amazing and inspirational. Be sure to follow @TEDxHouston and check them out yourselves as they get posted. I think the conference’s theme speaks to the takeaway I heard from most of the attendees: Come to TED to get inspired, and then go somewhere from here.

Some TEDxHouston tidbits from Jonti

I enjoyed a series of off the agenda surprises, like speakers such as Hear our Houston audio Walking Tours and  Laura Spanjian from Mayor’s office for Green Houston. Laura outlined the success and future of Houston becoming one of the most green and sustainable cities in the United States. Previewing plug-in vehicle stations and Green Office challenges, she also has her sights set the goal of 100% curb recycling and increased renewable energy solutions for Houston.

Another surprise speaker and chef Justin Yu encouraged a stronger relationship between your food, humble exploration and culture to rediscover what is great about your own culture. Each surprise was part of a Hidden Gem theme building on the hidden gems of Houston.

Volunteers and Emcee Chris Johnson at TEDx Houston 2011 take a bow

Let’s see the world together, comment to win Houston iFest tickets!

Houston International Festival 2011 dancers

Want to win tickets to Houston International Festival’s Silk Road Journey?

The Schipul headquarters (in our beloved Houston, TX) is one of the greatest melting pot cities in the United States.   This multi-cultural experience is only amplified by (client) Houston iFest‘s annual event that highlights a different geographic location every year.

Houston iFest dancers with flags

This year’s iFest theme is The Silk Road: Journey Across Asia which brings a rainbow of traditional garb, delicious food vendors, international musicians and dance troupes.

Leave a comment on your favorite travel destination to win!

This year’s Houston iFest festivities continue to run this weekend (May 7th – May 8th) and we want to send YOU!

Leave a comment on this blog post telling us about your favorite (or dream) travel destination for a chance to win!

We’ll pick 2 random winners that will each receive iFest passport – good for 4 tickets and parking for the iFest on Friday (May 6th) 12pm CDT.   Bon voyage!

Congrats to winners Denise and Sara – enjoy the iFest magic!

Houston iFest photos by Ed Schipul – check out his full set on Facebook here!

We Saw a Lady Walking a Cheetah

Of all the things I imagined seeing this weekend, a   cheetah on a leash taking a leisurely stroll through the Houston Zoo was NOT on the list. But that’s the kind of thing that happens during Photo Day at the Houston Zoo.

Photo Day is a series of 6 outings during which photographers and photography enthusiasts can visit the Houston Zoo and take pictures of the animals. Fellow Schipulite Derek Key (@dereskey) and I had the opportunity to attend Saturday’s photo day…and that’s how we saw the cheetah.

Our Day…in Photos

The animals are likely to be active during the earliest part of the day, especially in the summer…in Houston. So for Photo Day, the zoo opens two hours early (at 7am) and lets photo enthusiasts catch the early risers. I’ve been to the Houston   Zoo countless times, but this is the first time I saw so many of the big cats and rare birds.

The lions roamed their pen long enough for photo ops…

We watched the reptiles have breakfast, which is creepy and AWESOME

We found out what a Cassowary is…

and finally, we discovered that the meerkats draw quite a crowd!

Have an Awesome Time AND Help the Zoo

Since the Houston Zoo is a non-profit organization it relies heavily on membership and attendance for support. While Photo Day is open to both the public and zoo membership holders, the   zoo features   special events   just for members, including Zoobilee and special Member Mornings.

In addition to cool member activities, the zoo is also involved in conservation efforts like the Lone Star State Projects and fundraising to for treatments that help prevent elephant herpes.

Be sure to check out the Houston Zoo’s Flickr photo stream, and upload photos of your zoo visits!