Fungi, Waterships, Fuel Cells, and the Descendents Sequoia National Park

The last week presented me with opportunities, conversations, and events that have made me think much more about the work I’m wanting to do with The Determined.

Last weekend, I went backpacking in Sequoia NP with my roommate, Ryan. We met up with my friend Jill who is studying at UM: Ann Arbor, getting her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. We joined her as she was doing field research collecting samples of fungi and air spores. A blurb from Jill,

There is a hypothesis in Ecology that organisms living in very stressful environments tend to cooperate rather than compete with each other. We’re testing this hypothesis by studying patterns of viral infection in fungi along an elevational gradient of stress in the Sierra. This research could uncover novel interactions between viruses and fungi- maybe debunking how fungi can survive in such harsh conditions, while contributing to a burgeoning shift in our thinking about the roles of viruses in the ecosystem.

Cool, right?

We spent 4 days in the southern part of the park, just shy of 10,000ft. The weather, the company, the views, the conversations were all great. Ryan and I had a blast helping Jill do field research while learning about fungi and viruses. Can’t wait to see the results from her samples.

On Monday, Sarah and I, spent a few hours helping put together a proposal with some colleagues to do work in the Regenerative Agriculture space. This project/engagement has the potential to be one of our first clients along with making a HUGE impact in this new space—a space that needs attention in order for us to feed the 7+ billion people on this planet.

On Tuesday, Sarah and I were part of Impossible Labs’ Innovator’s Showcase Series, where we explored how Silicon Valley can use it’s talent to tackle problems around climate change. Sarah gave a talk to highlight the role storytelling and design plays in motivating people to take action and get involved with these big gnarly issues. We learned about the complexity in mapping energy data, desalination, air quality sensors, waste reduction, and much more. One of the other presenters talked about WatershipBlue, and how he’s wanting to build a fleet of them to address Earth’s clean water shortage. Awesome!

After that event, I started thinking…

You have a group of people dedicating their lives, using their talents, time, energy, and technology working towards creating solutions that address, probably one of the most dangerous problems human kind has ever faced, climate change, trying to make their work succeed. Damn. I wanna be a part of that! How can I help?

On that same day, Elon Musk presented his plan to colonize Mars. I’m a fan of Musk. I like how he thinks and his approach to the work he does. I’ve been following the work of Space X since the start; spaceships, Mars, space travel, potentially meeting aliens … cool stuff. But, the more I thought about his plan to colonize Mars, the more I started to think about our life here on Earth.

Are we too late to fix the environmental problems here?
Are we just going to give up?
Is space relocation for everyone? Can it be? Should it be?
How do we shift our mindset and our priorities, change behavior, and actually focus on the areas that truly need to change; farming, ocean health, energy, etc?

On Thursday night, I took a much needed break from all of this and finally saw the Descendents live in SF. So good!

On Friday, I went on a tour with some of my Secret Project students checking out the work of Stone Edge Farm Microgrid project. We were shown various methods on producing electricity such as hydrogen, microturbine, fuel cell hives, and solar all in an effort to test out and apply these methods at scale.

All of this got me thinking about how much I want to work/play in a space like this. I want to work on things like Waterships, fuel cell adoption, environmental conversation efforts. Sarah and I see The Determined as a player in spaces like this as we partner with people working on gnarly problems to design innovative solutions and tell their story in a clear and exciting way that attracts the funders and collaborators they need to take their moonshot idea and make it happen.

If we don’t help people working on these big challenges, who will? If they don’t get the help they need, then their efforts are lost. If their efforts are lost, then we’re screwed.