Feb. 17, 2011

Evening lectures will frame sustainability symposium

by Anne Krapfl

An oil company employee turned environmental advocate and the co-founder of a craft brewery known for its sustainable practices nearly as much as its beer, will present public lectures Monday-Tuesday, Feb. 21-22. In between, more than 300 staff, students and faculty will participate in Iowa State's third annual symposium on sustainability. All events are free and in the Memorial Union.

Jerome Ringo

By 1989, after a 20-year career in the petrochemical industry in Louisiana, Jerome Ringo had grown weary of standing by while nearby, poor coastal communities served as the dumping ground for his employer's waste products. He began to organize people in those communities to fight the environmental injustice and spawned a second career. He became a vocal advocate for clean energy and more minority participation in the environmental movement.

In 1996, Ringo was elected to serve on the National Wildlife Federation's board of directors and in 2005, became chair and the first African-American to head a major conservation organization. He currently serves as senior executive for global strategies for Green Port, a private company that focuses on establishing sustainable "green" ports around the world. Ringo took part in the United States' 1998 global warming treaty negotiations in Kyoto, Japan, and appeared in the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

His Monday evening talk, "Diversity in the Environmental Movement: Our Collaborative Opportunities," begins at 8 p.m. in the Great Hall.

Ringo also will give the symposium's keynote talk, "The New Color of Green: A Collective Voice Towards Change," at 8 a.m. Tuesday, also in the Great Hall.

Kim Jordan

Kim Jordan is CEO and co-founder (with her ex-husband, Jeff Lebesch) of New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo., the makers of more than 30 brands of beer, including Fat Tire. Now the third-largest craft brewer in the country, New Belgium is recognized for its environmental stewardship, which includes diverting 99 percent of brewery waste from the landfill, largely relying on wind power and generating some electricity from methane harvested from its wastewater treatment plant. Spent grain from the brewing process is sold to a local farmer as feed for his cattle. The company's progressive business practices include employee ownership and what's termed "high involvement culture" in the business world, and open book management.

Jordan was a social worker and Lebesch an electrical engineer before they took their basement brewery to a commercial level in 1991. He retired from the company in 2001.

Jordan's presentation on business innovation and the environment begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Sun Room.

In addition to the Ringo and Jordan lectures, this year's symposium includes separate visioning discussions for staff, faculty and students; a recap presentation of successful green efforts at Iowa State in the last year; a panel discussion by faculty and staff; poster session and an awards luncheon.