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BitSource Web Development #ExportingCode

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Last week I was fortunate enough to go to Fast Company’s Meeting of the Most Creative Minds conference in Los Angeles. The conference featured several amazingly innovative companies that I will also write about later but my favorite aspect was the other attendees. Most of these companies were based in LA but a few flew from all over the nation (and some even other parts of the world!) and there is one that I cannot get out of my head. BitSource is a company who is breathing life back into a sleepy town in eastern Kentucky. The economy there had heavily relied on the coal industry and had suffered tremendously in the loss. Two former coal miners founded BitSource with a mission to bring back jobs to Appalachia country.

 

The company offers an array of web development services from programming languages to media and VR design to application development (and much more). The founders knew coal miners to be logic-based thinkers willing to work hard and learn. Afterall, when you’re down in a mine and something breaks, there’s no one to guide them in diagnosing and fixing the problems. Coal mining is a highly technical field that relies more on engineering smarts than on physical labor so they knew the laid-off workforce would be primed to learn code and utilize their technical skills. “Appalachia has been exporting coal for a long time.” says Justin Hall, the company’s president who I met at the conference. “Now we want to export code. We’ve got blue-collar coders.”

 

Some of their work includes web design for Big Sandy Resources, Inc. a river dredging company. They worked on-site to capture footage and information about the services and materials that they provide. BitSource created the website and features then trained the BSR team so that they could update and manage the site internally and make change on demand when they add a new service, product, or project. Check it out here! BitSource worked with Hashtag Appalachia and Unity to create an augmented reality application that uses artwork on a garage door as a trigger. The trigger can call any animation or content that they specify when you hold up your phone and engage the trigger by pointing it at the artwork. See a video of the project here: https://vimeo.com/214003642 Another great project BitSource completed is for their city, Pikeville, Kentucky. They created infographics, animations, an interactive map and software solutions for the city’s Office of Economic Development. The projects range even further but you’ll have to check them out to learn what other awesome things their up to.

 

Justin Hall was voted one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business this year and the company is quickly becoming a leader in sustainable redevelopment of our country’s workforce. BitSource provides pragmatic problem-solving, modern project management, and diligent quality assurance and is passionate about their customers. For this and many reasons I wanted to highlight this company.

Coal Miner looking through hole into office of code writers

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/programming-is-the-new-blue-collar-job/

Check out this video from VOCATIV Meet the Company Teaching Coal Miners to Code


May 25, 2017 |

California Officially Joins the War on Plastic Bags

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bagban1Great news for the environment occurred last night, when CA government voted to ban single-use plastic bags across the state. “The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags” states Stephanie Spear, author at EcoWatch, who wrote California Bans Plastic Bags. If the already agreed upon bill is signed by the CA governor, California will be the first state to ban these environmentally un-friendly products.

“More than 120 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags with more than 1 in 3 Californians already living somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change,” affirms Spear. With such a large amount of the population already embracing the plastic ban bag, this measure will have little difficulty being implemented. Reusable and recycled bags are available all over! The sarcastic well-known television show Portlandia created a hilarious sketch on a gentleman who goes into a store without a bag, and has to endure the mocking because of it.

 

Join in the laughter and watch the scene here!bagban5

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new bill encourages consumer behavior change, healthier environmental choices, and the expansion of the California job market. Not to mention, a plastic bag ban would save taxpayers tons of money usually spent on litter clean-up!

 

Senate Bill 270 will:

◦       Increase the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags to promote recycling and California manufacturing.  In 2016, bags will be required to have 20 percent recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40 percent recycled content.

◦       Support recycling of agriculture plastic film, which is currently sent to landfills.

◦       Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.

◦       Require third party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards, which support California manufacturing.

◦       Grandfathers existing local ordinances related to grocery bags.

 

Environmentalists have known for ages that litter has been washing into the ocean and causing damage to sea life (not to mention our climate). One example is,

“Plastic bags create a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles, that mistake the bags for food. A study of more than 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data, according to Ocean Conservancy.”

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Whether you live in California or somewhere else in the world, join us in recycling and using reusable bags! Any bag will work! Make one, personalize one, or just reuse a shopping bag! Think of the bigger picture. Even a little decision can change lives!

 

 

To read the full article, go here!

For more eco friendly news, check out EcoWatch!

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August 30, 2014 |

Green Jobs Sector Grows in Size

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Coeds with HoesDanielle Cullen, Correspondent for TechnicianOnline

America’s “green jobs sector” is on the rise, according to a report from Environmental Entrepreneurs. The environmental group released a study earlier this month, which reported nearly 40,000 new green jobs created during the second quarter of 2013.

A green worker is usually employed in the energy industry and seeks to help lessen the human impact on the environment. A student seeking to work in the green jobs sector may study human impact on the environment and “greener,” more efficient ways of living. This includes everything from more energy-efficient homes to more sustainable ways to keep us safe.

Lynn Albers, a postdoctoral student in mechanical engineering, said that N.C. State offers courses to help students prepare for joining the green jobs sector. Senior-level electives include Energy Conservation and Industry Design of Solar Thermal Systems. Environmental studies graduates usually end up working for organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency or exploring a career in environmental law.

“Green sector jobs are offered in sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy development, energy storage and energy transportation,” Albers said.

Andrew Birch, a graduate student in hydrology, said green jobs are more than just an idealistic sentiment and that they are vital in today’s world. His research focuses on chemical and pesticide use in trees and agriculture, answering questions such as “Are products safe enough for use?” or “Is it okay to apply chemicals?”

“From a sustainability standpoint people are starting to realize how profitable it is to pay attention to the environment,” Birch said.

Birch said that he decided on a career in hydrology for various reasons.

“I grew up outside, [there’s] limited deskwork,” Birch said. “There’s the political and social side, like finding ways for people to understand topics like climate change.”

Birch also said the green job sector has a fun side.

“There’s some very cool research going on in the field,” Birch said.

For example, scientists at the University of California Irvine are currently conducting a study on reflectin, a protein produced by pencil squid, which enables them to change color and reflect light. Scientists hope to replicate reflectin’s properties to make military camouflage invisible to infrared rays.

Albers said it’s important to also demonstrate the importance of green jobs to younger students. N.C. State hosts Family STEM nights to encourage interest in elementary and middle school student through hands-on activities that teach science.

“[The goal] is to remove the fear factor of learning these disciplines,” Albers said. “It’s also to help the parents teach the materials to their children so they can succeed in school.”

That success in school should translate to real world success after college. Bryan Maxwell, a graduate student in environmental engineering said N.C. State graduates work for a variety of green jobs.

“Graduates [in Environmental Engineering] work for John Deere, the EPA and we had one [graduate] who was the Prime Minister of Irrigation and Drainage in Egypt,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said green jobs will combine all disciplines to help remediate our impact on the world.

“You are getting to use the principals of engineering, math, and science to … turn back the hourglass of people’s impact on the world,” Maxwell said.




September 15, 2013 |

State Dept. to Spend $450K for Green Jobs–in Morocco

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Spice Stall, Marrakech Market(from CNSNews.com) – The State Department through its Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs plans to spend $450,000 to create green jobs in Morocco.

“Morocco has set the goal to become one of the world’s largest sustainable economies by 2020, with an emphasis on creating green jobs in: renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental and natural resource management, and improvement in environmental technologies,” the grant announcement said.

“Morocco’s green growth strategy focuses on three major areas that include: energy security, food security, and environmental security. This includes solar and wind power, energy efficiency, intensive and communal sustainable agriculture, and solid waste and greenhouse gas emissions reduction,” the grant said.

The U.S. and Morocco signed a Joint Statement on Environmental Cooperation in 2006, the grant said. “The 2010-2012 Plan of Action reflects the current priorities for trade-related environmental cooperation activities.”

The grant recipient will help increase green job growth through collaboration partnerships, education and training, innovation and/or green technology transfers.

“The successful applicant will work with local partners to build on existing activities in Morocco, design projects to increase green job growth, and build local capacity for continuing implementation of sustainable practices in the future,” the grant added.

The State Department expects to see green job growth especially among youth and women in industrial centers. It also hopes to energy and water use savings, a drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and increased natural resource conservation.

In addition, it is expects to see an increase in the technical capacity for renewable energy, energy efficiency, water management, sustainable agriculture, pollution prevention, and/or greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

The grant recipient is expected to “monitor and report on performance indicators that are specific, measurable over times, achievable, and reasonable.”

“Potential indicators for this project could include:

  • Number of green jobs created (separated by gender and age);
  • Environmental indicators, such as reductions in levels of energy and water use and pollutant emissions from private sector partners in Morocco;
  • Number of collaborations with Moroccan public and private sector representatives;
  • Number of people trained with skills directly related to green jobs (separated by gender and age);
  • Number of environmental technologies and processes implemented;
  • Number of workshops, seminars and or trainings held; and
  • Economic savings due to improved environmental technologies and practice.”

The grant was announced on June 30, 2013. The closing date for applications was July 30, 2013. The project is expected to run from September 2013 through September 2015.

Calls to the State Department seeking comment about the grant were not returned by press time.




September 15, 2013 |

Using American Green Jobs To Help Fight Climate Change

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Center for American Progress

Mainstream media coverage of climate change presents the manufacturing sector of the economy as one of the fiercest enemies of climate action in the United States. But this sector, which is also usually painted as one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution in the country, is actually vital to the process of building a low-carbon economy. Remaking old systems such as the electricity grid will require new clean energy products, and the development of new sectors will be fueled by technological innovation. For advanced economies such as the United States, it’s increasingly clear that manufacturing and innovation go hand in hand, and emerging sectors, including renewable energy, restoration and resilience, and low-carbon transportation, will depend on a strong and vibrant domestic manufacturing sector.

By innovating, engineering, and manufacturing clean energy technologies, the United States can create good jobs for the middle class and fight climate change—all while securing a share in the booming global clean energy market.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative is a nod to this crucial connection between America’s manufacturing sector and our low-carbon future. The program aims to build on America’s strength as a bottom-up innovator by focusing on different manufacturing strategies and economic-development opportunities in different regions of the country.

The program is a great start, but it’s not enough. Robust policies—the kind only Congress can champion—are needed to support a domestic clean energy manufacturing industry. As a starting point for such a policy, we argue that:

  • Congress should authorize $2 billion in funding for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and should focus several of the program’s Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation on clean energy projects
  • Congress should reauthorize the successful advanced manufacturing tax credit, which provides a 30 percent investment tax credit in manufacturing facilities for clean energy products, for a 5-year to 10-year period with a clear sunset path and totaling $5 billion in new funding
  • Congress should enact a progressive carbon tax that generates demand for clean energy products while fighting climate change

These policies will create jobs through encouraging investment in the manufacturing industry, boost competitiveness by providing clean energy goods to a global market, and reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by fostering clean technological alternatives.

Clean energy manufacturing is good for the economy and the climate

Throughout our country’s history, a strong manufacturing industry has helped propel the United States to the cutting edge of global competitiveness. Recent years, however, have seen a dramatic decline in domestic manufacturing. Policies that currently bolster the domestic production of clean energy goods can help renew the manufacturing industry while creating well-paying jobs and fostering a low-carbon economy that is “made in America.” Because domestic and international demand for clean energy goods is rising at such a rapid rate, focusing on clean energy manufacturing instead of doubling down on the industries of yesterday will give the United States an advantage in a growing market.

MidAmerican solar sunpowerThe Antelope Valley Solar Projects being built in California are among MidAmerican’s holdings (image via SunPower)

The strong economic case for manufacturing

There is no doubt that the manufacturing sector was hit hard during the recent recession, with 2 million jobs lost in the 18-month period between December 2007 and June 2009. The big picture, however, shows that the recession merely accelerated a decline in manufacturing employment and output that has been occurring since just after 2000—and, some would argue, since its peak in 1978.

Recently, however, there has been an uptick in domestic manufacturing that has inspired discussion of a possible manufacturing renaissance in the United States. Factors driving this discussion have included increasing U.S. labor productivity, rising wages in other countries—particularly China—and the strengthening business case for having design, management, and production facilities in close proximity to one another. The trend toward just-in-time production—which encourages replenishing materials and supplies as they are needed—and custom-made goods has also increased the importance of geographic proximity between manufacturers and their final customers.

These are all compelling reasons to promote U.S. manufacturing, but so is the simple fact that increasing U.S. manufacturing output would strengthen the overall economy. Manufacturing generated 12.2 percent of total gross domestic product in 2011, and every $1 spent on manufacturing creates $1.35 in additional economic activity. The sector as a whole is significant in that it has a very high multiplier effect, meaning that every job created in manufacturing generates several more jobs in other sectors. Each job in motor-vehicle manufacturing, for example, creates 8.6 indirect jobs; each job in computer manufacturing creates 5.6 indirect jobs; and each job in steel-product manufacturing creates 10.3 indirect jobs.

A revitalized manufacturing sector would also have a positive effect on exports, lowering our trade deficit with other countries by boosting the amount of products other countries purchase and providing homemade goods for domestic consumption instead of imports.

Clean energy would benefit from domestic manufacturing

Just because manufacturing is generally economically positive for the United States, however, does not mean we should promote a domestic manufacturing strategy in all sectors of the economy. The garment industry (aside from niche products) is the classic example of an industry that has irretrievably gone to lower-cost countries; some argue that traditional photovoltaic solar panels might be in this category as well. The question, then, becomes this: If our goal is a low-carbon economy, what kind of manufacturing should we support to achieve that goal?

The obvious answer is the manufacturing of clean energy technologies that are either innovative or that have a strong U.S. market, or both. And there are certainly some clean energy sectors that fit this bill—for example, the renewable-energy industry. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in 2009, put an unprecedented amount of federal support behind renewable-energy technologies through various production and manufacturing tax credits and created a huge new market for these technologies. The result of these investments was a $1.63 billion trade surplus with China in renewable-energy goods and services in 2011—the same year that our overall trade deficit with China was $301.6 billion, which resulted in 2.7 million job losses between 2001 and 2011, 76 percent of which were in the manufacturing sector alone.

While the Recovery Act, combined with complimentary state policies, helped create huge demand for clean energy products here at home, which drove the manufacturing boom, it is clear that our domestic production can easily find foreign markets as well—there is certainly no shortage of buyers for clean energy products globally. Clean energy investments in 2012 topped $269 billion, a decline from 2011 levels but a massive market nonetheless. Investments in China alone represented $65.1 billion of this market in 2012, with the United States attracting $35.6 billion. Put another way, the market for clean energy goods and services in China is booming, and more domestic manufacturing would place the United States in a position to capitalize on the trend of being a net exporter of renewable-energy products.

Increasing clean energy manufacturing would also create new jobs in America. As of 2011, half a million manufacturing jobs were classified as green jobs. Another report finds that jobs in the clean economy are particularly manufacturing intensive, with about 26 percent of all clean-economy jobs being in manufacturing. These tend to be high-quality jobs with median wages 13 percent higher than the U.S. median. With unemployment in manufacturing still hovering around 6.4 percent, American workers stand to gain from a focus on clean energy manufacturing.

Economic growth and combating climate change can go hand in hand

Gone are the days that we can base an argument for the low-carbon future on jobs and economic-growth potential alone. Climate change has crept up in this country as the single-most important issue facing our economy and way of life because of its tremendously destructive potential and the transformative implications it has for businesses and government. With 14 extreme weather events in 2011 that caused more than $1 billion in damages each, the economic toll of climate change is mounting and promises to only get worse as time goes on. Definitive adaptation and mitigation efforts must begin immediately if the United States is to have any hope of blunting the blow these disasters stand to deliver.

The transition to a low-carbon economy will be a step in the right direction toward fighting climate change while creating new businesses and jobs. Far from being opposing forces, economic growth and mitigation and adaptation efforts are firmly intertwined. A low-carbon economy requires new goods and services, and clean energy and efficiency technology significantly outperforms its dirtier counterparts in terms of jobs generated per $1 million invested.

There are also economic benefits in making the United States more resilient to the immediate impacts of climate change even as we fight the future impacts. By taking a holistic approach to this economic transition—including using construction materials such as permeable pavement, building smart storm-water management, and deploying a smarter electrical grid—cities and states can lower their overall operating costs and help fill the massive gap in projected infrastructure spending.

Clean energy manufacturing must be a core part of any strategy to create a low-carbon economy. By orienting U.S. manufacturing firms and workers to supply the products needed for this clean energy transition, the United States can ensure that high percentages of high-quality domestic content go into building new, sustainable markets and infrastructure.

More at EarthTechling




July 2, 2013 |
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