BOOST 2020 Summary Video

Hi, and welcome to Delta Institute’s 9th annual BOOST! I’m Bill Schleizer Delta Institute’s CEO, and I’m here to thank you for participating with us virtually in this first time we had to do it this way This has definitely been an interesting 2020 But I have to say Delta Emerging Leaders have done a remarkable job in turning this from a live pitch fest into one that’s 100% fully virtual I just want to take a couple of minutes to talk to you about Delta Institute Delta is a nonprofit organization based here in Chicago, thats works throughout the Midwest, directly with communities to collaborate on solving complex environmental challenges We envision a region where all landscapes and communities can thrive And we do that through a whole variety of projects and initiatives, and partnerships because we have such a wide ranging set of challenges in front of us And I think we’ve experienced that more this year than in any other year And our diverse portfolio ranges from working on land conservation and stewardship, to cilmate change, smart regenerative food systems, community resilience, waste reduction and reuse, stormwater infrastructure, and really working on making our built environment more sustainable overall I encourage all of yout to go to our website or follow us on social media to see what else we’ve been up to You can go directly to, and we got a whole bunch of information, tools, resources, things that can help you your communities more sustainable, or learn more about these diverse topics that we work on Now before we go into the finalists, I do want to take some time out to thank all of the sponsors who’ve helped make this virtual evnt happen This is our flagship event for the Delta Emerging Leaders, and without our sponsors it really wouldn’t come to fruition Thank you to our Platinum Sponsors: Peoples Gas and RW Ventures; our Gold Sponsors: Carbon Yield, Nancy Garoon Leigner, and the Walter S. Mander Foundation You guys are fantastic! Also we’ve got 8 Rivers, Chicago Leadership Alliance, Loyola University Chicago School of Environmental Sustainability, and Wolfe Computer Associates, Inc Who are all of our Blue Sponsors this year Thanks again! And also I’ve got to give it to the board The Delta Emerging Leaders this year have really put on a fantastic event, and I cannot wait for you to meet the finalists For the first of our four finalists, we have Ylanda & Ayesha with the Chicago Environmental Educators, Incorporated This group works to support the integration of environmental justice with environmental science teaching for educators across Chicago classrooms Did you guys enjoy our introduction video? We know you did, because we’re Chicago Environmental Educators and first off, we want to thank you for having us as one of the four finalists for Delta Emerging Leaders, but we also want to give a shout out to the other finalists because you guys are doing a great job, and we are super excited to see what you have for us today So what is the mission for Chicago Environmental Educators? Our goal is to create a supportive network for Chicago educators who teach environmental science or topics within environmental science in the formal and informal classroom We also support BIPOCQ educators and create an enriching community to address environmental justice issues in the Chicagoland area, and to your right you will see a map for those that do not live in Chicago or the surrounding areas, to have an idea of what it looks like And BIPOCQ means Black Indigenous People of Color or Queer My name is Ayesha Qazi, and my name is Ylanda Wilhite And so a little about me I am a doctoral student at UIC, I study environmental education, I’m a CPS teacher and teach AP Environmental Science, and I’m also a Science and Education Associate at the Field Museum As an American-Afghan Pakistani educator and scientist, I feel like we all work in various silos and there is not much of a network of community that connects us and our experiences together And so, myself and Ylanda as co-founders of CEE we found a way to create a network that is ongoing, and doesn’t expire and it’s there for anyone who wants to be there to grow and learn from each other Like Ayesha, I also identify as a double-minority, African American and female My name is Ylanda Wilhite, I work at the Field Museum, and Ayesha and I actually founded CEE at the Field Museum based on wanting to dismantle barriers for people of color and it comes to under-represented and under-served communities to receive scientific and environmental needs

And some of the events that we’ve done in the past year includes collaborating with various community organizations, that includes: The American Indian Center, The Shedd Aquarium, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Openlands, and other political leaders We’ve also connected more on a local level, we’ve worked with We Keep You Rollin’, which is a far South Side community organization We’ve also done members nights, where we have anybody, formal/informal teachers that come in and do community check-ins with us To learn who is in the area and who is doing what This year we started a book club, the book that we just finished reading was from an Indigenous perspective And so some of our short term goals include trying to do community events with local community organizations and hosting workshops that focus from a marginalized lens, including Black, Asian, LGBTQ lens since we’ve already done two workshops focusing on Native and Latinx lens And for the long term, we are looking at inter-generational and also inter-racial summer program, with collaboration with community organizations and institutions These programs will not only bring out young adults, high school and up, as well as the community and teachers that are interested in participating to learn more about environmental education and science What does supporting CEE mean? A lot of the funds, because we don’t charge anyone to be part of this network tends to fall on myself and Ylanda to cover Any sort of support will cover organization fees to eliminate program costs for program participants CEE is also a major, major pusher for underrepresented community-based employees to receive stipends And we also believe providing monetary incentive for underpaid teachers and non-profit employees will help to continue professional development so they can take those resources back to their communities and to their students Those resources that they potentially can receive are scientific resources The funding will also help us to provide these science based materials for teacher and student utilization Help our community Support our goal to bring opportunities to BIPOCQ educators Vote CEE, Chicago Environmental Educators You have the opportunity now to dismantle barriers for teachers, informal and formal, to receive scientific resources Next up, we have Sunny with Dynamhex, Incorporated This business seeks to identify a community’s carbon footprint with solutions to reduce emissions over time Hello, everyone. My name is Sunny Sanwar and I’m the Founder and CEO of Dynamhex, a minority-owned climate action company We help communities across the U.S. both plan for, implement, and track progress on climate change – particularly, meeting climate targets represented by the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions Originally, I am from Bangladesh: a country that is currently struggling with sea level rise from climate change It’s something that is very near and dear to me and something that drives me every day to figure out solutions for and help communities plan for this possibility You know, around the U.S and broadly communities across the world climate change has rippling effects on communities’ health Social equities is important in the community However, emissions are invisible We don’t know where they’re coming from and it hampers our ability to understand what we should do as a result At Dynamhex, that’s been our number one goal We help visualize every pound of different types of emissions that come in any neighborhood or come from any community anywhere in the U.S With Dynamhex, different individuals and groups in any community that want to collaborate in drawing down these invisible emissions that we visualize can now come together in a collaborative platform to understand which projects need to be implemented and where Throughout the Chicago communities, each resident, each individual, each school, each building can now understand where the emissions for their communities are coming from and what it is that they can do in order to reduce their footprint Solution providers, such as the great solution providers you will hear from today, can suggest their solutions on the platform so that

people in the community can implement those solutions or help support those implementations We gather data from various different sources, mostly city and county tax rules and different models developed by the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, and we make it specific to that specific community Thereby, we measure the bottom up emissions that is trackable at the very granular level Each of the buildings you could hover over and understand what the footprint is for that building or set of buildings, and look at different options that are available for that building and site specifically to measurably reduce their emissions Each reduction methodology or each solution has its own details and you can track them over time, you can suggest them, share them, and support them We are layering community specific measures, such as conservation of energy or energy efficiency reduction of waste and any low-carbon low-emission project that you can think of with a measurable focus on impact We hard code climate hope With Dynamhex, any community can now turn code into local policy In the Midwest, we have done some great work with Kansas, Missouri, and elsewhere which we have been part of city-wide resolutions We are the tool and methodology of choice to reduce community-wide emission work We have been very lucky to be selected by Exelon Corporation here in Chicago or their inaugural 2C2I Program which is a climate change investment initiative Not just the technology, which is geared to solving social equity issues – internally at Dynamhex we are very cognizant of our role in helping different disadvantaged and disenfranchised groups to take the lead on this Imagine a world where now for every community you can understand what it is you need to do You can understand where to put in the efforts, and thereby you can get to impact a lot quicker with the help of great collaborators and community members and deploying the right solutions at the right time With Dynamhex, that’s exactly what you can do With the Delta BOOST award, we want to empower a Chicagoland community of 5,000 individuals or under It could be a small town, it could be a ZIP code, it could be a local neighborhood We want to empower them and give access to the tool so they have the ability to understand their community level impact, they could garner attention around the issue, they can educate people who are consuming different products and services, but also be the solution providers that deploys such products and services just like the ones you’ll hear from today My name is Sunny Sanwar with Dynamhex. Thank you very much Next up, we have Joanne with Mycocyle! Mycocycle uses regenerative processes utilizing fungi called mycoremediation to divert waste from landfills for reuse by removing harmful toxins out of waste streams All of our asphalt waste goes to the dump It takes time and money to haul it there and it isn’t sustainable We want to reduce our footprint, and develop an opportunity to do smoething defferent with our waste Mycocycle exists to transform trash to treasure We’re using the power of mushrooms to clean up the messes that we’ve made There are so many materials we can address through mycoremediation that are hitting landfill currently We see the opportunity to create a value stream and then re-enter it into manufacturing to make a reusable byproduct One of the most important roles fungi fullfill in the environment is as of decomposers They’re really natures greatest chemists on so many fronts, and especially in the way that they’re able to uniquely break down some of the most complex chemicals of the natural world As well as some of the most complex toxins that humans have invented Not everyone can have an effect on all parts of their own supply chain, so it’s really important to have businesses like Mycocycle That are taking a look at these problems, that in a way, are being created by these other industries And finding ways to help those industries out If Mycocycle is successful, we probably shouldn’t see a single second of it Like the idea that, mycelium recycles materials for us should just happen in the background while we go along our daily lives And that’s kind of the key to sustainable efforts, and solving a global warming crisis is making it easy for people to understand how to contribute I’m Joanne Rodriguez, Founder of Mycocycle For 30 years, I worked in the construction products manufacturing space and I have been a long time sustainability leader Having worked with clients from coast to coast on trying

to reduce their waste and lessen their greenhouse gases, I quickly learned that the materials that we manufactured and that our industry manufactured were toxic to the environment Because the construction materials use largely oil and petrochemical derivatives as the basis of their performance, much of them contain heavy metals and carcinogens Up until now these materials were landfilled or burned, contributing to air and water pollution and as a result to long-term environmental and health issues So, in 2018, I decided there had to be a more sustainable path forward and I started collaborating with Mycologist Peter McCoy We developed a patent-pending process training fungi – yep, we train mushrooms to eat asphalt and clean toxins out of waste It’s about as simple as that We were very excited about the test results about the opportunity to not only treat toxins out of waste to de-risk it, but to create new materials And so Ikea, most notably, is using mushroom based packaging 100% they use mycelium as a replacement for plastic because it’s biodegradable And there are other companies that are using mycelium in replacement for plastic because they also see the beneficial use of that We have an opportunity to go circular in the process and as a result we have gained a lot of recognition and validation from the United Nations and National Renewable Energy Labs, but also Fast Company which was super cool This summer we won a grant from the Cleantech Open National Accelerator around a pivot related to business disruption during COVID What resulted is us developing a new treatment protocol considering situ soil remediation so the mycological remediation of soil and waste It really got me thinking about the grassroots efforts and the need to try to support mycological remediation in communities We would like, with the BOOST grant, to be able to get the result of our bench testing out into the field, lend mycological support and education, raise an awareness about not only the issue but the opportunity to clean up these areas using nature We’d like to do that side by side with the advocacy groups that are already embedded in these communities The overall intent would be to improve human and environmental health And so, how could you help us? By voting! Go to and subscribe, and also follow us on Twitter @mycocycle for updates Most importantly though, continue to support organizations like the Delta Institute Their work is critical for the environmental health of the Midwest ecosystem Thanks to the DELs for hosting BOOST 2020 We greatly appreciate the opportunity to present here and we hope that you will support Mycocycle in our pursuits to clean up trash and create treasure For our last finalist, we have Gavi and Remi with Zumwalt Acres: A Regenerative Agriculture Community! This initiative takes place in Sheldon, Illinois, and seeks to restore soil and combat climate change while strengthening their local community Hi, I’m Gavi. And I’m her sister Remi We are the 6th generation of the Zumwalt family farmers on this land For as long as I can remember, corn and soy has filled all the fields around us for hundreds of miles In the span of a couple generations, industrial agriculture has stripped rural communities, like ours, of thriving ecosystems Conventional farming is one of the leading contributors to climate change: emitting greenhouse gas and toxic pollutants into our air and waterways, while producing food that is low in nutritional value We believe that sustainable farming can generate nourishing food products and effective climate change mitigation Policy makers, researchers, farmers, and the broader public are realizing that smarter farming is a key pathway towards maintaining a livable planet This summer, after years of hearing stories of our dad’s dreams to start a perennial farm on this land, we realized it was time to actualize our vision We took to our family farm and transformed it into Zumwalt Acres: a regenerative agricultural initiative in Sheldon, Illinois What does regenerative agriculture mean? It means that we are dedicated to restoring the natural health of the soil and to combating climate change We focus on three big ideas: raising food bearing trees in an agro-forest, turning farm waste into carbon capturing fertilizer called biochar, and improving soil management practices These changes will allow us to create a cost effective carbon negative model farm And by using scientific approaches to demonstrate the immense economic and ecological benefits of sustainable farming, we can be leaders in the future of Midwestern agriculture We love our soil and trees

We know that they are our first defenses against environmental catastrophe So instead of degrading the land and clear cutting forests for conventional farming, we are replanting native trees, shrubs and other perennial plants Our food bearing trees will draw huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere especially compared to annual crops like corn and soy Besides capturing carbon, the practice of growing trees for food and fodder, known as agroforestry, will reinvigorate native ecosystems by restoring the soil and providing habitats for wildlife We also repurpose agricultural leftovers like tree prunings, nut shells, and corn husks to make biochar by burning them in a controlled fire Mixing the high carbon charcoal with soil and compost transforms it into an organic soil amendment that nourishes the next generation of crops Once buried in the soil, biochar stores carbon for thousands of years while enriching the soil and promoting plant growth While our project addresses global environmental challenges, we also strive to empower local farm communities By working alongside farmers who have been managing this land for years, we will build a framework for regenerative, cost effective farming that is transferable to other farms in the region We are creating a space for young farmers to learn and practice a form of agriculture that addresses the crises facing our generation head on So far, we have received funding and support from Yale University, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of California-Santa Cruz We also collaborate with the Savannah Institute, a regional agroforestry non-profit We have begun to build relationships with leaders in agriculture research and education, including the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and the United States Department of Agriculture The BOOST grant will take us to the next level and ensure our longevity Our next apprentice teams will be arriving in spring and summer The BOOST award will be used to fund these teams as they plant trees, make biochar, grow food, and demonstrate what the future of farming can look like We host teams of 6 to 10 apprentices who live and work on the farm Our apprentices are people who are passionate about growing food as a way to restore ecological sustainability and environmental justice We are building a center of learning that inspires young people to steward the land and breathe life into farming communities across the Midwest and beyond We are working to design a self sustaining business model to cover the costs of living at Zumwalt Acres But in the meantime, funding from this grant will be used to provide stipends for the next team of farm apprentices It is critical to offer a stipend to ensure an apprenticeship program that is accessible to all and fairly compensates individuals for their work You can help us support our apprentices and transform Midwestern agriculture by ranking us as your top choice for your vote Thank you so much for your support