A report from One Spark ...

BT-onesparkSo, the middle of last month, the Nature's Little Recyclers crew spent a week on the road, heading down to Jacksonville, FL for One Spark. This was way more of a grind than we expected, and we were constantly on the go (trying to drum up votes for our project) from 5:30am till around 10:30pm. We did "OK", ending up fifth in the "science" category (which was dominated by two area aquariums), and being in the top 5% over-all ... unfortunately, the way the dollars were allocated this year, the only folks who got substantial payouts were the "creators" who won their categories (and scored the $10k bonus checks).

Being as busy as we were (I spent a good chunk of the week designing, printing, and cutting promo items), I didn't get a chance to wander around with my interview gear as much as I'd hoped to have, but I did take one afternoon to revisit some "green tech" entrants that I'd seen in passing.

The first of these was Cornucopia Aqua Gardens, which drew my eye to their quite striking "vertical gardens". The couple who run Cornucopia, Chris & Allisyn Youngblood, have an interesting approach of scaling an aquaponic plant down to a house-hold size, in various configurations. Their hanging units have numerous pots through which water from the below-lying fish tank circulates. Having been used to aquaponic set-ups which take up thousands of square feet, this was quite striking.

I next spoke with the folks from The Springfield Grange, Kyle Mc Bride
& Genevieve Fletcher. According to their One Spark profile:

The Springfield Grange is an aspiring food hub and urban farm in the Springfield neighborhood of Jacksonville, FL. Our goal is to provide better access to healthy foods on the First Coast through an urban farm that incorporates an educational and workforce development component, a community commercial kitchen, and an equitable store-front marketplace. The Springfield Grange will be a center for distributing healthy, local produce, fish, eggs, meat, and value-added products to the community. By connecting local farmers to new market channels and establishing a working farm, our hope is to increase the demand and the supply of locally grown food, improving the economy and culture of health in the Jacksonville urban core.

Here's what they had to say:

I also had a chat with the folks from Insite Renewables, a group that has some very interesting products. Unfortunately, the audio on the interview was unusable, so I don't have that for you. Some of the products they feature include are "Solar Shutters", small solar panels that work as shutters over one's windows, the "GloBox", "a solar powered, and automated greenhouse" that fits in a window, solar panels that mount on a garage door, and a system that allows you to feed back in the power produced by these to your home electric system simply through an outlet - while monitoring all the systems from your PC. Fascinating stuff!

Again, I wish I had more stuff to bring you from down at One Spark. There were over 600 exhibitors, ranging across a half a dozen categories, from art, music and performance, to cultural institutions and small tech start-ups, but for more info I guess you'll just have to go surf their site.




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