Meet climate tech champion, Kamaele Terry and her Charger Help! Plus, LA’s climate champion, Ron Finley. Who knew you could spin thread out of spoiled milk?! And hometown climate community champs, Africatown, Alabama.
Spinning Yarn From Spoiled Milk?! Climate Champions Kamaele Terry and Ron Finley, Africatown, Alabama
CLIMATE TECH CHAMPION, KAMAELE TERRY AND CHARGERHELP!
If the world’s going to successfully transition to EVs, its going to need a lot more EV charger technicians, and fast. Kamaele Terry had that insight and has made it grow. The idea started when the Philadelphian moved back to LA to help care for her ailing mother. The move motivated her to transition out of banking and into EV world.
She worked at an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment network provider and helped stand up that company’s customer experience and network operations center.
As the Director of Programs supporting our infrastructure buildout, she noticed the recurring challenge of maintaining charging stations’ uptime. We relied heavily on electrical contractors for repairs, but 80% of the charger issues weren’t electrical – they were software or firmware issues, or vandalism.
In an interview with Climate Tech VC, Terry said, “Charger downtime wasn’t just a pain point for that company – it was an industry-wide issue. Utilities reported 30% of their charging stations were offline due to maintenance issues. Our industry didn’t have a specialized workforce that could fix hardware and software issues of nationally deployed ev charging stations.”
That’s why she started ChargerHelp. To facilitate the hiring of trained technicians and to develop a specialized workforce to fix EV charging stations.
Why does ChargerHelp and Kamaele Terry matter to us? Three reasons. First, she gets it. With mass adoption of EVs on the horizon, your average future EV driver will be less forgiving than the eager initial adopters who put up with the various bumps and hurdles of early generations of EVs.
Second, she understands the importance of high-quality customer service. And three, as a black female entrepreneur, she’s busting down doors in the clubby, white and indian male dominated world of tech venture capital.
In fact, Terry just raised just raised a $2.75m Seed round for ChargerHelp from venture capitalists Trucks VC, Kapor Capital, Energy Impact Partners, and JFF. That’s a good start.
COMMUNITY CLIMATE CHAMPION, RON FINLEY
When you hear the term rebel, you might not think of the word gardener. That’s because you don’t know Ron Finley.
Back in 2010 the City of Los Angeles gave Ron a citation for having the audacity to plant vegetables in bare dirt patches next to the street. Ron didn’t just deal with the ticket, he dealt LA a bigger problem. Building a coalition of like-minded folks in LA, he started a petition. The petition drive was successful enough that Finley won the right to grow food in his own neighborhood. Now that’s a rebel!
Becaue of this, Finley has traveled the world giving lectures and classes, a TED Talk, which has been viewed over 4 million times and translated into 34 languages, and he has been the subject of a documentary. The heightened awareness of food insecurity from global pandemic, at the intersection of environmental justice inspired Finley to amplify his message. Enter the Ron Finley Master Class.
David Schriber, chief marketing officer for Master Class, said “he can’t reveal numbers, but Finley’s class has been “one of the most popular.” Finley wants to literally flip the script on every aspect of human life.”
Finley’s raw and straight forward message about growing your food is what keeps people coming back to his lessons. To Finley, gardening is freedom, magic. He wants people to care about the earth, care where and how you get your food, and care about yourself.
His desire: join him – in a culture of community and unity. Community in unity.”
SPINNING FABULOUSLY FLEXIBLE ECOFIBER FROM SPOILED MILK
Have you ever taken your milk out of the fridge ready for that first cup of coffee only to say ‘what is that smell’? Well, that’s what happened to Antonella Bellina, a textile researcher based in Tuscany, Italy. Instead of tossing the milk, she thought, “why do I have to throw this in the trash? I can use this.”
And by use this, Bellina means turning the spoiled milk in to fabric threads. In Italy, about 30 million tons of dairy are wasted each year according to the Italian agricultural association Coldiretti. Bellina founded Duedilatte, in 2013. Her company works with local farms to source the expired milk it uses to produce these new threads.
Bellina wss a senior textile researcher before founding Duedilatte, so she knew thanks to modern bio engineering techniques it’s possible to produce a natural and ecologic fiber with sophisticated and unique properties.
The idea isn’t entirely new. In the early 1900s German chemist Frederick Todtenhaupt was already attempting to turn milk byproducts into a silk substitute, but his efforts came to no fruition. It was only in the 1930s that Bellina’s compatriot, engineer Antonio Ferretti, managed to produce fabric from milk.
Duedilatte has a ready-made sourcing market. According to Professor Peter Alexander of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, about 116 tons of dairy products are lost or discarded annually worldwide. For Bellina, the fact that the process is 100% chemical-free and only uses less than half a gallon of milk to make a t-shirt is what makes this such a huge win in the fight to make fashion less harmful to the environment.
And no, clothes made from Duedilatte threads do not smell like sour milk. There are additional benefits to wearing this milky yarn: it’s naturally antibacterial thermoregulatory and extremely soft. Who wouldn’t want that in their clothing.
HOMETOWN CLIMATE COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS, AFRICATOWN, ALABAMA
Africatown, Alabama holds two great distinctions. Incorporated in the 1860s, it’s the only community in the United States founded by Africans freed from enslavement. And it’s also located in the “Amazon of America”. From a biodiversity standpoint, it has “flora and fauna not known to exist anywhere else on Earth.”
Unfortunately, economic interests and industrialization have transformed Africatown from a community where people enjoyed fishing, swimming and clean water into a polluted industrial zone, while also blocking the community’s access to the bay waters.
Africatown native Joe Womack, determined to change the future, developed a strong coalition with the National Park Service, local and regional organizations and citizens It’s called C.H.E.S.S: Clean Healthy Educated Safe & Sustainable.
His CHESS coalition secured a $3.4 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and the HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium. CHESS then connected with the Landscape Architecture department at Mississippi State University to engage students in drawing up concept plans and created a Blueways planning team.
Blueways are water trails, marked routes on navigable waterways such as rivers, lakes, canals and coastlines for recreational use. Blueways provide riparian buffers, protect wildlife, and improve water quality communities.
Womack says, “What we’re doing really not only affects the lives of people, but the environment.” Africatown’s community and the blueways planning team seem confident that their work can inspire others to embrace the history of their vibrant community.