Imagine, Create, Learn 2

Rising Sun Executive Director Jodi Pincus goes to the WISE Summit in Qatar

You can read on day one here.

Day 2

After a depressing morning session that focused on how far away the world is from reaching the UN millennium goal of all children having access to primary education by 2015 — 58 million to be exact and  two thirds of those children live in conflict zones, refugee camps or are dealing with Ebola — I decided to go to workshops that focused on hands-on learning where I learned by doing not just talking and listening.

I went to a Lego workshop where I built a spinning top out of Lego, built a machine to make it spin and then programmed it to spin using the computer.2editedI teamed with a woman from China and we entered into a competition to see which team’s top would spin the longest based on design and programming. I thought we would definitely win, but unfortunately our top fell off the table, so we were disqualified. I didn’t win the Lego prize for Alejandro, my 3 year old son. The workshop was refreshing and clearly demonstrated what 21st century education should be like.

Again, we feasted on an abundance of food, although it is toned down since the last visit and I enjoyed watching all the woman in their newly fashionable Abaya’s, which are the traditional dress that the woman wear. The abaya’s have gone through a fashion trend where they used to be only black and now they are adorned with different designs and pops of color.

In the afternoon I took a break and went to the Persian Gulf harbor to see the sea with another woman from San Francisco. I finally got a sense of the country. All the buildings are sandstone, and from a city planning perspective, this city is not designed well and far from sustainable. It is prone to traffic jams and impossible to walk.

I returned to my hotel and got ready for that evening’s Gala, during which I spent most of my time talking about education, fundraising, politics and traditional clothing with a variety of people from all over the globe.  It was a very fun, elegant, and enlightening evening.

 Read next post here

Imagine, Create, Learn

Rising Sun Executive Director Jodi Pincus goes to the WISE Summit in Qatar

The first day of the WISE Summit, I grab my UN headset, which translates at least five languages, and sit down for the opening session. This year’s conference theme is imagine-create-learn: creativity at the heart of education. The opening scene is a theatrical presentation with phenomenal production values. Click here for the video.
Her Highness, Sheikha Moza Bint Nassar (The Queen) gets up to speak. She has tremendous style, like Jackie O, and besides being an incredibly interesting woman to look at, I am struck by her leadership and initiative to educate the fifty-eight million out of school children around the world. She is doing remarkable things with her wealth and pushing the boundaries for women in the Middle East. I sit in the room with over 1,800 people from around the globe, 130 countries represented and I remember why I find this conference so exciting.

The next speaker is Tony Wagner, first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. He talks about the reality, that education is no longer the key to upward mobility and that creativity is now a moral imperative. In order to prepare children for the 21st century we need to cultivate their creativity, their ability to solve problems differently and that education based on testing and getting the answer right, it not the right kind of education for the 21st century.
He went on to say that with the internet, knowledge is now a free commodity like water (although we can debate whether water is free commodity for all) and that information is easily accessible for to all. What matters most is not what you know but what you can do with what you know. Businesses are looking for people who can solve complex analytical problems, collaborate to solve those problems, can figure things out on their own and can innovate.

The key question is what must we do differently to develop people’s capabilities to innovate? We are all born curious, and it makes me ponder how can formal and non-formal education – such as Rising Sun’s programs — foster this. Wagner thinks this can be done by teaching collaboration; teaching that failure is key to innovation; and encouraging risks, failure and mistakes. “Fail early and fail often.” He also says the role of a teacher is as a coach and not a knowledge bearer; that changing education is an economic necessity in an innovation economy.
The session made me think about the role of nonprofits a problem solvers to social and environmental problems and how we are part of a system in which the funding doesn’t necessarily give us the flexibility to solve these problems creatively through trial and error. Continue reading

Build It Green

Last week our friends at Build It Green hosted their Water Wise Homes Conference, where building professionals learned from other builders and designers about water-saving practices and technologies. From the simple to the complex, experts covered everything from appliance choices to best practices related to conveyance of hot water. Babak Tondre of the design and building firm DIG Cooperative discussed the wide variety of grey water and rainwater catchment systems options.  Systems like these that DIG installs help with drought resilience and erosion reduction.  Participants also heard from presenter Chie Kawahara who spoke from the vantage point of the homeowner learning about water saving measures and her process of choosing the retrofits and contractors that best matched her home’s needs and her budget.  An afternoon panel included affordable housing developer, Eden Housing. Staff from Eden from spoke about the cost savings that investing in major water and energy efficiency projects has generated for their multi-unit affordable dwellings.  Thanks to Build It Green for inviting Rising Sun to participate!

2015 Green Urban Art Competition

PR event flyer jpegClick here to submit your expression of interest through this Google form!


  1. The competition is open to everyone ages 12 and up.
  2. Artwork can be existing or newly created, but must adhere to the following criteria:
    1. highlight a water issue or water conservation practices/solutions, and
    2. if water is used in the art/installation, it must incorporate greywater practices.
  1. In addition, the artist must choose at least one of the following concepts to incorporate into the art piece:
    1. Use of recycled materials
    2. Illustrate the relationship between the natural environment in the context of an urban setting
    3. Create a piece that shows a visual image of the Rising Sun logo
    4. Demonstrate the use of non-toxic materials
    5. Watershed and riparian ecosystem awareness
    6. An urban response to water conservation
    7. A scientific issue involving water conservation
    8. California water issues and problems
    9. New technologies in water conservation
    10. Incorporate water wise landscaping into the art/installation
    11. Greywater systems
    12. Rainwater capture
    13. Industrial water uses, fracking, agriculture, livestock production, etc.
    14. Spoken word
    15. Performance Art

James’ Benevolent success

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Rising Sun Energy Center’s mission is to empower individuals to achieve environmental and economic sustainability for themselves and their communities. Through our California Youth Energy Services (CYES) and Green Energy Training Services (GETS) programs, we strive to achieve our mission and have the most meaningful impact on our participants and for the environment.

One thing that motivates and excites us to continue our important work is when we see our program participants empower themselves to reach higher. We can see this in James, a GETS participant from our spring 2014 cohort, who has shown superior dedication to the training provided by Rising Sun, but also to energy efficiency and renewable energy as a green career pathway. Based on the current level of unemployment in California, getting a full-time job is a difficult endeavor. However, James went the extra mile to increase his chances of becoming employed as a Solar Installer. In order to accomplish this, he successfully raised the funds needed to buy the required tools by reaching out to the community—crowd-funding through Benevolent Website. Now if that isn’t empowerment, tell me what is!

Thumbs up, James, and all the best in your venture!