A Clean Tech Experience

I showed up for the Clean Tech event with an open, blank mind: Reshma 2010 Clean Tech Event July 27 Tuesday. Blank because I did not know much about clean tech at all. I had a few ideas, I could say a few buzz words, I could draw a few outlines. There is a slope: tech as in internet tech, then clean tech, then bio tech, I know the least about nano tech. If the next Reshma 2010 event is going to be on bio tech, I am going to spend a good few hours doing some serious reading online. I am going to do some homework.

It was that feeling that led me to ask the question I asked.

"I showed up for this event not knowing much about clean tech at all and so this has been a wonderful experience. It is so obvious Clean Tech is going to be a major source of much needed jobs for this city, this country, this world. But those jobs will not get created if certain political decisions are not made and those decisions will not get made if the politicians don't feel the pressure and the politicians will not feel the pressure if the voters, the citizens are not actively involved in the conversation, the discussion, and debate around clean tech, and a great way to do that would be to have Reshma Saujani and Carolyn Maloney do a debate on TV exclusively about clean tech, but I don't see that happening. Why are Reshma Saujani and Carolyn Maloney not debating clean tech on TV?"

The moderator looks at me and he gives me a perplexed look for about two seconds. This guy looks Indian, but he is all hostile to Reshma. He does not seem to realize Reshma is not the reason the debate is not taking place. Someone needs to point out he is knocking on the wrong door. And so he says, "You need to take that question to Carol!"

The moderator started out saying he was Australian and that "American politics is baffling to me." If American politics is baffling to him, he should take a crack at Indian politics. JFK's ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith, well esteemed in the intellectual circles of this country, went on record about "the imponderables of Indian politics."

The panel was a huge one. It could barely fit. It was an impressive panel. The flyer had details on each company and participating organization. I wish I had an electronic version so I could publish it at this blog. I might still type it out and publish the introductory paragraphs on the various companies and organizations that participated.

Off the bat the company that most fascinated me was Bodega Algae. It is "a developer of scalable algae photobioreactors. The closed continuous-flow reactors produce high-energy algal biomass for use in the production of biofuel."

I briefly got to talk to the Bodega representative, a MIT PhD, after the formal program was over. I told her how her company stood out for me of all companies on the list. And she shared some more info. One thing she shared alarmed me. The thinking in the energy industry seems to be that big oil names like Exxon will do biofuel as well because they have the distribution infrastructure. That was alarming to me. That would be like saying Google should have happened under Microsoft and Facebook should have happened under Google. That would totally stifle innovation. The thing to do is to make Exxon share their distribution infrastructure by law.

The political highlight of the event for me though happened before the formal program began. A Sara (not real name) walked over to me while I was talking to another Reshma 2010 intern that I had met once before. She introduced me as a "huge fan of your blog." She said she was a Reshma 2010 intern.

Sara is going to be a senior at high school soon. She said she lived on "the north side of town." I hope that means Upper East Side and not Westchester. The way she presented herself made me think she alone could deliver 50 votes. When I am talking about Reshma Saujani as The New Woman (Reshma Saujani: Top 10 Women To Watch In America), I am thinking about women like Sara.

She asked me if I would do a blog post on her. I hereby pledge to do a blog post on every Reshma 2010 intern and staffer who might express interest. All you have to do is schedule to sit down with me for an hour long interview at the Reshma 2010 headquarters, and let me take a few pictures of you with the others in the room. I like to take a few different pictures and then put them together as collages. That's my style.

I asked her about college applications and where she might want to go. She said she had visited Stanford.

"Me too. It is such a pretty campus," I said.

Sara told me she looked at both the Maloney and the Reshma campaigns before deciding on the Reshma campaign as the one she wanted to intern for. That is a good sign.

Also if high school students are reading my blog, I think I need to be more careful in terms of what I put out. I did not realize. 

I have come to realize Sunday afternoons are perhaps not the best time to be making phone calls to voters. I asked Paul last Sunday and he suggested the best time might be weekdays from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

My current professional status is that I am a pro blogger. Every day is like every other day to me. I could show up on a Sunday, or a Wednesday.

I got to meet a whole bunch of people, one of them was an Ashish. He said he was a friend of Reshma. You look familiar, I said. I think I might have seen him at the last Reshma 2010 tech event. I asked about his background.

"India."

"Where in India?"

"Jamshedpur."

"They broke up Bihar against my wishes, but that makes you the sixth Bihari I have met in America."

"I am a Punjabi."

"I once got an email from a Punjabi who thought I was one. Paramendra can sound like Parmendar." (Bhangra, Cricket: Exotic To Me)

And Bhagat can sound like Bhagat Singh. 

"I came to America when I was nine months old."

That was one remarkable nine month old, I thought.

I aimlessly walked out after the event was over. After whiling away in Union Square I decided to walk over towards Times Square. Up on Ninth Avenue I decide to go over to Central Park. It is amazing to me how well lit all parts of Central Park can be at night. That is a Third World perspective for you. I decided to go in for a walk. I stayed by the big road. That is another Third World perspective for you. Deep inside I came across two Chinese looking guys who asked which way to Fifth Avenue.

"I have no idea where I am at right now, or I could tell you," I said. Then I spotted the two two dimensional buildings of Columbus Circle and told them which way.

Deep in thought, I missed the 14th Street stop for change of train two times. 

By the time I got home it was past midnight. My Harvard Law School graduate roomie had already called it a day. The dude shares a few other traits with Barack: he is black.

"See you soon" was Reshma's greeting to me towards the end of the event.

You bet. That might be as early as Wednesday evening.  


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