Climate Solutions All the Rage at SOCAP ’15 Social Entrepreneurship Conference

This guest post comes from Hannah Doress ’88 of Hannah Doress Events/ Word Out Consulting, who attended SOCAP with free tickets from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship thanks to the generosity of Tim Freundlich.


As a 20 year event producer and promoter, and someone who lives to advance climate solutions, you can imagine my reaction when I learned that SOCAP, the influential San Francisco-based social entrepreneurship conference, allows participants to host and promote their own community conversations through their event software, Pathable. Naturally, I immediately got to work on hosting a Climate Solutions Community Conversation during one of the lunch breaks. The Impact Hub was kind enough to join in to physically host us and co-promote the gathering, and I was blown away by the excited response and the diversity of those who attended — as well as by meeting those who were interested but had scheduling conflicts. 

My experience working on climate and sea level rise issues has given me a broad perspective on what kind of solutions are available and needed. For example my Earth Day Marin Festival Climate Change Solutions Day of Action provided an ideal platform to match-make between cross-sector organizations providing climate solutions and members of the public, generating over 1,000 actions. Presenting carbon farming advocate John Wick of Marin Carbon Project as 2014 festival keynote speaker made me aware of the necessity of removing greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere and sustainable methods to do so. Launching a multiracial multi class coalition Shore Up Marin to advocate for equitable sea level rise, flooding and climate impact adaptation, has increased my awareness of current and future climate impacts and how they intersect with our society’s most challenging current problems.

OptimalClimateInvestmentHDEFrom this perspective I am necessarily an advocate for greater diversity in our climate solutions approaches (see Proposed Areas for Climate Investment right) and so I was delighted to meet leaders working on the severely under-resourced areas of sequestration (removing Greenhouse Gases from the atmosphere such as through Carbon Farming) as well as those working in the critical areas of greenhouse gas reductions and renewable power. My hope is that I’ll meet entrepreneurs more focused on adaption to climate change impacts (such as sea level rise, which will continue regardless of greenhouse gas reductions) at the next SOCAP as this is a critical area to be developed. There isn’t room to write about all the participants so I’ll mention a few who particularly inspired me and give a flavor of the attendees: 

In the greenhouse gas sequestration area I’ve been following the efforts of Marin Carbon Project, Carbon Cycle Institute, and Fibershed,and it was great to meet new people working in this area including Randy Fiat of The Carbon Underground, and Scott Lewis of Climate Positive, as this critical area continues to develop. Likewise with my conviction that we need a diverse portfolio of solutions to succeed, it was exciting to meet Amanda Joy Ravenhill, Executive Director of Project Drawdown (which she cofounded with author-entreprenuer Paul Hawken to advance 100 economically feasible and scientifically sound climate solutions). I was also particularly intrigued by Steve Bushnell’s Climate Store. Some others in the field I met included Anya Cherneff of Empower Generation, empowering women in the developing world to power their communities with clean energy and Charles Wang of Hawaii-based interactive family-friendly energy tracking tool Eco Qoob. Overall the conference was very international with a big focus on social ventures in developing countries.

Steve Bushnell of is introducing himself at the SOCAP Climate Solutions Community Conversation

Steve Bushnell of is introducing himself at the SOCAP Climate Solutions Community Conversation

At the Climate Solutions discussion I hosted, after participants introduced themselves and their climate-related ventures, I led an exercise identifying barriers and opportunities for individual ventures and the field as a whole. Clearly one of the key barriers is insufficient investment in the field as a whole. With the short timeframe available to address climate change while minimizing human, food system, water, ecosystem and other impacts, this is truly a case where not investing is more risky than investing.

Consider the human race and all of our achievements as already invested capital that is at great risk if we do not invest rapidly and broadly in stabilizing our ecosystem through climate solutions. Our underinvestment limits both excellent multiple-benefit solutions from being implemented but also critically it inhibits the participation of the wide range of workforce talent needed to work at the cutting edge of solutions to assure our success. It is critical that we invest broadly enough to assure we have the right combination of approaches to be successful (see Proposed Areas for Climate Investment above). It is my belief that with investment and prioritization which matches the severity of the climate threat we can effectively respond to climate change and secure the future for humanity and the ecosystem that sustains us.

The best ways to take action right now are to invest or work in the area of climate change solutions. Additionally it is critical that we invest our support with effective organizations, businesses, government agencies and advocacy groups that are advancing climate solutions and that we advocate for sustainability with our workplaces, schools, banks, houses of worship, etc. 

Wesleyan at SOCAP

Among the many impressive participants were some Wesleyan alums including SOCAP founders and leaders in the social entrepreneurship field Joy Anderson and Tim Freundlich. It was a special treat to attend Joy’s Gender Lens Investing breakfast — and felt like a fun Wesleyan flashback when she called on me in the discussion. Joy is founder of leading edge systems change nonprofit Criterion Institute, also known for Criterion Ventures and GoodCap among other accomplishments. Tim Freundlich is known through his leadership with Calvert, Impact Hub and GoodCap. I saw Mark Mullen of GeoCapital and Transparency International Georgia. I reconnected with Kate Gordon of the Paulson Institute, formerly of NextGen Climate after seeing her on the Climate Ventures 2.0 panel. It was a real treat to meet and getting to know Rhonda Lees, Esq. who I connected with through Wesleyan Alumni in Philanthropy & Public Service.

Overall, the experience of participating in SOCAP was highly intellectually stimulating with top quality content and presenters. The conference offered fascinating, diverse and accomplished peers to network with as well as showcasing many cutting edge ideas, models, tech solutions, and businesses and organizations. It was an honor to be selected by Patricelli Center and SOCAP for one of two scholarships to attend.

As a result of the experience, I am developing a new event model designed to eliminate barriers and advance synergies to catalyze investment in and implementation of climate solutions. I invite those who are interested in advancing climate solutions and expanding our climate solutions toolbox to contact me via email or social media.


Jennifer Roach is the Civic Engagement Fellow in Allbritton for the academic year 2015-2016. She is a recent Wesleyan alumni, class of 2014. Since graduating, she has moved to Hartford to continue developing Summer of Solutions Hartford, an urban farming internship program she worked on during her time at Wesleyan.