Brightening Our Corner Newsletter - February 2021

Quarterly Newsletter from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation
Mar 1, 2021 9:30 AM ET

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has published its quarterly newsletter. Ray Anderson always said, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are."


Blair Beasley Joins the Foundation Staff

We are thrilled to welcome Blair Beasley to the Foundation staff.  Blair is our new director of climate strategies. She's certainly not a stranger to the Foundation, having first worked with us as a consultant for the Georgia Climate Project, followed by 18 months of leadership on the core research team for Drawdown Georgia. Welcome Blair!  Read her bio here.

Updates from the Ray C.  Anderson Center Better World MBA Ranking

In the 18th annual Corporate Knights Better World MBA Ranking, Scheller College was ranked No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 15 in the world for sustainability education in business. The Center remains committed to providing MBA students with the necessary toolkit for conducting business responsibly and is proud to lead the College’s commitment to sustainability. Read more.

Sustainability Fellows and Ambassadors

The Center introduces the 2020-21 Scheller College Graduate Sustainability Fellows and Undergraduate Sustainability Ambassadors! This year’s cohort, which includes 25 graduate and 14 undergraduate students, is the largest and most diverse to date. Students are deepening their knowledge of sustainability by working on projects—from a study to determine the viability of using carbon offsets to support park conservation to a pilot program to increase mobility access for the refugee population of Clarkston, Georgia. Read the full story.

Business, Environment and Society Speaker Series

The Center’s Summer and Fall 2020 Speaker Series featured Georgia Tech faculty and practitioners from Coca-Cola North America and Siemens. Over 200 attendees heard about tax as a sustainability issue, corporate impact, economic and social impacts of algorithm-driven scheduling practices, navigating stakeholder needs during uncertain times, and regenerative farming. Discover highlights.

The Ray X Southwire

To close out the year, Southwire made a $10,000 match contribution to The Ray for Georgia Gives Day 2020, securing a record-breaking year in contributions for The Ray’s Georgia Gives fundraising campaign. The donation launched a larger, ongoing partnership between the organizations to continue their sustainability goals and find innovative solutions to power the nation’s transmission grid and distribution of renewable energy.

By 2030, a projected 18.7 million electric vehicles (EVs) will be on U.S. roads, and our current electricity grid is underpowered to meet the demand. Expanding the grid is challenging, but we have two opportunities to utilize publicly owned interstate right-of-way (ROW) by installing renewable energy infrastructure.  Read more.

The Ray Featured in Infrastructure Op-Ed

The Ray’s director of strategic partnerships Laura Rogers, alongside former Deputy Secretary of US DOT John Porcari and president of Generate Capital Jigar Shah, penned an opinion editorial highlighting the missing piece in America’s energy puzzle: High voltage direct current transmission, or HVDC, installed underground alongside America’s roads and highways. Buried HVDC grid lines would give the U.S. the ability to utilize and interconnect resources like solar, wind, geothermal and battery storage across the country. HVDC is the largest “dig-ready” project to decarbonize America’s economy - and make it more secure and resilient.

The Ray's Landscape Lab at Exit 6

In January, Georgia DOT, The Ray and the University of Georgia’s College of Environment + Design broke ground on Phase 2 of the meadow-research plantings at the Exit 6 median alongside I-85’s northbound lanes. This latest phase of the project, led by The Ray’s landscape design and research fellow, Matthew Quirey, is an expansion of ongoing research at The Ray’s Landscape Lab, which broke ground on its first phase a year ago. The new research site consists of nine plots, with three different installation methods.  The Landscape Lab is a proving ground for the beautification and  land utilization possible on our interstate roadsides. It will lead to more efficient use of resources, provide environmental benefits, and have the scalability to be used broadly across Georgia and with other state DOTs.

From Butterfly Wings to Shrimp Claws: Mimicking Nature on the Nanoscale

Reprinted from an Environmental Health News article that featured four Ray of Hope Prize Finalist Teams.
Standing at a lab bench, Tanya Shirman eyes her creation: a tiny glass vial filled with an iridescent, sand-like material.

Holding it between her thumb and forefinger, she gives the vial a gentle shake, and the material inside turns from shimmering blues to greens.

"This is what happens in butterfly wings," the petite Shirman, lifting her voice over the roar of a lab fume hood, told EHN. "The spectrum of colors changes from the structures in the wings at the nanoscale," that is, a scale hundreds of thousands of times smaller than the head of a pin.

Shirman, vice president of materials design at the Boston-based startup Metalmark Innovations, is referring to the concept of structural color found in nature—such as in butterfly wings, bird feathers, beetles, berries, and the sky.  Read the full story.

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge: Entries Due April 30th

The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge calls for design concepts addressing any issue(s) outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals. We know that the SDGs are vast and expand across many subject areas, but this diversity means there are also just as many solutions out there waiting to be discovered. Successful teams will define a concrete, well researched area of focus for their design efforts and apply the core concepts and methods of biomimicry in developing a solution. We are especially interested in projects that go beyond familiar approaches by identifying unique leverage points for change, removing barriers to the adoption and spread of existing solutions, and/or clearly demonstrating how biomimicry can lead to new, novel, or more effective solutions. Learn more.

Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge: Deadline is March 1st

The Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge (YDC) is a hands-on, project-based learning experience that provides classroom and informal educators with an engaging framework to  introduce bio-inspired design and an interdisciplinary lens on science, engineering, and environmental literacy. It gives middle and high school students a unique STEM  experience and empowers them to envision solutions to social and environmental challenges. Click here for more information.  

Have You Seen the Drawdown Georgia Blog? 

Drawdown Georgia officially launched in October, and the engagement opportunities continue to emerge across the state, from speakers to webinars, upcoming conferences and a weekly blog.

One of our favorite Drawdown Georgia blogs illustrates just how our funding initiatives go "full circle."

Since 2017, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation has funded the Carbon Reduction Challenge in partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business and Georgia Tech's Global Change Program. In 2018, Casey Erb won the Carbon Reduction Challenge when he was an intern with Chick-fil-A. His recent blog illustrates how this "stubborn college student with a calculator" has gone on to put carbon reduction at the center of his professional career, and how he's using what he's learned to engage college students on climate solutions. Read the blog. 

Will You Be Joining Us for Dinner? 

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get more involved with issues that impact your community? Is one of your goals for 2021 to forge connections with new friends and neighbors, to talk about ideas--both large and small--that really matter?
One great way to do all of those things is to host a (virtual) conversation about climate solutions with Drawdown Georgia and Civic Dinners.

The platform is available for anyone to use to host their own virtual civic dinner. Learn more. 

Drawdown Georgia Releases Phase One Research 

How were the 20 Drawdown Georgia climate solutions selected, and what factors were examined in the research process? The answers to these questions are all available in the Phase One findings from the research team, which were recently published in Environmental Management.  Read the Phase One Research Paper.

Ecocentricity Blog: The Ethics of Environmentalism

By: John A. Lanier

If you wish everyone would compost their food waste to help mitigate climate change, then you should compost. If you wish everyone would refuse plastic straws to help keep them out of the oceans, then you should refuse plastic straws.

I just binged the heck out of The Good Place (thanks for the recommendation Whitney!). It’s an NBC comedy starring Kristen Bell, with the plot centered on four humans who have died and are now experiencing the afterlife. As the name implies, there is a “good place” and a “bad place,” roughly heaven and hell by common understanding, but without any adherence to a particular faith tradition. Much of the comedy is situational, but there is a detailed (if winding) plot with solid character development. I enjoyed it for multiple reasons, and the finale even twanged a few of my heart strings.

For my purposes here though, I want to touch on the constant refrain of ethics and moral philosophy throughout the show. Much like The Big Bang Theory takes highly complex scientific principles and bakes them into 22 minutes of showtime, The Good Place does the same with highly complex ethical theory. For instance, the show explores concepts like the ethics of lying and moral relativism. Such topics are highly appealing to your friendly neighborhood nerd on this side of the keyboard!  Read the full blog.


Georgia Climate Project:
What Does a Changing Climate Mean for Georgia's Weather? - 2/26/2021

Business, Environment and Society Speaker Series:
When Do Public Supplier Lists Improve Profits and Sustainability Goals? - 3/17/2021

Burt Fealing, Southwire (Virtual) - 4/6/2021


Circularity 21 - 6/15 - 6/17/2021
Georgia Climate Conference - 8/12-8/13, 2021
RayDay - 10/17/2021
Captain Planet Foundation 30th Anniversary Gala - 11/13/2021


Drawdown Georgia
"Diving into Drawdown Georgia."  - John Lanier's Webinar with Sustainable Newton
Biomimicry Fireside Chats
 "Envisioning a New Path Forward: Healing with Biomimicry" - Janine Benyus and Azita Ardakani
The Ray
U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Sustainability, Resilience, and Risk: Workshop II - Allie Kelly