Our Fourth Month

Carbon Neutral Indiana got 501c3 non-profit status on April 7, 2020. This is an account of month #4. Also see previous accounts of month #1month #2, and the 2nd Quarter in 2020.

  • Went Well
    • General
    • Households
    • Businesses
    • Academic Institutions
  • Challenges
    • General
    • Households
    • Businesses
    • Academic Institutions
  • Lessons
    • General
    • Households
    • Businesses
    • Academic Institutions

Went Well

 

General

 

Bill McKibben gave us a shout out in The New Yorker: "Like E.S.G. investing, carbon offsets are no panacea—but it is inspiring to see local startups, such as Carbon Neutral Indiana, figuring out how to communicate with homeowners and small businesses about their carbon footprint."

Senator Mike Braun invited a small group of us to his home. We strategized how to pass something like his federal Growing Climate Solutions Act at the state level. In his driveway, we set up these large dominoes as an art installation. Each person present read an inspiring quote before Senator Braun knocked over the first, tiniest domino. This is the quote he read:

"The prophets of doom have overlooked the all-important factor that is certain: Human potential is far from exhausted, and the American system for unleashing that potential – a system that has worked wonders for over two centuries despite frequent interruptions for recessions and even a Civil War – remains alive and effective." -Warren Buffet

Facilitated meetings with state Senator Mark Stoops and others. He authored SB 368, a summer study committee which will investigate setting up a carbon market in Indiana. Stay tuned for big news on this.

Helped offset an additional 518.2 tons annualized. Total of 1,527.9 so far.

This represents an additional $114,004 in social costs averted annually. Each ton causes $220 in social costs. We've helped avert $336,138 in damages so far.

Cash donation of $100 from one new person. Total of $1,286.00 so far. Donate today. When you do, you're supporting a highly entrepreneurial, effective climate action network.

Sam Bryan made this interactive map. Explore it here. It shows which counties have carbon neutral households. You can zoom in and see which zip codes are covered too. Let's get full coverage! We're in 18 out of 92 counties so far. When we're in all of the counties, we'll be averting at least $708,000 in social costs. When we're in all of the 957 zip codes, we'll be averting at least $7,368,000 in social costs.

We made this interactive map showing referrals. Explore it here. Once someone becomes carbon neutral we ask, "Will you take responsibility for just two friends and make sure they understand these ideas?" In this way, the network is growing exponentially.

We created this silly video. Signs everywhere!

A professional grant writer joined our team. They won almost a million dollars in grants for another non-profit last year.

Rachel Leigh created this gorgeous tri-fold pamphlet, and we printed 1,000 copies. Explore it here. Rachel has been a professional designer for over a decade. Contact her and leverage her skills through her company, Majuscule. Takoda Potts started dropping these off at coffeeshops in northern Indiana.

We published an article about the Afognak Forest Carbon Project. This is the carbon offset project we support currently. When enough households and businesses become carbon neutral in Indiana, we'd like to set up a verified forest project right here in Indiana.

The Natural Awakenings magazine published an article about CNI. They distribute about 70,000 printed copies throughout Indianapolis, IN. CNI summer intern Sydney Johnson wrote this incredibly clear article.

Hoosier economist Morton Marcus wrote an article about CNI. Morton is a former instructor at Indiana University and columnist for the Indiana Business Journal.

The Pachamama Alliance asked us to be on an advisory council to help reinvent itself. The NGO was founded in 1995 and is based in San Francisco, CA. "The Pachamama Alliance was born out of an invitation from the Achuar people to work in partnership with them to preserve their land and culture while bringing forth a new worldview that honors and sustains life." Over 20,000 people have taken their paradigm shifting online courses, which are translated into 16 languages -- Awakening the Dreamer, Game Changer Intensive, and Drawdown.

We released two more episodes of a ten part podcast seriesMore here. Amplify Indy is hosting and producing the podcast, and it's co-created by Josh Bach. He and his wife Cara were the very first carbon neutral household in the entire state.

We purchased and retired our second batch of offsets. On July 2, 2020 we retired 13 offsets and on Aug 7 we retired 21 offsets. You can view the public retirement record for each. This means that they are taken out of circulation forever and can't be used against any one else's carbon footprints. Learn more about the retirement process.

We realized we accomplished a respected venture capitalist's challenge. Daniel Gross was a Partner at the famous Y-Combinator startup incubator. They've incubated over 2,000 companies, including Airbnb, Dropbox, and others. Combined valuation of their top companies is over $155 billion as of October 2019. Daniel wrote a piece -- The Power of Ten Playbook -- advising how to create a startup company from scratch. He said, 

"Now that you've gotten to $1,000 in revenue, it's time to get to $10,000 in [annual recurring revenue]... If you make it this far in the span of two months, we'll gladly fund you. We'll incorporate your company, fly you out to Silicon Valley, the whole shebang."

Carbon Neutral Indiana accomplished this -- crossing $10,000 in annual recurring revenue -- in exactly two months. In fact, right on the 60th day. And we did this in the middle of a global pandemic and economic recession with no outside funding from a startup incubator, angel investor, or foundation. We have the mindset and passion of a for-profit startup company. We incorporated as a non-profit to ensure we maintain our social purpose as we scale.

We gained about 790 supporters. These are people who signed a petition or signed up for a carbon inventory. We send them an email update about every two weeks.

The Michigan City Sustainability Commission voted to promote Carbon Neutral Indiana as an official project. Nancy Moldenhauer is the Chair and is carbon neutral already. We've been having similar conversations with contacts in Evansville and Bloomington.

Our bookkeeper Lora Bowman is preparing a monthly profit and loss statement. We'll be sharing these on our website soon. You can see all non-profit's IRS documents on a yearly basis, but we are investing in radical transparency to accelerate trust and impact.

Installed LiveChat. This is the chat window at the bottom right of your screen. When you chat with us, it goes straight to our founder's smartphone so we can respond. We invest $16/mo into this, and it's already proved worthwhile.

We added a team page to our website.

We added an impact page to our website. The graphs are updated automatically.

 

Households

 

Conducted about 42 household carbon inventories.

17 more households certified carbon neutral. On average, each footprint was about 28.3 tons annually.

In total, 48 households invested $1,593.86 in projects to sequester their carbon emissions.  They do this with a monthly subscription to high quality, verified carbon offsets.

11 people purchased yard signs. According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, over 100,000+ drivers see our yard signs daily.

Published six testimonials by:

 

"I am Nancy Moldenhauer and Chair of the Michigan City Sustainability Commission... What resonated with me about Carbon Neutral Indiana was their positive and practical perspective.... 

You could consider becoming carbon neutral if you love our planet like we do. If you are the kind of person who cares about your community’s health, well-being, and quality of life, then you should explore this. For those who believe humans are contributing to our climate chaos, I believe this is one of the fastest and most efficient ways we can do something positive. I also love the one household and one business at a time strategy. It has a cumulative effect just like voting for our environment would!"

 

Businesses

 

Indiana Forest Alliance is now carbon neutral. Technically they're a 501c3 non-profit, but we'll group these under the businesses category for now.

Several businesses in the pipeline. One is making all of their employees carbon neutral. This means we accomplished more in one day than we did the 23 days proceeding it. One invited us on their podcast, recorded professionally in the WFYI studios. Their audience is progressive business owners.

 

Academic Institutions

 

Students delivered a letter to Purdue President Mitch Daniels. The letter asks that Purdue commit their unparalleled intellectual resources to become a leader on climate action. As of 8/12/20, about 60 student organizations signed the letter. 

 

Challenges

 

General

 

Managing 15 interns. Carbon Neutral Indiana's founder, Daniel Poynter, has a 20 hour/week consulting engagement to help finance CNI and get it off the ground. That doesn't leave a lot of time for one-on-one conversations with our 15 summer interns. Managing the ratio 15:1 was straightforward when all interns were doing the same thing. It became challenging when they formed diverse project teams.

 

Households

 

Rescheduled / canceled appointments. This continues to be a challenge. Perhaps 20-30% of all carbon inventory appointments get rescheduled or canceled. Some multiple times. This even though we use Calendly, which sends automatic email and text reminders.

 

Businesses

 

Demand is enormous, our bandwidth isn't yet. So far, we don't have full-time staff. Everyone is part-time volunteers. There is a lot of demand among small and medium businesses to become carbon neutral. We're working quickly to build capacity and scale to satisfy that demand. For example, Greg Kempf is coming out of retirement to help with business carbon inventories.

 

Academic Institutions

 

Who is responsible for an academic institution? Where does the buck stop? For example Indiana University. Every year the university decides not to be 100% carbon neutral, they are deciding to shift $150,000,000 in costs onto others. How is that leadership? In fact, in the future when this knowledge is widespread it will be seen as criminal. Many households are standing up and taking responsibility for their personal carbon footprints, but what about enormous organizations like a university?

 

Lessons

 

General

 

An in-person Earth Day even wasn't worth the fee. In ordinarily times it might have been. IFA paid for us to attend an event that was rescheduled because of covid. We met one person who signed up for a carbon inventory. The next Monday, on a regular work day, six people signed up.

Future internship programs need a smaller intern : manager ratio. A key element of success is spending enough time with each intern individually.

 

Households

 

Personally texting appointments the day of meetings reducing no shows. It doesn't necessarily reduce rescheduling, but at least it helps us get ahead of potential no show appointments.

 

Businesses

 

Business owners are awesome partners. They work hard, take responsibility, believe in entrepreneurship, invest in innovation.

 

Academic Institutions

 

NA.


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  • Daniel Poynter