Wednesday 8 June 2016

Greenpact is dedicated to providing clean cooking gas from what many consider to be "waste". Our efforts have been recognised by the international community, and for this reason, Leroy Mwasaru was invited as a panel speaker at the One Young World Summit in Arizona, USA. Here are his experiences:

Leroy's experience representing Greenpact at the Inaugural One Young World Environment Summit

I have been fiddling with the idea of writing this blog post. However, the idea of someone reading this was not plausible. The outright intention of journeying you through this was conspicuous enough, only that I’m the guide.

We are at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. Since it’s my second international bound trip let’s stare at my boarding passes (now ours) a little longer. It’s real! If you don’t mind, let’s whiz through my texts.

My mum can’t have enough of “Bye!! Safe journey my son!”

I reply with smiley emoticons followed by: ”I’ll be okay, mum. Stay safe!” There is one problem: she doesn’t buy this as more texts stream in. I smile. She is definitely overwhelmed that her son is leaving for a land far away from home. Do you hear our flight number over the PA? You don’t? I’m afraid I’ll leave you here. Let’s board, shall we? Oh, you don’t need a boarding pass because you’re reading this. Have a closer look at these boarding passes- Phoenix via Heathrow. But reality is, we might end up only seeing Heathrow ads, maybe Heathrow cuisines.

We land in Phoenix at 6pm; don’t grin about the flight narration, I slept through it. This warm breeze had a brand of cool that I’m still trying to define. Summer? This is my first summer experience.
My smirk right now is larger than yours.
We have this interesting cab ride to Tucson. I check in at Hilton Tucson and slept off my jetlag through the night.

Thursday,19th May
A seemingly a perfect day as I woke up to the 8th world wonder- sunrise at 4.00am. Do you copy?  I am now summer conscious. ‘Late morning’ is when I met Collectively’s Bethan and fellow Collectively scholarship winner Guro Seim. We prepped for our TEDx style presentations that were due the next day. Later in the evening we moved to Biosphere 2. One thing Tucson taught me in the morning: Chips are not fries; Fries are not chips. Ahem! I guess English really did come by ship, yes?

Cue, Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 2: The world’s largest earth science laboratory, now owned by the University of Arizona, where eight humans lived for 2 years and 20 minutes away from earth -Biosphere 1 experiencing a whole different ecosphere. From my pre-tour of the Biosphere 2, it entailed more than science. A story to back it up to find out if life was malleable outside earth. It was really fascinating that the dining table original biospherians used to dine on is still intact, isn’t it? I, like most delegates stayed at a modest casita near the venue. The welcome dinner was a perfect kick-off to the summit with a wonderful welcome note from One Young World founders, Kate and David.

The casita accommodation at the University of Arizona, Biosphere 2.

 Friday,20th May
This day was a pretty intense one. We had the main stage presentations that included keynote speeches and delegate speaker presentations -  my D-day too! We had great speaker line up: Former President of Peru - His Excellency Alejandro Toledo, CNN Meteorologist- Jennifer Gray, Founder and Director of Eco Innovators & Disrupt Design - Dr. Leyla Acaroglu amongst other great speakers. The presentation I enjoyed most prior to mine (Besides, who doesn’t enjoy his/her time on stage?) was Ken Kragin’s ‘Magic of threes’. During his presentation, I came to the realization that he managed a couple of my favorite comedians and doubles up as a legendary pop music manager too. Coincidentally, I wrote three heavy short phrases after thinking I would write loads:

‘Wow factor.’



He then gave his inborn definition of the law of threes and the three recipient needs. True to his word, his presentation was in sync with his subject matter. In between his presentation, there were drumrolls everywhere. Interestingly, as we squirmed in our auditorium seats, they became louder and louder. Guess what it was? The Ironwood High School Percussion team that he trained to claiming the National Champions Title. Taking into consideration that the presentation was right before lunch, this was just the ‘it’-session for that slot.

Ken Kragin’s magic on stage.
 Our panel was at 5pm that consisted of: Founder of Forum for the Future, Environmentalist and Author- Sir Jonathan Porritt, COO of One Earth Designs- Guro Seim and I, co-founder and CEO- Greenpact. Guro and I gave the stories behind the sparking of our startups that are tackling problems facing our societies. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback we got from the audience, we did a good job on stage in engaging the audience in our journey. Stay tuned to One Young World’s site for the video.  We also got to meet other great young people doing great things for their communities. From this day’s activities, a couple of things were straight: - Entrepreneurship is a combination of social and economical exchange - Do something instead of shouting about it (be an actor, not the passive audience.) To wrap up this day we had a well deserved block party. It was great getting to familiarize with different party customs. All ended well as I got along with fellow delegates and ambassadors as we partied the night away.
This day facilitated a paradigm shift on the societies’ plights. How I comprehend and empathize with these social causes has taken a complete shift. Probably, a handy tool for Greenpact and my future endavours.

Saturday, 21st May
This Saturday was when we had breakout sessions in respect to the attendees’ interests. I was glad to be part of Collectively’s break out session - “Finding your spark and keeping it.”  Through this workshop we got to change our mindsets from “I’m inspired but overwhelmed” to “I’m inspired and ready”. This was followed by two interactive breakout sessions dealing with environmental & wildlife conservation and one entailing championing of rights of the indigenous communities by Anna Hohag. One important case study we highlighted was of a couple of disruptive innovations making synthetic rhino tusks, all these as we champion for wildlife conservation. The floor remains open for debate. Is this ethical? This day was gold: we got to have in-depth tours of Biospehere 2 and get to actualize how life was possible there. Digging more into the Biosphere 2, we got to realize that ,so , they had their own miniature rainforest, a private beach with a coral reef. They had a savanna, a marsh, a desert. They had their own 50-acre farm that they grew everything. And of course they had their human habitat, where they lived. Let’s visualize this: it takes a five-minute drive to the grocery store to get groceries, though, for the biospherians it took them a great deal of patience with golden Biology. when they breathed C02 that fed the crops that eventually provided some food for them. They were feeding on themselves in some sort of bizarre way.
You and I , living in Biosphere 1 are less conscious about the carbon we produce or release, adding weight to the fact that we designed our systems to kill life- intentional or unintentional- at least for the better part of life. This is in-fact why we are calling for all manner of COP related conferences to try and re-awaken our consciousness.

Sekou Andrews on stage at the Closing Dinner at Biosphere 2, Arizona.
 The best wrap up that could possibly be was from Sekou Andrews, an Internationally acclaimed spoken word artist, playwright, actor and poet. From Sekou’s engrossing talk, something was evident: it is his passion that has propelled him beyond his barriers to a point where he now has numerous awards and recognition under his name and works; he continues to spread his inspirational touch to stories, now as a career to company executive boards and also worth President Obama’s attention at Oprah Winfrey’s backyard! This was the best culmination for the three-day inaugural One Young World Environment Summit.

Our way back, three flights. Phoenix-Philadelphia -Heathrow -Nairobi. After this, the perfect definition of me would be, to say the least, a raging ball of energy. And, you may now unbuckle and stretch your legs. We are back to where we started - Nairobi, Kenya.

I trust that I gave you more than a blog: I flew you to Arizona, gave you a free pass to the Inaugural Environment Summit and flew you back. Did someone say ”threes”? There you have it!

For Collectively and team: Thank you for believing in an 18-year-old social entrepreneur.

For One Young World and team:  Receive my sincerest gratitude for giving me more than an experience: here’s to the hope you’ve reignited in me that I intend to share with the world, all day, every day!

Have a look at Greenpact’s premier  video as well as our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter and be sure to have a look at our blog.

Also, you could drop me a line via e-mail:

Photo credits: One Young World©