the future is now

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Meet the Bay Area visionaries shaping the future one genome, one journey, one school at a time.


  • 7 x m70 octob er 2012


    STEWART BRANDIf the Stellers sea cowextinct since the mid-18th centuryfeeds once again on the kelp forests off the California coast, tip your hat in Stewart Brands direction. Extinc-tion is not necessarily forever, says Brand from his Sausalito houseboat. The famed ecologist, policy advisor, and cofounder of SFs Long Now Foundation is attempting to turn back the clock on vanished species with his new Revive & Restore project, which works to ethically reconstitute ancient DNA in the name of deep ecological enrichment. Conceivably, refilling gaps in nature would fortify environmental diversity. But before you get carried away with visions of velociraptors darting down Market Street, understand that full revival of any extinct species will take many years and not all species are eligible for a little R&R (the passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet are two worthy candidates). The still-emerging bioethics of de-extinction will address many questions about selection criteria, one of which may relate to the human role in extinction. You could say were just repairing the damage that weve done, he says.

    R e v i v e & R e sto R e M a st e R M i n d // aG e 74 p h o t o g r a p h e d a t t h e l o n g n o w m u s e u m

    B y L e i L a n i M a r i e L a B o n g / / p h o t o g r a p h y B y p e t e r s t e M B e r

    Meet the Bay Area visionaries shaping the future one genome, one journey, one school at a time.



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    BENJAMIN GRANTOakland resident Benjamin Grant has devoted the past two years of his career at SPUR to preparing a roadmap for the inevitable: sea-level rise at Ocean Beach, thanks to that leading culprit of environmental havoc, global warming. Ocean Beach isnt just a piece of infrastructure that needs to be armored, says Grant, who holds a masters degree in city planning from UC Berkeley. Its also a national park, a sensitive habitat, and a beloved landscape for the people of San Francisco. The Ocean Beach Master Plans approach sets it apart from other urban-design initiatives with six key movesfrom native sand-dune restora-tion to bicycle and pedestrian upgrades north of Balboa Streetto improve and protect the beach. When it comes to climate change, we cant put our heads in the sand, says Grant, whose recent venture into fatherhood deepens his motives. We need to get ahead of it to create the best future possible for Ocean Beach.

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    ARIEL WALDMANAriel Waldman may be a graphic designer by training, but her heart belongs to science. I encourage people like me, who dont have a formal sci-ence education, to actively contribute to scientific discovery, says Waldman. Her brainchild, Science Hack Daya 48-hour event for anyone interested in collabora-tion, hacking, and building cool stuffis one of her so-called wacky ideas that has achieved substantial success. The third-annual exploits will take place Nov. 34 at Hot Studio in SoMa and then again in Dublin, Ireland in 2013. Waldmans other industry feats include creating Spacehack, an online directory of space-exploration opportunities, and authoring Democratizing Science Instrumentation, a book commissioned by the Science and Technology Policy Institute thats dedi-cated to people making active contribu-tions to overlooked, underfunded, or unpopular areas of science. My hope is that the science industry will recog-nize that people with all kinds of skills can influence science in unexpected, yet meaningful, ways, she says.

    s c i e n c e h ac k day a n d s Pac e h ac k Fo U n d e R p h o t o g r a p h e d a t c h a b o t s pa c e & s c i e n c e c e n t e r

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    STACEY BOYDHaving spent her entire career in educationas a teacher, a principal, and later as CEO of Savvy Source, an online educational resource for parents of young childrenNoe Valley resident Stacey Boyd bristles at the suggestion of school budget cuts. Funding is on a precipice, she says, noting that almost 80 percent of state legislaturesCalifornias includedhave drastically cut dollars for education.

    While old-fashioned PTA bake sales are no match for such a fiscal fiasco, cupcakes can still play a part in saving the art, drama, and music programs that have been chopped in the past four years. Enter Schoola, the national Kickstarter-esque platform Boyd launched this spring. On the site, parents and teachers can activate fundraisers by e-blasting their communities with tempting deals from local busi-nesses, such as bakeries and restaurants.

    The fine print? A portion of the proceeds ben-efits schools on the brink. Earlier this year, Schoola executed successful fundraisers for four local schools, including Harvey Milk Civil Rights Acad-emy and Marin Preparatory School. Education has always been my passion, but nothing in my career has prepared me more for Schoola than being the mother of two little girls, says Boyd. I want them to have the opportunity for a great education.

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    TONY DEIFELLTony Deifell wont be a consulting psychic anytime soon. You cant predict the future, says the Harvard Business School graduate, who has, oddly enough, made a career doing just that without the benefit of a crystal ball. But you can think through different possibilities so that when the future finally arrives, youve done a dress rehearsal. The Big Thaw, Deifells 2011 e-book and industry guide to surviving the changing face of journal-ism, offers useful strategies and an optimistic perspective. Look at the progress of new media as a flood that revital-izes the landscape of journalism, he says. On the existen-tial front, a question he introduced at Burning Man 2004, Why do you do what you do? (WDYDWYD?), has since gained meme status: So far, more than 1.5 million people have pondered the soulful inquest. Deifells latest venture, the Muse Factory, applies a similarly meaningful delib-eration (What do people want? What do people need?) to the tricky realm of gift-giving, quite possibly putting the kibosh on the regifting movement. I like making seem-ingly impossible things happen, he says.

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    JEFF HENRYIn the seventh grade, Jeff Henrys parents gave him a carte-blanche opportunity to renovate the living room of their Arkansas home. I proceeded to replace all the beige with turquoise and coral, says Henry, whose efforts elicited backlash from the neighbors. Undeterred by the inflammatory feedback, Henry would later develop his aesthetic gift into an award-winning career in retail and hospitality design. I like to create experiences that blur

    boundaries, says Henry, who was recently inducted into the Retail Design Institutes Legion of Honor. To wit, the

    SoMa residents concept for the redesign of San Francisco department store

    Wilkes Bashford cloaks the retail scene in a townhouse environ-

    ment appointed with lounges and fireplaces, and his LEED gold-certified design for the new Terminal 2 at San Francisco

    International Airport feels more like a hip hotel

    thanks to chic furnish-ings and world-class art. Next up: Board-ing Area E at SFOs

    Terminal 3. Delight-ful where am I? moments seem to be Henrys hallmark, perfected over his 30-year career. My designs are the

    ultimate fusion of purpose and

    desire, he says.

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    JOSEPH DIAZ + GREG SULLIVAN JEFF HENRYMany a life-changing epiphany have emerged from ashram-filled, curry-laced backpacking trips through India, and the one that formed itself on a beach in Goa for friends Greg Sullivan (right) and Joseph Diaz is no exception. We realized that the media wasnt really talking about meaningful travel, says Sullivan. So we decided to do something about it. From that spark, SF-based AFAR Media was born, debuting an eponymous magazine in 2009. The award-winning coverage is complemented by afar.coms user-generated travel guide, an experiential travel platform called AFAR Experiences (next stop: Johannesburg), and a nonprofit named Learning AFAR, which hosts disadvantaged high school students on culture-seeking, do-good missions to such far-flung locales as Peru, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Down the line, Id love to see an AFAR University, says Diaz, who regards his eyewitness account of the 2011 Cairo uprising as one of his most exhilarating learning experiences. After all, travel is the best form of education.

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