Alumnus starts a new ‘Envirolution’

While he was a student at Yale, Antuan Cannon’s ’06 choice to major in economics didn’t mean he couldn’t have an interest in the environment. But as Cannon and two of his friends and fellow Elis hit the job market, it seemed to be a different story.

“We wanted to find real estate jobs, but we were really hoping to find something with a green company, and we found that wasn’t very easy,” Cannon said. “There wasn’t that one Web site that you could find all those green resources — learning about all the issues, finding jobs, meeting people.”

With that frustration, the Envirolution was born. The nonprofit — an umbrella organization to help green businesses, other nonprofit organizations and environmentally minded individuals unite and collaborate — will kick off Saturday with its first conference, to be held on Old Campus.

The group, founded this winter by Cannon, Tim Polmateer ’06 and former men’s basketball captain Alex Gamboa ’05, will play host to a day of festivities designed to appeal to Yale undergraduates and graduate students as well as students from other local schools and universities and area residents, Cannon said.

About 20 green companies will have booths at the event, organizers said, while five student bands are scheduled to perform on Old Campus throughout the afternoon. Yale organizations like Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership and the Yale Student Environmental Coalition will also be present, and three panel discussions will tackle the topics of energy issues, green building and design, and green business and how companies use environmental principles to help their businesses, organizers said.

The conference aims to educate students about going green from the perspectives of businessmen and other leaders outside the environmental movement, said Tina Ramos ’07, who heads Envirolution’s operations at Yale.

“I don’t think people realize that there really will be a connection between environmental issues and going green with business,” she said. “One of the objectives is to … impose the idea that no matter what career field you go into, you can always have environmental issues in mind and work to be more environmentally friendly.”

Eco-friendliness, in other words, is not just something for global warming foe Al Gore, organizers said, but rather is quickly catching on in the business world. In the fall two experts from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale Law School published a well-received book, titled “Green to Gold,” about how businesses can use eco-friendly strategies to create a competitive edge in the business world. And just this week McDonald’s Corporation and Greenpeace made headlines for their partnership in an effort to lobby against rainforest clearing in the Amazon.

Ultimately, the Envirolution hopes to expand beyond its operations at Yale by starting Envirolution clubs at many other college campuses and holding other events around the country, organizers said. In addition, the group’s Web site aims to serve as something of a green “portal” for other resources.

Saturday will be the organization’s big debut, but its founders say students so far have enthusiastic about their plans.

“People have been really receptive, especially kids our age and recent Yale grads,” Polmateer said. “That’s what keeps us going.”

Polmateer is a former photography editor for the News.

The event — promoted as “part conference, part concert, part career fair, part picnic” — will kick off on the McClellan Hall and Connecticut Hall side of Old Campus at 11 a.m. Melissa Everett, executive director of Sustainable Hudson Valley, a New York think tank, will deliver a keynote address at 6:30 p.m. in Linsly-Chittenden Hall.

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