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Former Treehouse resident helps sustainable companies showcase their wares

Former Treehouse resident helps sustainable companies showcase their wares

By Lauren Davidson

Jensen Gelfond ’08 did not leave Dickinson the same way he found it. A Treehouse resident and the college’s first sustainability intern, he pioneered the first Trash on the Plaza recycling event, worked with Dining Services to create reusable Grab ’n Go lunch bags and was key in coordinating Recyclemania and the Green Devil Challenge, events that involve the entire campus community in reducing the college’s carbon footprint.

“I’m thankful for Dickinson’s way of encouraging all of us to go outside the limestone walls, be part of the community, be passionate about issues and have a positive impact on those issues,” he says.

After graduation, the environmental-studies major spent a transformative year canvassing for Progressive Future/Work for Progress. He then moved south to explore jobs in Asheville, N.C.’s established environmental community.

“I discovered Seven-Star, a soup-to-nuts event-planning organization for green-oriented conferences, trade shows and festivals,” he says. “I came on as assistant to the president. I was a go-to guy for every department and really broadened my skill set. I never would have been able to get this job [as a sponsorship associate] without already having a relationship with the company. I got in on the ground floor and took a chance on a company that I knew I had shared values with, and now I’m in a great position.”

Seven-Star’s largest client is Green Festival, creator of the nation’s premier sustainability event held in four major cities, and Gelfond’s job is to connect with green companies that want to exhibit their merchandise. He reaches out to national, household brands like Clif Bar, Organic Valley, Numi Tea and Simple Shoes—among the 350 exhibitors at the festivals, which feature renowned speakers, workshops, cutting-edge films, children’s activities and live music, all related to sustainability. The events help consumers use their buying power to purchase from green companies.

“We bring together all the greenest companies in the U.S., from solar and wind power to organic foods and fair-trade items,” he says. “Only the greenest companies come to the festivals.”

And the festivals themselves are dedicated to being green. According to Gelfond, events like this become like small cities, but Seven-Star works to reduce the impact of events by keeping 95 percent of the waste generated out of landfills.

This year, Green Festival will again host events in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Washington, D.C., filled with hundreds of national and regional companies displaying the latest green products and technologies.

“The connection between the economy and environment is going to solidify more and more,” Gelfond says. “It’s such an important connection, and I’m happy that I work in an industry that supports that. By being kind to the earth, we’re also being kind to our wallets.”

Published April 1, 2010