Power in Pink

Originally posted at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angelesdb897-pinkhardhatThree years ago, I was recently divorced, had just sold my own home at a massive financial loss, and was renting for the first time in 14 years. That’s when my friend and fellow single mom Eda Benjakul invited me to a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) fundraiser. I went, hoping it might take my mind off my own troubles. I was first taken in with the positive spirits of leaders Erin Rank and Alison Treleaven, and knew I wanted to be involved. When I heard from the single mom recipients, who dreamed of owning a home for the first time, I was humbled. I hadn’t realized that instead of being given homes, they had to help build their own house as well as build for others in need. The Habitat philosophy of “teach a [woman] to fish” was empowering them to make their home worth working for, and they were paying the mortgages too, something I had since been unable to do for myself.

A few months later, I was invited to participate in a Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity (HFHFH) “Power Women Power Tools” event, and to be honest, I was terrified. I had supervised the design and building of my dream home when I was married, but that was the easy work of picking out faucets, hinges, tiles and doors. I had never hammered in any nails or sawed any wood; that was left to the construction guys. My own husband didn’t know how to use a power drill to hang the curtain rods. I had seen firsthand how precise each cut of wood must be to make the house sturdy and how dangerous a construction site can be. I wondered: how was I going to put on a hard hat and operate power tools? What if I screwed up, sawed off a finger or swung a hammer and accidentally hit someone? I’m known for being clumsy. But I remembered that these homeowners were building houses for themselves and others without any experience either. So I mustered up my courage and went for it.

(l-r) Carey Usher, Nicole Hansen and Eda Benjakul

On the day of the build, I rounded up my then 10 and 12-year-old boys to come with me. Believe it or not, these Habitat people had thought of everything when it came to putting power tools in the hands of moms, even babysitting. My boys complained the whole way down to the site. “Can’t we just stay home and play video games instead?” But then we got there, and during the meal before we started building, two gentlemen from the HFHFH board got up to speak. One was Tom Shadyac, the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which was one of my youngest son’s favorite movies. He made the boys laugh and psyched them up. The other was screenwriter and director Randall Wallace, an HFHFH founder, who introduced the women whose homes we were building that day. My older son, who wants to write and direct stories that move people, was himself moved by Randall’s mission to serve. As the mothers spoke of how much it meant to them and their children, my kids finally got it. They happily went off to the kid’s tent and didn’t make another peep.

I put on both my pink T-shirt and pink hard hat to scurry off with my team. First, construction supervisors briefed us on how to measure wood, use the power saw, which pieces go vertically in a door frame and where to put the nails. I tried not to panic as I feared I wasn’t strong enough or man enough for this task, but then I turned and saw the woman we were building for. I found my resolve, so I operated the power saw and actually used a nail gun! If we messed something up? No problem. Nothing went to waste; it was recycled or reused elsewhere. I was feeling pretty darn macho after a while. After we framed a few windows, we got to the plywood, and it was starting to look like an actual house. As the walls went up, the construction crew handed us all sharpies to sign our well wishes to the future occupants. I found this part to be the most moving of all. Even when covered by paint, our messages of love would always remain in this home with the family.

When it was time to leave, I walked by all the women I knew on the other teams who were working 6f9cc-habitatjoyand laughing together, and I felt quite satisfied. We actually had fun challenging ourselves and delighted in getting to know the homeowners. I went to the kid’s tent and found my boys didn’t want to leave. Smaller kids were surrounding them as they supervised the building of toys and kid’s furniture for the new home’s children. The babysitters told me that my boys were natural leaders. When we started to head out, the youngsters trailed behind them. Were they really the same boys who had been complaining the whole way there? On the ride home to our modest rental house, my kids told me how proud they were of me for helping those families. Tears streamed from my eyes. I was proud of them too and grateful that we had a roof over our heads, by whatever means we had.

I have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity ever since, helping to build new homes for these incredible and inspiring single moms that I have the utmost respect for. They have stepped up to the challenge of owning their own homes, by taking an active stake in their construction and responsibility of ownership. By working together, both the builders and recipients each share in a very rewarding experience. That’s why each year, you’ll find me revving up the table saw with a little more confidence, as we enthusiastically challenge ourselves with power tools to be empowered women.

Video of Nicole at her first Power Women, Power Tools in 2010


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Green Salon Series Presented By Breathe L.A.

Originally published in Green Blog Network GBN

When the Green Blog Network asked me to be a panelist for the Breathe LA Salon “AB 32.0 and the Rise of Green Digital Media” and blog about it on The Green Blog Network, I was reluctant. Ever since my son Nikos directed the global warming PSA, Save It, I’ve been thrown into a world of “green” issues. Many times I feel ill equipped to participate, as if I’m the student and everyone else around me are the experts—including my own children. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in Boulder, Colorado! Nothing could be more “green” than the granola Disneyland of my youth. But since coming to California twenty years ago, being ecological has gone from something the “Earth Muffins” of Boulder would do to actually becoming state laws. Such is the case with California’s AB 32.

 

AB 32 – Getting The Word Out

Stephanie Mullen, the Senior Field Representative to State Senator Fran Pavley made the opening remarks, stating that Senator Pavley authored AB 32 to give the California Air Resources Board authority to bring emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020. Though the law was enacted years ago, I was surprised to hear that it has not yet been implemented. She stated that we need to use resources more effectively and are looking for a strong, green economy in California. The moderator, Ray Gonzales, a former KTLA personality, brought up the fact that there is a lot of opposition to the law because of its shorthand as “the global warming law.” I believe he has a point—so how does the green social media reach those who don’t believe in global warming so that they will be less opposed to something that is basically based on common sense?
Common Sense Approach To Information Dissemination
 
The first panelist, Jennifer Gooding, is the LA Ambassador to EcoTuesday. She brought up the point that people’s initial hesitation arises from a disconnection to the world that can be remedied by social media. She believes that we need a forum to connect, and she has been described as that connector. We often get a bunch of information, are overwhelmed, but are not connected. That’s the benefit of social media when it comes to getting the message out there, since the vast majority of people did not know what AB 32 is. We’re failing by not having common people understand the basics.
Panelist Siel Ju is the Green LA Girl, and has appeared on outlets including NPR and NBC, among many others. She has a Ph.D in creative writing and literature but is now devoted to blogging about environmental issues. She noted that AB 32 is not a familiar term to most people. It reminded her of the battle with rBGH, which makes cows produce more milk but also causes birth defects. We must give people more information and not just boil it down to “Ban rBGH!” (or “Save AB 32!”) Whether it be eating locally produced food or riding the subway, we should connect AB 32 to things people already desire. Moreover, we must use social media for a conversation to make connections.

Panelist Josh Tickell, director of Fuel, stressed that there is power of media in environmental issues. Stepping back from the fray, the long-term objectives of AB 32 are a breakthrough and so are its emissions cuts. The Fuel film is digital media designed to have an effect. They didn’t want the result to just end in rallying efforts, but rather to “shift the energy needle” in this country. He wanted a campaign with 10 goals that people could choose from as they matched their own. A big topic for Josh is fuel made from algae, and he observed that a lot of food energy is going unused. He was able to get a meeting with the Department of Energy and to start a campaign for algae. The meeting turned into a shouting match with great disagreement on the department’s side. In the end, through the social, objective based digital and social media, there is significant investment and growing, with already $100 million being spent on algae lobbying. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger can order a million solar roofs, and the next campaign should be a million green cars. What we need, according to Josh, is a broad perspective.

Save It
Before I spoke, I shared my answer to the global warming messaging through digital media and showed my son’s 1Sky PSA, Save It (later endorsed by Global Green and Greenpeace). The shocker was that people wrote hate messages on YouTube where it premiered as Take Part’s first video release, calling me an uninformed hippie that has brainwashed my kids, and some who even said my son was “stupid.” Ironically, my sons both have developmental disorders that I was warned by the EPA they would have, as a result of environmental toxins. With what my children have to go through to be educated in special needs schools, at the expense of the government, is why it matters to all of us. Framing the discussion as a human health issue is much less controversial than global warming and we can use social media to educate people about asthma, autism, cancer and numerous other disorders that are exacerbated by or a direct cause of the toxins we are responsible for trying to control. So Earth Muffin or not, the real cost of paying for our health will far outweigh the cost of converting to cleaner and greener technologies in the long run. That’s how we should use social media to educate the masses to the importance of actuallyimplementing AB 32.
Bio: Nicole organized and produced the first Renewable Energy Conference and Awards Gala at the United Nations sponsored by the Honduran Permanent Mission to the UN with notable speakers and honorees such as Dr. Arthur Nozik of NREL, Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT as well as Billionaire John Paul DeJoria. She was a featured speaker alongside producer Marshall Herskovitz for the 2009 Green Girls Holiday Event advocating publicly for the use of renewable energy technologies. 

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Origin Oil, Launch Event

Event Coordination

After Riggs Eckelberry of Origin Oil participated as an invited panelist at the Renewable Energy Conference and Awards Gala at the UN he recalled GGE’s Nicole Hansen as the “Ghost in the Machine” that kept the day running smoothly in spite of all the guests, speakers, sponsors, participants and agendas. So when time came to launch his own company, he called on Nicole and her team to assist in planning the course of the event and coordinating her personal list of celebrities and High Net Worth VIP’s to raise awareness about the fledgling company. Nicole even suggested the event have it’s own themed cocktail, hence Origin was able to prove that their algae not only could fuel our future, but launch an entire new drink, Algae Martinis! They were a huge hit.

OriginOil

Riggs Eckelberry CEO, OriginOil Inc.

Nicole is a barn-stormin’ networkin’ dynamo with GREAT sense of what will fly! Her friends trust her and she is also a heck of a lot of fun to be around. Go Nicole!

 

The placement of these organizations as part of our portfolio does not imply an endorsement by Green Galaxy Enterprises nor its partners.


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Entrepreneurs’ Organization LA – Business Entertainment Charity Event

• Entrepreneurs’ Organization Los Angeles – Business Entertainment Charity Event

Nicole Hansen was sought out by the Entrepreneurs Organization’s chapters of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and San Diego to help coordinate and produce the largest charity event in both the Playboy Mansion and Entrepreneurs’ Organization histories. Nicole led up the partnership between an international renewable energy organization as the beneficiary of the fundraising and brought in her VIP guest list of dignitaries including UN Ambassadors, the Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, actors such as Oscar nominated Demien Bichir among others, Producer/Writer and renewable energy advocate Marshall Herskovitz and the biggest celebrity guest of the night, Billy Idol whom Nicole had met while appearing as Marilyn Monroe in his 1990 videos directed by David Fincher, Cradle of Love and LA Woman.  To cover the event, Nicole brought in her contacts in the “green press” such as Sarah Backhouse and others who helped get word out that at the Playboy Mansion, clean technology was a cause worth supporting and that sustainability is as sexy as any playmate.

Mother Nature Network  

MNN reporter Sarah Backhouse spoke with celebrities on the red carpet about their interest in renewable energy.

Watch: Billy Idol (singer), Jason Chambers (Human Weapon), Vanessa Lengies (HawthoRNe), Ashley Rickards (One Tree Hill).
Watch: Darren Moore (Alter Eco on Planet Green), Olden Polynice (former NBA player), Demián Bichir (Weeds), Frank Leboeuf (former French soccer player)
Watch: Carla Ortiz (CSI: Miami), Kirsten Bradford (president, EO-LA), Robson Mello (secretary-general, IREO), Marshall Herskovitz (president, Producers Guild of America)

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Alastair Shearman of GGE co-produced alongside Nicole designing the distinctive invitation and helping to carry out sustainable practices throughout.  Nicole brought in Darren Moore of Ecovations  to sponsor and help green the event and also highlight the green initiatives the Playboy Mansion had been employing sustainable practicing in the kitchen and on the grounds for over 20 years. Each guest received a list of what sustainable practices they would encounter at the event and GGE’s Green Galaxy Pictures produced a sizzle reel Event Green hosted by Darren Moore to show how all these initiatives were carried out leading up to and post event.

EO/BEC – Sustainability Practices Introduction for Guests:

  • You’ll be dinning on Plates made out of Fallen Leaves that are compostable, instead of paper or plastic which are difficult to recycle once mixed with food waste
  • Utensils are Compostable and made in a plant that runs on Hydro-electric power, instead of energy intensive plastic pieces that usually end up in landfills
  • Cups are made from a bio-polymer and fully compostable, instead of plastic cups that are made out of petrochemicals, which contain OIL
  • Food Waste from the Event, with the compostable items will be made into renewable energy through a gasification process, at Liberty Composting Facility
  • By making all food service items compostable, we are able convert the food waste, cups, plates and utensils into RENEWABLE ENERGY without generating any landfill waste. Food in landfills accounts for 20% of the average waste stream, food waste can be a resource of nutrients in soil and bio-mass for electricity
  • Playboy’s Chef Carter is one of the Greenest Chef’s around, he’s been supporting Animal Husbandry and Sustainable Fishing Practices for nearly 20 years. see the attached supplement about Chef Carter and the Menu
  • Playboy Mansion has maintained a pesticide free grounds for 15 years
  • Playboy Mansion Pool and water features on the grounds are Ozonated, minimizing the use of chlorine and making the water safe and fun to be in
  • Playboy has agreed to allow Ecovations to replace and test out an additional 125 light bulbs with new LED bulb’s, for the opportunity to save 204,600 lbs of CO2 annually at a potential cost savings of $137/mo or 1,644 per year!
  • The Mansion now utilizes some LED and efficient lighting Technology, reducing electricity usage while delivering a high-quality lighting experience.
  • Step and Repeat banners by Mozaik, made out of 100% post consumer recycled content, utilizing an environmentally-friendly process to eliminate the use of chemical pollutants and wasted water
  • Video Documentation of process, from food selection to food waste into renewable energy

The following day’s events included an intimate brunch organized by GGE for all the out of town guest Renewable Energy Advisors, celebrities, dignitaries and EO board members to mingle and network post-event at the sponsor hotel, Petit Ermitage in Beverly Hills and co-hosted by Bolivian Actress and recipient of the Bolivian Metal of Honor, actress Carla Ortiz.

Reza Bavar
Former Entertainment Chair of EO/LA, Founder at Kaloud, Inc.

Nicole worked with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (“EO”) to put on one of the largest events in EO history. She was a pleasure to work with and contributed in invaluable and varied ways to our success. I will spend the rest of my life thanking her for her contribution. I would highly, and without reservation, recommend Nicole Hansen to anyone.

The placement of these organizations as part of our portfolio does not imply an endorsement by Green Galaxy Enterprises nor its partners.


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Renewable Energy Conference and Awards Gala, UN Headquarters, NY

When Nikos Spiridakis was to receive a Junior Goodwill Ambassador Award for his work on the global warming PSA Save It, Nicole Hansen was asked to organize and produce the June 2009 Renewable Energy Conference and Awards Gala at the United Nations.

Nicole produced the conference, sponsored by the Honduran Permanent Mission, which focused on Sources, Investment and the Future of Renewable Energy. Nicole utilized her network of individuals in science, engineering, finance, business, government and academia to bring in experts including keynote speaker and the evening Gala’s awardee, Dr. Arthur Nozik of National Renewable Energy Lab, panelist and awardee Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT, billionaire and renewable energy panelist and gala awardee John Paul DeJoria as well as panelist and awardee Josh Tickell. GGE advisor served as a moderator and helped to bring in additional panelists such as Ron Smith of Verdant Power.

Nicole also brought in her media contacts such as Sarah Backhouse of Future 360 to cover the event as commentator. Producer Gianna Palminteri was hired to produce the media coverage and Lora O’Connor to production supervise the evening’s gala ceremony. Alastair Shearman, GGE’s Technology Officer served alongside Nicole as co-producer of the days events with Nicole and producer, Jason Keramidas.

For the gala awards ceremony, Nicole tapped into her contact list of celebrities to serve as presenters to the nights winners. With awardees and celebrity guests coming from Nicole’s network of acquaintances and friends including Tony Goldwyn who presented the Junior Goodwill Ambassador Award to his godson, Nikos Spiridakis. the entire event had the feeling of a family wedding celebration that spread goodwill and support for everyone involved in making the world a better place for all through the promise of renewable technologies. At the event it was announced that Nicole had been named as Deputy Secretary-General of the IREO.

The placement of these organizations as part of our portfolio does not imply an endorsement by Green Galaxy Enterprises nor its partners.


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Save It (PSA)

Save It, A Global Warming Message by a 10 Year Old

Poster with actor Dimitri Spiridakis

As 10-year-old Nikos Spiridakis watched his mom pumping gasoline, he listened to the methodical beeps that kept tempo with the gallons of fuel funneling into their sedan.  To him, the beeps resembled the sounds of a hospital EKG and he knew that every gallon burned was contributing to the death of our planet.  He shared an idea for a story, incorporating those sounds and images with his mom, and he insisted she couldn’t tell the idea to anyone unless they could help him get it shot.  She agreed, and immediately called producer Marshall Herskovitz.

Herskovitz (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) thought it was a great story for anyone, let alone a child, to have conceived, and he offered to executive produce. Nikos himself mentioned the idea to his godfather actor/director Tony Goldwyn (The Last Kiss, Dexter) who was so impressed, he offered to act in the spot and be his directing mentor.

Film director Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury, The Express) thought it was the kind of visual storytelling that showed Nikos was capable of directing even at age 10 and took on the role of Nikos’ directing consultant.  Nikos’ mother Nicole Hansen helped to put the entire project together and his brother Dimitri played the little boy.

Everyone from the cinematographer to the editor gave their time in the effort to help Nikos make his first “home movie,” since Nikos financed it all with a gift from his grandmother.

Nikos’ idea can have a real impact on the way people view the reality of global warming — a vision especially poignant coming from the mind of a dyslexic child, who tells his story with pictures more effectively than almost anyone could using words.

Nikos knew his future was in the hands of the older generations and believed that if the world could see his vision of our future, he could inspire us all to do our part and “Save It” for future generations. The video message Nikos envisioned soon became a 1Sky campaign and debuted as TakePart TV’s inaugural release for YouTube at #2 for non-profit videos. It ran on CNN and MSNBC during the 2008 Presidential Debates, and appears on the Weinstein Company’s 2009 DVD releases such as The Reader.

On Nikos:

“In a long career as a producer, I’ve hired over forty first-time directors, and have seen first-hand that the essence of film directing cannot be taught – a person either gets it or doesn’t, a person either understands how to think through a camera lens and understand how images will go together or doesn’t.  It was astonishing to me, though, to see that ability so fully established in someone as young as Nikos.  His ability to visualize carried him through every aspect of this process, from pre-production, to the day of filming, to the many long hours in the editing room.  He’s simply a born filmmaker.”  Marshall Herskovitz, Executive Producer, Save It  (credits include: Defiance, Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, My So Called Life and Thirtysomething)

“The word prodigy is overused and, it seems to me, often misunderstood.  If you want a terrific example of a prodigy – a person with exceptional talents, particularly at such a young age – then take a look at Nikos.  He is a natural born filmmaker, and it’s our responsibility, I believe, to encourage him and nurture those talents. “ Gary Fleder, mentor (credits include: The Express, Runaway Jury, Life Unexpected,Kiss the Girls)


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