taKiNG stePs tOWard a better WOrld by wangnianwu


taKiNG stePs tOWard a better WOrld

& Wind
                          by melissa C. marsted
                                                  Photograph courtesy of S&S Seeds
                           single drop of inspiration     can set the rings
                           in motion to touch the consciousness of many
                           and create change on a global level. Fueled by
                           inspiration—and pragmatism—three compa-
                nies, S&S Seeds, Simple Shoes, and Clipper Windpower,
                are helping preserve the beauty and natural resources of
                Santa Barbara County and the world.
                   A Johnny Appleseed for the 21st century, Victor
                Schaff came to Santa Barbara from the farmlands of South
                Dakota to UCSB in the 1960s. He remembers driving
                into California for the first time and at Victorville think-
                ing, “This place is a desert.” He never forgot this, and
                the awareness that water is scarce in Southern California
                has been a major force behind the commercial success
                                                                                                                Samples of seeds (top)
                of S&S Seeds, a company devoted to saving and disseminating                                  from native and drought-
                native seeds and plants.                                                                 tolerant plants. Victor Schaff
                   Seeking to fund his college education, Schaff found jobs gath-                          (above) founded S&S Seeds
Eliot Crowley

                                                                                                              in response to Southern
                ering drought-tolerant plant seeds (with a plastic tub and tennis                              California’s dry climate.
                racket) and selling them to local seed companies. Eventually he

                                                                                    W W W . d e s t i N a t i O N W i N e C O u N t r y. C O m   45
                                                                               a single drop of inspiration can set the rings

                                                                                             Jim Dehlsen, CEO of
                                                                                             Clipper Windpower,
                                                                                             develops wind
                                                                                             energy products
                                                                                             around the world.

bought the companies he                                                                                             by offsetting erosion and
worked for. Southern Califor-                                                                                       reestablishing habitats. One
nia’s 1970s real estate boom                                                                                        wouldn’t call them seeds
fueled his early success. At                                                                                        of change—these are the
the time, many landscapers                                                                                          seeds of recovery and sus-
emphasized water-intensive                                                                                          tainability.
gardens, and Schaff showed
that by planting native plants                                                                                       Jim Dehlsen, founder and
and grasses, developers could                                                                                        CEO of Clipper Windpower,
drastically reduce both their                                                                                        has always had an appre-
costs and long-term water                                                                                            ciation for nature. Raised
consumption. Today S&S Seeds, based                       they are planted prior to the rainy sea-      by expat parents amid the coffee planta-
in Carpinteria, collects or grows over                    son. Supplying seeds that are self-sustain-   tions and jungles of Bolivia, Guatemala,
1,200 species of seeds from native grass-                 ing with normal rainfall is the center of     and Ecuador, he was aware from a very
es, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs for use                what we do.”                                  young age of the fragility of the environ-
in erosion control, regeneration, and                         On a ranch in Los Alamos, S&S Seeds       ment, as well as man’s impact on it.
landscaping throughout California and                     grows species that are no longer readily         After serving in the Air Force, he pur-
the United States. It provides more than                  available in the wild. The company keeps      sued his passion for invention by study-
                                                                                                                                                     Photography courtesy of Clipper Windpower

80 percent of the seeds of native grasses                 detailed records of where hand-collected      ing engineering and business at the Uni-
for large-scale real estate development                   seeds were gathered, allowing them to         versity of Southern California. During
projects, the California freeway systems,                 supply seeds collected close to project       that time he learned to sail—an experi-
and other projects that need to mitigate                  sites. Many universities and research cen-    ence that would alter the course of his
their environmental impact.                               ters use S&S Seeds to support their own       career. “On the water one day, I looked
    “Using native seeds has a positive im-                native plant projects and research.           up into the sails and recognized the en-
pact on the environment,” says Schaff.                        Plants grown from their seeds provide     ergy potential of wind. It was a moment
“Most of them do not need irrigation if                   incalculable benefits to the environment      of inspiration.”

46 W W W . d e s t i N a t i O N W i N e C O u N t r y. C O m
                            in motion to touch the consciousness of many and create change on a global level.

                                                   Dehlsen made inventing ways to         partment of Energy for their efficiency,
                                               channel nature’s energy his life’s work.   reliability, and cost effectiveness. Clipper
                                               In 1980, he founded Zond, one of the       is currently developing a larger offshore
                                               first global wind companies. Zond was      version which it calls “Britannia.” This
                                               eventually acquired by General Electric,   turbine, among the largest in the world,
                                               and in 2000, Dehlsen and his son formed    will be able to generate the equivalent of
                                               Clipper Windpower to take wind turbine     a million barrels of oil in the course of its
                                               design to a higher level of performance.   24-year lifespan.
                                               Headquartered in Carpinteria, the com-         “Renewable energy is a gift—and
                                               pany manufactures the largest wind         one that is never ending,” Dehlsen says.
                                               turbines built in the U.S. and develops    “The exciting challenge lies in harnessing
                                               wind energy projects across the United     it.” While leading Clipper Windpower,
                                               States, Latin America, and Europe. Its     he is also working on submarine tur-
                                               patented 2.5 MW Liberty wind turbines      bine technology that will derive energy
                                               have been recognized by the U.S. De-       from ocean currents. “The energy sec-

                                                                                                                                           Monica DeVreese (above), brand manager
                                                                                                                                           of Deckers Outdoor Corporation’s Simple
                                                                                                                                           Shoes. Their ecoSNEAKS (left) are made
                                                                                                                                           from recycled car tires, organic cotton, and
                                                                                                                                           recycled water bottles, with Santa Barbara
                                                                                                                                           photos by surf legend Joe Curren.

                                                                                                                                           tor is accustomed to nuclear power and
                                                                                                                                           petroleum—sources with concentrated
                                                                                                                                           energy,” he explains. “It’s hard for them
                                                                                                                                           to adjust to more dispersed sources like
                                                                                                                                           wind and ocean currents that are less in-
                                                                                                                                           tense but sustainable.”
                                                                                                                                              Dehlsen’s aim is to make a positive
                                                                                                                                           impact on humanity by expediting and
                                                                                                                                           encouraging the use of clean, green, re-
                                                                                                                                           newable, cost-competitive electricity.
                                                                                                                                           “Our goal is to put forward solutions
                                                                                                                                           and offer hope,” he explains. “I want to
                                                                                                                                           be able to tell my grandchildren that I
                                                                                                                                           did my part.”

                                                                                                                                           The story of Deckers Outdoor Corpo-
                                                                                                                                           ration began in a garage where UCSB
                                                                                                                                           student Doug Otto made flip-flops for
                                                                                                                                           surfers in the early 1970s. From these
                                                                                                                                           humble but ambitious beginnings, Deck-
Photography by Eliot Crowley (top); Deja Hsu

                                                                                                                                           ers grew to include the popular brands
                                                                                                                                           of Teva and Ugg Australia. In 1993 it
                                                                                                                                           acquired Simple Shoes which had been
                                                                                                                                           created in 1991 by Eric Meyer who fa-
                                                                                                                                           mously said, “I just want a comfortable,
                                                                                                                                           simple shoe.”
                                                                                                                                              This is also the story of a successful
                                                                                                                                                              Continued on page 105

                                                                                                                                    W W W . d e s t i N a t i O N W i N e C O u N t r y. C O m   47
104 W W W . d e s t i N a t i O N W i N e C O u N t r y. C O m
Green Companies                                             “Building Green for Healthier Living”
Continued from page 47
corporation that decided to turn its at-
tention to becoming more green, and
Simple Shoes has lead the way by radi-
cally changing the way shoes are manu-
                                                                                             Imagine Your Home With:
    “We wanted to change our ecologi-                                                                •	 pure water
cal footprint,” says Monica DeVreese,                                                                •	 clean, healthy air
Simple Shoes brand manager, whose                                                                    •	 free energy from
bright infectious enthusiasm matches                                                                    the sun
the idealism of her product. According                                                               •	 no waste
to DeVreese, although all their shoes are
made with a measure of eco-responsibil-
ity, the “Green Toe” brand goes the extra
mile. Made with recycled plastics and
car tires, organic cotton, hemp, natural
crepe, bamboo, and even coconut but-
tons, the shoes are innovative, inspira-
tional—and cute. You might say Deckers
talks the talk, walks the walk—and makes
the shoes to do it in.
    “We are not only finding better ways
to make shoes, we are changing the
way we run our company at a very ba-
                                                 Santa Barbara • (805) 884-8777             Los Olivos • (805) 688-0777
sic level,” says DeVreese. “By creating a                            www.dennisallenassociates.com
whole new way of thinking through our
eco-ethics philosophy, we can affect posi-
tive change and impact global thinking
through a pair of shoes.”
    At its corporate headquarters in Go-
leta, Deckers encourages recycling, of-
fers incentives for purchasing hybrid
                                             Oreana Winemaking Co.       CELLAR 205
cars, and provides waste-free company
lunches. In addition to partnering with
UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental
Science and Management, it has joined
forces with stopglobalwarming.org, in
response to the international appeal to
reduce carbon emissions, and partici-
pated in Soles4Souls, which responded
to the Asian Tsunami in 2004.
    The company likes to say that Simple
Shoes are “shoes for a happy planet.”
While the planet hasn’t achieved that sta-
tus yet, these are shoes for happy feet—
and a happy company.
    Simple Shoes, Clipper Windpower,
and S&S Seeds are setting the standards,        DOWNTOWN TASTING ROOM OPEN DAILY 11-5:00
proving that small ideas with the right
motivation behind them can have a huge
                                             GOURMET GIFTS • PRIVATE EVENTS • BARREL TASTINGS
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drought, harnessing the wind, and walk-
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end, everyone is a winner. b
                                             Destination ad.indd 1                                                            6/8/07 12:47:47 PM
                                                                                 W W W . d e s t i N a t i O N W i N e C O u N t r y. C O m   105

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