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2012: year in review and looking ahead…

2013 January 26

2012 was a great year for me. It also marks the first full calendar year that I’ve lived in one place since 2008. In fall 2009, I moved from Beijing to NYC. In fall 2010, I moved from NYC to DC. In fall 2011, I moved from DC to Berkeley. And in fall 2012, well, I stayed right here in Berkeley! Although I didn’t move anywhere, I did do a fair amount of traveling as well as exploring here in the bay area. The highlight of the year was definitely my trip to Mozambique and Malawi, a 16 day journey alongside Peace Corps volunteer and silly friend Jama Joy Bernard. If you missed the photos, check em out here (one of my best photos previewed below). I also got to see Istanbul for a day in transit, and I visited Beijing three times for work in July, October, and November.

On the train from Nampula to Cuamba...

On the train from Nampula to Cuamba…

Aside from all that foreign travel, I visited Tahoe, Park City, Telluride, DC, Chicago, Austin, Bozeman, and NJ/NYC (home for Mom’s bday in June, and two weeks at home for the holidays). I had epic jian bing brunches, started a Kubb coalition in Berkeley, got a little brother, fell in love with the Oakland A’s (and doing the Bernie lean), went to many great concerts (SF Symphony, Paco de Lucia, Outside Lands, local band Shake Your Peace, Wilco at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, The Bad Plus, and the list goes on…), grew and strengthened many friendships here in the bay, went on great hikes in the East Bay and Marin, lectured at my alma mater Northwestern, hosted a bunch of friends here in SF (Amit, Matt, Theresa, Mom + Dad [x2], Tyler, Chris + Nicole, Ella), led a van of 10 friends to Reno on my birthday to canvas for Obama (wooo 4 more years!), and sometimes I went to work. All the while, I was able to maintain this blog, and in total I made about 47 posts (almost one per week on average). I’m gonna break it down for you.

The Hike: I made 32 posts this year in The Hike, my clean energy and climate change thought-dumpster. The year started off with a series of deep analyses on the climate negotiations in Durban, the U.S. China clean energy trade cases (an epic satire in the flavor of Star Wars), and a comparison of U.S. and China in wind energy deployment. Later in the year, I enjoyed writing movie reviews of The Island President and Beasts of the Southern Wild, both of which address the issue of climate change, albeit the former one much more directly. In the fall, clean energy hacking was definitely the theme as I participated in Cleanweb hackathons in Austin (great city) and San Francisco (shorter commute), learning about developing new web apps using clean energy data. After the SF hack, I launched a new category on my blog, The Byte, which only has 1 post so far (I’m working on it!). I was able to convert a lot of my “hike” posts into posts for Berkeley’s clean energy blog too, which helped give me focus and extra exposure.

The Mic: I was not as prolific here as I would’ve liked, with only 8 posts this past year. But the main result was two seriously strong new music videos to add to the eco-rap repertoire: Occupy Rooftops (filmed in Oakland, Berkeley, and SF) and Low-carbon Gangnam Style (aka “Ditan Style”, filmed in Beijing). All I gotta say is: Do you know how many arms I had to twist to get people to dance on an Oakland rooftop for two hours about solar power? It’s not ironic that the most eager participant was my Chinese friend Hongyou, because when I went to film Ditan Style in Beijing, I had 25 volunteers for a couple hours in the morning and a dedicated crew of about 10 friends, committed and excited to film all day, dance in the streets, look like fools, etc. All I’m saying is that Chinese people know what’s up when it comes to getting your freak on for renewable energy and low carbon lifestyles. And my friends here in the Bay are mostly too conservative, not in the political sense but rather in the boring sense.

The Trike: I did it! I set out in January 2012 in pursuit of delicious jian bing and by September, I had launched my trike and sold 60 jian bing in one night! Many of you endured the early taste tests and cheered me on as I brought this dream to fruition step by step. Interestingly, this section of my blog is what drives the most outside traffic to my website via Google search. That just goes to show you that food blogging is popular, and every American that goes to China takes a video of jian bing and puts it on YouTube. Then when they come home, they can’t find jian bing anywhere. Hopefully, I can change that. I’m currently researching Berkeley permits so that I can operate at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market or Ashby Flea Market (right in between the used CD rack and the Chinese massage booth). I’ve got 100 Twitter followers and 150 likes on Facebook. Additionally, the twitterati have helped me discover jian bing popping up in London and in Hong Kong. Finally, I’ll just note that the idea of starting a food bike has opened my eyes to the amazing bike culture of the bay: Rock the Bike, the Bicycle Music Festival (which I blogged), East Bay Bike Coalition, East Bay Bike Party (every 2nd Friday of the month), Hot Bike etc. Thesis: you can do anything on a bike. Try and prove it wrong!

So what lies ahead for 2013? Well, I have put in my second application for the master’s program in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. I should hear next month. Wish me luck! I’ve got a bunch of great blog posts in the pipeline and my first for 2013 is out already, an interview with Richard Muller, a MacArthur genius who knows a lot about energy. Next weekend, I’m hitting the slopes with my brother Chris and sister-in-law Nicole in Bozeman. Big Sky baby! Lastly, I’d like to announce that I am training for the Climate Ride, a 300-mile bike ride from Eureka, CA back down to San Francisco. It takes place over the course of five days in mid-May, and all the money goes to 50 different organizations working on climate change activism, clean energy support, or bike advocacy. I’ve already had 25 donations, with my total standing at $1,343. Thanks to everyone who donated! Special shoutouts to Julia and Michelle who each donated $100 and Matt who gave the epic $1-per-mile, $320 donation! My goal is to raise twice the minimum of $2,500 or $5,000. So, expect an email or call from me. Every person who donates will get a Jian Bing Johnny’s certificate and free eco-raps (the first one is below). Who could say no to that?

  • Hayes

    Great stuff. Expecting big things from SJ in 2013 and beyond.

    • sustainablejohn

      Thanks Hayes! Btw, there are a number of photos of us and tiny disco balls I gotta send your way.

  • Hongyou

    This is so awesome, John!

    • sustainablejohn

      Thanks Hongyou! and thanks for occupying the rooftops 😀

  • Angel Hsu

    Sounds like it was a great year, hope 2013 is even better. BTW, you should apply to FES!

  • t

    great recap! here’s to 2013 and whatever it may hold!

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