Happy Earth Day!
It’s been a year since I started this blog as a complement to my Toronto Star column of the same name. While it has kept me busy and up late many nights, I have to say I’ve been enjoying the experience of this personal project immensely. It’s a cherished hobby.
I’m also delighted I have so many regular visitors to this site, many of whom offer insightful comments and contact me directly through e-mail, often resulting in healthy debate. Funny, I find I go to some events now and people recognize me just as much as a cleantech blogger than a reporter for the Toronto Star. I’m discovering that many clean-energy executives, experts and investors I interview for my newspaper stories are regular readers of the Clean Break blog. It’s very encouraging. Thanks to all.
It seems from the rough statistics I do have that this site has a core readership of between 1,000 and 1,400 people who visit regularly. Visits, while up and down depending on the day, have as an average levelled off over the past few months. Over the course of a month I’ll get 30,000 to 40,000 visits. I’m quite happy with that, but of course would like to take that number higher over the coming year. Please spread the word. 🙂
Three of many observations over the past year:
* This area has heated up. Mainstream coverage has taken off. Investment has followed. While much of the spotlight continues to be on solar and wind energy, cleantech in general is capturing headlines. This is thanks to rising oil, natural gas and gasoline prices, the crisis on the grid, increased concern over global warming, and a sincere and growing desire of the public to learn about conservation, energy efficiency, clean energy and the technologies behind it all. Of course, you know all of that. It’s also because of folks such as Nick Parker at the Cleantech Capital Group, who have given shape to the sector and measured its growth. And adding to the awareness is a growing community of green and cleantech bloggers, many of whom I read regularly and have connected with on occasion.
* The rate of innovation is nothing short of awesome. Advancements in battery technology, solar PV design, materials, manufacturing, chemistry, etc… give me hope that the energy, pollution, climate and scarcity issues we face today will be overcome, or at the very least contained and managed. Market forces may be letting us down in some areas, but that’s where effective government policy is needed to spur things along.
* People care, and want change in their lives. Over the past few months, I’ve received an average of two or three e-mails a week from recent graduate students, engineers, computer programmers, lawyers, executives, accountants — you name it — looking for a way of putting their skills to work in the cleantech space. They want meaning. They want to contribute. They want what they do to matter, and at the same time they want to make a living out of it. So do I. It’s that double bottom line. Even investors are getting all touchy, feely. That’s why I created this blog, to help people discover cleantech companies, and to learn about trends and technologies in the market or bubbling out of labs. I’d love to directly help all who contact me, but lacking the time I hope this blog — despite its limitations — serves as a good starting point.
So what to do now? Well, mostly the same. I’m always on the hunt for new clean technologies or companies in the space, particularly Canadian ventures. But I don’t want to simply become a soapbox for fly-by-night companies looking to boost their penny stocks, so expect me to be selective and critical at times. Apologies in advance if I do occasionally get sucked in by hype. I should say that in addition to looking for new companies and technologies, expect me to update you on the progress being made by companies I have covered over the past year.
I’m looking at ways to organize the information on this site better, but I haven’t come to any conclusions. Suggestions are welcome. Starting today, I’ve got a new Clean Break logo at the top-left corner. Figured it was a good way to mark the site’s 1st birthday. Special thanks to Mike Papageorge, a “green” Vancouverite who works as a Web developer in Spain, who came to my call and designed the logo free of charge. Mike is also behind the alternative energy news site AlternativeSource.org, which is a terrific resource. Your help is sincerely appreciated, Mike.
You’ll recall I tried doing a Clean Break podcast with the Toronto Star a few months ago. After a few tries, I realized that simply reading my newspaper column was boring, boring, boring. I cancelled it, but hope to start up again next week. This time, I’m going to alternate the podcast with my bi-weekly column, and instead of being tied to the column, the podcast will be completely different. The plan is to invite a guest — a cleantech expert, entrepreneur or investor — into the newspaper’s studio every two weeks and just chat about current events, trends, technologies. It will be a free-flowing discussion that will tap the knowledge of the guest. I’ll make sure to provide the links to this new podcast from this site, assuming all comes together as planned.
Finally, I’m half-flirting with the idea of advertising. I’ve tried Google Adsense, which if I’m lucky pays for a large pizza every few months. And the Amazon.ca ads are more to promote books and dress up the site than to get credit on my next purchases. I was thinking about taking on a single advertiser, with what little money I would raise going to a “green” not-for-profit to support research and awareness campaigns that are consistent with the values supported by this blog. I have no advertisers in mind, nor have I been approached. Just thinking about it. Any suggestions or concerns, you know how to find me.
If you’ve read this far, you are a loyal reader. Once again, Happy Earth Day… let year No. 2 begin! (sound of knuckles cracking)