Cornell Holds Third Annual Red Ideas Festival

Food Recovery Network, Dilmun Hill Organic Student Farm and Kreyol Essence were winners of the Red Ideas Festival...

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By Sushmita Krishnamooty, via the Cornell Daily Sun, 05/05/14

Ethan Keller ’15 presents at the Red Ideas Festival in Willard Straight Hall Saturday (Kelly Yang / Sun News Photography Editor)
Ethan Keller ’15 presents at the Red Ideas Festival in Willard Straight Hall Saturday (Kelly Yang / Sun News Photography Editor)

Food Recovery Network, Dilmun Hill Organic Student Farm and Kreyol Essence were chosen as the winners of the Red Ideas Festival held on Saturday in Willard Straight Hall, with the teams winning financial grants to invest into their companies.

Cornell Food Recovery Network, an organization that works to donate the excess food produced in Cornell dining halls to pantries in Tompkins County, received first place.

“Twenty-two pounds of food, which is otherwise composted, can be recovered per meal per dining hall,” said John Lowry ’16, the founder and co-director of the organization. “Our vision is to reach every all-you-care-to-eat dining hall on campus.”

According to Lowry, the prize money from Red Ideas will be used to purchase more containers to store food as well as thermometers and coolers to ensure that the food is at a safe temperature when it is transported.

“It takes a community to plant the seeds of a better future, and grow that vision into a reality,” Lowry said.

He attributed the success of the idea to administrators in Cornell Dining, Chef Tony Kveragas in Carl Becker House, the Friendship Donations Network and professors and advisors who supported them.

Student run Dilmun Hill Organic Farm’s composting toilet for disaster relief won second place.

“Portable toilets become unusable when the equipment needed to empty them is not available in disaster scenarios,” said Phil Duvall ’15, student manager at Dilmun Hill. “The other option, latrines, can contaminate ground water supply with scores of pathogen.”

According to Ethan Keller ’15, another student manager at Dilmun Hill, the prize money winnings will be used to design and build a series of compostable toilets, improved with each cycle.

“Composting completes the nutritional circle, reducing agricultural inputs, decreasing foreign aid dependence in developing nations and reducing the many health risks associated with feces,” Keller said.

Kreyol Essence, an agribusiness that offers eco-luxury cosmetic products, won third place at the festival. Yve-Car Momperousse grad, who is the founder of Kreyol Essence, said she hopes to revolutionize the beauty industry by using unique ingredients from Haiti and the Caribbean.

According to Momperousse, the funding from Red Ideas will be used to purchase raw material for women to produce Haitian castor oil.

“Through Kreyol Essence, we are going to stimulate economic activity in Haiti by creating over 300 jobs for women and farmers,” Momperousse said.

“Castor beans will decrease soil erosion, deforestation and greenhouse gas emission.”

Pamela Barnes, president and chief executive officer of EngenderHealth, served as the keynote speaker for the festival. Barnes said that although financial independence is an important aspect of real life, students should consider careers in nonprofit organizations since they also pay competitive wages in their field.

“I spent years in the corporate world and there’s nothing wrong with it,” Barnes said. “But putting together what really motivates you and how it can work for you are the delicate things.”

Red Ideas was founded by Simon Boehme ’14 in 2012 to foster the flow of ideas, creativity and innovation and to give students the opportunity to implement their ideas.

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.