As a member The Model Ambassador Program, with Universal Models for Peace, I had the pleasure of recently attending NYC Clean Energy’s party on October 22 hosted at Green Space in Soho. by Jillian Pacheco
The Model Ambassador Program (MAP), supported by Universal Models for Peace (UMP) is a hands-on initiative set on giving back on both a local and a global scale. The members of MAP can best be described as models on a humanitarian mission. Model Ambassadors help set up fundraising programs, campaign options and serve as role/spokes-models helping organizations, NGO’s and companies expand/build social value.
Members of the Model Ambassador Program deliver invitations to small business owners in Tribeca
MAP, having recently partnered with NYC Clean Energy was represented amongst the high-energy crowd of Tribeca business owners at Green Space Tuesday evening. A live DJ was featured along with art from a variety of NYC based artists, including Guatemalan artist, Juan Carlos Pinto who makes portraits out of old metro-cards. Amongst delicious hors d’oeuvre and cocktails were some not so standard bar selections. The featured liqueur of the night was Prevú, organic sparkling liquor that blends vodka, cognac and berries. The other featured cocktail was a “DIY” drink. Yes, you read that correctly, a “DIY” drink. Guests were welcome to hop on a stationary blender bike and use pedal power to blend up their own slushy cocktail. If only all bike rides were as rewarding!
Amidst all of this excitement I was able to grab a word with NYC Clean Energy CEO and founder, Gene to ask him a few questions about what clean energy means to him and the future of our world.
So what attracted you to clean energy?
Gene explains his attraction to clean energy on a few different levels.
“The first level is, that there is a truth out there. And the truth is, climate change is real. No matter what you hear about the doubters and the media’s desire to create equivalency of all arguments, that’s just not a reality. If you speak to scientists, if you read the actual work, climate change is coming. I care about my children. I care about my children’s children. So if you can be involved in a business that motivates you from a financial an emotional and a spiritual perspective, it will make you jump up in the morning and go to work and build something, and want to create something. To me I feel that the clean energy space was something that I didn’t feel anyone was approaching from a good marketing perspective. “
Gene then goes on to explain what makes his approach different from all of the other clean energy companies out there.
“They were these just very serious people, creating fear, making people scared. I don’t like fear. I like fun and optimism and if you can create an optimistic outlook and say don’t do it because you have to, do it because it’s fun, do it because it’s cool.”
Is it trendy?
”No trendy is a different word, I’m talking fun. I look at my kids, who are twelve and eight and they love what I’m doing and think, how could I not keep doing this?”
The New York based Robin Hood Foundation also inspires Gene. Their motto is, “Fight Poverty like a New Yorker.”
“My motto is, lets move to clean energy like a New Yorker, quickly and virally, using cool content.’”
Gene who has been in finance for 15 years also affirms that clean energy makes sense from a financial perspective. He looks to Germany and Denmark as exemplary leaders when it comes to wind energy conversion. Denmark is the world’s wind energy leader and Germany doesn’t fall far behind with their efforts to phase out nuclear power altogether.
When looking at wind energy on a nationwide scale Gene believes that it won’t be an easy feat “there will be bumps” he says, however, he’s optimistic that if we approach it from a long-term perspective we will be there within 5-10 years.
Where would you say New York City ranks in the nationwide movement towards clean energy?
“That question is driven by geography and feasibility. It’s important to look at what’s possible in certain areas. Some of the best options are solar options. Because New York City is an urban environment solar does not work as well until we get what’s called utility scale solar. Meaning entire farms of solar powered generators that feed into the grid.”
Gene believes that while New York is not an energy leader today, New York can become a leader very quickly. He attributes NYC’s potential to lead in wind energy to the viral connectivity of the city itself.
Why target small businesses?
Gene has chosen to focus on converting small businesses to wind energy because he believes that they’ve been ignored in the clean energy movement. He has a particular fondness for small businesses due to his small business background. He has worked in business his whole life and enjoys talking with small business owners, addressing their concerns and their issues.
Why does clean energy resonate with small business owners?
“It’s through our commonalities. They’re locally owned and operated and so are we. We are not a fortune 500 company coming out of Texas. We are a small local firm with a New York attitude.”
Gene then explains this sort of give and take relationship that small businesses have with one another,
“We visit them, we eat there; that’s where we deploy our lives. They spend their knowledge with us and we spend our knowledge with them. That’s the way small businesses work.”
NYC Clean Energy began in Tribeca and they plan to eventually infiltrate businesses all over New York City. When the weather becomes nice enough Gene plans to deploy NYC Clean Energy representatives all over the city to talk to business owners about making the switch. Gene is a resident of Battery Park City himself and says he decided to focus on bringing clean energy to Tribeca first because he sees it as a place of forward thinking, a leading part of the city.
“They’ve led in other industries such as movies, with the Tribeca Film Festival, they’ve led in food with Taste of Tribeca, so why not energy?”
The Model Ambassadors of UMP hit the streets of Tribeca on Citi bikes a few weeks prior to the party to distribute invitations to small business owners, (many of which I recognized in the sea of attendees that night).
“There is no rule saying you can’t have fun in business,” Gene adds.
I let his words sink in a bit as I look back out over the gregarious crowd, mixing, mingling, laughing and pedaling away on the blender bikes. That’s true, I think to myself, witnessing the live proof.
Gene (Left) with fellow member of NYC Clean Energy (middle) and Greg Kelly of Good Day New York (Right)
Attendees power up the blender bikes
For more on the Model Ambassador Program and/or NYC Clean Energy please visit