At the end of June, writer Gladys Boutwell attended the Go Further with Ford Trend Conference to learn about Ford’s plans for the upcoming year. She returned super excited about Ford’s eco-inspired trends and will be sharing the highlights in a series of articles here on EcoBuzz. To kick things off, I picked Gladys’s brain a bit about her trip.
EcoBuzz: Hello Gladys. I am SO excited to hear about your trip to Dearborn, Michigan and the Go Further with Ford Trend Conference. From the pictures you took, it looks like it was a lot of fun. Did you have a good time?
Gladys: Hello Cat. It was a great conference. Having a Ford vehicle in my household, I was intrigued to understand Ford’s stance on eco-friendliness, and I was very impressed. I came away with a plethora of information and am eager to share it. Not to mention, it was engaging, interactive, and simply, fun.
EcoBuzz: Who attended? Did you meet any fascinating journalists?
Gladys: There were over 250 attendees. Even Ford was happy with the positive response they received. There were bloggers and writers from different categories including gadgets, technology, cars, eco-friendliness, Spanish magazines, and European writers. Such a variety of amazing people! It is fitting that I have two eco-friendly writers, Stephanie Hicks and Amanda Farrar, that live very close to me and we are planning on getting together again.
EcoBuzz: Tell us about the different sessions. What was the format? Who were some of the guest speakers?
Gladys: There were four “Trend Sessions”. They were Eco-Psychology, Design, Urbanization, and Streamline & Simplify. The format was of a panel interview for the first hour and then half hour of interactive breakout sessions. Those that were invited to speak were mostly non-Ford guests.
Eco-Psychology was the first one that I attended. Some guests were:
- Adrian Grenier, from HBO’s Entourage and co-founder of SHFT.com, a sustainability lifestyle platform.
- Peter Glatzer, independent film producer, co-creator of “Alter Eco” with Adrian Grenier, and co-founder of SHFT.com with Adrian Grenier.
- Cher Fischer, author of “Falling into Green” and educator.
The primary focus was in the understanding of the meaning of eco-psychology. Adrian stated it was taking responsibility and being self-aware, while finding bite-size innovation for sustainability. John Viefa, Ford Executive, asked what we can do to enable the consumer to be more efficient and use the product better, because we cannot continue to pull resources from the planet to create products.
Urbanization was the second session. Some guests were:
- Carol Coletta, leads ArtPlace new initiative designed to transform communities.
- Gretchen Effgen, Zipcar’s Director of Business Development
Carol explained that cities enable connection and innovation, which drives economic growth, which are used as a device to make things greener and healthier. Part of the economic development is made up of quality of town, quality of place, and quality of opportunities, which retain people in their town.
Gretchen provided statistics that 10M drivers are within 10 minutes of a Zipcar and that 6% is spent on transportation by each household. She shared Zipcar’s vision of simple living and that is why they have partnered with Ford to help college student have access to transportation without having to own a vehicle.
Streamline & Simplify was the third session. Guests were:
- John Hendricks, director of User Experience for Windows Embedded Division.
- Gary Clayton, chief creative officer for Nuance Communication.
This session was the exploration of simplification through technology, it is everywhere and we expect it to be available at all times. We saw the changes made to the onboard screen to make it easier to use. This was achieved by working closely together, Ford, Windows, and Nuance Communication.
We saw a demonstration of the use of technology through voice activation and how it learns and understand the intent of the speaker. They also showed how they are trying to make the vehicle intelligent to enable a “do not disturb” feature on calls when it reads the grip, breathing, heart rate, and sweaty palms of the driver through piezoelectric film sensor. How cool is that?
Design was the last session of the day. Guests were:
- Christian Siriano, youngest winner and fan favorite of “Project Runway”.
- Gretchen Gscheidle, director of Insight and Exploration Group at Herman Miller.
Christian said that collaboration is very important in creating a collection. He mentioned that he is working on eco-friendly clothing and a dry cleaning system that does not use chemicals.
J Mays, Ford VP Chief Creations, stated that the product has to work and that use design as a way to win people over. He also mentioned that everybody wants a premium experience, as it is a perceived status.
Gretchen stated that the environment is important, as more people are asking what products are made of and what will happen at the end of the product life cycle, which means there needs to be a balance between art and science.
EcoBuzz: So what was the most interesting session?
Gladys: All sessions had their level of interesting. Urbanization focused on how cities can be used to become greener and healthier. The Streamline & Simplify session demonstrated how it is important to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary speaks, as well as, the importance of technology to bring relevant content to light. The Design session allowed us to see how Ford uses simulators to create and test. My favorite was the Eco-Psychology because I saw how Ford uses shredded money, water bottles, and soy in building of the Fusion. How Green is that?!
EcoBuzz: What was the most interesting thing that Bill Ford shared?
Gladys: Bill Ford is an interesting person, period. His vision for improving Ford’s carbon footprint and the changes that have been made and will continue to be made shows that a large manufacturing corporation can be socially responsible. What a role model for others.
Another interesting thing that stood out for me was that he said that Ford is a mobility company, not a car company. This vision opens the company to more opportunities than simply making cars.
EcoBuzz: I saw some of the great things you made at the TechShop. Tell us about that! How did that fit into the Ford Trends and what kinds of cool things did you and the other attendees make there?
Gladys: TechShop is a ‘do-it-yourself’ company. They have helped people learn now to do things themselves and have even helped others with pursuing their life’s passion.
One of the things that I made was pewter jewelry. It involved picking or creating a design, filling it with pewter, letting it cool, and then filing the edges until smooth. It was a lot of work, but it was fun to do.
We also created colorful lights that not only ran on a single small battery, but also stayed on metal due to the magnet on it.
Another activity was silk screening the Further with Ford and TechShop logos onto re-usable bags.
The last activity that I did not get to actually work on was the frosting of a tall mug.
While there, we also saw them cut a letter out of metal by using water pressure and sumo-robots battling it out.
It was fun to make something with my own hands, while learning.
EcoBuzz: The test driving looked like so much fun! What vehicles did you get to drive and which one was your favorite?
Gladys: That’s a hard question to answer. The Focus Electric had a smoother ride and more power than I anticipated. The Mustang was fun to drive, but it was even more thrilling to have a professional driver going top speeds around the obstacle course, twice. We had to wear head gear, while a professional drive took me through rough terrain in the F150 Raptor.
I will have to say, I would much rather be IN the Police Interceptor with the lights and sounds rather than have it behind me.
Did I mention the Mustang?
EcoBuzz: Is there any one thing that stands out as the most fun or most fascinating part of the conference?
Gladys: Although all the information was captivating and informative, seeing how much Ford has done to be Green with their vehicles and with their reduction of waste was what I was most impressed with. I would have loved to spend more time in speaking with those that were responsible for making these changes happen, as they were passionate about their positive effect.
EcoBuzz: Has your perception changed about Ford?
Gladys: I always thought that Ford made a good truck, hey, I own one. However, now, I am very proud to be a Ford owner and share information on Ford whenever I can. I have much more respect for the company because of the progressive changes they have made.
EcoBuzz: And, I have to ask, especially because the pictures of you on Ford Field were so awesome… what’s up with the football?
Gladys: Too funny that you ask. I love football and have since I was a kid watching the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and wanted to be one when I grew up. It was fun to find out that Ford Field was built on the old Hudson’s Warehouse with a lot of recycled material and that the walkway, Adam Street, remains where it originally was, but then to be able to do a stadium tour was pretty cool. Then, to be on an NFL field and have an NFL football in my hands was just fantastic! I got to pass and catch the ball in the home of the Detroit Lions. Yes, I throw like a girl and can only get it to go 24 yards, but, how many people get that opportunity?
EcoBuzz: I am really looking forward to reading more about the Go Further with Ford Trend Conference in your upcoming articles. Can you give us a sneak peak of what we can expect?
Gladys: Where do I start? So much to share and don’t want to give too much away, right?
Okay, a few hints:
How can a fabric positively impact our planet?
How can we reduce our carbon footprint by 40%?
You’ll find the answers to those questions and more in the upcoming articles.
EcoBuzz: Thank you!
Gladys: You’re very welcome!