Seven Questions with Jesse Ash and Philip Buccellato, Principals of Greener Media

From by Lani Furbank
Seven Questions with Jesse Ash and Philip Buccellato, Principals of Greener Media

Food Tank, in partnership with American University, is hosting the 2nd Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. on April 20–21, 2016. 

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more. 

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Jesse Ash, Director and Producer, and Philip Buccellato, Creative Director, of Greener Media. Greener Media is one of the sponsors of the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What initiatives have you launched recently, or are planning to launch, that will further your company’s sustainability efforts?

Jesse Ash and Philip Buccellato (JA & PB): We’re currently in the process of a company assessment for B Corp certification. Through this process, we’re learning more about the opportunities to put policies in place to quantify our impact, from the communities in which we operate, the suppliers we choose, and the environmental footprint of our business. We have a commitment to greener practices for our clients and productions, but it’s important to continue to consider our role as a business as we grow. We need to critically consider what it means to be a sustainably-minded business, not just on the subjects we work on, but how we execute the work.

FT: What drives you and your company to push for sustainability?

JA & PB: There are so many issues impacting our environment right now, and we feel compelled to do our small part to push the needle in a more sustainable direction. We strive to work on projects that not only raise awareness around an issue but lead to tangible steps to improve a situation. Our short film, “Man in the Maze,” that we produced in collaboration with Food Tank, is a perfect example of that. Since the film released, there's been an inspired conversation happening around food waste, and efforts are now being made in Nogales, AZ to build a compost facility to divert some of the produce from ending up in the landfill. It’s impacts like this that keep us motivated.

FT: What is the biggest food related issue facing our planet right now? How is your company working to solve that problem?

JA & PB: There are a number of important issues we’re facing with regards to our food systems. Food security is at the top of that list, which is why we made “Man in the Maze,” which pulls the curtain on how the United States sources and distributes much of its produce. The film dives into the details of how a vast amount of that food ends up being thrown into landfills when there are so many communities in need. We were honored to premiere the film at the Sundance Film Festival and we’ve been showing at many other festivals around the country ever since. The ongoing dialogue around the film has resulted in some very positive consequences.

FT: Do you have any enlightening stories to share of collaboration between your business and other businesses or organizations that have changed your business practices?

JA & PB: Creating a mission-driven business is not easy. We’ve had a lot of advice from a variety of businesses and organizations over the years. Participating in the Strategic Steps for Growth: Media & Entertainment program, led by the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the New York University Stern School of Business, was definitely a great experience to meet with other CEOs and consider best business practices. With mission as a driving force, it’s important to band together and get insights from a variety of companies. The Social Venture Network has also been a great resource to connect with triple bottom line businesses.

FT: What changes would you like to see from the U.S. government to support sustainability in the food system?

JA & PB: Supporting sustainability in the food system is no small task. It will take industry, big and small, local coalitions of farmers, and the people to convince our politicians to draft, write, and support food and farm bills that will help build a better food system. We’d like to see as much support given to smaller family farms as there is to big agriculture. We want our government to support initiatives that increase biodiversity, which in turn benefits not only our environment but also everyone’s health. We’d also like to see programs that increase the amount of organic, nutrient-dense food that we can make accessible to people on a local level in the communities that need it most.

FT: What was a turning point in your company and why?

JA & PB: A turning point in our company was working with the Sustainable South Bronx on public service announcements and programming video content in 2009. We learned about some key issues in our own NYC backyard, such as how industry can have huge health and environmental impacts on one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation. These facts and figures have stayed with us and bear striking similarities to the issues facing southern Arizona. We’re glad to have been exposed to the injustices and importance of community involvement early on, which in turn catalyzed our mission to tell stories that matter.

FT: What three things do you want your customers to know about your company?

JA & PB: 1) Kevin, our office dog, edits for treats.

2) Phil and Jesse are not related, though they look like brothers and both have beards.

3) We’re currently in post-production on an experimental project we shot in southern Italy last summer, which explores the concept of perfection from the perspective of people from different walks of life. Stay tuned!

To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the livestream HERE.

To join us at Food Tank's São Paulo, Brazil Summit in September 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Sacramento, CA Summit on September 22–23, 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Chicago, IL Summit on November 16–17, 2016, please click HERE

Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Want to suggest a speaker for one of the Summits? Please click HERE

Want to watch videos from last year's Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Sponsors for this year's Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. include: Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Chaia DC, Chipotle, Clif Bar, D.C. Government, Driscoll's, Edible DC, Elevation Burger, Fair Trade USA, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Global Environmental Politics Program of the School of International Service, Greener Media, Inter Press Service, Leafware, Niman Ranch, Organic Valley, Panera Bread, and VegFund. 

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