Nick Aster

Gather Lab

Strategic sustainability professional with a successful track record guiding companies and organizations to profitability and toward mission driven goals. Growth hacker, expert storyteller and CSR maven. Over 20 years of communications, sustainability and digital media experience in the U.S. and abroad, primarily among Fortune 1000 level companies, non-profits and NGOs. Recognized writer, panelist, consultant, and thought leader covering sustainability, corporate social responsibility, environmental issues and business management with over 1,000 articles published. Most recently founded the world’s most well-read sustainable business publication,, sold to 3BLMedia in 2017. Oversaw the launch and development of and the re-launch of Strong network across many business and media sectors with a specific passion to help organizations meet stakeholder objectives while staying true to their deeper mission.

Nick is speaking at

May 22, 2019
9:30 am - 11:30 am
Public Works Main Hall



Introducing the Field Guide to Transformation
- Regina Connell

Transformation Lab Facilitators

- Christian Peele Executive Minister of Institutional Advancement, Riverside Church, NYC
- Tim Soerens, Parish Collective

Transformation Lab #1
Creating a marketplace where refugees and immigrant are seen as investable and not needy recipients of charity

- John Kluge, Refugee Investment Network
- Said Sheikh Abdi, community leader, Somali immigrants in Minneapolis
- Matt Bauer and Amy Tucker, Sparrow Mobile
- Jeffrey Ashe, expert on immigrant-led savings circles
- Kevin Rowell, consultant to the UN High Commission on Refugees

Introduction of Lab #2
Moving regenerative agriculture from farm-to-table to farm-to-hospital food system in Peoria, Illinois

- Carol Hays, System Entrepreneur
- Erin Meyer, Mother Hen

Introduction of Lab #3
Creating a center of gravity to move donor advised funds from a tax strategy to their potential for world changing

- Tim Freundlich, Impact Assets


May 23, 2019
1:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Public Works Main Hall



Holy Cow! It’s true. Cows and other large herbivores properly managed really are essential to reversing global warming and saving humanity. They’ll do this by restoring fertility to billions acres of depleted grassland soils around the planet - from New Mexico to South Africa - reversing desertification and helping perennial plants to sequester prodigious quantities of atmospheric carbon - sufficient to cool the planet and change the weather - literally. Seth Itzkan, cofounder of Soil4Climate Inc., an educational nonprofit that advocates for soil restoration as a climate solution, will discuss the science and practices behind this important innovation and invite you to participate in helping to launch their exciting land restoration project with the Maasai in Kenya.

Who is not in the room?
May 23, 2019
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
HUB Main Space



Join us as we discuss the fact that many cities serve no purpose in the growing economy and how often citizens in these towns are living a useless existence. 
Can a valued purpose be found again or should we let them all fail in the coming years? 
Nick Smoot and Innovation Collective has been to 61 communities in the last few years. Most in small town America. He has been developing and deploying a model to rebuild community and repair capitalism in a logical way. 

May 23, 2019
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Public Works Green Room



It’s hard to believe but just over 10 years ago, Steve Jobs stood up on stage and introduced the world to the iPhone. The transformation and opportunity presented in every day life since that moment is almost unparalleled in human history. But the giant telecom industry remains true to its monopolistic roots (as of 35 years ago, there was only one carrier in each country), and most importantly is a mere bystander in most social and environmental impact tables across the world. Join us for this powerful discussion as Nick Aster explores with sparrow co-founders, Amy Tucker and Matt Bauer, the the industry’s roots and its unlimited capacity to change the course of humanity and the environment in an incredibly positive way.

About Sparrow:

sparrow was founded in 2014 by a group of social entrepreneurs determined to end digital poverty and connect people across the globe using the company’s product-as-impact model. When customers switch their mobile services to a sparrow, they are supporting someone in need with a smartphone and/or wireless service every month they are a sparrow customer. With sparrow’s wireless service, customers can either bring their own device or purchase one from sparrow’s website. In addition, they receive competitively priced services via the Good Plan with unlimited Talk & Text for $20 per month with $10 per GB of data used.
Across sparrow's focus areas of women, youth, refugees and the homeless, the company has partnered with organizations such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Black Girls Code, Larkin Street Youth Services, Rush University Medical Center, and others to provide over 7,400 donations and almost 4,000 beneficiaries to date. sparrow is a founding member of of the TENT Corporate Partnership for Refugees and has created an ongoing impact program, RefugeeMobile, to deliver mobile technology and resettlement services to new refugees within the United States and eventually to other parts of the world.

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