Featured Speakers


2016 Sustainability Conference Speakers

Kevin Coval

Kevin Coval is the poet, author and organizer the Chicago Tribune called "the voice of the new Chicago" and the Boston Globe says is "the city's unofficial poet laureate". Author of Schtick, L-vis Lives!: Racemusic Poems, Everyday People, Slingshots: A Hip-Hop Poetica, and More Shit Chief Keef Don't Like. Coval is the founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, the world's largest youth poetry festival, which has expanded nationally & internationally to other cities since 2010 when the documentary film by the same name premiered in film festivals around the world.

Coval is the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, LTAB's non-profit home, and teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago. He is a 4x HBO Def Poet and has written for CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, National Public Radio in Chicago, The Spoken Word Revolution: Redux (Source), Handbook of Public Pedagogy (Routledge) 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed U.S. History(Haymarket) & It Was Written: Reading Nas's Illmatic, ed. by Michael Eric Dyson (Basic).

Coval is the recent recipient of a New Voices/New Visions award from the Kennedy Center for a play he co-authored with Idris Goodwin about graffiti writers titled, This is Modern Art - which premiered at Steppenwolf Theater in the winter of 2015. His latest projects include The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop, released in April 2015 on Haymarket Books and organizing the 16th Louder Than a Bomb. stay up with him @kevincoval on the internets.

Sara Edgar

Sara Edgar, a St. Louis native is a Senior Organizing Representative at the Missouri Sierra Club.  She holds a BFA in Art Photography and an MSW in Environmental Social Work and is a Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Alum.  After a short career in International Development, where she witnessed first hand the impact of our changing climate, she returned home to lead the Beyond Coal campaign in St. Louis in order to transition our country to clean energy and address the threat of fossil fuel pollution and climate change.

Gary Steps

Gary is the Founder and Chief Visionary of Butterfly Energy Works. He was STEM long before the acronym was created – theoretical physicist, IT Engineer/architect/inventor, worldwide Certified Project Manager, mathematician, and now Building Scientist. He is a Zero Net Energy Consultant, Passive House Consultant, LEED AP, and a number of other titles and certifications. His list of highly successful building projects include two Net Zero Energy Plus homes, a number of Energy Star 5+ homes, the first National Green Building Standard home in St Louis, and a number of LEED-H homes. A number of new projects are in progress.

Carol & Tom Braford

Tom & Carol Braford, co-founders of Irresistible Community Builders, LLC, are building the prototype community in St Louis, Arizmendi Ecovillage. They have been past recipients of special recognition from the International Green Industry Hall of Fame and the Buckminster Fuller Institute and present frequently at international conferences. They also work with Citizens' Climate Lobby to create the political will for a livable world.