September 28, 2020 By Nigel Gopie, PhD 3 min read

Consumers today care about the interconnected world around them. They expect the companies they buy from to respect the earth and its people as they make their products, whether it’s ethically sourcing palm oil, practicing organic farming methods or minimizing waste. Our innovative clients have a vision of how blockchain is uniquely positioned to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

To celebrate our visionary clients, we commissioned five contemporary artists to interpret key blockchain objectives these innovators have achieved in their transformative work with us: consumer confidence and trust, transparent supply, food safety and provenance, sustainability and efficiency.

BlockpARTy is the result. It’s a five-part series of virtual events that spotlight the art, the artists and the innovators. Episode 4, which debuts on 30 September, features artist Haoyun Erin Zhao and her visual representation of how people and the brands they buy from are interconnected. Included in the episode is an interview with visionaries Karim Giscombe, CEO of Plant, and Bill Stark, president of Cognition Foundry. Plant uses underutilized land near urban centers to modernize food production and distribution while Cognition Foundry is an IBM Business Partner that uses blockchain and other technologies to help startups transform ideas into world-shaping solutions.

Join the IBM Food Trust ecosystem for a smarter, safer, more sustainable food system

Meet the artist

Haoyun Erin Zhao is a multidisciplinary artist based in California who works in the art forms of painting, printmaking, murals and installation. Erin grew up in southern China where ethnic art and culture richly inspired her as a young child. Today, her work investigates human perception of the environment and its connection to memory, place, culture and personal experience.

The inspiration: Food safety and provenance

Sustainability matters more than ever to today’s consumers: they expect companies to take better care of the environment, source their products responsibly and align with values they believe in.

Solutions built on IBM Blockchain offers the ability to follow the life of a product from its very beginning to its final consumption, offering the full story and truth of what we consume in this interconnected world. “Business as usual” practices of occluded sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and recycling processes are being replaced by transparency, responsibility and accountability.

The interpretation

In her work for BlockpARTy, titled Interconnectedness, Erin interprets the interconnected nature of humanity and business — how decisions that companies make impact people who consume their products, how those people shape the decisions those companies make, and how both impact the world we share.

Her use of light and layered translucent plastics demonstrates multiple layers of blockchain’s impact on sustainability related to transparency, shared values, collaborative actions and better environmental outcomes.

“We need to learn how to meet our needs but not exhaust our natural resources. Sustainability to me is about maintaining this balance and understanding that everything is connected.” – Haoyun Erin Zhao, artist

Erin and her work were filmed on exhibit at 111 Mina Gallery in San Francisco.

The visionaries

Karim Giscombe is the chairman, current CEO, and founder of data services provider Plant, which delivers end-to-end supply chain solutions for high-risk foods. Karim also serves as chair of education-focused not-for-profit Plant for Tomorrow, whose mission is to re-frame public education systems through experiential learning. Karim is a human rights and social justice advocate, who believes education is the most powerful agent of change, and lives by the words, think + do.

Bill Stark is President and Chief Operating Officer of Cognition Foundry, a multinational IT services provider specializing in helping impact startups succeed in their efforts to make the world better. Bill’s passion for the world and all its inhabitants drives him to explore creative solutions to massive challenges. Whether advising a founder, designing a solution, or creating a strategy, Bill’s core mission is to encourage others and help them achieve their dreams.

The conversation is moderated by Jason Kelley, General Manager, IBM Blockchain Services, and me, Nigel Gopie, Director of AI Applications and Blockchain marketing, your series host. Join us for this rare opportunity to hear industry leaders share how they helped persuade organizations to realize their visions with blockchain.

Register now to watch this and all episodes of BlockpARTy

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