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Follow the Data Podcast Episode 14: Coal: Why a 19th Century Innovation is Not Working in a 21st Century World

This year’s final episode of Follow the Data revisits Bloomberg Philanthropies first feature documentary, From the Ashes, directed by Michael Bonfiglio and distributed by National Geographic. Inspired by Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the film was developed to bring greater attention to the impact of the coal industry in the United States.

Katherine Oliver speaks to two clean economy pioneers featured in the film: Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, and Brandon Dennison, Founder of Coalfield Development Corporation, based in West Virginia.

Mayor Ross led the transition of the City of Georgetown to exclusively renewable energy sourced electricity. He has been nationally recognized for breaking with partisan norms, as his city was one of the first in the country to achieve its goal.

Brandon Dennison founded Coalfield Development to jumpstart a new regional economy for those left behind by the coal industry. He celebrates Appalachians dedication to powering the nation, while diversifying opportunities for employment.

Both Mayor Ross and Brandon discuss the challenges they faced in persuading their communities to change course, where they succeeded, and what work remains.

In partnership with RadicalMedia, the goal of From the Ashes was to find common ground on a contentious — and, for many, highly emotional — topic. Relying on first-person accounts and real data, the film allows audiences to see the devastating effects of coal not just on our climate, but also on our health and local economies.

This episode’s conversations with Mayor Ross and Brandon offer another chance to explore the issues, with those leading American’s transition to cleaner energy. Listen to it here:

And follow us on for more.

We hope you enjoy this episode. Follow us on Twitter @BloombergDotOrg for information about our next episode. Until then, keep following the data!


OLIVER: Welcome to Follow the Data, I’m your host, Katherine Oliver.

As the year draws to a close, and we look back on our work, we celebrate Bloomberg Philanthropies first feature documentary, From the Ashes, directed by Michael Bonfiglio and distributed by National Geographic. Inspired by Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the film was developed to bring greater attention to the impact of the coal industry in the United States.

In partnership with RadicalMedia, our collective goal was to find common ground on a contentious — and, for many, highly emotional — topic. Relying on first-person accounts and real data, the film allows audiences to see the devastating effects of coal not just on our climate, but also on our health and local economies. Engaging cities and citizens alike, the film’s launch in the summer of 2017 joined an important conversation about the future of the coal industry.

Its release was more timely than we imagined. We premiered our film at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Less than 2 months later, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change. A major proponent for the coal industry since his campaign, President Trump has pledged to bring back coal jobs.

But, if you ask local governments, business leaders, scientists, people who live near coal plants, and even coal miners – many would tell you that there is no future in coal. In the U.S., coal kills 7,500 people annually. Bloomberg Philanthropies has been working with the Sierra Club since 2010 to retire coal plants – and we reached our milestone of closing 50% of the U.S. coal fleet earlier this year.

In the wake of the 2nd anniversary of the Paris Agreement, I spoke to two of the film’s subjects, environmental innovators in their respective regions: Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, and Brandon Dennison, Founder of Coalfield Development Corporation, based in West Virginia.

In 2015, Mayor Ross pledged to source all of Georgetown’s electricity from renewables. He has been nationally recognized for breaking with partisan norms as his city was one of the first in the country to achieve 100% renewable energy sourced electricity. Mayor Ross framed the transition as a business decision, which he was able to back given his expertise as an accountant.

I spoke to Mayor Ross and Brandon via phone – listen first to my conversation with Mayor Ross.

Welcome Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us in From The Ashes. Mayor, you may be a mayor of a smallish city but you are a hero to environmentalists. Just to put things in perspective for our listeners, Georgetown is located in the northeast part of an oil and gas centric Texas, it’s about 30 miles north of Austin, and the city has a population of about 65,000.  And it was back in 2015 that you made a pledge to get all of your city’s electricity from renewable sources.  Now Mayor, what prompted that pioneering decision?

MAYOR DALE ROSS:  Well, first and foremost it was a business decision and we were able to make the business case that we could do two things.  One, we could eliminate price volatility in the short term and also mitigate or minimize regulatory and governmental risk.  Which the folks in DC can put additional regulations on things to make it more costly.

So, wind and solar energy, that was the ticket. We negotiated with the natural gas producers, they would only guarantee fixed rate contracts for seven years, wind and solar, 25 and 20 years, and what that means is, on a 25 year contract we’re purchasing electricity, the same per kilowatt hour in year one as we are in year 25.

OLIVER: Now, how did you present this plan to the citizens of Georgetown, and what was the response like from your constituents?

MAYOR ROSS:  Yeah, you know, we’re a city owned utility, and we virtually have a monopoly in our jurisdiction.  When I was giving speeches it was a business case.  This is the deal, over the next 25 years we are going to have cost certainty and you are going to know exactly what you are going to pay per kilowatt hour, over the 25-year term we are going to save you a lot of money.  The citizens reacted very positively to saving money.  The second part of that is there is tremendous environmental benefits and that was just the, the cherry on the ice cream float for them.  Pretty proud now because of all of the international publicity we’ve gotten over the last 18 months.

OLIVER: I was going to ask you about the marketing plan and how you spread the word, but there have been no shortage of films that you have been showcased in, including ours, in the last year. So, how has the media, tuned into this initiative and helped you showcase Georgetown as a great model for other cities?

MAYOR ROSS:  I think the interesting thing, well, especially for the international media is that I’m Republican, a conservative Republican, as is our President, but we could not be more different when it comes to energy policy and environmental issues.  They like to focus on this maverick Republican down here that is very independent and doesn’t tow the Republican line when it comes to energy independence and also to environmental issues.  And we’ve done quite a few interviews all across the world now and it’s been pretty amazing.  I would have never thought this three years ago when I first ran to be mayor that the spotlight would be so bright and so reaching as all across the world.

OLIVER: What have you learned through this experience, from other cities, from your own constituents and from the reaction from other cities in the US and around the world?

MAYOR ROSS:  I think the number one take away that I have learned — I am so blessed with so many subject matter experts sharing what they know with me, and believe me, I know a lot more now than I did three years ago — But this is the key take away.  We are at a tipping point in the United States where sustainable and green energy is going to carry the day.  To give you an example, for all those folks that have seen From the Ashes, there is an update in Texas.  I read the briefing report yesterday, in 2018 we will be the first time in the State of Texas history that wind energy will surpass coal production, and in addition there are four more coal plants that are scheduled to be closed in 2018.  So, the tipping point is here and the fossil fuel industry is not going to be able to compete because it is going to be an economic decision, they’re not going to be able to compete economically per kilowatt hour of solar and wind energy that is being produced.

Let me tell you what, if you win the economic argument, by default, you win the environmental argument.

OLIVER: We clearly highlighted in the film that jobs are being created in the renewable energy space. It’s the fastest growing space that we’re seeing. Where do you see this trend heading? Do you have specific examples of this gaining more traction, in your neck of the woods?

MAYOR ROSS:  Well, it certainly is, and like the film, From the Ashes showed, you have these coal plants.  Now, sometimes, if you are a city and you have engaged in a contract and the contracts say ten years out, you cannot just walk away from that contract.  So, sometimes the sons pay for the sins of the father when it comes to these contracts.  So, if the contracts come out, once they run out I think you will see more and more people in charge of cities go to renewables. It especially makes sense in Texas when we have an abundance of sunshine and wind.

OLIVER: You’re first and accountant and now a mayor in your second term. How has your accounting career informed your work as a government leader in this arena and in others, and how can you help be an example to other cities that are challenged with some of these issues?

MAYOR ROSS: I think what you need to do first and foremost is you need to let the facts take you to the right decisions.  So, if you look at the renewable energy decision points as a math problem, we solved that math problem.  If others will put the petty partisan national politics aside and just look at your choices objectively, they are going to see the wind and solar in the long term are going to absolutely rule the day over fossil fuels, because it’s just going to be an economic decision.  And I think they can learn from the City of Georgetown how we did that.  We were on the frontier of that but I think others can replicate our model and just let the facts lead you to renewables are going to be the future, well, they already are the future in my view.

OLIVER: How do you discuss opportunities like this with your fellow Republican leaders who, who may not be so quick to see the economic opportunities that renewables present?

MAYOR ROSS:  Well, the education process takes a while, and I did see a poll last week that is favorable, 52 percent of the Republicans in the United States now believe in climate change.  So, although they are coming along, they are coming along slowly but I think it’s just a slow and educational process. And it also is the economics that you have to just take the time to show them the economics.  I mean, the ones that didn’t like the green energy here I said, well, do you want me to charge you more for your electricity?  No.  I said, well, then this is a no brainer for us to make this decision because this is going to create cost certainty for the next 25 years for you.  And it just makes sense, because there is so many other advantages to going renewable and it’s a key economic development tool that you have a toolbox.

I mean, we have Walmart here and Walmart has a robust green energy policy, they can report back to Bentonville, their corporate office, that their Walmart in Georgetown, Texas is 100 percent renewable when it comes to electricity. And it’s good for the environment and it’s better for the long term.  I mean, I believe that we have a moral and ethical duty to leave the planet in better condition than we found it and renewable energy is just one way we can accomplish that.

OLIVER: You point to Walmart, but are there other companies, other corporations that you are seeing first hand that are making a pledge to go all renewable?

MAYOR ROSS:  Oh, absolutely.  You see Facebook, you see Google, you see all of these high tech companies, and if they don’t have renewable energy sources available where they have a large facility they build their own and make sure that they do.

OLIVER: What about right in Georgetown, what are some of your constituents doing to embrace this, local businesses, universities and the like?

MAYOR ROSS:  Oh, absolutely.  Southwestern University, it’s the oldest chartered university in the State of Texas, they are a hundred percent renewable.  In 2010 they were the first university in Texas to be 100 percent renewable.  If you look at some of the shops here, we have a Thunder Cloud, they have solar panels there. We have–

OLIVER: What’s a Thunder Club, where? Wait, what’s a Thunder Club?

MAYOR ROSS:  It’s a Thunder Cloud subway shop.

OLIVER: Oh, okay.

MAYOR ROSS:  It’s a sandwich shop and they’ve got their solar panels on the roof.

And we have city facilities that have solar panels.  We have a Swiss company called Aleveo that is here because they are trying to perfect battery storage, very much like Mr. Musk of Tesla is trying to perfect battery storage.

We are just 30 miles north of Austin so, you know, everybody thought Austin would be the first one to go a hundred percent renewable, but they’re not.

OLIVER: Mm-hmm. Now, you have said that you have invented green energy, I’ve heard that phrase.  I also read that you purchased an electric powered scooter and you plan to fit your home with solar panels.  So, you are leading by example.  So, what can citizens do to support clean energy in their city and also at an individual level?

MAYOR ROSS:  Yeah, there’s a couple things too, and if you can call BMW and tell them, hey, my motorcycle has not showed up yet, by the way, it was supposed to be here six weeks ago.  It’s not here yet, I’m getting anxious for Christmas.

OLIVER: That’s right, you got to deliver the presents on your scooter, right?

MAYOR ROSS:  Absolutely.  I’ll tell you what, though.  The number one thing people can do in your community is support office holders that support renewable energy and sustainable energy.  That’s first and foremost, you can help at the ballot box to get the people in the office that will make the right decisions based on the facts and based on economic and environmental arguments.  That’s what they can do, also, with eclectic cars, that’s pretty easy to do, I think, Chevrolet came out the other day and said they are going to have 20 different electrical models by 2020.

And Georgetown, for such a small city, we have nine charging stations, so, there is not any reason not to have electric vehicle in Georgetown because we have the capability of you recharging.  I think those are some of the things, but first and foremost each citizen can help and support elected officials that believe in renewable energy.

OLIVER: Now, this past May your constituents voted you in for a second three- year term. So, can you talk a little bit about your goals for the next term and what advice you would offer to fellow mayors as it relates to clean energy solutions?

MAYOR ROSS:  We were very fortunate, we won 72 to 28 in the election, so, I got a great deal of diversity in the vote. I think the message that some of my fellow Republicans can take from that is that there are positive consequences for supporting renewable energy, not negative consequences.  The people support office holders that make the right decisions — I think that citizens of Georgetown overwhelmingly think that renewable energy is the way to go.  I think that’s the take away for my fellow Republicans and the second take away would be doing the right thing, you get rewarded for doing the right thing, I think that’s the second take away.

OLIVER: Well, we commend you for your efforts and we thank you for taking the time with us today. Happy Holidays and hopefully Santa will deliver the BMW before Christmas.

MAYOR ROSS:  I hope so too, and I, and I tell you what, I look so much forward to coming back to New York City.  We didn’t get any snow while we were there but next year I will come to New York, the city is so great you had to name it twice, New York, New York.

I encourage anybody that wants a great spot to go on vacation, go to New York, you’ll have a great time.

OLIVER: Mayor Ross benefits from his position as a city leader, in his capacity to lead the city’s transition to renewable energy sourced electricity. I spoke to Brandon about his work to help his region’s economy transition to cleaner energy – as a citizen.

In 2010, Brandon Dennison founded Coalfield Development Corporation in Wayne, West Virginia. Brandon recognized the need to diversify opportunities for employment in a region historically devoted to coal. He celebrates Appalachians dedication to powering the nation, while building a social enterprise designed to stimulate a new economy. Coalfield Development trainees get on-the-job training, professional certification, and employment opportunities in industries with long-term, stable viability in Appalachia.

Brandon describes the mission of Coalfield Development in From the Ashes – here is a brief clip from the film. [film clip].

OLIVER: I’m thrilled to introduce Brandon Dennison, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ documentary From the Ashes. The film features Brandon’s work with Coalfield Development Corporation.  That’s an organization that he founded in 2010, and it’s inspired by the housing challenges in his home state of West Virginia.  The organization seeks to develop the region’s new economy, investing in holistic on-the-job training in industries with real potential for success in Appalachia.  So Brandon, welcome to the program.

BRANDON DENNISON: Thanks for having me.

OLIVER: Sure, well aside from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ documentary From the Ashes, West Virginia and the plight of the coal mining community has gotten quite a bit of attention of late. Would you give our listeners a feel for the Appalachian region’s economy, the people, and the gap that you have identified that really inspired the founding of Coalfield Development?

DENNISON: Sure. Yeah, it’s been kind of surreal actually, I think sometimes have an inferiority complex of feeling like flyover country, and yet for like the last three to four years, Central Appalachia has really felt like it’s been on the front burner. It really started around 2015.  The coal industry has been on a steady decline for decades now.  It connects back to mechanization and the rise of renewables.  The natural gas factors in; the regulatory climate factors in.  It’s been a perfect storm that’s really led to a rapid decline in the coal industry.  And then in 2014/2015, the bottom really just fell out, and all of a sudden the steady decline became a rapid decline.  And we had an employment crisis here in Central Appalachia.  So that employment crisis grabbed a lot of headlines.  That really is the root cause of a lot of hopelessness in the region, which has led to this opioid crisis, which is in the headlines.  Hillbilly Elegy went to number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

In the 2016 election, there was Bo the miner and then President Trump references the mining industry very regularly.  Then there is the promise of the coal comeback with President Trump.  So we just kind of seem to stay in the headlines here lately.  It’s been surreal.  The bottom line is our economy for generations has been really dependent on coal for its well-being.  Our communities have been dependent on coal.  And that’s not been a good economic strategy because it’s really, it’s hitched our wagon to this boom-and-bust cycle.  And so when coal’s up okay, times are good.  But then when it’s not, there’s nothing to turn to.  And so at Coalfield Development we’re really determined on developing coalfield communities to certainly honor the proud heritage.  I mean that’s in the name of our organization, Coalfield, but to really look towards the future of diversification and thinking through what are lots of different opportunities for lots of different kinds of people.

OLIVER: And give us a sense. You’re a small team at Coalfield Development, there seems to be a huge demand and a growing demand right now. So put it in perspective for us, how many folks on your team and how many people are you looking to train and retrain?

DENNISON: Yeah, it can be overwhelming. So we’ve got a core leadership team. There’s 12 of us, and we have on-the-job trainees, nearly 60 on-the-job trainees.  We do professional certifications for hundreds of people. We’ve now created more than 100 jobs here in southern West Virginia, which we’re very proud of.  But the reality is it’s really only a drop in the bucket.  And the economists tell us that the economic numbers were seeing in southern West Virginia are akin to a Great Depression, similar to numbers from the Great Depression as far as unemployment and poverty figures and reliance on public programs for survival.  So it can be overwhelming, and so we try to think of ourselves a little bit like economic pioneers that our one organization can’t put every laid-off miner back to work, but we can kind of be the R&D for economic diversification.  We can have entrepreneurial experiments, and we can prove some concepts that really are viable and really can work, and over the long term that can kind of turn the tide.

OLIVER: So as Congress negotiates next year’s federal budget, funding for government programs that help to support transitions for coal-dependent communities certainly hangs in the balance. What are you bracing yourself for? What challenges are you facing as an organization that depends on federal funding, and what’s your strategy?

DENNISON: Right, so two layers to that. The president’s proposed budget does completely eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission.  The Appalachian Regional Commission was an initiative of President Kennedy, and it was cemented by President Johnson as a part of the Great Society.  And it’s really an invaluable tool.  It provides investments into infrastructure, education, health and job training, like what we do. If the Appalachian Regional Commission were eliminated, we would have to cut our services in half.  Our strategy is not to be totally dependent on government grants, so we are set up as a social enterprise.  We’re actually a family of social enterprises.  And a social enterprise is a business model that keeps a charitable mission at its core but really engages business strategies to achieve that mission.  So we have a wood shop that makes furniture.  We have an agriculture program – it sells organic agriculture.  We do sustainable construction; we install solar panels.  All of these provide on-the-job training opportunities, and they also bring in sales and contracts that can be reinvested into our mission.  So we wouldn’t totally die away without those federal investments, but the scale of our work would be dramatically hampered.

OLIVER: Now how do you persuade local businesses and politicians and individuals to change course? How do you tell your story effectively in the region?

DENNISON: The reality is our work has been successful. More than 30 people now have graduated and become what we call a Coalfield champion. That means they’ve gone from being unemployed, some even homeless, to earning an associate’s degree, to having professional experience, to earning at least four professional certifications.  And now they work in the private sector fulltime, have launched a career and can provide for their families.  We’ve got again a little over 60 now enrolled in what we call our 33-6-and-3 model.  That’s how we organize the work week: 33 hours of paid work, like for any other business, but 6 hours in the community college classroom, and 3 hours of life skills development. We’ve created real jobs.  We’ve created real businesses.  It’s hard to argue with the results.

OLIVER: Are you getting attendees through word-of-mouth? How are you finding folks and persuading them to enroll, and to really find this new path in life?

DENNISON: Word-of-mouth is always the best marketing strategy in Appalachia certainly. But we recruit strategically in three main places.  The first is at our local DHHR offices.  Those are Department of Health and Human Resources.  So for folks who are on public assistance, we provide an opportunity to get off of public assistance and back in the workforce.  We recruit at the unemployment offices, and we recruit at local vocational programs.

OLIVER: You have a compelling story to tell, but you also have challenges, because being in coal country, there are those folks who still believe that coal will make a comeback. So how do you frame the new economy? Coalfield Development is building green homes and is selling salvaged materials from sites, so how do you change the conversation?

DENNISON: Well we always start by honoring our coal heritage. And that’s very important.  Coal miners only ever mined coal because there was demand for it.  People needed to turn their lights on, and coal is the main way our country has enabled that for generations.  So there’s a sense of pride in Appalachia that we’ve powered the country, and I think that’s true.  So we honor that.

But then we just have a realistic and direct conversation that the data is really clear, and it’s not just recently.  For decades now, the coal industry has been in a steady decline.  And so if we love this place in southern West Virginia, and if we want to protect our communities and if we want to thrive as communities, we’ve got to diversify.  We’ve got to create lots of new opportunities.  And something that gets lost in the conversation, even when coal was booming, West Virginia still had some of the highest unemployment rates, some of the highest poverty rates, some of the lowest education rates.  Those were all problems even when coal was doing well. We know that our region has more potential, and we can be more than just one thing.  And I think it’s an empowering message to say we can be more than just one thing, and we’ve got to skilled potential here.  We’ve just got to have maybe a little bit more creative mindset than we have in the past.

OLIVER: Now you hosted the Bloomberg Philanthropies documentary From the Ashes in West Virginia alongside the Sierra Club’s Mary Anne Hitt. Tell us about the local reaction to the film, and how has the film served your work in the region?

DENNISON: It’s been interesting. I mean the film’s actually been really well-received.  There’s always, anything that could even slightly be perceived as anti-coal is tricky in West Virginia.  There is no doubt about it.  And again, our angle is not to be anti-coal, to honor our coal miners and really just to be future-focused.  But the

has really provided a platform and helped us at Coalfield Development start some really good conversations locally.  And sometimes those are hard conversations, but ultimately they’re really, really good conversations.  And I think there is a sense on the ground here, when you just have conversations out to eat or at the gas station, there is a sense that this time it really is different, that we’ve had boom and bust before, but this bust feels more permanent.

And certainly the prevailing hope is that the coal industry will come back since President Trump’s been elected.  But I still think the feeling is that it’s never going to come back quite where it was.  And so I think there’s a greater receptiveness than ever before to the types of economic diversification work that we’re doing here at Coalfield Development.  And so the film’s really provided a platform for us to lead that conversation about diversification and to really position Coalfield Development as future-oriented.  And if folks want to have a conversation about what comes next and where we come from here, because of that film, I think people look to Coalfield Development more than ever to lead that conversation.

OLIVER: Now you define your organization as a social enterprise. So how do you think that your model is replicable in other coal-impacted areas, and what would your message be to other entrepreneurs that are maybe exploring social enterprise?

DENNISON: I think social enterprise is a key bridge strategy for really distressed communities. So we’d all like to have this thriving private sector of small business entrepreneurs.  That’s the vision that all of us have, but we’re so far away.  We’re so far removed from that reality.  We have been largely dependent on this one industry for our economic well-being.  So to get from there to this thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is going to take a lot of time.  And social enterprise is a really effective bridge from where we are to where we want to be.  It blends the financing, it blends the funding, it blends the value to really make some creative approaches possible in a really distressed community.  So our models absolutely are replicable, especially our 33-6-and-3 model.  That’s how we organize the work week.  And that’s something, if you’ve got a community college on board, if you got some other local nonprofits on board, you could replicate that pretty easily.

OLIVER: So what do you think cities can do to improve support for organizations like yours?

DENNISON: One thing for sure that that’s come out of the election is a realization that our urban/rural divide is maybe even deeper than any of us ever realized or imagined. And so I do think there’s a neat opportunity with our social enterprises to bridge the rural/urban divide.  Certainly come visit.  Tourism is the fastest-growing industry in the state of West Virginia.  But we can do business together. We make furniture, we sell sustainable produce, we install solar panels, we resell reclaimed building materials that we’ve deconstructed from vacant dilapidated buildings.  We could do business together, and that’s a unique way that cities can support us out here in the in rural America.

OLIVER: You’ve done quite a bit since you launched Coalfield in 2010 and accomplished quite a bit.  Just reflecting, what do you think are some of your greatest successes to date?

DENNISON: The faces of specific crew members kind of flashed in my mind as you asked that. And that’s been our biggest success.  We’ve taken unemployed people, put them back to work.  Now we’ve had some earn, be the first in their family to earn a degree of higher education.  Some are the first in their family to even enroll to try and earn a degree of higher education.  So there’s kind of a person-by-person, town-by-town success story that I’m proud of.

But even bigger than that, we’ve become a part of a story about an economic transition in Central Appalachia.  And we’ve kind of pioneered and role modeled new ways of thinking and new strategies that can inspire not just to have a scary moment where lots of people are losing their jobs, but really to convert that moment into this bottom-up movement to reach our full potential as a region.  And we can’t do that alone; we’re a part of a bigger movement.  But I feel like our story has become really inspiring and really provided hope to creative thinkers from the bottom up throughout Central Appalachia.  And I’m really proud of that, and I feel like being included in From the Ashes just magnifies that story.

OLIVER: Well it’s been a great story, and you and your colleagues deserve quite a bit of credit, so continued success. And Brandon, thanks for joining us.

DENNISON: Thank you for having me, it’s a big honor.

OLIVER: We hope you enjoyed this episode of Follow the Data.

We’d like to thank Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas and Brandon Dennison. If you’d like to watch From the Ashes or host a screening, please visit The film is currently available on Hulu, iTunes, and National Geographic’s website.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to Follow the Data podcast. This episode was produced by Electra Colevas, Lindsay Firestone, and Ivy Li, with music by Mark Piro.

As our founder Mike Bloomberg says, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So until next time, keep following the data.

I’m Katherine Oliver, thanks for listening.