Kannan Thiruvengadam | Harvard Innovation Labs
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Kannan Thiruvengadam

Executive Director, Eastie Farm

Industry Expert

Kannan Thiruvengadam
Kannan grew up in a farming family in southern India where life was inextricably linked with land and agricultural adages were part of everyday parlance. After an early career in technology, he responded to his calling and returned to his agrarian roots. In response to the COVID crisis, he co-created Mutual Aid Eastie and served over 5000 meals every week to food-insecure families in an initiative that also supported shuttered restaurants. Under his leadership, Eastie Farm built the first geothermally powered zero emissions greenhouse in the region, a space for all year growing, gathering, and education. Eastie Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture supports small farmers in the region and serves hundreds of families in East Boston all across the economic spectrum in a manner that destigmatizes food insecurity and strengthens local economy. Eastie Farm connects people with nature and with each other, which Kannan hopes is the ultimate antidote to apathy. Kannan believes solutions to local, current issues are the strongest building blocks of solutions to global, long-term issues. Small projects that serve people here and now motivate them to engage more readily in addressing larger, future issues. At various scales and from various angles, Kannan approaches the crisis of our times, climate change, by prioritizing equity. As president of Friends of Belle Isle Marsh, he advocates for wildlife that depends on the largest salt marsh in Boston; as an at-large member of Boston’s Community Preservation Committee he helps channel $25M-$30M/yr of public funds towards affordable housing, historic preservation, and open spaces in Boston; as a Boston Conservation Commissioner, he helps regulate development in Boston towards the conservation of its natural assets; and as the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club, he advocates for policy and action towards environmental justice. By participating in ward and state political committees, he strives to increase civic engagement and electoral participation so we the people can keep the power. He helps young leaders focus on the harder challenge of transformative change, instead of the status-quo-friendly perpetual bandaids. His theory of change is built on his belief that only nature based solutions and the empowerment of those made vulnerable by longstanding injustices can help us escape vicious cycles and enter virtuous ones.

Agriculture, Architecture, Construction, & Engineering, Arts & Culture, Climate & Sustainability, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, Education & Learning, Education Technology, Employment, Recruiting, & Workforce Development, Energy, Oil, Renewables, & Environment, Finance, Food & Beverages, Marketing, Public Health & Global Health

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getting started: identifying the first few steps you can take, small enough to be feasible, and the large enough to be engaging and bringing out the seed of your innovation ensuring the relevance of your work to the world finding the right support system telling your story in a compelling way

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