By Morris Beegle
Welcome to my Let’s Talk Hemp weekly industry profile – Shine on You – where I get to feature folks involved in the industry and who are doing important and interesting work from various corners and crevices of the hemp space. This week I have Saba Tesfay, Education Committee Chairperson of the U.S. Hemp Building Association(USHBA). I met Saba back in 2017 at Kaya Festival where NoCo Hemp Expo partnered with the event for an Education Before Recreation seminar covering medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp. Since that time we have had the opportunity to work together off and on at various events and stay connected through non profit work through organizations such as USHBA.
Let’s get to know Saba a bit better and why she loves hemp!
Saba Emilie Tesfay is an emerging player within the hemp building sector connecting experts and citing trends. With a background in natural resource management for sustainable development and social advocacy, Saba’s useful range of experience provides innovative insight within her roles in program development, coordination, and consulting. Saba is the Director of Operations for A.C.E. Corp and is currently serving as the Education Committee chairperson of the US Hemp Building Association.
With a Masters Degree in Global Leadership in Sustainability from Virginia Tech, Saba has worked internationally in operations relating to non-profit work for youths and underserved communities, renewable energy, carbon credits, educational outreach and project management. As all advocacy/ public-engagement roles require multi-disciplinary skills, Saba has worked as a producer within television at Vegas PBS, branding/marketing firm, as well as for events and large scale festival production.
With German and Tigrayan roots, Saba’s ambition to act as a link between global markets and the USA are present in her work relating to systems thinking. Saba is delving into actively searching for new connections and opportunities to expand our united reach.
1 – When and why did you get into the hemp/cannabis industry?
My WHY for getting involved in the cannabis industry is also the same why for the life and world I know is possible!
I have been working in environmental advocacy and health/wellness for over 10 years, and with these sectors and imbalances being so broad, I knew that if there was any one technology capable of addressing these issues, it would be the cannabis plant. With that, these past 5 years I have clearly directed my focus and intent on the utilization and facilitation of hemp to navigate sustainable development and collective healing.
I couldn’t say it better than the start of Chapter 2 in Jack Herer’s, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, “If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the greenhouse effect and stop deforestation, then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world’s paper and textiles; meeting all of the world’s transportation, industrial and home energy needs; simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time. That substance is the same one that did it all before, Cannabis Hemp … Marijuana!”
Many cannabis seeds were planted along my journey, and some I carried dried until I had good soil to lay it, and this was the case with fiber genetics for hemp building. It was 2010 in an undergraduate Sustainable Construction course I was in class doing some unauthorized (yet on topic) scrolling when I discovered the use of hemp as a building material! It stuck with me and the possibility kept me in awe. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that this seed was germinated. I was producing the educational elements and experience for Stephen Marley’s music festival, Kaya Fest, themed ‘Education Before Recreation’, and alongside bringing thought leaders together from the broad and beautiful world of ganja, I had the opportunity to bring hemp literacy into the programming. My enthusiasm for hemp was already off the charts knowledge-wise, however when engaged in a partnership with the amazing people at NOCO (Morris, Preston, and Lizzy) it was so expansive for my awareness. This was a literal awakening to the fact that there was a living and active hemp industry (aside from CBD) that can feasibly support my vision of regenerative solutions. I have been actively committed to hemp ever since 🙂
2 – You are involved in non-profit work, can you tell us about the organization/organizations that you work with and what you do with them?
Throughout my life, organizing for non-profits has always been one aspect of the on-going work that I am committed to at any given moment. Right now my main efforts are directed towards the humanitarian crisis that has been going on for over a year now in Tigray, which is the northern region of Ethiopia. I actually had long term goals to grow industrial hemp in the region, and now it is that much more necessary- hence I am currently assembling the pieces through my company, African Hemp Solutions, for once it is safe to visit the region again.
What is being referred to as the #TigrayGenocide, has been absolutely heartbreaking to witness and unfortunately there has not been much coverage of the issues – at this moment in time there are no functioning hospitals due to supply shortage and aid blockages with hundreds of thousands facing starvation and drone strikes from this ruthless war against civilians. Through a few different groups such as @omnatigray, we are focused mainly on education and awareness, as well as preparation work to repair and rebuild.
In the hemp industry, I have also been actively involved with establishing and supporting the US Hemp Building Foundation which is the 501c3 arm of the US Hemp Building Association, a member-based trade organization. Having served as the (now former) Vice President, the USHBA and USHBF advocate for the hemp building industry as a whole, through education and engagement. The organization has recently reached a major milestone and submitted documentation to the International Code Council (ICC) to get hemp into building codes within the United States, which is a huge stride and we hope it will open up many opportunities for the market as a whole.
3 – What are your favorite products and/or attributes of the hemp/cannabis plant?
This is a very hard question. I honestly am in love with all the multifaceted uses of this plant and it seems like every day there is something new or historical to blow my mind. However, I will say, when looking at the grand scheme of things, I am truly lit up by the reality and bright future of hemp as a supercapacitor. Hemp batteries and nanosheets are projected to be better performing than lithium and graphene which gives me peace when thinking of my daughter’s future. The vast potentials of smart grids, energy storage, and truly renewable resources alongside the many other regenerative and sustainable solutions that are available to society, gives me hope for the vision we are holding.
Hemp is Hope™ (www.ushba.org) ; this is a term coined by the late Dion Markgraaff, and it is so true. I am beyond thankful to have such sacred support from the earth and those who came before us as we navigate these most interesting times.
4 – Do you have any current or upcoming projects you’re working on that you would like to let folks know about?
Always lots of projects, so much to do in this world and with life!
Right now I am with a company called A.C.E. Corp and we are initiating the process of utilizing drone technology to verify hemp crops for carbon credits! This will be at least a two season process, however in the meantime ACE Corp is able to seed, spray, and survey your fields (for crop assurance/insurance purposes). We are also offering Carbon Conscious consulting, services, and products through our ecommerce platform, EcoMarketPlace.us.
I am involved in a range of additional projects that I hope to see launched during the first half of the year which include the utilization of mycelium and biochar for soil remediation and treating burn scars from natural disasters such as forest fires. This coincides with a pilot program, engaging with Indigenous communities to be of ethical and holistic support for hemp building construction: from seed to home to empowering self-sufficient local economies.
I am also providing services to support individuals and companies in business development for the elevation and further growth of their vision while connecting people and resources accordingly!
5 – What legacy would you like to leave for the next generation from your work?
It would be of great fulfillment if my legacy is intertwined with a reality that I helped create as it pertains to even just a small area of the world living in coherence. This legacy of love expressed through strategy, persistent focus on the vision, and the most efficient use of resources for self-sufficient communities, living the life we know is possible.
I am working towards having this to leave for future generations through the establishment of larger scale farms, processing, and manufacturing facilities, and as mentioned, closed-loop community systems that use resources efficiently and effectively. This is through the planting of many fruit bearing trees, the building of partnerships, and the highest use of nature based technology (i.e. hemp batteries, smart waste management, water preservation and management, etc.)
When you look at any system or arrangement, through the lens of an ecosystem, it is actually relatively simple to orchestrate harmony within interrelated networks- however sight of a bigger picture is necessary to create the roadmap.
And if anything else, I hope that such technologies, vision, and LOVE, are readily available and accessible for future generations to tap into and use and improve on!
6 – What is your favorite hobby and who are your top 3 favorite bands/musical artists of all time?
In my free time I enjoy working with herbal medicines and creating formulas for capsulating, tinctures or decoctions. I enjoy sharing space with good people, being in nature, meditating & optimizing for love, joy, and freedom! All medicine for me!
My top musical artists is another tough question, as I love all types of music! (Especially ANY live music 🙂 I would say of course Bob Marley & the Wailers, a song for any mood; any group of people who have ever partook in an organic jam session of any type are now on my top favorite bands list; and let’s say oldies in almost any genre (AKA Send Me Playlists)!
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About Morris Beegle
Cannabis/hemp advocate and entrepreneur Morris Beegle is Co-founder and President of the WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives) family of brands. He is also the producer of NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo as well as publisher of Let’s Talk Hemp. For additional information on what Morris is up to, visit his website at www.morrisbeegle.com and if you would like to get in touch, drop a message to firstname.lastname@example.org