Big ideas are hard to pull off. Chris Castro connects key players in his city, and beyond.

Big ideas are hard to pull off.

Leilani Münter's pick

Chris Castro connects key players in his city, and beyond.

As the head of Orlando’s urban sustainability initiative, Chris Castro has to stay ahead of the curve on things like clean-energy financing and the city’s burgeoning tech scene. Under Castro’s leadership, Orlando was named an automated-vehicle proving ground by the Department of Transportation and was one of five cities named a winner of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge for its work on smart transportation.

But “sustainability director” is only one of the green hats Castro wears. “Government,” he says, “along with the independent, private, and nonprofit sectors — and civil society — all play a prominent role in making our future what we want it to be.” Accordingly, he keeps busy in all of these sectors. Back in 2008, he founded IDEAS for Us, a micro-granting platform that seeds and scales projects that solve environmental crises.

[pullquote share=”true” tweet=”“A lot of environmentalists struggle with optimism. Chris just keeps working.” -@LeilaniMunter” hashtag=”Grist50″ image=”363924″ cite=”Leilani Münter, race car driver and environmental activist”]“A lot of environmentalists struggle with optimism. Chris just keeps doing the work.” [/pullquote]

One IDEAS success story is Fleet Farming, a hyper-local urban farming initiative in Orlando and Oakland that turns homeowners’ lawns into miniature farms. How hyper-local? Everything grown in the “farmlettes” is sold within a five-mile radius.

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The world feels pretty broken right now. That’s why we need Fixers — bold problem solvers working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. For our annual list of emerging green leaders, Grist brings you 50 innovators with fresh, forward-thinking solutions to some of humanity's biggest challenges. Credits

Grist 50 Credits

Photo of Chris Castro: University of Central Florida

  • Editors
    Andrew Simon, Amelia Urry
    Mignon Khargie, Amelia Bates
    Nathan Letsinger
    Project Manager
    Matt Grisafi
    Social Media
    Cody Permenter
    Video Producer
    Daniel Penner
    Executive Editor
    Scott Dodd
  • Writers
    Clayton Aldern Ted Alvarez Eve Andrews Vishakha Darbha Sabrina Imbler Nathanael Johnson Samantha Larson Katie Mast Amy McDermott Emma Foehringer Merchant Caroline Saunders Darby Minow Smith Katharine Wroth Kate Yoder

Meet All The Fixers

Ready for more? See Grist 50: 2016