Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Sustainable Event Chain: Can we Build it?

Remember making paper chains? Cutting out strips of paper and joining each strip in a ring until everything was connected in a single, long, interconnected chain?

What if we, as planners, took our events and thought about them like that? On a destination level? What would happen if we were to start a conversation with neighboring events in our host city about how we could make our mutual events better by connecting them as a chain - event to event - in order to maximize economic and environmental efficiency through collaboration?

The Unitarian Universalist Association has inspired this thought in me for the last two years through their General Assembly. In 2009 the UUA initiated a conversation with Meeting Professionals International to advocate for commercial composting in their mutual host city, Salt Lake City. In 2010 UUA partnered again with the Presbyterian Church to share the same general services contractor for their individual General Assemblies, held back to back in Minneapolis. Sharing and collaboration led to simple acts that reduced shipping footprint, materials use and cost. $3700 was saved by cooperating to adopt similar hall layouts that avoided extra set-up fees.

What a novel concept to stretch the boundaries of sustainable events further! Will you help build the chain?

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