Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Exorcising my Armchair Solutionary

You know, people take you pretty seriously when you show up to work a conference event in a suit accessorized with bright blue surgical gloves and tongs. Especially if you pull up the cuff and snap it as you approach them.

This past week I spent about 24 hours staring down the bottom of a convention centre trash can. I dug into landfill bins to rescue more coffee cups for compost than I can count. I retrieved 5 china plates, numerous pieces of silverware, 15 clothes hangers, about a dozen unopened bottles of water (for shame) and two full-length mirrors. Even hopped into a dumpster to rescue some carpet rolls for recycling. Yes indeed, event planning is glamorous!


To be honest - in spite of the odor - it was nice to be so hands-on with event sustainability again.

In recent months I have been feeling at risk of being an "armchair solutionary". You know the type: the outsider who comes in and lays out plans and ideas for sustainability with little practical experience in your event? The person who directs others to implement purchasing and waste plans without being willing to get down and dirty themselves? I recognize it because I have, at times, been guilty of being that person.

Have you?

What helps you exorcise your armchair solutionary?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Today's Hallelujah Moment

Brought to you by my Westin hotel room:


"One of your Heavenly Shower heads has been turned off in an effort to minimize water usage and protect one of our most precious natural resources. To experience the most out of your Heavenly Shower, you can turn the second shower head on by pushing the small button behind the lower head."

Friday, 17 June 2011

Short Film Friday: Keep Calm, Carry On

A charming brief video history of the now iconic phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On" is the topic of this week's Short Film Friday. Enjoy!

By Nation
(enter password "keepcalm")

Thursday, 16 June 2011

On Idiots and Empathy


Actually, I can think of a few more words: disrespectful, destructive, inhumane, vain, selfish...

Thoughts this morning on the aftermath of an awesome two months of exciting community spirit in my favourite sustainable destination on earth: Lack of empathy kills community.

And the power of empathy builds it back up again. Stay tuned...I've got faith the builders and restorers in us will re-write Brock Anton's version of history.

Update: 1:02pm
This is My Vancouver
Vancouver brushes itself off
The Real Face of Vancouver
Vancouver Riot Clean-Up
Post-it Love for VPD



Called it, love it. Thank you all!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Speak now, or forever hold your peace

We're on the edge of a shift in the event industry. Around the world national working groups are staging discussions to enable public comment on the Draft International Standard (DIS), ISO 20121 - Event sustainability management systems – Requirements with guidance for use. This standard will significantly influence how events of all types approach and evaluate sustainability programs.

Now it's your turn to have a say, Canada!

There are two key ways that you will be able to contribute to the public review process. The first is to read the DIS, and then to submit comments through a set form that you will be provided with. The second is to participate in one of a series of face-to-face consultations being conducted in the following cities across Canada by members of the Canadian Mirror Committee:
  • Halifax (June 27)
  • Vancouver (July 5)
  • Montreal (July 6)
  • Calgary (date TBD)
Final deadline for comments to the review committee is July 15, 2011.

If you are interested in contributing to the public review process, please leave a comment or email me directly at shawnamckinley@gmail.com and I will advise you as to next steps and provide you with necessary documentation.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. With your help, we will continue to enhance the sustainability of the Canadian event industry!

If you are from another country, please contact your national standards council for information on how to participate.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Short Film Friday: A Future We Create while we re-write the past of our sponsor?

Today's Short Film Friday is a cautionary tale.

Imagine you are involved in a high-profile event with a sustainability theme. Now imagine your event is sponsored by a company who has had a questionable track record for being a responsible corporate citizen. Perhaps you're aware of the sponsor's controversial past. How would you go about raising your concerns? Could you inventory and weigh the risks and benefits? Who would you rely on for information and advice? Would you recommend against associating your event with such a company? If not, how would you proactively plan for possible concerns raised by others where you may not be in a position to decline the partnership?

Conversely, what if you didn't know of their controversial past? What if you hadn't anticipated concerns your sustainable event was associated with a less than stellar corporate citizen? How would you react to protests and criticism about greenwashing? Would you have a response plan?

The Future We Create was a virtual conference staged this week. The topic: how to supply the growing world with a sustainable supply of water.  The event was hosted by the Dow Chemical Company. On the heels of the event comes a provocative challenge by Anna LappĂ© calling to question the credibility of an event that would not provide voice to diverse perspectives about the host's connection to water pollution and toxins in the environment.



In today's world of democratic and pervasive social media this example is a good reminder that now, more than ever, it is critical for event professionals to anticipate sustainability concerns. Particularly when it comes to creating appropriate sponsor partnerships, opening participation opportunities and being transparent about programming.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Be an Ocean Hero

Think you have to don a wet suit and clean up a beach to do your part this World Ocean's Day? Well, it would help, but there are easier and possibly less Vaseline-intensive ways for event professionals to show their passion for protecting the oceans:
  • Choose sustainable seafood for your events.
  • Use less plastic, and recycle that which you can't go without.
  • Request hotels and venues use non-toxic cleaners, keeping chemicals from waste water.
  • Ensure hazardous event materials like batteries, paints or adhesives are properly disposed of so they don't find their way back to waterways.
  • Cut back on emissions by any means to prevent ocean acidification: choose locations closer to your attendees, turn off lights, promote transit and select vendor partners that have energy conservation programs.
Be an Ocean Hero by adding an ocean-friendly event tip or taking Oceana's World Ocean Day Pledge.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Short Film Friday: Fifty People, One Question

Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow? By the end of today what do you wish would happen?

This week's short film Friday is actually four short films, and a beautiful project by Benjamin Reece and Nathan Heleine.

Funny how whomever we are we have so many beautiful things in common.

Share your wish: Fifty People One Question.


Fifty People, One Question: London from Fifty People, One Question on Vimeo.


Fifty People, One Question: Brooklyn from Fifty People, One Question on Vimeo.


Fifty People, One Question: New Orleans from Fifty People, One Question on Vimeo.


Fifty People, One Question: New York from Fifty People, One Question on Vimeo.

Thanks to Brain Pickings for sharing this project.