Monday, October 3, 2011

Gone Fishin'

As a Green Meeting planner, I tend to focus on the question, “what strategies can I implement during my event that will minimize the footprint while balancing the delicate equation considering people, planet and profits”. I admit it….I consider(ed) my actions (the action of the planner) to be omnipotent to the overall success of greening the event.

Recently, I had a gut check which resulted in an epiphany of sorts (don’t worry folks… wasn’t physically painful, just mildly embarrassing). While collaborating with Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability with MeetGreen on the gaming component of Event Camp Vancouver, I was tasked with developing the first draft of green action items. I had to consider these actions from an attendee’s point of view. At first, I struggled…..I was a bit discombobulated with the exercise. I am embarrassed to admit it, but as a planner, I never thought of it that way. In the past, it was always about me (my husband will agree with this). Me! Me! Me! What choices can “I” make that will lessen the overall footprint of the event? I was making these choices on behalf of the attendee. I mean….it made sense right…..?


During this exercise, I quickly realized that I need to get over myself (once again, my husband will agree). I need to recognize the tremendous impact of the individual personal actions of my attendees. It is wonderful if everyone uses the refillable water bottle that I have planned for and provided during my events, but it will be even better if they take the bottle home and use it everyday. It is called building a sustainable event “legacy of actions” (not an official term, but catchy nonetheless).

Oopsey daisy….there goes the light bulb and I find myself having an Oprah “ah ha” moment. Maybe I should sit down.

I realized that (in the past) I was not giving my attendee’s the power, the knowledge or the tools necessary to contribute personally to the overall footprint of the event. When they are at the event, I have made the choices for them, but am I negating the impact/importance of their personal choices?

· Travel

· Hotel Accommodation

· Transit

· Meals

The event might last two days, but if I really want to be a change agent, I have to find ways to influence long term behaviour…..daily actions at home and on the road; at work; at play.

How do I do this?

Realize that control and influence are two separate things. Control is what you have (wish you had in some cases) while planning the event. You are in the driver’s seat; you are the one negotiating with vendors, you are making choices. Influence is what you have with your attendee. You have the ability to influence behaviour through education and awareness. They are a captive audience…..don’t miss the opportunity.

Whew…..that was some heavy stuff; maybe I should lay down.

During Event Camp Vancouver, we are trying to influence the behaviour/actions of our attendees by reinforcing that behavior through the game application. We are making a case for a much more holistic approach to sustainable event planning, but trying to do so in a fun and interactive manner.

There is a famous quote by an unknown author that says, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”. Well…….we are going fishing folks!

See you at EventCamp!


Tahira Endean CMP said...

Judy - this is actually quite profound and it is true - how can we change the thinking one event at a time? This will be fun to see how we do with our acts of green!

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Thanks Tahira - yes, I am really getting excited for Event Camp and am curious to see the reactions or the "actions" of our attendees.