Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pens In Space

We have all heard the “space pen” pseudo legend: a kind of/sort of/trueish story passed down for generations since the 1960’s when we began sending folks to the moon. A story that grew and changed over the years until it finally became an uber ridiculous example of some overachieving agency spending millions of dollars and countless hours developing a pen that writes in zero-gravity.

The question still remains: why not use a pencil?

Did the early astronauts need to sign legal documents while in space or was it simply a case of someone not seeing the forest for the trees? Was it an overwhelming urge to improve on something that didn’t really need improving?

Perhaps it was the “simple equals boring” theory.

Why do we insist on over-thinking? We spend a lot of time, resources and energy trying to determine whether or not the zebra has white stripes on a black background or black stripes on a white background. Why not just enjoy the zebra for the beauty that it is, and focus our energy somewhere more worthy?

In our zeal to constantly be improving, evolving and changing, we sometimes (often) miss the point.

Yup…..we could have used a pencil.

There is something strange happening in the green meeting industry, a pre-epidemic of sorts where reduce, reuse and recycle is being trumped by “redesign" (imagine rethink/repurpose injected with performance enhancing drugs).


The beauty of sustainability is that it needs little, if any, embellishment. It needs no bedazzling. It will always work in zero-gravity.

It requires commitment. It requires partnership. It requires communication. It requires education. It requires persistence. It doesn’t always require a label that says, “NEW and IMPROVED”.

How can we resist the urge to over-think?????......resist the urge to throw glue all over the project and glitter the crap out of it (metaphorically speaking of course….)

How can we resist the urge to “redesign” when “rethink” is the most appropriate R to use?

Here are some that I came up with – Keeping Sustainability Simple (KSS):

  1. Communicate your skills and abilities early in the planning process – if you are aware of a strategy that is proven, if you have valuable knowledge to share that will help streamline a process – share it with your team. You can convince them that this time, the space pen is unnecessary.
  2. Reduce – Ask yourself: Do you need it? Is it necessary? Can it be combined with something else? Can it be replaced with a product or service having less of an environmental footrprint?
  3. Reuse – Can I use it again?
  4. Recycle – What am I going to do with it when the event is over? Can it be recycled?
  5. Repurpose – One example: Creating conference bags out of old vinyl signage
  6. Every now and then….get back in the box – There has been so much emphasis on thinking outside of the box that honestly…..there is no one left in the box anymore. And do you know what? That is where we keep the pencils.......and they write just fine

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Becoming a Magpie

Inspirations come from the strangest places: signs on the highway, songs on the radio, words spoken on a television program. 

Yesterday while watching Anderson Live, Alan Cumming (one of my fave actors who surprised me by speaking with a strong Scottish accent which just illustrates further how great he is on The Good Wife because you would never, ever know he was Scottish…..annnnnnnyway I am really digressing here). Alan Cumming was asked, “How do you choose the roles you play?” and he replied with, “I am like a Magpie” and he then went on to explain that he liked a variety of different roles. I didn’t even hear the last part of the interview because I was dashing around looking for a pen to write down the word “Magpie” and of course I couldn’t find a pen ANYWHERE so I texted the word to myself (because as a nomophobic I always have my phone within reach).

Why did I like the word so much? Why did the word “Magpie” resonate so deeply with me?

A Magpie is a black and white bird with a really long tail and where I live, they are EVERYWHERE. Not to be confused with a crow, which is all black and likes to tear apart your garbage and strew it all over the yard before the garbage truck arrives. No….a Magpie is different. Don’t get me wrong….no one seems to like the Magpie either. As I was googling the “Magpie” one article started with, “Magpies are the birds everyone loves to hate” and then calls them the “equivalent of a football hooligan”.

Magpies are opportunistic, tenacious: seemingly less comfortable in the air, choosing instead to forage for food while on the ground, scratching with their feet to determine if it is edible. They are smart and have a remarkable memory. Sources site that the European Magpie has a penchant for “shiny things” even jewelry, stealing items and storing them in their nest. The birds mate for life.

Ummm……sooooooo…..why would I want to be like a Magpie? (I actually had to stop and ask myself that, “Judy….why the hell do you want to be a Magpie? They seem like unethical bastards…..maybe you should choose a different bird or maybe even a fish…like a goldfish,  or even a guppy to emulate).

No, believe it or not, I can see some great qualities in the Magpie.

The magpie likes variety. It is adaptable. It is smart. It is fearless. It makes the most of each and every circumstance and situation.

My word for 2013 is VARIETY and learning to embrace my inner Magpie: be fearless; make smart choices and be adaptable when circumstances change.

Last year was horrible. Not only was it filled with sadness, disappointment and personal struggle, I constantly fought against my love of “variety” – feeling that I would have to give up my gypsy-like career path for something more stable. The consideration paralyzed me with fear.

Never again.

I will not apologize for my love of different,

My love of challenges,

My need to learn, 

My love of “try”.

2013 is the year.

That I learn to love myself


embrace my inner Magpie.