I look the day off work so I could attend the Plain Green 09 conference at the Washington Pavilion. I thought it might be fun to see what these folks are up to.
I judge a "green" effort by how much it consumes. I was impressed. At registration I gave them my name they gave me a badge. Nothing more. No goodie bag. No t-shirt. Not even a folder with a schedule in it.
Contrast that with a Sioux Falls Green Project effort that provided attendees with, yes just what we needed, yet another plastic bottle identifying itself as green.
There was a single centrally located board with the day's schedule. I referenced the program on the website through the freely available wi-fi.
Here are my notes as the day progressed...
The conference's platinum sponsors were SDSU and Koch/Hazard Architects making the conference student and architecture heavy.
First speaker was SDSU President David Chicoine. He's an economist and highlighted an idea from the Economist Magazine that for too long we've privatized gains from the natural environment and socialized the losses. An all too familiar idea that I hadn't heard applied to the natural environment.
The First Keynote was Colorado State University's Brian Dunbar. He's heavily focused on building green schools. I was quite happy to be in the same room with a man who shares efforts with some of my favorite people, most notable Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute.
He highlighted Richard Louv's book Last Child In the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder which seems interesting enough. I once had an eye opening experience as I walked into a wooded area with The Boys in the middle of Spencer Park - soccer games and hundreds of people 100 yards away - and they seemed fearful.
He said, we must "drop the wall between the natural and the built environment." Yes!
He highlighted Happy Feet Plus - the first LEED certified retail store in the country.
He highlighed the famous to cyclists New Belgium Brewing Company. Featuring the quote "making our love manifest" the company has some very lofty sustainability goals and some even more compeling company core values.
Finally, before lunch were much shorter, much less polished, much more passionate talks from Sanaa - of Sanaa's Resturant and Pat Garrity a local foods advocate and farmer from Mission Hill. What I didn't know about Sanaa is she gets her veggies from the Farmer's Market and her back yard is a vegetable garden. What I didn't know about Garrity is for him it's personal - which to me didn't play all that well in that setting. Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life contains the right amount of sugar to make that medicine go down. She brought me around to Pat's way of thinking a year and a half ago.
Next - maybe - Part II - including awards for best presentation and most needed reality check.