A recent video by Nike has got me thinking. Thinking that in the world of sustainable events, we’re at risk of allowing standards to have a little too much power over us. And that by giving too much power to these standards and makers of mandates, that we may be prone to overlook the innovative and organic wisdom indigenous to the makers of event experiences. And that in fact, makers of experiences—planners, operations personnel, support staff, and vendors who have on-the-ground insight–are often the best source of creative solutions that make better event experiences that also make things better.
Today I had the privilege to sit in on the Oracle OpenWorld Green Team 2013 kick-off meeting. Not once during this retreat to brainstorm a new five-year sustainability plan did any of the 35 people participating mention the words “sustainable event standards”. Instead, three hours were spent tapping the internal wisdom of the experience creators themselves. Each working in small groups to re-think everything from program design and session space, to attendee communication and engagement, carbon management, waste issues and legacy projects: all priorities the team self-selected.
The results were unpredictable, exciting, and ultimately inspiring; re-invigorating an effort that began in 2008 to improve Oracle OpenWorld through sustainable practices. That’s not to say that event sustainability standards play no role, for indeed they do. But it is a good reminder for me that achieving standards are not the sole intention of what an event sustainability team does, or the only lens through which solutions can be acquired. Those solutions come from each of us, and our drive to make the legacy of our event work something that leaves the attendee, our team, our business and the planet better than when we started.
Sincere thanks to all who participated. And here’s to another great five years!