Greenbuild 2013 is happening right now in Philadelphia, and I just had to take advantage of the nationwide sustainable conference since it was only a quick train ride away. I almost booked a ticket last year to GB2012 in San Francisco (after a happy hour of sustainable networking, of course – it’s how they get you). However, with the end of my thesis drawing near, I made the “adult” decision to skip it yet again. So yesterday was my first time to attend, and while I’ve followed through social media, blogs, and even local “Best of Greenbuild” events to get the skinny on the goings-on in previous years, I was really excited to be finally there myself. It was entirely overwhelming, of course. An Expo floor of almost 800 vendors, multiple educational lectures going on at once, and a steady stream of people throughout the day… so I decided to get myself together in a quiet room with others who seemed to have the same deer-in-head-lights-but-keeping-my-cool look. I sat my 7-month pregnant self down in the only non-conference chair in the room (a bright red Eames Womb chair) and heard the words of some great sustainable leaders of our time. Each presenter made the case for becoming a leader in a different way so convincingly, it was really quite powerful.
- George Bandy, Vice President of Sustainability at Interface (Flor‘s parent company), elaborated on finding strengths to propel you forward from Clifton’s StrengthFinder. His own strengths of positivity and WOO (winning others over) shined through with his commanding presence and optimistic view of actually liking your job. The audience was asked what their own strengths were and it made me think, How often do I give myself credit for my own strengths? My own value? I recently felt the familiar stab of devaluation after relating to this article, but George’s outlook was a swift kick in the pants to figure out the next chapter of action.
- Jason Dunlop, Vice President at Big-D Signature, presided over an interactive presentation session about brand and promotion through telling stories. He presented various ways of capturing the attention of an audience, whether it be a cold email to a company or a newsletter to a customer base. We then formed groups to put the methods into practice. The most fun and thought-provoking was the Pixar Pitch, which I aim to utilize in nailing down my own elevator pitch. We also created a #twitpitch (origin here) and unique email subject lines to inform yet intrigue a reader for a hopeful response. I could say that this introduced a new level of anxiety to casual tweets and emails, but I will acquiesce to say that it challenged us all the more…
- Finally, Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and author/editor of “Design Like You Give a Damn,” gave a casual yet stunning presentation of, essentially, grabbing the bull by the horns and just effing doing it (while concurrently presenting off the cuff when he realized he didn’t have a necessary computer cable). He openly talked about his own experiences – his naive yet driven start on international refugee architecture with the UN (inevitably the uber successful AFH), his project successes and failures, and his own mortality in the face of potentially dangerous situations worldwide. With an audience of emerging professionals, he was asked repeatedly, How can WE help NOW? His advice: call on someone bigger than you to get deeper involved, or lend whatever talent you have (big or small) to the cause, or start something on your own because you believe in it. Because that is exactly what he did – saw a crisis and responded. How often do we actually do that?
Overall, the lectures were incredibly informative and quite entertaining. Each presenter had a great sense of humor, too, which is something I always appreciate.
I should also confess that I am really at the conference to volunteer my time as an Emerging Professional at Greenbuild 2013. I want to share how the DVGBC’s local chapter committee had lifted me out of a rut and moved me forward in my career. But let’s save that for a bit later… the French press is empty and I’m off for another day!
Final note: I was feeling so inspired to write this, that I woke up before the sun (and my husband and daughter) to make a pot of coffee and write this. For those who don’t know me, this is quite an amazing feat – the early rise and the punctual post. Kudos to George Bandy, Jason Dunlop, and Cameron Sinclair!