Took some time to think about the day before posting. It was certainly a jam-packed day, starting before 8am with some delightful conversations. Meeting interesting people and reconnecting with old friends at a summit made it worthwhile to be there so early in the day.
There were a lot of speakers and some workshops based on Appreciative Inquiry, a system devised to help participants plan and meet goals and come up with in depth questions of each other as we go along. For the most part it seems to work; we did have good discussions in workshops.
One aspect I like is participant placement. My original table was a mix of student/business/government types so hearing different perspectives on their hopes for NE Ohio regarding sustainability were terrific. Then for the next workshop we were placed in ‘like’ groups; I was in the non-profit group because technically I’m there as a Board Member for Bellaire Puritas. I’m hoping they will keep moving us around.. So far I have not met any solar energy types and believe me I walked around introducing myself to everyone hoping to do just that. Maybe I should take a sign with me tomorrow and hold it up saying ‘if you are with a solar energy company please talk to me!’ Hoping that the end of the conference will find us with a list of participants so we can stay in touch with them each other. I have a feeling that will happen.
Not going to go into the whole day, but the first workshop had me in a group dealing with goals for the summit questions. Our table had varied thoughts on the issue. But some common threads were to meet as many people as possible and thus develop a network so that we can continue to learn about the complex issues surrounding sustainability and economic development. We also had a goal of continuing the process afterwards; and a thoughtful goal from a Dennison University student to make individual commitments to model sustainable behavior. And tell others why. And spread the love, so to speak. Good stuff.
It was fascinating to hear The President’s Energy Czar Van Jones talk about the issues, commend us for being the first City to do this type of a Summit. We also had the chance to hear from the CWRU Professor, David Cooperrider, who developed and continues to flesh out the Appreciative Inquiry methodology.
The work shops are (to me) the best part. We had pre-conference homework to read briefing papers on issues like Manufacturing, Local Foods, Transportation, Energy, etc, and I’m thinking by the time the week is out we may have covered all of them. We are certainly busy the whole time we are there!
This is one of those starting points but I have to admit I wish it didn’t say ‘2019’ in the title of this summit. Maybe it’s realistic, yes. But I didn’t get the impression that anyone I spoke to wanted to wait ten years to roll up our sleeves and start working on this. I couldn’t agree more.
More from the field, as they say, as the Summit continues. Peace Out -3C
Van Jones, Special Advisor to the White House, Council on Environmental Quality.