Jennifer sent in this update on the ISSP Conference last Friday -- but we're posting it today, since it took us some time to put together the video...
Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter
It's the second day of the ISSP Conference for Sustainability Professionals (see my reflections of Day 1 here). The presentations are winding down, and people are in that glazed-but-happy state of mind where brains are overwhelmed with ideas and inspiration and enthusiasm.
I've been running around asking people to answer (on camera) the following question: "What was your favorite part of the conference?" You'd be surprised at how many people ran the other way -- apparently I am in the minority of people who are willing to talk on the fly about their experiences. (Note: maybe there is a lesson here for sustainability professionals about the need to be ready and confident about sharing our stories at any time and in any format available.)
A few intrepid colleagues agreed to share their experiences at the conference -- we've put together a short 2 minute clip that we're sharing here.
As I prepare to pack my suitcase yet again (remember, I came from Portland directly from a week in Park City, Utah, for the Coalition for Responsible Fire Protection's "Sustainability in Fire Protection" conference, so I've already been on the road for two weeks) and get on a plane to Omaha where I will celebrate my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary, here are some of the additional things I will take with me:
1. There is an incredible amount of enthusiasm in the sustainability field, but we're running in a hundred thousand different directions. This is both necessary and problematic. As a sustainability consultant, I need people on my team with specific expertise but I'd be lying if I didn't wish we had some more alignment. This is related to the need for a common language, a shared vision for the role of the sustainability professional, a common "code of conduct", and a clearer path for demonstrating sustainability competency.
2. There is a huge opportunity to harness the brilliant minds in this room to expand and improve the services that SSC delivers. I have been so flattered to have people come up to me during breaks (less enthusiastic about when people try to talk to me during presentations) to share how they have been inspired and influenced by SSC. I realize that our SSC Consultant Network of 650+ people has an immense reach and has been critical in the development of our field. I need to do a better job of drawing on that resource, especially as our business continues to grow and develop into new markets.
3. Sustainability is a business imperative, but it is also very personal. I've been thinking a lot about the statement "People make decisions based on their emotions, but justify it with logic afterwards." As I spend time with my extended family this coming weekend (virtually all of whom fall on the other end of the spectrum from me on issues of politics, social norms, cultural values, the truth of science, and just about every aspect of my professional beliefs as a sustainability consultant), I will be making an extra effort to listen to the emotions behind the statements and judgements.
So that's it from me -- at least for now. If you're interested in more about the conference proceedings, I highly recommend checking out the #ISSP2011 twitter has tag to read the real-time reflections of conference participants (including me). Safe travels to all the participants -- I look forward to reconnecting with you in the coming weeks and months