Friday, October 1, 2010

Sustainability and Community

This morning I read a post by Judith Nemes called "The Green Scene: Green event planner aims to take Chicago events to the next level" on A Chicago's entrepreneur's blog: Enterprise City. Shannon Downey, founder of Pivotal Productions LLC, encompasses a sustainable vision beyond what many would expect to see. Ms. Downey took her business as a blank canvas to create something that entirely reflects her own personality and lifestyle; staying persistent with her standards of living, which in turn, have become her main strategy of business.

Beginning with the Museum of Science and Industry, she folded green practices into every aspect of her business. From standards of transportation, to strictly using LEDs for all audio/visual support, to recycling about 75% of waste from events. To succeed with this strategy, she meets with clients prior to beginning her actual work. Educating them on her standards, the benefits, the costs, and the savings all is necessary to get the client on board.

The part of this article that really stuck with me, was the fact that she has no employees, giving her a more lean shop. In conversation with a friend, he explained "Downey builds teams from all sources, corporate, civic, neighborhood and global. She has a talent for combining these elements to develop synergies to achieve her end game. As she moves from event to event and project she builds the “team” that packs the most punch and gets the biggest bang for her buck. She also manages them very proficiently to eliminate waste and conserve resources."

Downey writes:

It’s moving beyond the stuff (like lighting and recycling) and the processes to the content. I think we should be using events to showcase collaboration. I love the idea that TEDx the brand creates an opportunity for little Pivotal and Google and the Museum of Science and Industry to work on something together because the topic is so awesome. And in addition, we’re going to use the event as a platform for all these up-and-coming businesses and projects and non-profits that are participating and help them garner support through this event.

That’s more sustainable than green. The recycling and composting for events need to happen in conjunction with the idea of community and collaboration so we can all sustain our businesses and programs, and in turn, sustain Chicago.

It seems easy to forget the "community" aspect of sustainability. Shannon shows the importance of community; she has the power through her business to create such a successful networking system of people from completely different scenes who can actually work together to do something beneficial. Along those lines, I have also been looking into the Chicago Climate Action Plan and most of the plan is operational- transportation, waste, energy. There are key guides for residents and businesses, however it more of an individualistic approach. In my opinion, the way for Chicago to reach it's goal is to push collaboration and group initiatives, to blend community populations, non-profits, and large, public corporations, to give the people an incentive and a more convenient opportunity to work together.
So what do you think?  How should UIC build a more sustainable community?

1 comment:

Pivotal Production LLC said...

Thank you so much for this lovely response piece.

- Shannon Downey