Attending on behalf of Lura Consulting, as an occasional Starfish contributor, and out of my own interest, Beyond Green offered me the opportunity to wear a few different hats while exploring the conference. I was interested in attending Beyond Green to connect with members of the sustainability community and to understand the questions and concerns of others.
As I'm currently coordinating a Sustainability Exchange with Lura Consulting and The Blue Mountains Sustainable Path Implementation Steering Committee, I thought it would be neat to examine Beyond Green from a critical, event planning perspective. As a result, I was primarily interested in the types of discussion, methods of engagement, and areas of improvement for the conference. Since two of Lura Consulting’s service areas “Engagement” and “Sustainability and Climate Action” were reflected in the conferences themes, I found a lot to comment on. Generally, I found the sessions to be informative, but did not (in most cases) capture this discussion or build towards knowledge sharing beyond the individuals engaged in the conversation.
Digital engagement was present with attendees tweeting, pinning and posting intensely throughout the entire weekend, but left me wondering what attendees really thought about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to Canadian Sustainability. I would have liked to see the digital side of Beyond Green provide individuals an opportunity to share the initiatives they were currently involved in order to roughly map the current conditions of youth involvement in sustainability issues. Tools could also be used to capture what the current knowledge gaps were for the conference attendees. Although the engagement process can take months to carefully craft and analyze, I was hoping that there might be more opportunity to create a common vision, goals, and action items on sustainability in Canada. Regardless, Earth Day Canada promoted and encouraged a robust online conversation, which spanned the entire weekend. They still have to opportunity to contact attendees for the digital engagement previously through a survey, focus groups, interviews, and email correspondence.
From the perspective of an attendee, I enjoyed my Beyond Green experience immensely. I was inspired most by the words of the Saturday keynotes Water Brothers and Bullfrog Power. I thought the session variety was very inclusive, breaching topics of art, science, faith, activism, communications, governance, and more. The majority of speakers possessed unique expertise and helped expand my sustainability knowledge in a dynamic peer-learning structure.
The branding of the event, speakers scheduled, and tone of the conference was very professional and allowed young professionals and youth to mingle and speak progressively without alienating lowercase c conservatives or those who pursue work inside or outside the system. Kudos to the team for keeping the event admission low, removing barriers to registration, selecting legitimate and respectful sponsors, adjusting and coordinating a complex schedule on the go (with clear communication to the attendees), and bringing together a ton of talented and exciting individuals for a weekend that we will be talking about for months!
Lauren is a passionate environmentalist, facilitator, and communications specialist currently providing communications and social media support at Lura Consulting. Since 1974, Lura Consulting has been a Canadian leader in collaborative planning. By bringing people together, getting them engaged, and having meaningful conversations that help shape plans and projects that improve our communities and environment.