Green Event Bloggers to Lead Sustainability Game at Event Camp Vancouver

Sense and Sustainability – the interview by Jenise Fryatt

sustainable vase
ice cream visual

On line and off, Shawna McKinley and Judy Kucharuk haveworked to raise awareness about event sustainability. The two are both well known in the Canadian event industry, active members of the Green Meetings Industry Council and both blog prolifically on the subject.

As the Directorof Sustainability for MeetGreen, Shawna oversees all of the programs the company offers that help event professionals to be more environmentally and socially responsible. Judy is the owner of Footprint Management Systems Inc.(FMS), a company which specializes in planning Green Meetings and Events.

The two will bring their message to Event Camp Vancouver Nov. 4-6 via a game for participants.  Recently,Shawna agreed to answer a few questions about it.

JENISE: What is your session, Sense & Sustainability all about?

SHAWNA: While “Sense andSensibility” might be a romantic novel, this session is more about having sense when it comes to sustainability. When we sat down to chart out how we wanted sustainability represented at ECV we realised there was a lot of concern and anxiety out there about how complicated event sustainability has become,especially with the introduction of new standards and risks related togreenwashing.

When we rely only on checklists, as we’ve become accustomed to, we tend to feel like it’s a test, and worry that if we don’t check the boxes we’ll be judged as wrong, or not good enough. We can also lose momentum, and stop improving.

So we want to reclaim sustainability as something that makes sense; that goes back to basics in a way. We want to get people thinking at ECV about how sustainability is really about being tuned into your stakeholders and what’s important to them. It’s about balancing costs and benefits in ways that don’tjust pay attention to economic costs, but people and the environment too. It’s about always striving for the better decision among imperfect options.

When you move from theories and checklists about sustainability you start to understand this is a really dynamic process, and also a very human one. And as complicated as human issues can seem sometimes, I think what we want to convey is that perfection is an impossible goal. The essence of sustainability has to be simple to be accessible. It’s about doing less harm, and doing better, and thatjust makes sense!

JENISE: How do you plan to get people toparticipate?

SHAWNA: There’s a few layers to the participation equation. The planning committee for ECV has been engaged in idea sharing to create our sustainability plan for several months. These discussionsare what have helped us to decide on what we’re doing overall: the intention of our session, our strategy with getting event partners to contribute and the green game, which we’re really excited to launch.

The game is designed to create a fun way to help people become comfortable with event application technology, learn about green event practices and make apositive difference through simple, individual acts of green. People will be able to see their individual score for actions through our event application,and the total of everyone’s scores.

We think this will be a conversation starter for attendees and a way to galvanize them around a common goal, which we’re setting as 1000 points, or acts ofgreen, over the 2.5 days. We’ll also provide individual prize incentives.

What we’d really love to get is an event sponsor to contribute a small amount – say$1 – per act of green which we would provide to a local charity, but we’restill working on that one! Any organizations interested in working in this innovative project to provide this kind of additional incentive can contact Judy or I!  🙂

One of the key things we want to work on conveying in advance is that this is a really easy, fun project. It’s not required. It’s not complicated. AND it can really add to your experience at the event! We hope that alleviates pressure and makes people feel comfortable with taking part.

JENISE: Is this game only for the subjectof sustainability or can it be adjusted to other topics?

SHAWNA: We’ve chosen sustainability as our theme, but I do think the model might apply to other topics or themes organizers might have. We’re still in the development stage so I’ll be interested to see after we have the ECV experience if we could apply itto another context. We’ll be putting together a case study of the project and it’s outcomes post-event to share with the EventProfs community. Stay tuned!

JENISE:  What do you hope people will take away from the experience?

SHAWNA: I will be happy if people have fun with it and come away with the feeling that they’d attempt sustainability in future, as an event attendee or planner or just in their everyday life. If we can make it easier and more accessible it will be a win!

Details can be found at http://www.eventcampvancouver .com

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About Tahira Endean
Designing relevant meeting and event experiences to exceed defined participant and stakeholder expectations. Master of using in-your-pocket technology to drive connections + learning. Loves all things with bubbles.

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