Sustainability Conferences Not Just for Old ProsSeptember 1st, 2010 by Guest Author
This guest post was written by Alli Blum. Alli writes about opportunities in sustainable industries, both personal and professional, whimsical and relevant. You can follow her at @AlliBlum or email her at sustainable.blum at gmail.
What better way to celebrate my first post than to pay homage to the very event that introduced me to SocialYell: the Sustainable Brands 2010 Conference held in Monterey, California. Recommended to me by Treehugger columnist Pablo Päster, the conference didn’t just open up a whole new world of learning for me, it also enabled me to form relationships many new and brilliant people (and even helped me land a blogging gig!).
If you’re on SocialYell, chances are that you have a job or interest in issues related to those commonly called green, sustainable, or environmentally-friendly. Maybe you’ve even fantasized about a more sustainable career path or have been wanting to learn what the big fuss is about ‘green.’ Either way, conferences and networking events are great ways to learn about sustainability and to learn who its key players are. Through Sustainable Brands, I learned who Yvon Chouinard is and how Patagonia is changing the world, about behavior change campaigns that can save aquatic habitats from invasive species, and about how good design can make people desire change instead of resenting it.
“Wait a second, Alli, those conferences are expensive. And I’m out of work, re-mem-ber?” you might be thinking. Well, here are some tips to make the most out of sustainability conferences on a budget:
- - If you’ve got the time, consider attending a conference or event in your area, or tack on a few extra days and make a vacation out of a conference in a faraway land. (I learned a lot in Monterey, but the highlight of my trip was definitely walking back from the Monterey Bay Aquarium past sea lions cuddling on the shore.)
- - Many of these conferences actually offer reduced rates or free admission to students and attendees who volunteer before or during the event. In fact, I attended SB’10 as a volunteer and paid about 25% of the full fee. Even if there aren’t any reduced rates posted, turn on the charm and contact the conference organizer to offer your time or services in exchange for lower rate.
- - Another option is to score a press pass, which can usually get you free access not only past the conference gatekeepers, but also to many of the speakers. With a badge saying “PRESS” swinging around your neck and a notebook in hand, conference attendees will be excited to tell you their stories. Conference organizers generally prefer to give out these coveted press passes to members of the established media who write on a regular basis, so if you’re not part of the media yet, start writing now! Or get in touch with David to write for SocialYell!
Sadly, SB’10 has come and gone, and it won’t be until June 2011 that another life-changing conference will convene in Monterey. In the meantime, here are some other events to consider (sea lions not included):
Urban Green Expo, New York, NY, September 29-30: According to the conference web site, “Urban Green Expo connects the sustainable building industry with a wide variety of vetted green products and services.” And William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle is the keynote speaker!
West Coast Green, San Francisco, CA, September 30-October 2: According to the conference web site, “The West Coast Green experience is a feast of innovations, ideas and opportunities designed to expand your business, widen your vision, and stimulate your thinking with the latest best practices and key players in building, business and design.” And William McDonough is here, too! Also, check out their low student and volunteer rates!
LCA Sustainable Product Design, Miami, FL, October 26-27: LCA stands for Life Cycle Assessment, and it will be a gathering of many heads of design and CSR across. If you’re curious about design and happen to live in the greater Miami area, please attend for me!
Sustainable Agriculture Conference, Winston-Salem, NC, December 3-5: “The SAC theme this year is, “Local & Organic Arrives: Our Opportunity is Now.” ” Be sure to check out the other events run by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association!
Green Drinks, international, monthly: For something more casual, look for a Green Drinks group in your city!
Sustainable Business Networks, national: Many cities now have Sustainable Business Networks with events worth checking out and people eager to help you. Philadelphia and New York both have sizable networks.