Net Impact, a group of future and current leaders who use business to create positive change invited student and professional members to compete in the annual Net Impact Green Challenge. The task: to use their business skills to reduce their organization’s environmental footprint. Midori Connolly of Pulse Staging and Events, did just that. Here’s her story:
Can a simple, mother-to-two, small business owner have a notable “net impact”? Can she catalyze change for an entire industry simply by acting on her beliefs? Apparently, it’s possible.
When I first saw the invitation to enter the Green Challenge from Net Impact, I admit – I was deeply intimidated! After reading the impressive results from prior winners, I was unsure if I could compete. However, as I considered the concept of the Challenge more, I realized that there was no reason why I shouldn’t try. Even with the knowledge that I’d be facing some of the corporate “heavyweights” whose numbers would likely inspire more gasps of excitement than my project, I was willing to give it a shot. Knowing the grassroots meets big business, open-minded nature of Net Impact, I felt that I could share my journey of greening a highly non-green audio visual staging industry and receive a fair evaluation of my efforts.
My Green Challenge experience was unique in many ways. You see, I didn’t know when the realization would hit that I had to change an industry’s shameful, wasteful ways. I absolutely didn’t know implementing that change would be at the outset of a surprise pregnancy! Besides pregnancy, I also had the unique position of operating without the support of a team or even my industry. I faced friendly razzing and muffled laughter from colleagues who saw my attempt to create a set of guidelines for greening A/V staging as a creative marketing scheme.
Perhaps it’s the fact that my name means “Green” in Japanese, but I didn’t see anything funny or creative about what was happening. Witnessing crews throwing away handfuls of batteries, freezing my way through ballrooms excessively cooled to 64 degrees to mitigate the heat of incandescent stage lights…not funny. Not tolerable. So, after a year of quietly doing what I could to green the events we were involved with, I set out on my journey.
I personally contacted as many colleagues and professional organizations in the meetings/events and audio visual staging industry as possible to find some kind of checklist or guidelines or anything that would give us information on how we should go about conducting our business in a socially responsible manner. While I discovered there was a wealth of great information such as responsible food & beverage and waste management, there was absolutely nothing regarding minimizing the environmental impact of a corporate event’s audio visual requirements. I was shocked. We might be the single greatest offenders when it comes to carbon production and energy usage at an event!
So, knowing I was racing the clock waiting for my second child to be born, I launched into compiling a set of guidelines for sustainable audio visual staging. I knew we would be just one company changing our practices, but if we materialized the checklists I had been searching for when I started my green quest, then perhaps we would make it easier in the future for others to follow suit. Performing approximately nine months of extensive research, the 1st draft of “Best Practices for Sustainability in the Audio Visual Staging Industry” was finally complete. While we would never claim to be environmental experts by any means, it was at least a start where there was previously nothing!
By disseminating this document and then industry cohorts following these guidelines, the NET IMPACT will eventually be massive. We are just one company who saw a need for change to benefit the greater good. That’s what makes this project unique. It’s a demonstration of how, with the right intent, one person or company can have a long-standing, positive affect on an entire industry.
If you’ve considered a submission to the Green Challenge or even see an opportunity to make an impact somehow, somewhere but are shouldering the burden of self-doubt, visualize the following…
Imagine a CleanTech gathering of about 65 technicians, scientists and venture capitalists (you might know the scene – at least 60 were male). Now insert an 8-month pregnant woman (in pink no less!) trying to network and mingle. And now see the crowd kinetically shift in a dynamic, synchronized avoidance of the woman with the incessant questions on green technology and sustainability as she acquires answers to her technological ignorance. It’s humorous in retrospect and probably exaggerated, but my point is that you can only imagine the intimidation factor of being a complete rookie surrounded by the top minds of the CleanTech think-tank.
That experience and my ongoing journey for knowledge of social and environmental responsibility really serves to underline my Green Challenge emphasis. A single person or company can reify Gandhi’s familiar reminder that “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Oh – by the way – I made the baby deadline by two weeks.
Download the Pulse Best Practices PDF Here.