Friday, February 13, 2015

Raising the Bar at Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainability Conference

Hello Everyone,

I hope this day finds you well.  We're continuing to have cold weather and this morning there was a dusting of new snow ... which in the sunshine just sparkled!  I don't mind that at all.

Something rather important happened in London over the last few days.  The City hosted planners and politicians  who are members of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities for sessions on sustainability topics.  And a new thing that was arranged was to have 50 local citizens who are members of various environment and community groups be in a think tank sort of session with 50 FCM delegates.

I got to be there, and it was pretty neat! 

The important comments are often overheard in the women's washroom, such as: "This is a great session, great exchange of ideas!" 

It doesn't matter a bit that some ideas came up that some of us had heard before.  Yesterday's session was between people from a lot of different places.  They hadn't heard some of our experiences and we hadn't heard their experiences and projects.  Even people here in London heard about projects they hadn't known about in London.  A lot of business cards and emails were exchanged.  No doubt today the connections started.

And yeah, there was fair bit of mutual admiration, and back patting.  But the thing is, if this was the first time for such an exchange of ideas between planners/politicians from 'cross country and "locals" in the hosting city - and it was the first time - then surely all of us who attended should take a bit of time before a critical or cynical mind kicks in and just think "wow, a step in a good direction".

Another important thing for this session is that we will be getting notes from it.  And there will be follow up for us Londoners at a June date.  I know I always need post-meeting think time to reread notes (I took lots at my table), add more notes in pink pen, and jot ideas about follow up and related things.

One FCM delegate thanked the London organizers and said that after three days her "bucket was full".  Her brain was loaded with information and ideas.  But she was so pleased to have been at those three days.  I spoke with her at the end of the day, and felt kind of proud ... and I hadn't even had anything to do with organizing the event!  I'd just shown up and gotten free lunch and great conversation.

The City staff person behind the event is Jay Stanford, head of environment services.  Enthusiastic, forward-thinking and a planner.  And a real stickler for keeping on task!  Thank you for all the work you did to get this community session.  Any future FCM conferences on sustainability (and maybe generally) will have to have such a host community / delegate session.  There's no going back from this!

So, I've had a good couple of days.  And my own bucket sure is full.

Sending best regards to all,

Why's Woman