Two weeks ago I attended the first annual Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) meeting in Chicago to meet with my peers from around the country. Quick history -- A few years ago the Rocky Mountain Institute hosted a dozen or so Sustainability Directors and ever since that conference cities have been creating Sustainability Director positions in mass (including Fayetteville). Sadhu Johnston, former Director of Environment in Chicago and now Deputy City Manager of Sustainability in Vancouver (he's actually making the transition this week), attended this initial meeting and has worked to create an annual meeting ever since.
Earlier this year Sadhu invited me and five other directors to form a planning group to get this thing off the ground. A few months later we had invited 60+ cities to attend and secured foundation grants from Home Depot, Blackstone Ranch and others to fund the trip. Well, technically they asked each of us to chip in $50 to show some commitment, but the rest of the flight, hotel and food was covered. It's a pretty sweet deal.
Aside from a great visit to Chicago, I was able to mingle with reps from the most progressive cities in North America -- Burlington, VT; Madison, WI, Portland, OR, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Vancouver, BC; Fort Collins, Berkeley, and on and on. Even better is that Fayetteville keeps popping up in these conversations! I also made good contacts with some of these foundations so hopefully that will pay off in the long run as well.
We discussed a host of issues such as upcoming competitive grant opportunities, pros and cons of Energy Financing Districts, Energy Block Grant projects, etc. All things that I'm immersed in currently.
I was also asked to speak about our success in community outreach and involvement such as Fayetteville Forward and neighborhood master plan charrettes as well as the final panel on "Developing a Successful Sustainability Office." It was pretty humbling to sit up there with Seattle, Boston, and New York, but received great responses afterward.
As soon as I got back from Chicago I took the family to the beach in Florida for a week and Austin for the Austin City Limits Music Festival -- The Decemberists, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Ghostland Observatory, Kings of Leon and 130 other bands -- LOVE LIVE MUSIC! That explains why the blog posts have been lacking over the past couple of weeks.