The following post is by Kathleen O’Brien:
You could say it’s just a party, a fundraiser, or an awards ceremony. You could say that, but you’d be wrong. According to Mona Lemoine, VP and Executive Director of the Cascadia Green Building Council, “Groundswell” is all that, but more. According to the dictionary, “groundswell” means a sudden gathering of force. Lemoine stresses that the December 12th event in downtown Seattle is designed to showcase a “call to action that intentionally energizes the region’s grassroots and takes the green building movement to the next level.” The council plans to repeat the event on an annual basis, offering new challenges each time to galvanize and amplify regional collective impact.
In an interview with Lemoine at Greenbuild in November, Lemoine was quick to say “there has and continues to be lots of green building activity in the Cascadia Region. We could be satisfied with that. But the Council can play a special role stimulating and supporting new grass roots initiatives.”
Of all the US Green Building Council Chapters, Cascadia has tended to be the first out of the block with new ideas and action to suit. (Unlike most other chapters, Cascadia was founded based on bioregional boundaries, not geopolitical ones.) In fact, it’s safe to say we have a bit of a “renegade” reputation within the larger organization. So it’s no surprise that the Council has invited “innovators, rulebreakers, and changemakers” to this part celebration, and part instigation event.
This year the call to action will be framed by keynote Michelle Long, Executive Director of BALLE, which uses collaboration to identify and promote “the most innovative business models for creating healthier, sustainable, and prosperous communities.” Cascadia members will be asked to enlarge their thinking (and scope) beyond (green) bricks and mortar to include sustainable business development with the goal of “transform(ing) the communities where we work and live.” BALLE, which stands for Business Alliance for Local Economies envisions “a global system of human-scale, interconnected local economies that function in harmony with local eco-systems to meet the basic needs of all people, support just an democratic societies, and foster joyful community life.” By inviting Council members to consider this vision, Cascadia’s leadership is seeking to expand on the collective impact that members have already had on the built environment.
David Barmon, a permaculture designer based in Portland, and Naomi Wachira, a local folk singer with African roots will round out the program. And yes, there will be awards. All with a mind on acknowledging, but also inspiring, grassroots action. For the first time, Cascadia will be presenting Emerging Professional, Branch Collaborative, and Public Sector Leadership Awards. Cascadia Fellows will be recognized at Groundswell as well. Fellows are local leaders recognized for catalyzing transformative advancements in green building at the local and national level. And yes, Groundswell is a fundraiser: $50 of every ticket is a tax-deductible donation to support the mission of the Cascadia Green Building Council. And, yes, it will be a party. According to the website, dress if “formal.” Hmm..dress jeans?
Registration closes December 9, 2013. Click here for more information on the event and award nominees.
Kathleen O’Brien is a long time advocate for and prolific writer about green building and sustainable development since before it was “cool.” She lives in a green home, and drives a hybrid when she drives at all. Recently retired from O’Brien & Company, the green consulting firm she founded over 22 years ago, she is now the Executive Director of The EMERGE Leadership Project, a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate life-sustaining solutions in the built environment through emergent leadership training.