Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Singing about the Power to Change-GMIC

Day 7 - 9, GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference
Westin Peachtree and 200 Peachtree Center, Atlanta
Wellness rating: 3.6/5 Based on no protein and limited allergy/gf sensitivity items available at breakfast, limited options for exercise/walking, limited access to natural light during the sessions. Excellent fitness center in the Westin was well used by participants. I am adding a wellness rating to these meetings because when you are spending 34 days on the road, every day counts.

A Study in Sustainability was how we chose to approach the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference and again, I am so pleased QuickMobile has returned as their mobile app partner and were able to make a positive difference to their initiatives. It is one of the most satisfying parts of my work, to see mobile in action!  It is also one of the reasons we developed the Mobile App Certificate, part of the CIC Preferred Partner Program - 10 hours of how to design mobile into your meetings - and why it matters now that everyone shows up with mobile device in hand!

There were so many things to learn and discover, including a fantastic session on meeting dietary needs of participants in this new age of allergies, sensitivities and choices by Tracy Stuckrath who along with Nancy Zavada, a founder of GMIC was recently named one of M&C's top 25 women in the meetings industry.  Two women I am proud to call friends and who have earned this distinction, along with the others included in this list.

If you don't know Kristi Casey Sanders of PYM - well, you are missing out!  As our host for this meeting she kept us informed, kept it real, reminded us of the learnings we were having along the way, and tied together her love for technology and people with fun periscope interviews throughout. 

We chose to have a study because we wanted to share ideas, and we were able to share twenty copies of Meet Better, a new book by Nancy, Shawna McKinley and Mariela McIlwraith with those who came by to chat with us.  We know they will enjoy the 167 ways to make their meetings more sustainable.  It should truly be part of the thinking behind every meetings - the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit is a pillar we should all be able to get behind and make adaptations that make sense given each particular situation. 

Keynote presentations reminded us of a variety of things related to the theme of the Power to Change, starting with Laura Turner Seydel and the work the Turner family continues to do do around sustainability in their many businesses and using their power for good in their home base of Atlanta.  Derreck Kayongo of the Global Soap Project was simply delightful as he shared his story of starting with one idea and now delivering with partners soap to 92 countries in need! 

We also had the opportunity to head out to MODA, the Museum of Design Atlanta and explore how a city applies design thinking and sustainable choices into their growth including telling the story in innovative ways such as these word cubes. One of the highlights of this whole trip for me was of course the people I get to have conversations with. We began talking about sustainable meetings in 1995 in Vancouver, and have a LEED Platinum Convention Centre and I now teach a Sustainable Event Operations class at BCIT and believe that this needs to be simply woven into our planning and being surrounded by like-minded people is always awesome. One of my early heroes was and remains Jill Drury of the Drury Design Dynamics because they do incredibly interesting and thoughtful and visually stunning work, and do it all with sustainability as a core value - in their office, with their people who never leave, at each and every event and learning from every conversation with her is always something to look forward to. 

Other groups experienced other behind-the-scenes tours and then we reconvened for a closing lunch and a final keynote.

The key reminders were all brought together in a team focused closing keynote led by Angus Clark as he brought out his guitar and shared the story of the beginnings of Song Division in Australia, their journey and the ongoing work they do to support community through music, and ultimately in having us all work together to solidify our learnings into a song verse in teams at our tables.  With input from the group who had worked on various verses the lines were chosen to make up a song which we then were able to hear put together at the end, and laugh and enjoy an upbeat and memorable closing keynote that worked to drive home the key messages.

I was also able to enjoy dining with fantastic friends who are sharing this journey of sustainable meetings from around the world, and enjoy both White Oaks and South City Kitchen, two of the many restaurants offering farm to table options - and there is nothing better than great food paired with fabulous company!

I can't wait to see what the new GMIC President, Roger Simons brings to the organization as he takes on this important leadership role.  His passion for sustainability, enthusiasm for life and living it, and smart approach to the issues at hand will continue the great work done to date by the people before him, many still actively involved, and all still planning sustainable events.

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