A valued customer made a special request recently.
In addition to her "day job," directing sustainability operations at a Fortune 200 energy conglomerate, Katie organizes a volunteer group of "Green Ambassadors" from around the organization -- many of whom have arrived via acquisitions of the past few years, and who don't know each other well.
"It's hard to think of something fresh for our meetings every month," she said. "I want to keep them inspired with interesting things they can do that somehow relate back to the company."
1. You know best your colleagues' appetite for climate-science/big picture vs. individual impacts, cool products, and daily actions that contribute to a positive impact. We prefer a balance. Smart first step: ask the group to complete a quick assessment survey, and see where everyone comes out.
2. With that, you can also poll the group to find out how they first became interested in the Green Ambassador group. Encourage them to share the story of their own original interest in sustainability.
3. Anonymously or with permission, share the most interesting stories in a post for the group. There will be interesting stories, we promise. They may also be painful or slightly embarrassing, so please remember to be sensitive and respectful.
4. Are people willing to relate their stories on a monthly Green Team meeting, in-person, call or webinar? Even better. Gently encourage quieter members to talk about their "green journey." As individuals get to know one another, they'll want to collaborate more.
5. Find out if people have a favorite art installation, data visualization, designer, book, film, building, lipstick, running shoe, or cartoon relating to the environment. Share these. (See 14, ahead.)
6. You don't have to direct all of this yourself. If a natural leader for a theme or activity surfaces, delegate! Good: now you are building a team!
7. Dive into the most popular blogs relating to sustainability. Offer your favorites and ask others for theirs. You'll all get fresh ideas and data. Don't know where to begin? Maybe start here or here. (Then look at 18, below.) If your group has an appetite for news, some of you can choose a topic, lead a conversation, and create action items for the group.
8. If people enjoy this, call it "Pass the Mike," and ask small groups on the Green Team to lead the monthly discussion.
9. Now you can create a calendar for the next twelve meetings! Why is that a good thing? First, you're planning ahead and sharing the program. Second, you're able to assign tasks and share the load (see 5, above). Third, you can be strategic.
10. If your corporation has stated goals for the year, incorporate them on your Green Team program. Everyone likes to know where they're headed.
11. Continuing education: Scout local or online classes that relate to corporate goals and individuals' interests. Some corporations offer a vetted selection.
12. If group members are participating in a training, course, or certification, organize a study group to discuss and get even more from the experience. Including, undoubtedly, more ideas for the larger group.
13. You probably have a bunch of new Green Team group members by now! Decide among yourselves if "Green Team" is the best name. Order some cool swag!
14. Films you could screen together, with discussion to follow: Years of Living Dangerously (here is episode 1), Vice environment channel, Merchants of Doubt are a few that we know and like. Ask for a couple volunteers to scope out the library of TED talks to view together and discuss. Here's a playlist of TED talks called "Earth, appreciated."
15. Dive into the new Sustainable Development Goals that nearly 200 countries agreed on in Paris, ratified on April 22nd. Which of these 17 big audacious objectives is your company already working on? Probably a few!
16. Academics: their institutions, think tanks, and their work; to follow and discuss: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; University of Minnesota IOE/Ensia; MIT ClimateCoLab; Presidio; Arizona State University, Columbia's Earth Institute; Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment; the Metcalf Institute for Environmental Reporting, Princeton Andlinger Center for Energy & the Environment; the Erb Institute at the University of Michigan. Climate Central, the World Resources Institute, NASA. eyes on earthDon't worry about struggling with dense wonkiness here: you'll be pleasantly surprised by the clarity and modern, fresh imagery.
17. If you have a college or university nearby, you have your own local source of academic insight. Cast a net for other VIPs you'd like the group to know: a business leader or community problem-solver--a chef-entrepreneur intent on zero food waste; or a couple of moms who are organizing a green schools initiative. Reach out and invite them to join you for a meeting. They'll be delighted.
18. Leverage relationships with the NGOs that your company is already associated with or might become associated with. I'm thinking of world-class orgs focused on large companies, such as Ceres, RE100, EDF, World Wildlife Fund, We Mean Business, The B Team, Net Impact, CDP, Connect4Climate at the World Bank, the Nature Conservancy. Many of which have local chapters. All of which have excellent content and events that your members might like to participate on. Maybe you'll run a community planting project, or support a water-conservation pledge in your city. Your Green Team will have lots of suggestions.
19. Arrange a field trip to see local and sustainably produced chocolate, beer, or socks.
20. There are lots of interesting conferences out there. Send a delegation to network, get inspired, and bring home ideas to share, use at work and at home.
21. Don't forget your own backyard! You may have innovative, effective projects and practices ongoing in different areas of your business. If you're not sure, ask the CFO where decisions are being made to reduce waste and improve efficiencies. Why not organize a tour of your recycling facility, a solar installation, or the HVAC systems? Your facilities managers may be doing amazing things.
22. Invite in your most exciting executive leaders and partners for updates. Perhaps your Chief Marketing Officer can chat about a campaign that positions your brand in a game-changing way. Maybe you send her some questions in advance. How did she come up with this? How does she measure success, and what's next?
23. Get social! Is someone on the Green Team great on Twitter, Facebook? Create a dedicated feed to keep it going between meetings. Coordinate with the company social media team to support their efforts.