Riding the Wave of Sustainability

by Aaron Hersum

pexels-photo-728880.jpegI’m going to just go ahead and say it: we might need to do Invite to Ignite more often. Someone actually said that to me as I was leaving our second iteration of the BASG version of speed-dating with sustainability organizations, except at this event making meaningful connections is the norm.

Before writing this piece, I reread my post on last year’s Invite to Ignite; I was curious to know what I had thought a year ago. And if I’m being honest, I thought I might be able to recycle some of my previous content as well… both events were powerful and impactful right? True, but my takeaway from last night is completely different than my takeaway last year. Perhaps I still had the election on my mind, but the feeling after last year was a lot more fiery than my feeling now. I really enjoyed last night. I bounced around and met a lot of new people, chatted with some of the presenters, and just felt more at ease. And I like that; it better suits my personality. I think it also indicates that a year into a Trump presidency, I have come to terms with what we as environmentalists, sustainability-ists, social justice-ists, the I just care about other people and my planet-ists, must do to continue our mission. The initiatives of the presenting organizations certainly haven’t diminished, if anything, they’ve all grown.

Each of the organization’s missions was on display as presenters shared their passion with the group last night, and the audience certainly connected with that passion as none of the 100+ in attendance left early. My favorite part of the evening was simply watching people engage with the guest speakers after the ignite presentations. In particular, I appreciated seeing a contingent of students from schools such as Boston University going around and meeting the sustainability professionals. They remind me of surfing: you see a great wave come and you know it’s your turn to ride it, but you also know that just over the crest is an even better wave that others will ride with even greater success. Plus, I enjoy seeing that the organizations appealed to such a broad and diverse audience.

So what was my takeaway from the evening? That circumstances change, but the amount of impact that we have does not. Regardless of the political climate, state of the economy, or what’s going on in society, we have the ability to make real, positive change. I recently finished reading Clean Disruption by Tony Seba, and throughout the book he talks about clean energy as a disruptive technology that no amount of regulatory capture by coal, oil or nuclear lobbyists can prevent. This disruption extends beyond energy to sustainability as a whole. You can’t stop the wave, you can only get on and ride it or be left behind.

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