Conference 2015 Summary by Veronica Wahl
We wrapped up the ESAC Conference 2015 with a wonderful guided walk on campus focused on the sustainability projects, greenspaces, and gardens at uOttawa. I wanted to give you all an update on the conference and AGM.
The conference, AGM, and field trip all went very well. Congratulations too to Marcia and her team; the roundtable that you organized was great. Thank you too to all of you for the sharing of support, ideas, action items, etc., etc., etc. over this last year.
For those not able to attend the conference but who would like a taste, and those who did attend and would like memories, Joanna (ESAC Membership Coordinator) has been posting photos online for us:
We likely did not get quorum for the AGM; There were thirteen ESAC members plus the ESAC Membership Coordinator present. We did, however, still have an update from Joanna about her initiatives and ideas, and one from Marcia re. A/J as well as the budget report, all of which had various levels of discussion. There were also some discussions about the board. I gave the information that all of you are interested in continuing on the board, or in Lou’s case in joining the board. There were also some people from among the ESAC members present who are interested in participating at various levels. Douglas MacDonald noted that while there may be nine voting members of the board, others are able to participate in board discussions and other activities with non-voting status.
A number of discussions topics have come up in the last few days. These are*:
- Organizing the new board and welcoming and incorporating the new members
- The ‘formatting’ of the conference
- It has been suggested that having so many concurrent sessions spreads the audience a little thin, leaving too few people to listen to the presentations
- Making the conference relevant to younger people. One younger member indicated that youth and young adults do not always see the value of face-to-face interactions when they can ‘just tweet’ people
- Suggestions were made for format tweaking: having online meetings spaces, having outdoor sessions, bringing back Pecha Kucha, inviting community groups to attend and/or present, encouraging some of those submitting presentation abstracts to do posters for our poster night instead, etc. (some of these ideas might be feasible and advisable, some not – discussions are needed + other suggestions for discussion are very welcome)
- Essentially shaking things up somewhat but not so much that it alienates people (including considerations of travel, funding, etc.)
- Having ‘satellite’ conferences
- Potential connections with organizations with shared interests (e.g. the Canadian College and University Environmental Network (CCUEN) and the Under the Western Skies Conference (our Eco-Award winners) have both suggested interest in having discussions to find areas of mutual interest and benefit)
- Potential creation and/or support of networks
- Renate (our third keynote and garden walk leader) expressed interest in working with ESAC to develop a campus greening network (where people can share ideas, support, research, etc. and do a bit of bragging related to campus greening projects)
- Starting the planning and preparation for next year’s conference in Calgary
- Leam from Under the Western Skies is in Calgary: He said he might know a graduate student or two might be interested in being our next LAC (and who would do a good job for us)
*Many of the suggestions and ideas listed are largely from discussions, formal and informal, at the conference and AGM. I have tried to list them without too much editorial or personal comment. A few topics listed are “must do’s” (organizing the board and organizing for 2016). Most of the rest of these topics will unfold over time, or not as we decide together through our discussions. Some of the ideas will be “let us do that!”, some “we cannot/are not interested in doing that”, and some “let us think, talk, table, and/or tweak that before we decide on it”. I have included the points here in part to capture the discussions while they are still fresh in my mind, but largely to give people time to think things over, form opinions, and come up with their own suggestions, questions, concerns, and comments. Finally, please remember that this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list. As usual, if any of you have suggestions for topics of discussion, please do put them forward as we move forward into our next year with ESAC.
Best wishes to all of you,