Our blog and website went dark yesterday to support Black Out Speak Out, a Canada-wide day of action against efforts to gut our country’s environmental laws and shut down public dialogue on what it takes to build a sustainable economy.
It’s always a bit scary for a professional services firm to take a political stand, and that much scarier in meetings and events—where we’re sometimes so relentlessly nice that we have trouble standing up against threats to our own livelihood. The risk of environmental disaster may not top the list of perils that drive most meeting professionals to black out their websites. But our friend and colleague Shawna McKinley, Vancouver-based sustainability director with MeetGreen, connected the dots in a detailed blog post earlier this week.
Shawna works for one of the world’s leading sustainable meetings firms, and she lives in a city whose tagline is Spectacular by Nature. Vancouver has also set itself the audacious goal of becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020. So for the local tourism industry, the equation is simple: if they lose their connection to nature, they lose what makes them spectacular. If they’re no longer spectacular, jobs will be lost, along with so much of what defines Vancouver as a special place to be.
In her blog, Shawna gave a full account of the jobs and economic activity that depend on British Columbia’s tourist industry—much of which could be threatened by the unrestricted pipeline development and tanker traffic that will be enabled by the budget bill that gave rise to Black Out Speak Out.
“The travel and tourism industry in Canada (and that includes meetings and events) is dependent on the perception that this country is home to unparalleled natural beauty,” she wrote. And “I benefit personally and professionally from the work of dozens of environmental charities whose ability to access funding and actively participate in public consultations is essential.”
This is a moment when courage begets courage—because I have to admit that we might not have joined Black Out Speak Out if Shawna hadn’t. I was strongly considering it, I’d like to think I would have made the right choice on my own…but the decision point was when I saw that she had added the campaign tagline to her Twitter avatar. And I know that several more industry colleagues in Canada and the U.S. found out about the campaign as a result.
Shawna’s factual, fully referenced blog post brought the conversation back to the essential inputs on which meetings and destinations depend, whether or not we think of them when we’re organizing events, responding to RFPs, or talking to clients or vendors. I’m proud that we were a part of the campaign, and grateful to the colleague who gave us the push we needed to get there.