We finally did it. Three years in the making, we launched Sustainability CoLab at Artscape Wychwood Barns, announcing everything from:
Many people asked me two similar questions throughout the night: Was I excited? And how did it feel?
Of course the first question is easy – yes, euphoric even. But why?
My excitement stemmed from a simple realization: this first cohort of communities were selected from the nine applications we received exactly because they are leaps & bounds ahead of where SWR was at when we launched in 2009. SWR was started by a couple recent university grads that didn’t know anyone, admittedly were very naive, and had little more than pennies in their chequing accounts. And while I’m proud that within 4 years the Regional Carbon Initiative soared to the level of success it did – financial self-sufficiency, 13% of the workforce engaged, commitments equivalent to 10,000 cars off the road each year – it did so against the odds. It required more than a little tenacity. Plenty of luck. And passion that fueled crazy decisions, like volunteering full-time for indeterminate periods of time.
So, not only will these communities have all the support of the CoLab network – mentorship, templates & resources, peer to peer events, shared branding, etc… But outside of all this, they’re led by fantastic Executive Directors at existing organizations with established credibility in their respective communities. And they have huge support already. A brief summary:
Wow. The contrast with where SWR started has never been starker. As for what last Thursday felt like? Well, most of all, it felt special, joyful and energizing , simply because so many other people – over 225, including many senior representatives & leaders from all sectors of Canada’s sustainability community – came to hear what we’ve been working on for the past few years. And of course whenever you work hard on anything, particularly something you feel is important, it’s so wonderful to know that others feel the same way.
Yes, this is still a big experiment. We haven’t yet proven this will work anywhere outside of Waterloo Region. But I’m excited because we have every reason to believe it will.
The ingredients are all there: we have the power to do some incredible things over the next three years. We can change the conversation on how business engages in the solution to climate change across this province. And that, I’m excited about.
If you are as well, feel free to email me anytime and see here for a list of ways to get involved.
– Mike Morrice