I moved to Waterloo Region in the fall of 2010, at the beginning of my undergraduate studies in Environment and Business at UW.In my lectures, I read various case studies about environmental change within organizations and conceptualized the idea of a sustainable future. As alluring as my readings and lecture speakings were, they seldom left me with any inspiration; these stories seemed far away and scarce.

It wasn’t until sitting in an ENBUS 102 lecture taught by Olaf Weber, that a local initiative came up in discussion, one that fused together business and the environment into achievable unison: Sustainable Waterloo Region. At last, I thought, inspiration. Here is a non-profit that helps to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of local organizations, with a team based on volunteers, and a vision channeled through change.

It is remarkable how a good idea can become so contagious, drawing people in to help in its progression and moving forward as an unstoppable force. Before I knew it, I became a volunteer myself, and after that, signed on for a full time co-op work term which I am currently in the process of completing. I admire my fellow volunteers, the time that they invest in the good cause and the passion that they hold so effortlessly; I cheer on our Regional Carbon Initiative members, whose efforts in greenhouse gas emission reductions make volunteering more than worthwhile.

As I continue to become more involved with Sustainable Waterloo Region, I find myself gaining a clearer image of the real Waterloo Region, the one that had previously gone unnoticed to me: that people in Waterloo Region genuinely care. They care about the cities and the communities that thrive within them, about the cleanliness of our parks and the quality of our educational institutions, about progression towards a better region, a place that they call home.

The leap that our Regional Carbon Initiative members have taken in working towards greenhouse gas reductions is a great example of how this leadership has caught on in local organizations. These organizations span in their efforts from fostering green teams, to installing solar panels, to restructuring policies to enable sustainability. These inspiring stories of sustainable leadership in our communitywill be showcased in our 2011 Report.

We will be launching the 2011 Report at our 3rd Annual Evening of Recognition, an event that I have been working hard on planning with our Events Manager, Helena Kwiecinski. This event is a project that I am extremely proud to be a part of, Helena and I can’t wait to see the end result of our work and share our vision with the community!

While the focus of this event is about recognizing our RCI members’ achievements and the stories of inspiration championing change for a sustainable future, we have found that as we continue planning the event, another focus is emerging.  This has led us to also incorporating the focus of making the event about the attendees – gathering people together who care, people who are inspired to band together in creating a healthier region, our home. Thus, we expect that the inspiring energy present at this event will come not only from the stories of our RCI members, but of the people within the room: the connections that will be made and the stories that will be shared.

So, to finish off this blog post, I invite you to join us on April the 12th from 5-7pm at the Waterloo Inn for our 3rd Annual Evening of Recognition.  At the event, you can expect to find attendees from different age groups and organizations alike, and a few fun surprises in store that Helena and I are excited to share. Gatherings such as this give Waterloo Region a chance to come together to celebrate the local action being conducted and to realize our full potential as a community moving forward. People creating change can be found on many scales, from our RCI members’ efforts and greenhouse gas reduction commitments, to our fantastic Sustainable Waterloo Region volunteers, and even to YOU in attending our 3rd Annual Evening of Recognition.

See you there!