I had a really wonderful time at the UrbanGoGreen Expo. The event was charged with a warm community feel, and it was very easy to talk to all the speakers and vendors in the room. People directly grappling with job creation, training, and technology were present, and many of us concerned with ways to promote eco alternatives.
I must say, I didn’t see many of my own friends—community organizers, those of us who work in the creative fields, or generally associate with media and entertainment. There may be more than a few reasons for that. Life’s inconveniences not withstanding, I think some people out there may be wondering why attend a “green expo” thing in the first place, especially if you already put in work as change agent, media maker, cultural worker, artist…
Here’s just 4 of many reasons to consider:
- Creative Opportunity: When you attend, you’ll meet other artisans with divergent creative visions As you survey the room, you’ll see opportunities to apply your creative service to the burgeoning green industry, whether as creative consultants, purchases of sustainable supplies for your work, or curating showpieces for incorporating into other projects.
- Hold this “New Economy” Accountable: One of the major problems with the old economy was the lack of accountability of businesses to the communities they operate in. The emergence of a new economy that is sustainable, from both the environmental and social perspectives, requires that visionaries of justice must hold emerging business owners accountable. You can do this by checking them out first hand and hearing what they say as “experts” on panels, etc.
- Networkathon: Artists and nonprofit workers often understand but sometimes fail to address the need to develop strategic alliances to help you make your work accessible to new audiences and funding. Eco-entrepreneurs are looking for the same thing, and by networking, you might find potential for project sponsorship from more ethical organizations. Additionally, many people working in “Old economy” jobs can set themselves up to transition earlier rather than later by meeting emerging businesses that will be seeking to grow in the future. (And seeking to grow is likely, given sustainability-related businesses tend to outperform their competitors, according to surveys by Goldman Sachs & AT Kearney.)
- Indulge your inner Product Developer: You have the chance to meet with indy, eco-conscious producers. If you have a collector’s eye or interesting product idea, it can be a creative adventure to request something co-designed or completely custom, i.e. just for you (to talk about with all your bff’s).
It’s rare that any sort of conference or expo will change your life’s vision, but they can sometimes give you images for your vision collage. I had a wonderful chat with a Mr. Yusef Miller, who is making significant strides in helping municipalities build public infrastructure like street lights in Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana through his solar consulting and installation business. Mr. Yusef’s work in Africa directly exemplifies my hope for strengthening connections between US African diaspora community experts and international developing communities in Africa and worldwide. I was moved by Mr. Miller’s humility in contrast with the import of his work’s contribution to setting global standards.
There were also youth who joined us from the High School for the Environment, one of whom participated in the eco fashion show. It was so sweet to see this young lady, clearly a fashionista at heart, take one of her first forays into the “style industry” through the lens of sustainability!
In settings like the Urban Go Green Expo, and others events centered on the “greener” economy, you can catch glimpses of an alternate future being born. You can collect ideas for the sustainable lifestyle you’re thinking about, no matter what industry you’re in or what your social scene looks like. In these ways, we reclaim our environment and our livelihoods from the strangleholds of the old economy.
The time is urgent for us to break free of social boundaries and to meet whoever it takes to make our world a greener place.