Thoughts on the Community Summit

What did I think of the Community Summit?  Just one man’s biased opinion, but I thought it was most productive.  But then I knew it would be.  It was topical, had great keynote speakers, was organized in a very thoughtful way through the Appreciative Inquiry process, and most importantly, the registrant list was filled with people who I knew cared deeply about Worcester.  What I did not anticipate was the quality and depth of the resulting pilot plans put together by the participants.  Over 10 viable pilot projects, many with a level of detail typical of several days worth of concerted effort, were all done in a mere hours.

I think what I found most impressive was how everyone seemed to bring their best selves to the process.  People were incredibly respectful, title and rank were dropped, and they really did listen to each other.  It gave me hope, it did.  We have an awful lot to do as a community to make our lives and our world more sustainable both for us and those that follow, but I came away from the Summit genuinely believing that we just might be able to pull it off.

The group I chose to join was tasked with writing a Green Declaration of Independence; essentially a mission statement with guiding principals that would form the foundation and rationale for all the work to follow.   The goal was to write a Declaration that was bold, easy to understand, and would not immediately turn off half the people who read it.  And our group covered a considerable range of political and cultural views.  But I think it was because of those differences and our collective refusal to put together something weak that made our first draft good.  It’s not great yet, but the essence of what is needed is in there.

The problem, of course, is that the Summit was the easy part (though I might have said otherwise during the weeks leading up to the event).  Implementing more than 10 pilot projects is no small trick.  Getting a steering council organized and then finding the people who will lead each pilot project to succeed will be the first marker in how the Summit will ultimately be judged.  Each pilot group will need to truly take ownership of their project.  It will be a big ask of the people who get involved.  But I saw the enthusiasm and the willingness of people at the Summit.  I believe more people than not want this to happen.  And progress is already being made with several announcements soon to come on the website.

It’s rare that we get the opportunity to make a real impact, but the work that comes out of this Summit has the potential to positively change this community, region and even beyond in a dramatic way – if we get this right.  So let’s get it right.  Take a look at the video from the Summit.  Get inspired, now is your chance.  We are going to need your help. Get Involved

About John Odell

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Manager – City of Worcester: John has over 20 years of experience in the energy field. He is currently the City of Worcester’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Manager and is responsible for managing many of the City’s ‘green’ initiatives, including the City’s $27M ESCo project with Honeywell International, MA Green Community sub-grant and outreach program, Federal EECBG grant program, the City’s municipal energy contracts, research and grant writing for additional funding opportunities, and all energy related community outreach and partnership efforts. Before coming to Worcester he worked as the Energy Services and Communications Administrator for the Town of Concord, MA Municipal Light Plant. His accomplishments include the American Public Power Association’s 2005 National Energy Innovator Award.
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