As we prepare to send this issue of IS off to the printer, we are also finalizing preparations for the upcoming EnvironDesign®7 conference. I can't help but compare the amount of planning associated with this year's conference to that of the first couple of EnvironDesign events. What a difference a few years can make! We have grown from 100 attendees to nearly 1,500; from a handful of speakers to 78; from no allied programs to two pre-conference workshops, three post-conference workshops, four site tours and three special events/exhibits. And where we once had a half-dozen companies willing to sponsor EnvironDesign and put their environmental initiatives up for scrutiny, this year we have nearly 80 companies and organizations on board.
Growing EnvironDesign has been worth every single effort (and a few headaches) along the way. For each obstacle encountered, we have met with even more convincing reasons to forge ahead. We have been devoting our efforts to sustainable design and building advocacy for almost 10 years now and can't help but be optimistic about where it is heading.
We are encouraged by the strength of both sponsor and attendance numbers because they mean that the legacy we will leave for our children will be a brighter one. For the influence each company and individual has and the potential for change that they can affect is momentous.
We are encouraged because each and everyone at EnvironDesign7 will leave the conference armed with proven ideas about what can be done to win the battle for sustainability. We are encouraged because when attendees return home, they will tell others about the good things that are being done or can be done—and those folks will tell yet others.
We are encouraged because good news travels fast.
We are encouraged because the best and the brightest teachers will be at EnvironDesign7 to share their knowledge with the best and the brightest students—practitioners who by their very presence have demonstrated an eagerness to move forward with the tenets of sustainability.
We are encouraged because the next generation is so much more aware of the differences they can make than we ever were. They are learning tremendously important concepts at very early ages. For example, last year one of my elementary school daughters played the lead flower in her class' Earth Day play—the play was called "The Picnic" with the very grown-up subtitle: "An Environmental Play for Our Times." What so impressed me about the play was not just that it dealt with a subject near and dear to my own heart, obviously, but the very depth of the content was amazing. It went far beyond the basic concepts of recycling, which are familiar to children, to talk about the consequences of air pollution on plant life and wildlife; it explained what happens when pesticides and phosphates enter our water streams; it told how urban sprawl is impacting natural habitats.
I am especially encouraged because this play emphasized to the children the importance of individual acts. Rachel and her friends now know that what they do makes a tremendous and far-reaching difference. It does not matter that they are children—they can have an adult-size impact if desired. They have learned specific actions that they—even as children—can take to halt some of the destruction that is happening all around them. They know, for example, that driving a car instead of riding a bicycle can impact the rainforests in South America or the ice shelf in Antarctica.
We are encouraged because with all the progress that is now being made, perhaps our children will not look back and wonder where we, as a generation, went wrong. They may wonder what took us so long, but at least they will not shake their heads and ask why we were so willing to bury our heads in the sand.
We want all practitioners who are working hard on green design and building principles—whether they are able to attend EnvironDesign or not—to know that they provide our inspiration. For those who remain unconvinced about the importance of the green building movement, well, they are our motivation for continuing on. We truly believe that the A & D community plays a crucial role; it is up to all of us in the field to lay the foundation upon which future generations can build hopeful and nurturing tomorrows.
Next, pick up the newspaper and read the headlines that tell about the heartbreaking events happening in the world today—events that cry out for solutions in order to halt the madness.
Finally, ask yourself: What can I do?
"I am only one, but still I am one," said Helen Keller. "I cannot do everything, but still I can do something."