My favorite days include a meal balanced by informed conversation. This simple standard means most days are good.
During a 2008 lunch over salads and pasta I introduced two colleagues with responsibilities that included communicating green topics. The interaction was better than the food. While their respective organizations collaborated, they had not met face-to-face and were not active in the same professional associations.
In spite of an explosion of green groups and numerous professional organizations, a peer group gap existed for those considering how to integrate green into organizational storytelling at the local level. As an experiment, I reached out to a few people and started an online group with bi-monthly meetings. Now in its fifth year, several hundred individuals participate in the informal professional discussion group Atlanta Green Communicators on LinkedIn.
Members work in area offices for various levels of government, PR and marketing agencies, nonprofits, higher education, media and corporations. For some communications is their sole charge, for others, it is one task on a long laundry list. Most have or had some link to metro Atlanta. This eclectic group offers varied viewpoints and experiences to sharpen communication skills. A commitment or interest in sustainability is the common ground that attracts participants that would otherwise be unlikely to have a conversation.
Initially, group polls focused on issues, meeting location and free parking. Logistics remain important. However, the topics continue to evolve as members and the marketplace become savvier about green, and overwhelmed by the flood of information. With roundtables, panels and featured speakers, bi-monthly meetings covered new FTC guidelines, internal communications, social media, green organizations, issue and member campaigns, legislative previews, water use, and storytelling to name a few.
There is no fee to join the group or attend meetings; just an RSVP for space planning. Discussion leaders are drawn from the membership, the community and visiting experts.
Lesson Learned: If you can’t find a conversation, start one. If you have questions about starting a similar group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.