When you are fighting for the environment it can sometimes feel like you are alone. Convincing people to make lifestyle changes to conserve energy, and reduce pollution is an overwhelming battle. To make matters worse, historically, the people with money and power are not interested in subjects like endangered species, carbon emissions or water quality-- unless they are making them money. So not only are their a limited amount of people who care, but also the people who do care tend to be the people with less money. But for the first time ever, while at the Sustainable Enterprise Conference at the SOCO Nexus in Rohnert Park, I was in a place where EVERYONE was concerned with the well being of the environment - students, professionals and community members alike. I found just the sheer number of people at the event very rewarding. The large energetic crowd affirmed that I am not alone.
Signing up for the conference as a volunteer on behalf of the Center for Community Engagement, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I agreed to go because as an environmental studies major at SSU, the title, "Sustainable Enterprise Conference," intrigued me. When I arrived in casual business attire, I received a delicious, organic, complementary breakfast sponsored by Straus Yogurt (a company with a long history of commitment to sustainable business practices). Not only were we given breakfast, we also got complimentary coffee and lunch, and got to participate in the ice cream social and wine tasting.
While the food was delicious, the most important thing I received was the opportunity to network. I got lots of business cards from local professionals seeking young interns or entry level employees, as well as the opportunity to talk to them and ask questions. As a newcomer to this field, I was very grateful for everything they had to offer. I also learned about a service-learning class at Dominican where they check LEED certification for businesses looking to go green. I was really pleased to hear about the class at Dominican because it is always great to see students, faculty, and community partners co-benefiting because of service-learning.
As volunteers, we made sure technical equipment was ready for the speakers, and we also held signs in the back of the room to remind them how much time they had left. Our duties were small for what we received in return. I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend; I have never felt more inspired to continue pursuing a career in sustainability then after the Sustainable Enterprise Conference.
I appreciate SSU's long-term involvement as a conference founder and sponsor. I would love to go again because it was such a friendly and helpful environment. To anyone who can make it next year, I highly recommend it. If you are interested in this year's conference check out their Facebook and website. Hope to see you there next year!