Group discussions at a recent SDG Network MeetUp. What comes next?
I have been to yet another sustainability event. If you, like me, are a sustainability professional or is interested in joining the sector and may therefore have attended a few of these, you probably know what I am talking about. An event where we discuss purpose, collaboration, innovation, circularity and even the need for a new paradigm. There were lots of fantastic people at this event, doing amazing things at the forefront of sustainability; CEOs, co-founders and innovators of cool start-ups. Have you noticed something about these events though? They are all pretty much the same.
A place where we preach to the converted and where we hear the leaders share what they do, a new study perhaps which does not necessarily reveal something startlingly different but actually more of the same old stuff. I say “we” because I take part in these events too.
So, what to do about it?
Firstly, I want to say that despite my criticism, I see a space for these gatherings. I truly believe there is a need in all of us to find and be with our tribe – in this case other sustainability professionals and people who care about the current and future state of our planet. These places can be cocoons of comfort and support, where you will find that you are not alone in your challenges. You may also get inspiration and ideas from your tribe as well as an opportunity to share experiences. I believe it strengthens us as humans in the roles we have as agents of change. Because initiating change is hard, wherever you do it.
I saw this very clearly when being part of the organisation and facilitation team for the inaugural She is Still Sustainable, an event for mid-career women working in or aspiring to work in sustainability. This was what we all wanted – a supportive network. I also see it in the Sustainable Development Goals Network MeetUps that I organise with two other inspirational women on a regular basis – in fact the connection with others is one of the big things with the MeetUp. The connection, because you never know who will be at a MeetUp and the connection is the first step to the creation of a community, a tribe.
Connecting with people is one thing, to create a community and build a tribe requires more. And then yet again more to move into action. How do we do this? Often, I hear how different networks state that they are not about talking, they want to act. This is easier said than done.
Now at this stage in this blog, I am sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping to find the answer to of what lies beyond the tribe. Because I can’t share this with you. Instead I will ask you on a journey along what might be a short or a long path towards creating a network and to create real change.
I am sure some of you may have been through this before and perhaps you are part of a community which successfully moved into action and change for a better now and a better future. I am truly in awe. What I intend to do is to create a series of blogs on how I took on the organisation of the SDGs Network MeetUp, hopefully providing some tips and ideas along the way to how you could do something similar in the community where you live or work. Then I will follow up with an experiment… Recently I held a discussion with my co-organisers on what more can be done with the SDGs network, in terms of achieving the Global Goals here in London. How do we create community action and what might this look like?
I don’t know where this will lead or what will happen. I don’t even know what to do next! But I am very excited about finding out. I hope you will come along on the journey and if you have stories to share about your own community action, please do share them. I would love to listen and learn. Because that is what tribe fellows do.
If you would like to join the SDG Network MeetUp and be part of the network and tribe, please register on the MeetUp platform or get in touch with me: https://www.meetup.com/SustainableDevelopmentCommunity/
If you have a tribe building experience to share, I would love to hear from you! Please do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org