Reflection on the IMPACT of the Net Impact Conference a Few Months Down the Road

January 28, 2012

The Net Impact Conference in Portland, Oregon was one of the most exciting weekend trips and conferences I have ever had the honor of attending.  The energy buzzing around the convention center was amazing and the new people I met were inspiring.  From the expo to the many, diverse lectures and workshops to the social events, the organizers of Net Impact thought of everything.  The conference amenities were a treat.

The first night we arrived there was a NI party put on by the Portland State NI club at a warehouse/loft party space.  The atmosphere was hip, modern and fun.  Downstairs in the basement there was a slew of sustainable product promotions and organizations represented; including several models of the newest hybrid cars.  Hybrid cars are definitely getting sexier, thank goodness.  Upstairs, hors d’oeuvres were served, local live bands played music up on a balcony and people did some serious networking over cocktails.  Networking is no joke, it is sport.  At the party I learned that a business card is a ‘must-have’ at events such as this.  Never having a job that could be considered part of a career track, at 24 I’d never thought of business cards.  Side note:  I got some online for free when I got back on www.vistaprint.com , check it out.  Plus now I feel super official carrying around business cards, a definite confidence builder.  …Next step is playing golf with the ‘execs’ : )

Moving past commentary on business stereotypes, there is a lot to share about the individual workshop sessions.  The many (all sounded really interesting and I was in choice overload all weekend), sessions were split into seven tracks of interest concentrations.  These were: career and professional development, corporate impact, energy and clean tech, environment and natural resources, finance and investing, international development, and social innovation.  I dabbled in all of the tracks, why commit?  But mostly I wanted to attend as many career and professional development sessions as possible.  It was a good decision too.  While, I think those who came to the conference with a specific focus got a lot of in depth knowledge.  However, as a perpetual generalist I still found great value in exploring and giving myself the space to explore possible career avenues.  The career workshops equipped me with many models and tools to help in discovering my passions and their link to my career purpose.  If you are in the same investigative stage as me check out:

http://morethanmoneycareers.com/ .  It is so helpful because the home page shows a table that helps you break down the different functions within businesses and the different types of organizations.  This helps you decide what job and in what sector you want to focus and search.

Lastly, Please go to: http://vimeo.com/channels/netimpactconference , in order to view the conference keynote speeches.  They were too good to miss!

So…it is January 2012, almost exactly three months after the conference.  What do I look back on and view as most memorable?  What did I learn there that I have applied now that I am back in my day-to-day life?  This question is most important because conferences about social change tend to leave people amped up in the experience, for a few moments feeling endless possibility.  This is vital to keeping your inspiration and energy levels up in order to do your work, especially for sustainability champions.  However, at home when your routine is reinstated and reality kicks in again, you are left with the question: what did I take from my conference experience that will matter the most to my life in a pragmatic way?

Here are mine:

~I went to a workshop at the conference that led me to read More Than Money by Mark Albion (one of the founders of Net Impact) which I am using for my practicum project

~I contacted a few of the people I met at the conference in hopes of continued dialogue.  It adds to my growing network of people who are doing innovative work

~I was inspired to really use the Net Impact site resources and have been getting great information as well as using the job board

~I made a folder of all the papers, brochures of organizations, cards of attendees and notes that I took during workshops/speeches at the conference which will act as a valuable resource in the future.

Next year, the conference is much closer…in Baltimore!  Let’s all go, representing Antioch! Team MBA!  The more that attend, the more crazy, fun there will be to be had….

P.S. the Portland Breweries were quite impressive…from a business stance I mean : ).  Check out this epic place Rosie, Mike, I and some new conference friends went one evening.  It is a school that has been transformed into a space for breweries

http://www.mcmenamins.com/427-kennedy-school-home

Ally King

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Sustainability Abroad: Students discuss Antioch’s study abroad trip to Sweden

January 12, 2012

On Saturday, December 17, the AUNE Net Impacters gathered at the Marriott in downtown Keene to share and reflect on the 2011 study abroad trip to Sweden. Several students who participated in Antioch’s first study abroad program shared their pictures, stories, and impressions from their 10-day Swedish adventure.

One student recalled the interesting trips to businesses and organizations that practice sustainability in new and interesting ways. The group visited many remarkable sites such as a facility that turns waste into biodiesel to generate energy and an eco-municipality with an integrated waste system. Another student reflected on how great it was to see sustainability in action and how far ahead the Swedes are in terms of waste management, energy efficiency, and natural resource protection. All students shared in the feelings of hope for what Sweden has accomplished and how the U.S. can catch up, but also shared the same eagerness to achieve the same level of sustainability at home.

The meeting also offered the chance for students to discuss this year’s upcoming study abroad trip to Peru. This experience will be vastly different from Sweden, but will shine a different light on what sustainability means in a developing part of the world. By exploring sustainability efforts and challenges in Peru, students will learn about corporate social responsibility through the lens of small business, multinational corporations, NGOs, and community enterprises. Some students who traveled to Sweden are also planning on participating in this year’s trip to Peru, and they see the trips as complementary learning experiences.

Interested in studying abroad with AUNE? There are still spots open to participate in the Peru trip. For anyone who is interested, visit the MBA website, and contact Polly Chandler with any questions. Come experience sustainability in Peru with us!

Shelley Raymond


Net Impact Co-Sponsors Stay in New Hampshire Strategy Breakfast

January 10, 2012

More than 50 attendees from across professional sectors – including education, nonprofits, corporations, and health care – came together for the Stay in New Hampshire Strategy Breakfast hosted by Antioch University New England (AUNE) on November 18th. Participants gathered to address the problem posed by keynote speaker, Executive Director of Stay Work Play-New Hampshire Kate Luczko, that young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 are leaving the state at too high of a rate. How can we get these young adults to stay? Representatives from the New Hampshire Business of Social Responsibility and the Keene Young Professionals Network were also in attendance.

As an Antioch student, and a New Hampshire native, this event was of special pertinence to me. I can personally attest to the positive impact that the quality of life in New Hampshire has made on me. I treasure my childhood growing up hiking, skiing, canoeing, camping and roaming the White Mountains. After spending some time traveling in college and beyond, now upon returning to New England it feels like the place that I want to be. However, as I look forward to graduating in 2012, I, like many of my classmates, share some anxiety about finding jobs in the future.

For me, the event was a hopeful one. The discussion was facilitated in a World Cafe style with Net Impact members, students, and professionals encouraging the conversations as table hosts. It was inspiring to see members from across sectors engage and bounce ideas off one another; one message stood out: despite the challenges, young professionals and employers have an interest in working together to make New Hampshire an attractive location for young workers to stay. It was a joy to see thoughtful, creative and committed people tackling significant challenges that the area faces in the upcoming years.

Some common themes struck me as emerging from the discussion: that the attraction of New Hampshire for young adults and others included good quality of life, access to outdoor recreational activities, and the strong sense of community here. Some common challenges included the lack of affordable housing, the long commute to work, and limited retention of diversity. Brainstormers noted schools and internships are an important draw for young adults, yet many young professionals leaving school, however, are not aware of the employment opportunities the region offers that would keep them here.

One area that suggests a way forward: both potential employees and employers are looking for flexibility and adaptability, employees in meeting work-life balance and flexibility around job hours and opportunities to work remotely, employers because adaptable employees are needed to work in the increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. The commonality of themes discussed suggests that many are on the same page; now we must take steps to move forward and translate ideas into action.

A follow-up event will be held to discuss the progress that has been made, said Polly Chandler, chair of AUNE’s Department of Management, who helped organize the event.

We would love to hear your thoughts!

Sarah McVicar