An Executive Director's point of view

Posted by: David M Patt

July 28, 2012: Bogus recycling

Posted by: David M Patt
Lots of offices maintain separate waste bins for items that can and cannot be recycled. Unbeknownst to many, the contents of those two bins are often dumped into the same giant garbage receptacle.

So what was the point of separating items in the first place?

May 24, 2011: Stuff for free (almost)

Posted by: David M Patt
The National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Products accepts donations of overstock from manufacturers and distributes them to subscribing not-for-profits.

An annual subscription fee allows organizations to order items three times per year and helps companies shed unsold goods while fulfilling socially responsible aims.

Thanks to Crain's Chicago Business for telling us about it.

April 24, 2011: Dirty web

Posted by: David M Patt
Greenpeace claims the largest internet companies are failing to adapt to the use of clean power for their web services. Twitter, it says, is the worst offender.

Here's the dirt.

April 12, 2011: The expense of going green

Posted by: David M Patt
Grail Research (in a very pro-green survey) found that 85 percent of U.S. consumers report buying green goods, but only 8 percent do it most of the time. Although 8 in 10 vacation travelers consider themselves "eco-conscious," only 1 in 10 base bookings on green considerations.

Most people claim to like green, but they don't want to pay more for it. High price is the leading reason people opt NOT to buy green.

So, don't consider "going green" to be a slam dunk good decision. Before your association follows that path, find out if your members want it.

A lot of them may not care, unless it reduces their cost (not the association's cost) for dues, meeting registrations, and other products and services.

March 01, 2011: Blowing in the wind

Posted by: David M Patt
Driving back from Springfield IL, where I spoke yesterday to the Illinois Society of Association Executives (ISAE), I sped through three massive forests of frightening-looking wind turbines.

Although they didn't hover menacingly near the highway like those in northwestern Indiana (eerily at about the same latitude as those in Illinois - maybe it's something about the wind), they seemed horribly out of place.

They rose up threateningly from the corn fields like awakening aliens, reaching into the sky to spin their monstrous fans, as they marched far into the distance, like never-ending columns of conquering soldiers.

I know wind energy is eco-friendly, even if a lot of farmers don't like it, but those sci-fi looking windmills just don't fit the landscape. If only we could hide them somewhere and still harness their energy.

By the way, the ISAE meeting was very enjoyable.

November 12, 2010: Going green outside the office

Posted by: David M Patt
Associations are busily promoting green policies for office administration, meeting planning, and a host of other organizational activities.

Embracing green transportation policies would seem like the next logical step, and high-speed rail ought to be first on the list.

Even people who like to drive everywhere (I'm one of those folks) can recognize the advantage of rail for associations, businesses, and employees.

High-speed rail can more easily bring workers to jobs, enable association and business people to travel more quickly and less expensively to nearby cities, and reduce pollution and energy use.

Naysayers may want to criticize, but facts show the benefits of rail service are significant. Rail use has far exceeded planners' expectations. In the absence of rail, travelers are most likely to drive.

Road and air advocates can be expected to try to use their influence to stop expansion of rail service. But if you want to be green inside your office, you should want to be green outside, too.

March 14, 2010: It's not easy being green

Posted by: David M Patt
Some folks in northern Illinois are complaining about the wind turbines popping up in neighbors' fields.

They say the turbines are noisy, create "shadow flicker," spook farm animals, and create health problems for people and livestock.

They claim farmers who lease their fields to turbine companies are usually more interested in the money than the environment. Rental fees paid for turbine use are higher than fees for leasing farm land for agriculture.

They're also miffed when they sit in the dark during power outages and see the turbines still working - generating power for other communities.

There's got to be a way for good public policy to be implemented without harming people.

November 22, 2009: Giving vs. giving back

Posted by: David M Patt
There is a big difference between "giving" and "giving back," and too many people confuse the two.

"Giving" is a generous, compassionate act in which a person provides something of value to others who are in need of it. It is done without expectation of receiving anything in return.

"Giving back" is a moral obligation in which people who have amassed a significant amount of value, return (or are prompted to return) some of that value to people who are in need of it. It may, or may not, be motivated by generosity and compassion.

When association executives call upon colleagues to "give back" to the profession, they are really asking people to "give."

You should "give" to your profession, not because you owe it anything, but because you are part of a community, and that community seeks to fulfill aims that you believe in. The profession can do a better job of fulfilling those aims if the members of its community "give."

So, let's get it straight. Billionaires should "give back' because they have too much and don't need it all. The rest of us should "give" because we believe it is important to do so, not because we have taken anything that ought to be returned.

December 16, 2008: Brown paper bags

Posted by: David M Patt
Today's Holiday Showcase, hosted by Association Forum of Chicagoland, featured more than 700 exhibitors, most of them destinations. Strolling the aisles, I observed dessert stations offering scrumptious sweets, booth spaces well-designed and attractive, and some hotel exhibits as lavish as ever.

The only sign of the changing economy was the distribution of brown paper bags, instead of cloth, to stash exhibitor goodies and informational materials. I passed on the oversized doggie bag and grabbed a cloth bag, albeit a low-end one, from a hotel exhibitor.

Green advocates may praise the choice of brown paper bags instead of cloth. I think it was a cost-saving decision, though, not an environmental one.

Besides, brown paper bags cannot be reused. They'll just be tossed in the recycling heap. Cloth bags, however, can be used time and time again. I've never thrown one away.

If you want to cut costs, just don't offer any bag. People can carry their own stuff. They don't need help from a promotional receptacle.
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