Flying up a storm: Offsetting GHG emissions for traveling change-makers

The good news: I’m lucky enough to work with amazing clients all over the continent who change the world on a daily basis. And I’m one of those freaky people that actually love travel, airports and all – which is good, since most training and facilitation requires face-time. The bad news: While I’m off helping others ‘save the world’, I’m also helping pump tonnes of nasty fossil fuel emissions into our beleaguered atmosphere.

Oh, the irony. Especially on Earth Day!

Nowadays, many airlines offer ‘offsetting’ options for a small donation when you purchase your ticket. But I admit, I’m skeptical. Are they investing in companies that plant trees for biofuel – but only after clear-cutting entire stands of 300-year old cedars? In other words, are the projects actually not resulting in “additional” CO2 reductions? Or are they contributing to other negative non-carbon impacts, like investing in run-of-river hydro-electric projects that produce ‘green energy’ by trashing salmon spawning streams, or that undercut the conservation-economy efforts of First Nations in their territories?

It all comes down to trusting the offsetting supplier or broker. So, I asked another frequent-flyer, longtime business leader and environmental activist Joel Solomon, of Renewal Partners what he does.  He suggested “Offsetters”, a Canadian organization with 25 staff based out of Vancouver. According to their site, they have one of the lowest overhead rates in the industry. As well, they say they’re “verified by third parties as generating additional, permanent reductions in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

So I checked out their handy calculator, and learned that, on a recent trip from Vancouver to Philadelphia and back, I alone was responsible for spewing another 1.8917 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Tonnes, people!  Blerg!  But wait – for $47.29 I can invest in permanent, additional CO2 reductions that will counter most of that, and alleviate at least some of my chronic guilt.

Now, not for one minute do I believe that we can, or should, buy our way out of our collective planet-trashing lifestyles. But, until we can all sit together as faux-embodied beings, reading one another’s body language and doing our small-group breakouts in Star Trek’s much-awaited Holadeck, supporting Offsetters, or something like it (BTW, recommendations welcome!) looks like the best interim solution for frequent travelers like me. It’s certainly better than doing nothing at all.

“Managing” social activist staff: two upcoming workshops

Managing” social activists…. Does that sound like an oxymoron, or what!?  Working in the not-for-profit sector for 20 years, I’ve noticed that the biggest messes many leaders face stem from a lack of skill in managing their people. Managing teams is especially tough when both the (often reluctant) managers AND the ‘managees’ are trained, if not fundamentally driven, to question authority and status quo power structures.  Two upcoming workshops – one on the West Coast of B.C., and one in Washington, D.C. – can help.

First, the fabulous  Deena Chochinov, a veteran organizational development consultant (among other skills) is leading a 2-part workshop on Talent Management on May 7th and May 14th in Vancouver, BC. As she explains, “This high-impact skill-building workshop will guide you through the key drivers and steps for creating a motivated, inspired and responsible workforce that will survive and thrive in these challenging times.” See for details.

On the other side of the continent, a workshop in D.C. addresses HR (human resources) and social activism in particular.  The Management Assistance Group is offering a 3-part workshop on Managing Real People, Managing Change, especially for social justice organizations. It’s being offered out of the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C., starting with a full-day session on May 11th.  See for details.

Facilitation training on the West Coast with Julian Griggs

Master facilitator Julian Griggs is once again offering his widely-acclaimed 5-day intensive training, “The Art and Craft of Facilitation” on spectacular Cortes Island this May 10-14, 2010. Check out Hollyhock for details. This intensive is aimed at “independent facilitators, Executive Directors, managers, project leaders or any participants in collaborative group processes that are looking to enable teams to be effective, and support groups in achieving their full potential.” Julian’s trainings usually sell out – he offers a powerful, transformative approach to facilitation skills-building – so book fast.

Public speaking training with Gail Larsen in Santa Fe and the Pacific Northwest

Gail Larsen, author of Transformational Public Speaking, is one of the most heartfelt and experienced public speaking trainers in the US and Canada. Gail is offering another series of trainings this Spring, starting with her sold-out “Transformational Speaking Intensive” in Santa Fe April 8-11.  She’s got two more with a few slots free still on Whidbey Island May 6 and May 13-16th and another June 17-20th at New York’s Omega Institute.  I’ve done two trainings with Gail to brush up my own skills as both a speaker and trainer, and absolutely love her supportive ‘inside-out’ approach to coaching authentic, powerful speaking.

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