The Green Conference

The Green Conference

Holy shit man, too much going on for an unemployed person! Tuesday, I was back in the city for volunteer orientation. I was slated to be a “room attendant” at West Coast Green, this conference/trade show expo on green building (design, contruction, renovation, etc.). I was all stoked about meeting the organizers, an events firm based in beautiful, bohemian Asheville, NC (where I used to have a big landfill client). During orientation, the organizers talked about how all the food vendors were going to be organic and healthy and tasty. The carpeting was going to be recycled fibers. There would be recycling posts everywhere. Volunteers were going to wear organic cotton t-shirts, blah, blah. This conference was going to walk the talk (is that the saying?). So I was excited about being in the company of ultra green folks. I was looking to be inspired, I suppose.

Well, I was inspired… some. But the control freak in me was also a bit disappointed. Certain details just weren’t fleshed out. Lots of things were disorganized, which in some ways is expected for a jumbo expo (600+) but still. Shit has to pull together otherwise people will not take your green mission seriously, you know? The worst thing is to have people equate green with flakey.

Anyway, I got up at the crack of dawn on Thursday. My commute (car then metro) was about 75 minutes each way–exhausting on the noisy, dirty BART. When I arrived to my designated room, another volunteer told me we were all meeting in room 405. This was news to me, considering nothing was mentioned during orientation or in our packets but whatever. I went with the flow. Then, turned out four volunteers didn’t show. I told the organizers to comb through the rooms, because I didn’t know about the training in room 405, so they probably didn’t either. Long story short, the whole day was a mess. Some volunteers didn’t get the message; they were considered “no-shows” and then people were re-assigned to different rooms resulting in under- or over-staffing. We were supposed to have introducers and track hosts to interact directly with the speakers, and my people never came. Since I didn’t know anything about them, my poor speakers had to self-introduce. Not really a big deal for them, but as a volunteer with the event organizers, I was embarrassed. Then registration took forever, so many attendees poured into the sessions late… Then, many of the lecture halls filled to capacity, so attendees were denied entrance– they were not happy campers.

For my second session, the speakers were dicks. I introduced myself to one speaker, who was decent. The other two just continued their conversation while I stood there waiting for them to acknowledge me and to give a damn. They never did. And they weren’t even in the middle of anything deep; they were just shooting the shit. Wtf? Then I asked if they wanted the lights on or off and none of the three people gave any definitive response. I mean, they didn’t seem to care, but hello, if you don’t care, then just pick one. Finally, I was like, “so we’ll leave them on then?” and the woman gave me this look like I was dwelling on some silly detail. Annoyed, she shook her head, shrugged her shoulders, and said, “sure… whatever.” Look beotch, don’t give me ‘tude! Puhleez. Your construction company is currently selling homes below cost. Get off the high horse!

Anyway, the talks were so-so. Generally kind of boring with even drier powerpoints. Thankfully, in the afternoon, I sat in on a talk by Marc Vassallo on barefoot homes (aka informal living). Not only were the speakers really good, but their presentations were sharp, colorful, and entertaining. How refreshing! One speaker was an author who obviously had the public speaking thing down. The other was an architect, so all his slides were aesthetically appealing. Funny thing, the architect said one of his clients was a couple–Berkeley ecology profs. They commissioned a 28 sf add-on to their home. Haha, 28 sf is tiny– a 7 x 4 space! Their original floorprint? Only 700 sf. So John got an earful about that. Two high-profile professors living in a small, eco-friendly space… how cool is that?

Of course John always counters by attacking my computer obsession. “Do you know how environmentallly wasteful and degrading computer manufacturing is?” Touche. But he still shouldn’t give me crap about using cloth grocery bags and about recycling.

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