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Honest and Tough Conversations

placeholder+imagePosted on: 03/31/2022

Rate It Green Members and Friends - 

I recently attended my first in-person conference in a long while (NESEA’s BuildingEnergy '22!), and goodness it felt great and yet odd to be in a crowd!  That may not be the same for everyone, but we’re all adjusting perhaps to some different new normals in different parts of our lives.  

I enjoyed many of the sessions of course, and I was particularly intrigued by a panel called, "Who’s In," and also at the same time, “Who’s Not In (And How We Can Reach Them).”  I think this is a key question we need to keep asking, and also keep asking with respect.  How do we reach out and build welcoming ramps and bridges for those who have been building a long time but didn’t begin their careers with sustainability in mind, as well as for those who might just be starting out?  And also, how do we include everyone when we talk about how to live, work, and play more sustainably and healthily in our built environment?  

We need to have some more tough conversations, and honest conversations.  Saving money now doesn’t mean saving money when it costs a heck of a lot more to retrofit later - especially when we know this is the right long-term decision now.  Expecting other people to live or behave a certain way when we don’t ask for their opinions or input also doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Also, let’s be realistic.  I just finally got my family to start using the exhaust hood after 16 years… That may seem like a silly example, but we know that often sustainable and healthy building considerations receive a frosty reception, and even the greatest and most obvious ideas can take a long time to sink in.  We have to think about those who will occupy all built spaces and how their decisions and actions will interact with these spaces in terms of actual performance.  We also need to recognize, humbly, that we do not yet have all the answers.  

And then there’s the fact that there’s a senseless war taking place across the world that just makes it hard to pretend everything is normal when we can see a similar normal being disrupted violently before our eyes, where we may feel somewhat helpless.  Here, we need to have a tough conversation about energy dependence and fossil fuels, and how much our own politics and decisions play a role in the political and environmental crises of our day.  

It’s imperative that we are honest and can take some risks in our conversations, and that we can talk fairly, and apologize when we need to if we say something upsetting.  Dialogue matters, and can help us make progress and build more helpful and impactful connections.  We also need to try to have as judgment-free a zone as possible.  Do what you can, try not to dig in and occupy a “side," be a part of community, make yourself as vulnerable as you can, and try not to judge someone else's effort next to your own.  

And please share.  Share what you’re leaning, share your expertise and wins, and even share your hard mistakes and lessons.  If I don’t say it often enough, thanks to Atlanta Green Builder Matt Hoots of Sawhorse, Inc., who’s been sharing his expertise, advice, and project news and stories since we first met at Greenbuild 2019.  If everyone created content as conscientiously and consistently as Matt does, I sincerely believe we’d be a lot further in our green building journey for all.  Among Matt’s most recent content, you can check out, Time to take our heads out of the sandElectric Vehicles need to be powered by Solar (not Coal) to be green, his "Perfect Wall” demonstration, and… a recent update on the #1920sMakeoverATL Project!  You can also find Matt on Rate It Green's YouTube Channel, as well as on the Sawhorse Design Build Channel.  

Let's take our control back as we can and take all the steps we reasonably can, and work to find other own truths.  The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine isn’t the first related to politics and oil.  We need to compete to be more sustainable as a country, and more self reliant.  We can accomplish these goals, but we really need everyone (there’s a reason to invite, and not judge!). The great news is that we already have so many of the tools we need to decarbonize and transition to a better building and cleaner energy future, and more are on the way.  We need the political and personal will.  And we need to make the case convincingly.  Not because people should be judged if they don’t listen, but we really can do better and create win-wins. 

People who take a moment and tell it like it is (or even like they sincerely think it is) are my heroes.  Let’s talk.  

Thank you,

Allison Friedman
Founder, Rate It Green

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