Most of us working in the green building field understand that to truly achieve our goal of achieving a sustainable built environment – one in which future generations thrive — a major transformation in practice and thinking must occur. Therefore it was quite satisfying recently to participate in TEDx Tacoma where the theme was "transformation." TED Speakers included scholars, visual artists, musicians, activists, and educators working in fields as various as neurological research, psychology, self-discovery, cloud technology, product design, local food activism, and green building.
If nothing else, the day was transformative for those participating. For some of us, this was the first time before an audience; and for most of us, the first time being in those circumstances with cameras running and a larger-than-life timer blinking down the seconds you have left to complete your talk. Where you might expect the 'green' room to be filled with nervous, inward-looking pacers, it was actually quite the opposite. We were anxious to be sure, and as our talk approached we focused on our notes, but the focus of our conversations was generally curiosity about each other and support for "stepping up" for societal transformation in some way.
Quite appropriately, the venue for the TEDx Event was the "hot shop" for the Tacoma Museum of Glass, with the glass blowing furnace the backdrop for our stage. If you've been working in the trenches of green building, I'm sure you can relate to being on the "hot seat" when defending innovations! And if you've been successful, you've managed to create some confidence in those you wish to put those innovative ideas into practice. I found it intriguing that the TEDx experience was as much about building confidence for the speakers as the audience. It makes sense, doesn't it? How convincing can you be if your concern is not so much about the content as your delivery? Or, if you pay so little attention to your delivery that your audience doesn't get the content? It's a delicate balance, for sure. Taking care with both is a form of respect for those you wish to communicate with.
Kathleen O'Brien founded the award-winning green building firm O'Brien & Company in 1991, and continues to provide special consulting services for the company. She has dedicated her "retirement" to the Emerge Leadership Project, which provides leadership training and mentorship for industry, business, and community members convinced sustainable building is the right thing to do, and called to leadership to make that happen. Her TEDx Tacoma Talk was entitled "Emergence: A Leadership Style that Works for All."