Greening in Action… in Minneapolis

We just received photos from our West Metro Recycle America facility tour!  Each year we learn about city recycling procedures, as they all vary, and we better understand the micro and macro business of recycling.  This year an illuminating learning moment on the tour was discussing the need of an end market for recyclables and how that drastically changes the recycling process geographically.  Example: on the coasts we recycle yogurt containers and then ship them abroad.  In the central states it is not cost effective to ship this type of plastic anywhere, so they do not recycle them (and how green is it to ship it overseas, anyway?).  It is important to note these differences in order for us to have an effective recycling program, proper labeling and instruction,  as recycling is a key part of our greening efforts.

Below is the West Metro Recycle America facility we toured.  The convention center also has a relationship with a pig farm for composting food waste.  We toured the Pioneer Paper Stock Company for a tour of their paper/fiber processing facility as well.

recyclables beign sorted by hand
recyclables being sorted by hand
recycling machinery- mechanical sorting
recycling machinery- mechanical sorting

A very special “thank you” shout out to Shawna McKinley, our greening consultant from MeetGreen, all of our tour guides including Tom Heuer from Aspen Waste Systems, Steve Rehbein and Anita Sellers from Waste Management Recycle America, Ruth Warden from MeetMinneapolis for setting it all up and taking pictures, and everyone who does their part to reduce the enviornmental impact of our meeting (that includes you!).

Return from the “Mini-Apple”

Yup, some call Minneapolis the Mini-Apple.  It’s a vibrant city with a great downtown- June will be amazing, but boy was it cold last week!  Check out the view from the Hilton Garden Inn- see how close it is to the convention center!

View of convention center from the Hilton Garden Inn in Minneapolis
View of convention center from the Hilton Garden Inn in Minneapolis

It was fun to see all of our wonderful housing options and the great space in the convention center.  It’s always so interesting to see the efforts they are making toward meeting our greening and accessibility requirements and talk about how they can further their commitment to meet our mission goals.

We also picked up some lingo like “What in the three bean salad?” And “For sittin’ on the cat!”… Come to General Assembly and you’ll be talking like a genuine Minnesotan too!

Heading to Minneapolis!

Tomorrow the General Assembly office staff will be off to Minneapolis to do our annual 6-month-out GA logistical planning trip. We can’t believe how quickly GA is approaching! We have a whirlwind itinerary over the next couple of days. We will be siting the Convention Center, seven downtown hotels and the University of Minnesota dormitories. We will also be going to the West Metro Recycle America facility and the Pioneer Paper Stock Company for a tour of their paper/fiber processing facility. By touring these facilities, this helps us know how we should sort our recycling at GA and how to best encourage hotels and the Convention Center to be as green as the can.

On this trip we have a ton of decisions to make and details to verify! We have to figure out how we will configure and set up our meeting rooms, exhibit space, plenary hall, and registration areas. We will verify specific details for all of our hotels (such as room types, internet availability, amenities, food outlets, parking costs, fitness centers, etc.) so our attendees are informed when they make their reservations.

Patty Cameron, a member of the Winchester Unitarian Society in Winchester, MA and the Accessibilities Coordinator of GA, will be accompanying us. Patty does the important work of thoroughly auditing all of our meeting and hotel/dorm facilities to ensure that they are accessible and welcoming to all.

Ginger Brown is coming, too! Ginger, a member of the GA Planning Committee and a member of the First UU Church of Nashville, TN, is serving as this year’s Plenary Hall Coordinator. Ginger will be meeting with us, our AV production company and convention services manager at the Minneapolis Convention Center to work out the plenary stage placement, seating charts, and all sorts of technical details.

Shawna McKinley, Project Manager with MeetGreen®, will be joining us as well! Shawna has been involved in the greening of the meetings industry for over 8 years and has been our greening consultant for the past 3 years. Shawna’s role is to help mediate relations with our vendors, and facilitate sustainability measures.

We will also be meeting with the 2010 Volunteer Committee! The Volunteer Committee is made up of about 10 UUs (most of them from the Prairie Star District – the host District of this year’s GA) who will donate hundreds of hours to help make GA a success. The Volunteer Committee spearhead many aspects of GA such as training and managing registration and delegate credentialing volunteers, serving as head usher and managing all of the other ushers, managing information services (“Ask Me!” volunteers), coordinating GA ambiance (decorations) and planning special events (evening concerts and dances, etc.). This year, the Volunteer Committee with work under the leadership of David Lauth, 2010 GA District Coordinator and member of the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis.

We’re packed and rearing to go! Wish us a safe trip!