Greenbuild day one: Common ground

Nov 21, 2013

Tuesday night at a reception on the eve of Greenbuild, one of our featured guests and I – she being a Washington insider – began talking about what she described “the lost art of governing.”  It was a fascinating conversation, the details of which are probably better served for another place and another time.  But suffice it to say I now know I'm not alone in my belief that so many of today’s leaders on both sides of the aisle clearly have forsaken their duties as leaders in governing and allowed themselves to become sidetracked by a mad pursuit of political one-upmanship and something I can best describe as a Beltway version of the game “Gotcha!”

I bring this up this morning because as I was going around yesterday greeting and introducing myself to many registering for Greenbuild ’13, it occurred to me how much more politically and culturally diverse a typical conference attendee has become over the years – especially of late.  Yesterday I saw people of all different shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities, religious affiliations and social classes.  But more than that, I saw people from all across the wide expanse of the American political spectrum, and people who run the gamut professionally; from environmentalists and activists on the left, to builders, corporate executives, investors and dyed-in-the-wool capitalists on the right.

But this is what struck me, and why I referenced my conversation from Tuesday; all those I mentioned above have chosen to come here to Philadelphia the week before Thanksgiving not because of how different they are.  They've chosen to come here because of the one thing they share; the one thing they have in common.  They are all here because they – or should I say we – all want to learn more about this concept of sustainability; or more to the point, how this concept of sustainability might have even greater relevance in our day-to-day lives. 

That’s one of my greatest satisfactions as I look back over the two decades that have somehow slipped into history since we first formed the USGBC; that Greenbuild has become a leader in sustainability by focusing less on the things that separate people and more on the one thing that unites us.  That thing is, of course, our planet and the legacy we will leave for the next generation.

And whether someone is here because they feel morally or spiritually that sustainability is the right thing to do, or they’re here because they believe sustainability will help them make more money or gain more influence is hardly the point. 

The point is they’re here – we’re here – and the tiny snowball we rolled down the mountainside just a few years ago is now a mountain in and of itself with a momentum all its own.  And just maybe, if our political leaders would stop focusing so much on our differences and tried to build on our common ground, they might find governing as rewarding, enriching and enlightening as so many of as at the USGBC find Greenbuild to be each year.

 

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