Archives for January 2013

The True Genius of EMERGE: Collaboration

Working in groups can be frustrating, messy and sometimes simply downright annoying, especially when the results disappoint. Other times work by committee can be fabulously productive and invigorating. Unfortunately, we’re never assured of a positive experience. More often than not, we focus on the silos of our individual goals and priorities, or we’ve been driven from collaboration by a negative ‘committee’ experience. Since we are rarely taught how to work well in groups, it’s typically a ‘hit or miss’ experience. This is, until the EMERGE Leadership workshops.

Collaboration is key to emergent leadership, a systems-based approach to leadership that combines leadership competencies, change technologies and practice, and the collective impact of community. So it was no surprise that at most recent EMERGE training, participants spent a good deal of time applying the emergent leadership concepts to their own organizational and community challenges, and in particular learning how to foster integrated (and more lasting) solutions via collaboration.

The EMERGE workshop held at the beautiful Marin Headlands earlier this month trained over thirty local green building leaders to use and grow their innate leadership abilities. Participants, many of them long time Bay Area green building advocates, were joined by colleagues as far away as Tucson, San Diego, and Mexico City and combined literally hundreds of years of experience and dedication to the sustainable building movement.

The faculty for the workshop mirrored the attendees’ mix of local and “imported” provenance. Local green building author and expert Ann Edminster joined David Eisenberg, John Cunningham and workshop leader Kathleen O’Brien in leading the class through the various aspects of emergent leadership, sharing their own experiences and specific tools in candid, heartfelt sessions. Teaching was a thorough a mix of presentations, active participation, and outdoor exercise, culminating in a problem-solving assignment where the participants worked in teams, actively employing all the tools we had just been taught and presenting recommendations back to the entire group.

One point of levity was the certitude by many that the scenarios offered for the team exercise were written for them individually! That was certainly the case for me, where my group focused on making a green building non-profit work more effectively. It became clear that some leadership issues, suffered in silence by we green building advocates, are actually quite universal.

The EMERGE trainings have been developed to help people within the “Green Building Movement” develop and hone leadership and collaboration tools, and in particular to lead from “any chair.” Feedback from this and prior EMERGE trainings shows that one of the most valued experiences of the workshops is creating an ambiance of acceptance and respect, and providing an opportunity for like-minded green industry leaders to gather together in the same room.

As a self-proclaimed green building “pragmatist,” Kathleen noted that many of our shared goals could be more easily achieved if the isolated components of this disparate movement learned how to work together. Teaching cooperation by creating an opportunity to cooperate is the true genius at the core of this training. I’m sure I speak for everyone who attended by wishing I had attended this workshop years ago – I feel re-activated, re-invigorated and ready to roar!

Bronwyn Barry,
Director One Sky Homes, Co-Chair, Passive House California, and EMERGE Alumni

Mission (totally) Possible

Brett DeSantisThree EMERGE Alumni met this past weekend to formalize the first local EMERGE Discussion Group (EVER!) giving proof once again Margaret Mead’s thought that one should  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.” 

“Agent” Brett Marlo DeSantis, MFA, LEED AP BD&C, provides a recap:

  • Place: Gig Harbor Washington
  • Conditions: clear crisp Sunday afternoon (post seahawk loss)
  • Agents: Nick Cutting, Dan Smith, and Brett Marlo DeSantis
  • Assignment: E.A.T. it up!  Emerge Accountability Team Mission engaged: tangible, measurable and actionable items.
  • Deadline: quarterly or goals will self-destruct.
  • Next mission date: 3.24.13

Agent Dan

Mission: endings are great beginnings

1. Finish Project zero-energy house. Prepare for ribbon cutting. Find students to present on process. Create video from pictures.

2. Prepare for Community Lecture Series to commence. Define target audience. Agenda. Venue. Date. Speaker. Format. Possible dates: May 8th or 9th 2013.

3. Apply to masters program at UWT. Interdisciplinary program.

Agent Nick

Mission: momentum, quantity + quality will increase speed

1. Meet with heavy green hitters. 1 per week. On target list.

2. Strengthen established relationships. 1 per week. On existing contact list.

3. Evaluate commitments and roles in current organizations. Define time commitments & successors.

Agent Brett

Mission: community transformation in my backyard

1. Increase awareness of sustainable codes. Meet with Gig Harbor city officials. Review code adoption.  Introduce code innovation data base.

2. Create market transformation in real estate market via green talks/education. Meet with realtor and lender network. Support and introduce Fiona to local connections. Write columns on accessing money for retrofits. Co-create presentations and look at local panel.

3. Engage in Gig Harbor’s revisioning. Prepare for invitation as panel with city officials to discuss sustainable tourism, community connectivity and the future of Gig Harbor’s waterfront.


Your mission, fellow agents, should you choose to accept it…

…is to form your own E.A.T. before we meet again. As always, if any of your force is caught without an objective, the Emerge Alumni will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

This blog will self-destruct in ten seconds. Good luck agents EMERGE Alumni!