200809 Kick Start Guide
Shared by: AndyMcNally
Are you in? It’s time to get your feet wet! 2008/09 Kick Start Guide “Everyone in by 2009” The first of three stages in a five year plan for conservation leadership as part of Ontario’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and a conserver society The plot so far… We Conserve is an initiative of the Conservation Council of Ontario to promote a united conservation movement across Ontario – an aggressive voluntary strategy to transform Ontario into a conserver society. The roots of this initiative run deep. The Council has a 57 year history of promoting cooperation on conservation issues. It has always had a strong grounding in strategic planning, publishing two consensus-based conservation strategy reports in 1986 and 1990 (the kind you wish we’d listened to way back then). Around 1990 (during the second “green wave”), the Council also started to develop a low-cost model for community action, helping seven communities develop community networks, voluntary action plans, and campaigns. Much of this work laid the foundation for We Conserve. Our current Executive Director, Chris Winter, has been with the organization since 1984. He has a deep understanding of the conservation and environmental scene in Ontario, a natural passion for helping others, a keen strategic mind, and a never-ending stream of innovative ideas and projects1. Virtually every idea you will find in this action plan is a product of Chris’ imaginative and positive approach to problem-solving, honed and fine- tuned by a creative board of directors and field-tested by the Council’s members and partners. In the end, the Council’s true strength lies in it members and friends. We are not a big organization. Of necessity, we have always had to think like a movement and, as a result, everything we do is shareware – designed to help others who have conservation as part of their mandate For us, the turning point was the blackout of August 2003. It put conservation back on the map. By 2005, we had launched We Conserve as an initiative to support the development of a united conservation movement in Ontario, with multi-year support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and The Beer Store. Since then, we’ve developed numerous projects and campaigns that have allowed us to build working partnerships with other early adopters, such as the Town of Oakville, the City of Oshawa, the Citizens Bank of Canada, the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, the Conservation Bureau and many local groups across Ontario. 1 In the last three years Chris’ campaign and project ideas include the “Doors Closed” and “Lighten Up, Ontario” campaigns, the Citizens Bank Green Mortgage, Jane’s Walk, Green Star Ratings, the Toronto Conservation Action Network, community transition strategies, and “We Conserve”. 1. The Five Year Plan In January of this year, we released a five year plan for We Conserve, designed to achieve significant conservation results by the Kyoto Protocol deadline of 2012. It’s ambitious (it has to be) but it is also an extremely pragmatic approach We Conserve was picked as to building a united conservation movement. For the full plan, and for one of the big ideas for 2008 by the Toronto Star. details on all our current campaigns and projects, please visit www.weconserve.ca Our Vision Our vision is of a conserver society; one that provides a high quality of life by working in harmony with nature and using resources sustainably. As a provincial association, our primary focus is Ontario, however we recognize and support the application of We Conserve at a national level. Conservation is universal. Our Strategy No one organization can create a conserver society. It requires a coordinated and sustained effort on the part of many organizations, institutions, businesses and governments. In short, it requires a conservation movement. Therefore, our principal strategy is to act as a catalyst for the development of a united conservation movement. Our Goals To achieve our vision, we’ve outlined three steps to building an effective conservation movement in Ontario: 1. Everyone in by 2009 – getting every group, business, institution, and government to make their environmental commitment a part of We Conserve, and to commit to improve; and enlisting everyone in Ontario to make a personal pledge to become a better conserver. 2. Organized by 2010 – developing the community and issue-based networks and support structure for conservation; setting in place the policy and fiscal instruments for conservation; and raising new funds for community-based outreach and support. 3. Great change by 2012 – working together to achieve measurable results along the path to a conserver society. 2. Our Operating Principles This is the page most people skim over. But if you look at our projects and campaigns, you’ll see how our unique approach has led to some very innovative, yet obvious, solutions to the challenges of shifting our society onto a sustainable, conserver path. Over the course of piloting We Conserve and individual projects, we have developed a unique list of operating principles and approaches that help build a united movement: Distributed Leadership – we are each responsible for integrating conservation into our own lives and workplace. Every organization, business, and government has the responsibility to lead within its own operations, its mandate, and in helping others to conserve. Three Degrees of Separation – by focusing on lead umbrella associations and networks, we can reach everyone in Ontario several times over through their members’ members. Shareware – all our programming and resources are available free of charge to those who have made a commitment to conserve. Adaptability – No other social movement in history has been as extensively branded and marketed as conservation, greening, and environmental sustainability -- heck, we can’t even agree on the name for the movement. No problem. The important task is to provide people with the help they need to reduce their environmental footprint (and improve their lives at the same time). We encourage adaptation and integration of the We Conserve wordmark, our campaigns, and our materials with other initiatives or branded programs. Be creative. Polar Bears for Conservation: East Toronto Climate Action Group (ETCAG) takes to the street to promote a local conservation fair with products and services – green volunteers promoting green business. ETCAG is part of the Toronto Conservation Action Network – a loose network of groups and businesses that are engaging the public and offering products and services to help people become better conservers. The synergy of social and economic marketing is one of the many benefits of a united conservation movement. 3. The 2008/09 Action Plan Let’s start with the first goal – Everyone in. We’ve broken it down into three campaigns and a mapping project. Each of the campaigns is focused on one activity and one sector as the primary target – but for the keeners out there, there is no shortage of ways to get involved. 1. I Conserve – movement-based social marketing by community groups and NGOs. We know most everyone in Ontario supports conservation, but what percentage will actually stand up and say “I Conserve”? Help make conservation personal. 2. Conservation Action Networks – connecting the groups and businesses that can engage the community and help people become better conservers. Municipalities are asked to help convene and host a conservation action network as the first step to a community transition strategy. 3. Green Star Ratings – a simple and universal five-star rating system to identify. Stores, restaurants and businesses are the initial target audience, and business associations will be the key leaders for this project. 4. The Big Conservation Directory – we want to build a detailed and complete online directory of all the organizations and businesses that are helping people go green. It’s a great way to support all the participants in the above three campaigns with a searchable directory that will connect people across Ontario with the solutions in their community. Each of these campaigns focuses on engagement – everyone in by 2009. To keep it simple, each campaign focuses on a single sector. They are interconnected. Public commitment to conservation will be supported by the groups and businesses in each Conservation Action Network and it will build the market demand for companies that have a visible commitment to the environment. Each campaign also lays the foundation for future activities under our second goal – organized by 2010. 4. I Conserve This summer, we want “I conserve” to be on everybody’s lips. “I conserve: I’m saving energy”. “I conserve: I’m driving less.” “I conserve: I’m eating local.” “I conserve: I’m buying local.” You get the message – conservation means different things to different people. Everyone is different, and everyone has to come up with solutions that make sense for them. We know from our polling in recent years that conservation is the overwhelming preferred option for energy security and climate change. Over 90% of the public want to see stronger government action on conservation. But how well does this translate into a personal commitment to conserve? By the end of this year, we want “I conserve” to become the universal statement of personal commitment to the environment. We want over 80% to have made a personal commitment to become a better conserver. And we want to develop a strong public awareness of the We Conserve wordmark to identify businesses, organizations and governments that can help them become better conservers. Movement-Based Social Marketing (MBSM) Over the past three years, we’ve piloted a novel approach to social marketing – movement-based social marketing. By integrating a core message or common campaign in the existing outreach activities and member services of participating organizations and businesses, we’ve found we can reach everyone in Ontario several times over. It’s an economical, adaptive and highly effective approach. What makes MBSM work is the recognition that a rising tide raises all ships. “We Conserve” lets the public know that there are meaningful solutions they can take, but more importantly it lets them know that there is help in implementing those solutions. It allows each participating business, organization and government to co-promote their services and products as part of a province-wide, multi-sector commitment to reducing our ecological footprint. In support of movement-based marketing approach, the Conservation Council will make our core promotional material (including the I Conserve assessment and pledge) available to participating groups that can help with outreach; we will allow it to be adapted and reproduced in publications; and we will allow it to be integrated with other conservation programs. We will launch a movement-based publicity campaign with a list Quick Start: of initial partners and sponsors. 5. Our Products and Resources We will continue to create innovative ways to market and promote the conservation movement, including: • pledge cards • t-shirts • buttons • weblinks and banners • newsletter inserts • earned media • integration and affinity I Conserve t-shirts are now available to community groups for local promotion and fundraising. The shirts sell for $20 and are available from our distributor, Fair Apparel for as low as $10 depending on volume. Buttons Buttons are a great way to promote a group or an activity. They can be ordered through the Conservation Council at cost and sold for a dollar each. I Conserve – self assessment and pledge card The I Conserve card is a simple way for people to assess how good they are at conservation, and to set personal targets. It’s a great conversation starter for community workshops, and an excellent introduction to some of the local programs, products and services that can help people become better conservers. The cards are available for free from the Conservation Council of Ontario. 6. Conservation Action Networks Imagine every municipality in Ontario with an active network of community groups that want to get involved in promoting conservation solutions. The Conservation Council first introduced the concept of an environmental community action plan in 1992 under the federal Green Plan. Seven Ontario communities took part, with three of them (Port Hope, Thunder Bay and Elora) using the process as a stepping stone to setting up a green community. One other (Cambridge) maintains an active network to this day. A Conservation Action Network typically involves around 40 - 80 local groups and businesses in promoting and supporting conservation solutions in a municipality. It can be as simple as a contact list, but from there, municipalities can follow our five steps process to design community transition plans: 1. Develop a Community Network -- a contact list of groups and individuals that share a common desire to improve the local environment, including community groups, schools, businesses, service clubs, and the municipal government. 2. Set up a Coordinating Committee -- representatives from all sectors of the community who have agreed to help promote and support community-based projects. The Cambridge City Green Strategy uses 3. Designate a Community Coordinator -- a staff person, a conservation action network. www.city.cambridge.on.ca/article.php?ssid=41 consultant, or volunteer who is the main contact person for members of the community network, and for the provincial and national community support programs. 4. Draft an Environmental Community Transition Plan -- a brief statement of the environmental priorities for the community, the lead organizations for each issue, and some of the projects that will support the community goals. 5. Conduct a Community Campaign -- interrelated projects that support an overall community goal. 2008 – Everyone In! For 2008/09, our goal is to have community action networks set up in all municipalities across Ontario. The initial task is to encourage every municipality to take the first step in creating a green contact list. Most municipalities already have a community contact list, so the task is a fairly simple one of contacting community leaders, groups, and businesses and asking them if they wish to be part of a conservation action network. (feel free to give it a different name if you wish) From there, municipalities can proceed at the pace and level of investment they are able to make. The options include: • Hosting a spring planning meeting to help coordinate summer projects (the Cambridge model) • Hosting community conservation fairs (linking the public to the products and services) • Drafting a community or neighbourhood transition plan (a one to three year integrated outreach and support plan) 7. Municipal Partners Municipalities are key to our movement. They offer services to local residents and businesses, their policies can influence the development of complete and healthy communities with vibrant local economies, and they can help mobilize local groups and volunteers through a conservation action network. To reach every municipality in Ontario, we will work with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and assist them in their efforts to support municipal programs and networking. Municipalities can pass a formal resolution in support of We Conserve, and/or they can join as members of the Conservation Council of Ontario. We will work with our municipal partners to help create an active local network and promote local campaigns. Early Adopters • The City of Oshawa passed a formal resolution to participate in We Conserve on November 26, 2007. • The Town of Oakville has already developed integrated marketing campaign “Oakville Conserves” to co-market with We Conserve. Toronto Conservation Action Network We’ve already set up the first Conservation Action Network in Toronto. With funding from the Ministry of Energy Community Conservation Initiatives, the Conservation Council hosted five community conservation fairs in March, 2008, introduce local residents to the organizations and businesses that will help them conserve. These community fairs also helped to kick start the Toronto Conservation Action Network – an informal network of organizations and businesses that will work with the City of Toronto’s Live Green initiative to help promote conservation solutions across the city. Quick Start: We will work with the early adopters to set up conservation networks in their municipalities. 8. Green Star Ratings Imagine every store, every office, and every municipal building with a green rating in the front door and a one-page statement of commitment on public display. How easy it would be for people to support the businesses that have made a commitment to reduce their environmental footprint and offer green products and services to the public. The key is simplicity in design, backed up by the diversity and detail within a united conservation movement. Link to weconserve.ca Partners links Here’s the simplicity – every store and office gets a door sticker and a template for their statement of commitment. 1. They rate themselves based on: internal commitment (two stars) products and services (two stars) support for conservation in the community (one star) 2. They draft and post a one-page statement to describe the steps they have taken that justify their rating (e.g., energy conservation, number of green products, and community donations or services). Here’s the depth and complexity: business associations and lead organizations can develop guidelines and support services to create a common approach within their membership. Participating associations will also assist in ensuring consistent application across their membership one to three star ratings are entirely self-assessed. It requires that you can demonstrate and document an initial level of commitment in each of the categories. four and five star ratings for larger companies will require that the business can demonstrate a thorough integration of best practices into its operations and/or products and services. We are looking for excellence, not perfection. At this level, a third party review by the parent association or the Conservation Council will be required. certification programs, environmental management systems, training, and other detailed assessment and support programs can be incorporated into the rating guidelines larger companies and associations can use focus groups and opinion research to assist in their assessments stakeholder, customer and public feedback is integral to the process and to ensuring compliance. Building on our successful partnerships with retailers through the Doors Closed campaign, we will work closely with associations such as the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, the Ontario Business Improvement Association, Green Enterprise Toronto, and the Retail Council of Canada as a starting point for rolling out the Green Star campaign. 9. Quick Start: We will work launch a pilot project for Toronto area stores and businesses. The Conservation Council of Ontario is working with the Green Enterprise Toronto and greenTbiz (a program of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) to develop and test a Green Star rating campaign in Toronto for the summer of 2008: • GET has over 300 members, each one of them a leader in the green, local economy. • TABIA represents 60 Business Improvement Areas within the City of Toronto who in turn represent more than 25,000 business & property owners. TABIA established GreenTBiz as an advisory and support service to its members who wish to adopt greener practices. Together, these two organizations cover the depth and the breadth of the local green economy in Toronto – the green ventures and the greening of existing ventures. As Chris Lowry, the Executive Director of GET puts it, “if the Green Star rating can work for both our members, it can work anywhere.” For greenTbiz, the green star rating system is an opportunity to build on the collaborative relationship that was developed through the Conservation Council’s “Doors Closed” campaign, where a positive social marketing campaign around responsible air-conditioning also helped promote the greenAssist service that greenTbiz offers to BIA members. In this case, the I Conserve social marketing campaign will help promote local economies, and greenTbiz is working to support the commitment to conservation of BIAs and their members. Our goals are: • To make it easier for consumers to identify and support businesses that have made a commitment to conservation and the environment • To provide a marketing advantage for businesses that have made a commitment to going green • To promote the support services for greening businesses that are available through the participating associations We are also working closely on this project with the Green GTA Task Force of the Toronto City Summit Alliance. The Task Force is looking at adopting the project as one of the Best Practices initiatives to be promoted across the greater Toronto region. Under the pilot project, we will seek to enlist as many stores as possible to the three star level, and to recognize the elite of Toronto area businesses, stores and restaurants through the four and five star ratings. The project will also take advantage of the Toronto Conservation Action Network to promote the rating system across the city. 10. The Ontario Green Directory As we begin to roll out a five year, province-wide campaign (with national implications), it’s clear that we will need a fully interactive web-based directory that will be able to easily track the complexity of Ontario’s conservation movement (thousands of distinct initiatives) in order to connect individuals with the support they need to implement specific conservation solutions. This is the first step in building our internal capacity, all the while maintaining low overhead expenses and a low organization footprint (consistent with our own green star rating). Top priorities for the database are the Conservation Action Networks and the Green Star businesses. As we continue to introduce tools to help engage and organize the conservation movement, we will want to be able to track and connect the many participants at both the local and provincial level. The ultimate goal of the directory is to make it easy for people to find the products, services, resources, and incentives they need to become a better conserver. At the same time, the directory will become an invaluable tool for volunteers and professionals in the conservation movement. Examples include: • a homeowner wants to install a solar panel and wants to compare locally-available products as well as find out what support programs and subsidies are available. • a school wants to be able to compare the full range of programs and services available, including building retrofits, student clubs, curriculum aids, extra-curricular programs, school-yard restoration, green fundraising, and eco-certification. They also want to be able to compare activities undertaken by schools in their area. • a community group is planning a summer project and is looking to find campaigns and resources that it can use for a homeowner contact project. The Green Directory will help organize the movement at the same time as it promotes products and services. 11. The Ontario Green Directory Difference Green directories abound. This is actually a good thing, because it gives us lots of regional case studies to build on. Most green directories give you a listing of green products under category headings. Some may list green events and press releases, but they generally lack any connection to conservation as a social movement. At the other end of the spectrum is www.wiserearth.org, which lists over 100, 0000 organizations worldwide and encourages networking and dialogue between volunteers and professionals the world over. Wiser Earth was created by ecologist Paul Hawken, based on his analysis of what he called “the largest movement in the world”. Thus far, Wiser Earth has been an interesting networking exercise for activists and professionals, but it has limited public value. No one will source a solar panel for their home on Wiser Earth. For the Ontario Green Directory, we will combine movement-building with a focus on connecting people with solutions – including products, services, incentives and resources. The structure of the directory will be directly related to the structures and programs we are promoting through We Conserve, including: Local Conservation Action Networks Provincial Issue Networks Lead Organizations and resources Municipal programs Green Star rated businesses, institutions Government services and incentives Similar to Wiser Earth, the directory will allow for every organization, business and municipality that has made a commitment to We Conserve to have an overview page on the website with links to their own website for further details. Quick Start: We will design and beta test the site this year. Our initial plans are to design and beta-test the directory by loading in information on groups within the schools sector. Here we have a microcosm of the diversity within the conservation movement (schools, boards, clubs, staff and students), and a full range of programs and support services, including: • eco-certification • building retrofit • naturalization • student clubs • curriculum aids • eco-fundraising • community outreach We will also focus on incorporating local Conservation Action Networks as they are formed, and to include Green Star businesses through each participating business association. 12. Are You In? Rolling Out the Plan April – June Ontario Green Directory design Sponsorships Beta test Set-up for listing NGOs, municipalities and businesses June – September Are You In? Individual Challenge: movement-based “I Conserve” campaign Municipal Challenge: statements of support + Conservation Action Networks) Corporate Challenge: statements of commitment + green star ratings November, 2008 Ontario’s Conservation Summit 2008 Progress Report Who’s In? Recognizing Leaders Financing the Movement Promoting Supportive Policy Get Involved We mean what we say by “distributed leadership”. A united movement needs leadership bubbling up all over the place. You can join in, at any time, and at the level of engagement you wish! Whether as an individual, group, business, or government, there is no end of possibilities: • Sponsor us and our projects • Make a donation • Help promote We Conserve and I Conserve • Become a member of the Conservation Council of Ontario • Integrate We Conserve into your own environmental programming Be sure to check out our website for the latest updates on We Conserve, and please contact us with your ideas for a stronger and united conservation movement. Chris Winter Executive Director The Conservation Council of Ontario Suite 132, 215 Spadina Avenue Toronto, Ontario M5T 2C7 (416)-533-1635 firstname.lastname@example.org 13.