Inspiration for Engaging Your Team in EcoChallenge 2015

unnamedWe are gearing up for the 2015 EcoChallenge, our annual event that challenges people to choose one action to reduce their environmental impact and stick with it for two weeks each October.

Today we are excited to share the following guest blog post from Hennebery Eddy Architects, a Portland-based architecture firm who plans on participating again this year after having 53 employees on their EcoChallenge team in 2014. The Hennebery Eddy team earned second place in accruing points during the EcoChallenge, gathering as many points as teams three times their size! During the EcoChallenge, the Hennebery Eddy team saved 3,076 gallons of water, enjoyed 67 meatless meals, and diverted 32 pounds of food waste and 61 disposable cups from entering the landfill. We hope you find their story inspiring and join us for this year’s EcoChallenge!

Small actions can make big impacts. We’ve all heard it before, but changing our everyday habits is hard. It’s easy to tell yourself “I’ll just start tomorrow”. The EcoChallenge helps provoke change with short-term personal commitments, daily cues from hearing about your teammates’ experiences, and awesome prizes!

Here at Hennebery Eddy Architects we had 53 people participate in last year’s EcoChallenge, including 17 friends and family. Sharing the commitment with those outside of the office encouraged even more people to take on inspiring changes. With the EcoChallenge, each person had the flexibility to participate in a way that was meaningful and manageable in their own life. The team aspect was refreshing. The EcoChallenge blogs allowed everyone to keep tabs on what others on our team were doing, learn from their struggles or successes, and stay motivated.

People had fun trying out new ways of living each day. Some people were extremely dedicated (like bringing their own chopsticks to eat takeout food as part of their pledge to avoid plastic, and flushing less often to save water at home) while others did more typical – but equally important – things like eating local and taking shorter showers. The EcoChallenge made us focus in on our everyday actions and habits. Even if the change wasn’t feasible long term, it created mindfulness with our daily choices and awareness that other options do exist.

Hennebery Eddy Architects is a Portland based architecture, planning, and interior design studio focusing on sustainable design and historic preservation. We are members of the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work program and are committed to building and sharing sustainable strategies in both our design process and our day-to-day lives.



Join Our Next Course Organizer Training Webinar September 10th!

PrintWe’re excited to announce that registration is open for our next Course Organizer Training Webinar on Thursday, September 10th at 10amPST/1pmEST. Please join us and invite others in your community who might be interested! To register, click here.

As you know, NW Earth Institute discussion courses give people a framework to talk about their relationship with the planet and to share in discovering new ways to live, work, create and consume. And – all NW Earth Institute discussion courses begin with a Course Organizer –someone just like you who has the desire to create change. The Course Organizer initiates the discussion course group and serves as the primary contact for the group. You don’t have to be a ‘sustainability expert.’ Organizers are simply people who are motivated to help others learn about and commit to action through the discussion course experience.

On Thursday, September 10th, we’re offering our next Course Organizer Training Webinar. The webinar will provide you with background information on our courses and best practices for organizing a course, strategies for success and a question and answer period with NWEI staff. We’ll also provide you with access to helpful tools, including a detailed Course Organizer’s guide.

Space is limited — please register here to reserve your spot.


In Change Lies Opportunity – Transitions at NW Earth Institute

Executive Director, Mike Mercer (left) and NWEI Board Chair, Eric Park
Executive Director, Mike Mercer (left) and NWEI Board Chair, Eric Park

One of our favorite phrases at NWEI is “In change lies opportunity.” It’s an adage that is as true for our organization as it is for the many people who participate in our discussion courses and EcoChallenge each year.

After eight years at the helm, Mike Mercer will be stepping down as Executive Director at the end of this calendar year. It is rare to find in one individual someone who embodies the spirit and mission of NWEI as fully as Mike does—whether exploring life in a tiny house, supporting staff to find work-life balance, or leading new initiatives like the EcoChallenge and Change for Good campaign. Over the last 22 years (eight years as the Executive Director and many as an active program volunteer and member of the board of directors) he has devoted a good portion of his thought and action to NWEI, and credits the majority of his daily personal and professional decisions to his NWEI experience.

Though the board and staff will miss Mike’s leadership, we also know that in today’s uncommon times, NWEI’s unique approach to inspiring individual and collective behavior change is even more crucial. And we are turning to you—our community who knows how NWEI has inspired and influenced you and those around you in ways big and small—to help us get the word out and find a candidate that can lead the next phase of NWEI’s future.

Our ideal candidate is someone who believes in NWEI’s unique approach and has the passion and experience to find innovative ways to increase our impact, through a combination of social entrepreneurship, network building, and storytelling. We have just begun the formal recruitment process, and our hope is to onboard the next Executive Director by late fall or early winter. We encourage you to share this job posting – and we look forward to our journey together ahead!


6 Ways to Connect With Earth: Our Newest EcoChallenge Action Category!

Capture oneNW Earth Institute’s EcoChallenge is coming your way this October and we just launched a new action category for this year: Connect With Earth. Commit to taking more hikes, spending more time in the garden, or spending time in nature with friends and family. Inspired by our Reconnecting With Earth discussion course book, this EcoChallenge action category is for those who want to spend more time in nature. As Rachel Carson says, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” We couldn’t agree more.

Here are six ideas to get you started:

1. Take a walk outside each day and record your observations. Spend a few minutes reflecting on your experience in a journal or on your EcoChallenge blog.

2. Replace 30 minutes of time spent on your computer or watching television with quality time outdoors. Research has shown that too much screen time can damage your brain. Research is also showing that time in nature can “ease brain fatigue.” Consider swapping out routine screen time with time at the park or by taking a neighborhood walk.

3. Commit to watching the sunrise or sunset at least three times each week. Or, choose a place near home or work where you can sit quietly for a few minutes each day observing nature.

4. Find and join a restoration project in your community. Many communities have organizations working to clean up parks or protected natural spaces. Connect with efforts in your community and spend time taking care of a local natural area.

5. Participate in a Citizen Science Project, capturing information on the number of local birds in your area or tracking fireflies. The Nature Conservancy has a list of suggested projects you can plug into here.

6. Register for the EcoChallenge and choose the Connect With Earth action category. EcoChallenge registration is open and you can register yourself, or even better – register a team and invite others to join you. You can choose your action and commit to it for the two-week duration of the challenge, kick-starting your new habit for good!


NWEI’s Earth Matters Newsletter is Here!

NW Earth Institute’s summer 2015 Earth Matters newsletter is here! Read on for Richard Schiffman’s thoughts on what is ultimately “Bigger than Science and Bigger than Religion” – and how we need a powerful new story that we are a part of nature and not separate from it. In this issue you’ll also find reflections on connecting conservation dots from Aldo Leopold into present times, as well as NWEI Executive Director Mike Mercer’s thoughts on how we can never be at peace with earth and each other until we widen our circle of empathy to all – even to those the most not like us . Click here to take a look.


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