By Danielle Lanyard, Founder and CEO, Village Green; producer, Green Breakfast Club event series
Today’s climate crisis may be the most pressing issue of our time. Yet rarely are women serving as the primary voices speaking out and getting heard on this issue, or any issue that shapes our history. The opposite was true at the annual Women in Green Forum, a conference for Sustainability recently held in LA for it’s fifth year going.
The tenor of transition and shift was in the air and permeating about the breakfast buffet floor, where the only thing more varied and deeply sustainably-minded than the food, was the attendees themselves. From ethical fashion to policy advocacy groups to healthy air and smart transportation, every industry and type of individual that could work in Sustainability (read: all!) was represented.
Nearly all but a handful were female. The gender ratio and purpose behind attending, all contributed to the powerful presence of possibility felt throughout the crowd.
By the end of breakfast, a lovely group of women and I had already bonded over chance connections and power breakfast organic pineapple slices. The tone was set for what evolved into an extensive all day combination of power house speakers and panelists in sustainable business and civic practice.
The style that was set was surpassed only by the substance of what ensued throughout the day. Transportation. California statewide officials and executives are on it, from Lisha B. Smith at the South Coast Air Quality Management District implementing new measures for air quality and safety, to Lisa Trifiletti, Director of the Environmental and Land Use Planning Division, Los Angeles World Airports, redesigned the airport’s flow patterns to actually flow, and then Michelle Boehm, Southern California Regional Director, California High Speed Rail Authority giving exciting updates on the long awaited expansion of California’s rail system.
On the technology for environmental change front, solutions were discussed on a panel shared by Engelina Jaspers, Chief Flexologist, FlexMarketing Pro.com, Former VP of Environmental Sustainability, Hewlett-Packard, and Dominique Gomez, Director of Market Development, WaterSmart Software. Water audits, as well as a wide variety of other forms of ‘smart’ software for energy and resource usage, are all on the horizon. As is the profound shift in how all these products and services are marketed and integrated into our lives.
The list of inspirational speakers went on, from Beverly Macy’s the “Green Internet of Things” to Sustainability in the Built Environment with Nurit Katz, Chief Sustainability Officer, representing UCLA, Commissioner Carla Peterman, with California Public Utilities Commission. In the private sector, Raminta Jautokas, the Program Manager for the Environmental Business Development Office, American of Honda Motor Co., Inc., reported on the Green Dealer program that she created, which already has over 20% adoption rate in under one year.
Shining bright in the Women in Green Forum ‘Spotlight’ was Greta Egan, author of – Wear No Evil: How to Change the World With Your Wardrobe, followed by the inspirational Faith Taylor, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and Innovation, Wyndham Worldwide, both showing us new ways forward in ethical fashion and travel.
The shift towards Sustainability and Ethical Markets is most definitely upon us. I can personally remember what it was like in the late 90s when there weren’t any ethical fashion brands. We had to make them ourselves.
The throwback thought jarred another memory, of when I was five years old and had attended a men’s group breakfast with my father, because Howard Johnson of the New York Mets was on the panel, and because I loved to play little league baseball. The event was poignant for me because I raised my hand and unwittingly asked the MVP baseball player when women were going to be allowed to play. I didn’t know back then that it wasn’t ok to ask such questions.
Thirty years later, I know these are the very questions we have to ask, if we truly want a shift towards ethical markets and transformational changes in our health of our planet and the welfare of our people. I know that I’ve had an entire lifetime to see the opposite gender fully represented as speakers and panelists, and but a few days in my life at incredible conferences like the Women in Green Forum to see my own gender represented as thought leaders in their industry. The experience was empowering, but missing in one key element: representation of all genders and ages.
Like any great transformation, we’ll have to make it ourselves.