Once a year, Charleston’s environmental and sustainable community come together under the banner of the Charleston Green Fair at Marion Square. Individuals, like Meg Moore, a small scale sustainable farmer; non-profits, like Lowcountry Local First and the Coastal Conservation League; student organizations, like MESSA and Alliance for Planet earth; even the City of Charleston is represented by offices such as Keep Charleston Beautiful. But this is the first year in the Green Fair’s four year history that the College of Charleston is being officially represented.
Barely a month old, the College of Charleston’s Office of Sustainability took the plunge into the public sphere by hosting a booth displaying presentation posters of past and potential sustainability projects on campus and inviting attendees to take a Google Earth tour of sustainability sites on campus. As a new Office, yet to move into its office space and yet to have a full time staff, improvisation was the word of the day. Under Director Brian Fisher, the Office is run by eight enthusiastic interns, a research assistant and a graduate assistant, who on this day served as everything from presenters and volunteer labor to bakers, having provided a selection of cookies to attract an audience.
This year’s Fair is being considered a trial run—the Office’s first foray into a public event. As we learn the finer points of how to run a booth, we learn the necessity of coming prepared with things that aren’t necessarily the first thing one would think of. Bring informational materials about what you do seems obvious enough. Bring your own table cloth seems somewhat less so, but is no less necessary. So as we depart from the Green Fair, we make mental notes on what we need to get for future events, what tactics worked best to attract attendees, which free cookies were gone first, all in an effort to constantly improve ourselves as exhibitors for the next event.
This is not to suggest we didn’t make an impact. Aside from the many children that were able to enjoy our cookies, vegan option included, we were able to inform interested attendees about the recent changes at the College of Charleston, we formed a relationship with the Sustainable Warehouse, strengthened our relationship with the Sustainability Institute, Organicarden Supplies and Trident Technical College, and will be field testing a new energy conservation device on campus vending machines, graciously given to us by another exhibitor.
All of the lessons we’ve learned as a new team, working together to further sustainability, will be carried with us as we take them on our next stop, the AASHE Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on October 8th. Look forward to hearing about our experiences there as we live-blog and live-Tweet workshops, keynotes and the day to day activities of a major national conference.
–Adrian Barry (Intern, CofC Office of Sustainability)