Sustainable Growth Coalition Gets Creative on Problem-Solving, Priorities

  • May 12, 2021
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  • Bridget Rathsack

Sustainable Growth Coalition members convened for their spring meeting late last month. We talked about focus and transitions including staff changes, what matters most to our members, reimagining how we work together, and leveraging our resources to make the biggest impact. We set aside time to discuss the Coalition’s annual priorities and we also facilitated a discussion about how to incorporate problem-solving amongst members for the sticky sustainability and circular economy challenges that pop up along the way.

Have a Sustainability Problem? Pitch it!

Coalition member organizations face a myriad of challenges in their circular economy and sustainability programs – from ratcheting down emissions within their own operations and supply chains – to creating opportunities for all people and addressing deeply rooted systemic inequities. Coalition members believe in the value of shared problem-solving to drive solutions forward.

So, we’ve created a reverse pitch process, inspired by the Bold Open, for our upcoming meetings. Going forward, members facing a challenge can prepare a 3–5-minute pitch for consideration by the group.

We’ve developed a series of prompts for members to help think about and prepare their pitch, like:

  • Why is finding a solution to this problem important to your company, consumers, and the world?
  • What expertise does the coalition have that collaboration between members could result in a solution?
  • How would a solution contribute to circularity, systems change, and/or equity?

If a pitch is selected, a small group of interested members will work together to identify a range of solutions. This approach can help generate momentum for action-oriented, member-driven projects.

Sharing common barriers and roadblocks is important to our members and staff are committed to establishing this space for members to share. This will also allow us to prioritize the Coalition’s efforts within the adopted strategic priorities.

Annual Strategic Priorities

At our April membership meeting, Steering Committee Chair, Shane Stennes of the University of Minnesota and Vice Chair, Hugh Cherne of Best Buy, provided an overview of the Coalition’s annual strategic priorities. Rooted in the Coalition’s three-year objectives, the Coalition will focus on activities such as:

  • Hosting 1-2 sessions with C-suite executives to discuss and collaborate on the circular economy and its intersection with justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Highlighting individual and collective member leadership and best practices on advancing circularity.
  • Providing time for members to network, collaborate, and build capacity.

Working to collaboratively advance a circular economy is no easy task. Members want to be sure efforts and dollars are focused on supporting the coalition in addition to the work and sustainability outcomes of the member organizations.

“Coalition members have never been busier, and the work at hand is urgent and challenging. It’s more important than ever that our annual strategic priorities focus on what’s most important to members, such as providing opportunities to learn from and be inspired by each other, and to work on tangible, impactful projects,” said Shane Stennes, Director of Sustainability at the University of Minnesota.

Coalition Leadership Changes

Since our last meeting, many transitions have taken place, but our team is ready for the opportunities ahead. I am excited to lead the Coalition in partnership with the steering committee and supported by the Environmental Initiative team.

Sustainable Growth Coalition Steering Committee Members

  • Shane Stennes, University of Minnesota (Chair)
  • Hugh Cherne, Best Buy (Vice Chair)
  • Tina Berg, 3M
  • Alissa Dienhart Lawler, Wenck – now a Stantec Company
  • Amie Hedblom, Ecolab
  • Jon Smieja, Andersen

Environmental Initiative Staff

  • Bridget Rathsack, Associate Director – Sustainable Growth Coalition
  • Mike Harley, Strategy and Governance
  • Deborah Carter McCoy, Strategic Communications
  • Bill Droessler, New Programmatic Development
  • Rachel Geissinger, Project Coordination and Administration
  • Ellen Gibson, Intercultural Competence and Development
  • Sacha Seymour Andersen, Engagement, Fundraising and Membership
  • Stephanie Weir, Reverse Pitch Strategy, Systems, and Process Leader

Interested in joining our efforts to advance a circular economy? Contact me to discuss Sustainable Growth Coalition membership. You can also sign up for our quarterly newsletter to keep up with all things circular economy, corporate sustainability, and the Coalition’s work. And, as always, I welcome you to reach out directly with your questions, thoughts, or feedback.