Green Economy Workshops at New Commons

Working with RIEDC, we helped shape both the participants and the process for creating the roadmap. RIEDC themselves had specified that the process continue to include as many participants as was practical.

Rather than hold another large, day-long event, they asked that we host a series of smaller, half-day workshops focusing on each acceleration initiative individually. Groups of roughly 15 stakeholders met, representing interests including private companies, government agencies, labor unions, academic and research institutions, non-profits and activists. Each acceleration initiative was lead by two "quarterbacks" who would also play an important role in the roadmap production.

Our protocol for the workshops began with a review of provisional goals as well as existing and emergent conditions based on briefs developed jointly by RIEDC and New Commons. (As part of the closure process, I will ask about posting the conditions briefs on this or another site. Big ups to the RIEDC research team. They rule!)

Next, participants worked in small groups to identify important metrics and 5-year targets toward the overall goals. Here, all the workshops but wind power began with the thought: metrics either don't exist or a are woefully inadequate.

In energy efficiency, for example, the group insisted that measuring "energy delivered" might actually be counterproductive. RI already has the lowest per capita usage - based on our shrinking industrial economy.  Thus the roadmap will start by measuring the amount of energy required to produce a dollar of GDP. The target is declining energy use with rising GDP.

Next, in the meat of the workshop, the small groups developed sets of projects around the various building blocks. In discussion and through a voting process, participants rated the projects on importance, producing a prioritized list of projects grouped by the time required to complete.

Finally, the groups discussed the issues of integration and implementation. Universally, the call to action was: now, now, now!

Creating the Roadmap v 1.0

Almost immediately after the workshops, we compiled the results into the first drafts of the roadmap. And, just as quickly, the advisory group realized that:


  • The roadmap needed many expert editors - the quarterbacks
  • The roadmap would need continuous revision to track rapid changes

Thus, the advisors decided that this would be "version 1.0" - a working draft. In addition, the event at which they intended to release the document would include a working session to further advance the roadmap.

The actual writing was a real challenge with various versions from various authors and editors flying around via email. My stack of hand-annotated print outs from other editors is about one coffee mug tall.

Finally, I tossed the "final" copy into the layout that was released. Oh, and thanks to our FSC-certified printing resource Printsource in East Prov for donating the printing on 100% recycled paper.

Next Installment - The February 9th Green Economy Forum