Forterra presents Harnessing Change: A Sustainability Forum at Arctic Club in Seattle, Washington, on Monday, January 26, 2015.
Photo by Danny Ngan

Harnessing change to ensure a sustainable region

How can we harness change?

Over 100 people joined Forterra and Seattle CityClub at the Arctic Club Monday night for an evening of brainstorming around a single, guiding question: How can we ensure a sustainable region?

Organized using Open Space meeting principles in which participants create the agenda for the evening within the context of a guiding question or purpose, the attendees truly decided the fate of the evening.

After an initial, brief introduction, people nominated topics for the breakout sessions by writing their idea on a flip chart at the front of the room. The group generated over 20 topics including social equity, living wages, transit, development and food systems. These were then consolidated and narrowed down to 12 major themes. Then the participants self-organized into their groups of choice and the individual who initially suggested the topic kicked off the small group discussion.

Following another key rule of Open Space, the facilitators encouraged participants to switch groups if at any point during the evening they did not feel meaningfully engaged in their small group conversation.

Breakout groups of 5 to 10 people gathered around giant notepads on easels in animated discussion. There was a formal switch halfway through so attendees could get a fresh start on a different topic if they so chose. After nearly two hours of productive and engaged conversations, the group reunited to share their takeaways and highlights of the evening.

The focus and format of this meeting delivered exactly the experience and conversation we all need to do more of to build a more sustainable future for this home – creative, diverse ideas and passionate, empowered leaders and community members.

Forterra thanks all those who attended. We look forward to continuing this conversation and our work together.