Take Your Team to New Heights
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Why Green Matters to Meeting Planners
Did you know that a typical five-day conference of 2,500 people will generate 2,000 plates, 87,000 napkins, 75,000 disposable cups or glasses and 90,000 cans or bottles? In fact, the EPA says that large conferences generate almost as much environmental waste as the construction industry!
The importance of hosting green meetings continues to grow in the conference industry. Reusable water containers rather than bottles and cups, more outdoor meeting spaces to reduce energy consumption, easy access to recycling bins, biodegradable food containers, conservative housekeeping practices and organically based cleaning products are just a few of the practices environmentally conscious meeting planners are looking for when choosing a venue. But their most important asset in their green meeting efforts? Venues with a culture of conservation.
Wingspread Retreat and Executive Conference Center, located in America’s Midwest, is a Johnson Foundation-owned and -operated property with a long legacy of true environmentalism. While the meeting spaces can accommodate larger groups, the property’s Sam and Gene Johnson guest house features 40 rooms. Since 2010, these accommodations and meeting spaces achieved and have consistently retained LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. By encouraging intimate gatherings, we keep our environmental footprint small.
Both Wingspread and The Johnson Foundation exist today, in no small part, due to the efforts of third generation patriarch, Herbert F. Johnson, Jr., who was also one of corporate America’s first conservationists. In the midst of the Great Depression, Johnson’s thoughts turned to carnauba, the key ingredient for the Johnson Wax Company’s main product. Concerned about the security of his company, Johnson headed to the rainforests in northeastern Brazil to learn more. This trip inspired Johnson to pen a book encouraging corporate environmental responsibility and to form The Johnson Foundation.
His accumulation of property on the Wind Point Peninsula in Wisconsin culminated in the formation of a wildlife preserve. Eventually amassing 36 acres, Johnson often brought his children to the property to spend days reveling in nature. The preserve became home to the family with the construction of a prairie home, Wingspread, designed by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wright himself kept his architectural works in harmony with nature, and his design for Wingspread is no exception. Taking direction from the land, Wright used natural materials – including fine grain, first-cut rich white oak, Cherokee red brick and pink sandstone. Tidewater cypress composes the exterior, upon which the seasons cling as vines and snow.
The next generation of Johnsons has continued the cause of corporate environmental responsibility. In 1975, Sam Johnson removed chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from his company’s products. It was another three years before CFCs were banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a dozen years before they were banned worldwide. Sam Johnson was a founding member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and was named by Fortune Magazine as “Corporate America’s leading environmentalist.”
Meeting planners can and should seek partnerships with conference venues striving to keep nature close and making every effort to conserve it. Working together, the members of the meeting industry can become diligent stewards of the careful balance of wildlife, plant life and human life.
“LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.” – US Green Building Council
One of the Most Energetic Meeting Trends for 2019
One of the Most Energetic Meeting Trends for 2019!
Meetings in Motion, Part I: Nature
“Nothing happens until something moves.” – Albert Einstein
Did you know that one of the most energetic meeting trends for 2019 is the walking meeting? Designed to heighten the awareness of participants through physical activity and sensory stimulation, walking meetings remove both real and perceived barriers of communication for meeting attendees.
The most frequent purposes for businesses and organizations to convene meetings are to plan change or progress, to discover new paths that achieve forward momentum, and to achieve agreement. It seems only natural, then, that physical movement of some kind should be part of all meetings.
The hierarchy of authority, for example, is shed when everyone steps out from behind the table and takes a stroll. The walking meeting also releases chemicals in the brain that result in positive attitudes and enhanced creativity.
The best outdoor walking meeting venues engage attendees in both natural and man-made landscapes. Last year meeting planners found a venue perfect for meetings in motion – on Wisconsin’s Wind Point Peninsula in Racine at Wingspread’s Executive Conference Center. Historically a private property, this conference venue was opened for public bookings in early 2018.
Located 30 minutes from Milwaukee and 90 from Chicago, Wingspread’s conference center is surrounded by none of the distractions of traditional meeting and convention spaces. No traffic, auto or otherwise, no streetlights, urban noise or random pedestrians. The physical centerpiece of the property, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Wingspread,” reaches out toward all four corners of the earth, evoking a sense of movement and energy.
Enveloped by nature year-round, Wingspread itself changes through the seasons, focusing attention on the surrounding 36-acre designated wildlife preserve. Here your group can traverse the wide, pea-gravel footpaths that lead through the property’s wooded area, populated by sugar maple, American beech and birch trees.
Your walking meeting will take you past the man-made ravine, where ash, cottonwood and black willows keep their “feet” wet. Local wildlife – both fowl and mammal – entertain near the man- made stream and ponds. This journey also will allow your group to fully appreciate Wright’s inspired design of the Wingspread building from every angle.
In peak season, the historic property is in bloom with flowers. There are dozens of planned flower beds as well as wild- flowers – marsh marigold, trillium and trout lily brighten the landscape surrounding the ravine. The planned beds frame the walkways and structures throughout the grounds. In harvest season, you’ll enjoy the aroma of the grape vines heavy with fruit in season that, after more than 100 years, still drape the exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture.
This year, give your meetings movement in the great outdoors. Wingspread’s experienced team can plan your walking meeting to include brief or extended pauses on the property’s lawns and patios, giving everyone a moment to contemplate the dialogue and leadership a perfect opportunity to summarize progress, secure consensus and introduce new paths of discussion.