I went to Columbia University to attend the Sustainability symposium where they had three different topics and panelists which answered moderator questions and then questions from the audience on various Sustainability subjects.

In attendance were people from the Sustainability industry, as well as graduates and students from the Columbia Sustainability program.

The moderator questions were excellent, and the panelists were mostly VPs of sustainability from large and small companies including JP Morgan Chase (Jumbo); Lockheed Martin (extra large); Estée Lauder (large); Jet Blue (medium); and Terracycle (small).  But as you would expect they were all tremendously knowledgeable about their sectors.

I brought up the question of collaboration from the viewpoint that there’s so many organizations now attempting to solve these issues, but they’re not working together on the solutions and action plans.

This fractional approach is bound to fail because these are global social issues that are just too large to solve and implement independently. So, what are we doing to work more collectively?

This got more panelists engaged and even an audience member spoke out in agreement on the need to have this collective action that isn’t being done.

Tom Kennedy, principal of ARUP, in the building industry said his company has developed “a better way” to handle materials in a circular way and works to collaborate with other orgs to make it happen. Actually, that’s the mission and structure of his company to repurpose building materials after the end of their life cycle, so collaboration is built-in, big-time. (Puns intended.)

I will get with him and others including Mona Benisi, VP of Sustainability from Simon Property Group – The company that owns and operates malls around the US and internationally. On a local New York level, Simon Property Group discovered Planned Acts of Kindness last year and invited us to participate in Earth Week events at Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island.

We did, and our outreach programs were a big hit with mall businesses and people in the community (shoppers). Coincidentally, on the same day of the Columbia event, I received a personal invite from one of our Roosevelt Mall contacts asking us to participate in this year’s Earth Week program. (I accepted of course, because it’s all about the collaboration, baby!)

At the reception afterwards, a half a dozen people came up to me and thanked me for bringing up the topic and the need for collaboration.

I asked for their cards, gave them PAK info, and invited them to connect.

Same thing we will do with the panelists and the department moving forward, because it’s all about the collaboration!

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Lyle Benjamin is an author/educator/social entrepreneur, and the Founder of the non-profit organization Planned Acts of Kindness (PlannedActs.Org) and the One Planet One People Movement. Planned Acts’ programs of clubs, books, workshops, courses, events, games, apps and activities are aligned with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).