Cultural institutions are all about the people who create them, including those responsible for the content of the programme and those who enable its implementation, i.e. technical and administrative staff. Everybody can work for change individually but in acting together and combining various perspectives, it is possible to also change the institution from the inside in a systemic way.
It will be helpful to create a meeting space where employees can exchange their observations and knowledge and, based on these, design the change process. Green teams can be created as grassroots initiatives started by the employees or they can be set up by the management. Regardless of the method of their appointment, it is better for them to be composed of volunteers rather than people designated or even forced to act. The main goal of the green team is to develop ecological solutions or recommendations for the functioning of cultural institutions. Green teams are also very good at integrating staff members and strengthening their motivation.
Look around – you are bound to find a supporter of the green cause among your colleagues. Set up a team yourself or share your idea with the management. Together you will mutually motivate yourselves to act.
How to start?
Ensure that the green team consists of people fulfilling various roles and coming from various departments and that the meetings are held during working hours. Establish framework rules for the team’s functioning, such as: regularity of meetings (e.g. once a month), planning the course of the meeting (agenda, chairperson, minute taker). If the group was created as a grassroots initiative, inform the management about it and occasionally invite them to a meeting.
It is good to define thematic areas for the green team to deal with, e.g. waste sorting, saving water, partnerships, eco-friendly projects or cycles of events. It is best to start with small steps, identify problems one by one and look for the most practical solutions.
At this stage, we are able to work out and implement a code of everyday eco-friendly practices which would motivate our co-workers. These could be small but very significant changes, e.g. printing only when it is necessary and only double-sided, drinking tap water, giving up plastic cups, etc,
At this stage, the green team is able to carry out a detailed observation and analysis of the institution and propose recommendations and solutions to the management requiring time or financial resources. (see: BUILDING) . The change within the institution will also imply a change towards its social and natural environment. At this stage, it is worth formulating longer term goals – in one, two or five years’ time. Observations and recommendations of the green team may often be as valuable as the audit, which requires greater engagement, also of financial resources. (see: AUDIT)
Searching for solutions, turn to experts for advice. For example – after consulting with naturalists, take care of the welfare of plants and animals around the building of the institution – sow a wildflower meadow instead of a lawn, place a beehive on the roof or build a composter.
Take care of relationships with your neighbours – the local community or neighbouring institutions – to change your neighbourhood together.
The green team may offer a lot of recommendations concerning commercial cooperation, e.g. one-off venue hire for events or long-term hire to cafes or restaurants. By including relevant stipulations in your contracts, oblige them to sort waste, serve tap water and carry out other environmentally-friendly activities.
Implementing changes prepared by the green team
Introducing good ecological practices to an institution does not require additional costs and in most cases can be done without negotiations with the management. However, many recommendations concerning the change of the character of partnerships (commercial and non-commercial), pro-environmental stipulations in hire contracts or a particular way of looking after the greenery do require the management’s approval. The more diverse the green team is, the more comprehensive arguments for the introduction of pro-environmental solutions are. Moreover, lobbying carried out by a group of employees in a comprehensive way will be more effective than interventions by individuals.
If you succeed in rendering your institution’s operations greener, support other institutions in that process. There is no better way to promote pro-environmental institutions than to share their experiences. You can organise workshops with facilitators, trainers and educators for representatives of other institutions. Whatever you do, share your knowledge with the participants of culture to fulfil the public mission of your institution.