Greetings Fellows and Friends,
Wow my internship here certainly seemed to fly by and now in my last two weeks all the hard work I’ve been doing is really coming together. In the past week I’ve had about fifty phone conversations, left a hundred voicemail messages, and sent almost two thousand emails and to potential EcoSummit exhibitors. I have been thinking a great deal lately about what this internship coming to an end means, both for myself and for EcoSummit in general, and how I can begin to showcase the work I’ve done for the Columbus Foundation and it’s Fellows. EcoSummit is bigger than my project, bigger than the exhibition hall I’ve been working to fill and ultimately bigger than itself. Conferences such as these are never simply for their own sake, and thus the work is never really done. My first week here I was in a meeting here at Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) in which we discussed why we do the work we do. Not for EcoSummit specifically, not even for MORPC. It was about the underlying reason for all of our actions. The speaker instructed us to ask ourselves why we were doing something, not once or twice but multiple times (I believe he had a specific number, perhaps it was seven but I admit I do not recall it) until we had reached the heart of the matter. Although this model of thinking could be applied to any kind of company or project I think that it is specifically important to consider when working for a non-profit.
Working for a nonprofit does not mean that you wake up and go into work everyday feeling as if you are changing the world. The daily work done is often little different than that in any other kind of job, and you don’t get a gold star at the end of each day assuring you that you have made a difference. But because the end result, the overarching “why,” is so much larger than the daily tasks that are required to achieve it, it is important to never forget it, and to ensure that one’s passion for the “why” is evident in everything they do to achieve it.
Ultimately my piece of EcoSummit is quite small in the grand scheme of things. Once I leave at the end of next week the work will continue on for another 13+ months when it will finally accumulate in the pending conference. But a nonprofit’s job is never truly done. EcoSummit is only the beginning of the larger conversation, the more important work that needs to be done. I may spend my days here forming lists, making calls, and organizing luncheons but the real work is so much bigger than that. By filling up our exhibition hall and recruiting people to the conference I would like to think that I am not just assisting in the success of a trade show, but in bringing together people from all over the world to engage in a discussion which will be essential to the survival of our planet. A discussion that will, and must, continue far beyond the conference itself.