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ECO-EXPO, AN ENVIRONMENTAL FAIR         (Summary: 2592)
LINDA KAPLAN

UNDERLYING MISSION

Being mindful of the finiteness of our necessary natural resources - breathable air, drinkable water, fertile soil, expectable gentle rains, warming sun and cooling winds - we seek wiser visions as to how we should use these precious resources.

We seek better alternatives as we pursue the excitement of tomorrow's technologies and find new treasures from old trash.

We seek to challenge each of us to explore, to discover, to care, to think!

ECO EXPO GOALS:

  • To introduce, educate, challenge congregants to learn about new, alternative, innovative, applicable "green" products, services, technologies and organizations that are locally or nationally available and to present them in an environmental expo.
  • To celebrate Tu BiSh'vat through an Eco Fair.


PREPARATION AND PLANNING:

  • The president of our congregation, in his opening remarks at his installation, gave as his first goal that of being more active and accountable in environmental areas.
  • A planning committee for the ECO EXPO was drawn from the Temple Israel Environmental Task Force.
  • The Planning Committee was made up of four volunteers, all whose professions are related to the study of and/or our impact on our environment.  There were three professors:  a PhD in mechanical engineering, a PhD in public health, a PhD in environmental sociology; and a Realtor with an MBA in management.
  • We estimated that there would be room for 35 booths for exhibitors in the smaller social hall with an estimated 300-400 attendees.
  • Duration for the Expo was planned for four hours of time.
  • Open hours for exhibits were set up so that parents could either stop by the exhibits during Sunday school hours without children, or they could bring children with them after picking them up from Sunday school.  It was also open late enough for those from both the Jewish community and church communities to come after their own Sunday schools.
  • Publicity for the event and correspondence was by email whenever possible, using a minimum of paper.
  • There were announcements from the bimah and classrooms, articles in the monthly Temple Israel news publication, its weekly service leaflet and our online Temple Israel News and posted on Temple Israel's website, www.timemphis.org.
  • PSAs for all affiliate TV and radio stations, news agencies and newspapers were submitted by email.
  • Email announcements were sent to members of Temple Israel, environmental organizations and personal email lists with requests to forward the email announcement to others.
  • A few posters were placed at entry points for services, religious school, and nursery school at Temple Israel.
  • A healthy, inexpensive lunch was set up by the Food Committee and available for purchase.
  • Green products, services and organizations were sought with attention to a 40/40/20 mix of those, i.e., 40% products, 40% services and 20% organizations.  We also tried to have as little overlap within those mixes as possible (for example only one company showing tankless water heaters rather than several companies showing competing ones).
  • There was no charge to the exhibitors.  They were however asked to contribute a prize for the drawings that was going on during the exhibit hours. The exhibitors were provided a table and two chairs and lunch.
  • Electricity was available if arranged prior to the event.
  • This was an informational, educational expo; there were no sales taken at the Expo.

RESULTS:

  • The Temple Israel Eco Expo took place Sunday, February 8, 2009 from 11:00am-3:00pm at Temple Israel Memphis.
  • Appreciation for Tu BiSh'vat was brought closer to everyone's awareness this year.
  • By best estimates, we had well over 600 attendees during the four hours of the Eco Expo.  We exceeded our expectations regarding attendance as well as exhibitors.
  • We had 58 exhibitors:  10 of the exhibitors were non-profits; 7 were from institutional groups like universities, City of Memphis solid waste management, City of Germantown Environmental Commission, the utility company, etc.; and the remaining 41 were exhibiting products and services from the business sector.  More of all types of exhibitors wanted to be with us but we had already depleted the availability of space, tables and chairs.  What a great problem!
  • Our array of exhibitors included many different types of exhibits:
    • University students demonstrated actually turning grease gathered from campus cafeterias to fuel
    • An individual showed his old Mercedes named "French Fry," which had been, for several years, burning used oil from fast food restaurants in his gas tank.
    • Car dealers showed new hybrid cars
    • One of the clergy showed hybrid reliability with 70,000 miles on his 2003 hybrid car
    • Memphis Area Transit Authority with one of their hybrid buses
    • A children's eco art exhibit
    • New environmentally friendly household products
    • New "green" building products and technologies
    • Conservation techniques for all types of natural resources
    • Four Eco movies were shown in different areas of the building during the Expo
  • The day of Eco Expo was a beautiful sunny day, which contributed to the success of the Expo.
  • Volunteers that had been enlisted by the committee included all ages from high school religious school students, university students and various groups from the congregation.  Volunteers who do not usually participate were enlisted and were eager to volunteer.
  • The volunteers assisted with set up of exhibitors, registration, prize drawings, information and clean up.
  • Temple Israel clergy, Board of Trustees, congregants of all ages, members of the greater Jewish community and clergy along with the clergy and community of the greater Memphis area were all well represented.
  • Reporters, five newspapers (large and small), four affiliate TV stations, radio and other news media covered the event both in the weeks and days before the event.  Some of them were there getting stories that day.
  • Environmental organizations around the city picked up our email announcements and sent them to their entire local memberships.
  • From clergy to educators to administrative and kitchen staff, everyone at Temple Israel gave generously of their time and talents to this event, which only added to their already overflowing to-do lists.
  • We received good media coverage and the media was very complimentary to Temple Israel's leadership role.
  • Post event, we were given two large, significant articles in our major newspaper.  One article covered the event itself and the other was an editorial piece praising Temple Israel and its Eco Expo for playing "such an important role in the community, raising awareness of the significance of environmental conservation and energy efficiency."
  • We estimate we had the assistance of about 50 volunteers, about half of which were folks who are not typically active at Temple Israel.  We also had volunteers from the University of Memphis and the Hillel.
  • Although this event was primarily aimed at adolescent level and up, the presence of cars and big MATA bus, the presence of our Boy Scout troop and the children's art exhibit made it enjoyable for the younger ones.
  • We started the planning of the Expo on faith and no budget!  But, since one of the goals of environmentalism is to do as well as one possibly can do using as little resources as possible, this fit nicely within what we were trying to accomplish.
  • However, since the reality of certain expenses cannot be overlooked and since the Temple Israel Brotherhood-Men of Reform Judaism was so impressed with what we were accomplishing, they offered to underwrite any expenses not otherwise paid.  Our direct expenses minus our moneys earned thru the sales of the lunches totaled less than $1,000.
  • We educated over 600 people that day for less than $1.50 per person!
  • We gave opportunities to support businesses, particularly appreciated in economically challenging times, for taking the risk of new "green" products and services.
  • When one factors in the education accomplished through raising awareness to an un-estimable number with the email announcements that went "viral" in the community and the immense amount of news coverage pre- and post-event, the good that was done was accomplished for a small fraction of a penny per person.

RESOURCES:   statement of purpose ;  news releasepromotional materials


For more information about environmental responsibility, visit   Greening Reform Judaism  today!

 
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CONTACT SOURCE
TEMPLE ISRAEL        1629 Households
1376 E MASSEY RD   MEMPHIS  TN 38120-3299
901.761.3130    901.761.1448
LINDA KAPLAN
E-mail: timemphisecoexpo@msn.com

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