Setting the Stage for 2017 at the EcoDistricts Staff Retreat

After a productive retreat in 2015, EcoDistricts staff were excited to return to the Historic Reed House on the Manzanita coast this past December 2016, paid for with credit card points. The large, charming house was the perfect setting for our team to spend two days focused on strategy, collaboration and fresh ideas for the year ahead.

With plenty of communal spaces for staff to gather as a team as well as in smaller breakout groups, we were able to share departmental work plans with each other, brainstorm new ideas for our events in 2017, and take part in an open space session for valuable blue sky thinking around our business lines and outreach.

Below are the top outcomes from EcoDistricts’ 2016 staff retreat:

Setting the Baseline for 2017

Following the launch of EcoDistricts Protocol, EcoDistricts Certified and EcoDistricts Accredited Professional in 2016, this year will be an opportunity for us to find out more about how our framework is being used to build equity, resilience and sustainability in districts worldwide. In addition, the retreat gave the team an opportunity to think deeply about the scalability of our offerings. We realized that the development and launch of an online EcoDistricts Foundation Course training will be central to our ability to reach those who cannot attend one of our in-person trainings, but still want to become Accredited Professionals.

Event Excellence

EcoDistricts wrapped up its newest convening, the District Energy + Water Academy (DEWA) in Vancouver, BC, in November 2016. DEWA is the third major event being run by EcoDistricts, in addition to the annual Summit, the world’s only neighborhood- and district-scale sustainable development leadership conference and the Incubator, a highly customized, charrette-style team intensive designed to accelerate meaningful district-scale outcomes.

With the recent announcement that the Summit 2017 will be held in Atlanta in October 11-12, it was opportune timing to consider how we can raise the bar in all three of our events. Our team undertook a brainstorm for each convening, thinking how to deliver value for each of our attendees in the context of program planning, shoulder programs and networking opportunities. Registration is now open for Summit 2017, and we kicked off our first Advisory Council planning session this January. We aim to approach planning with fresh ideas, as well as a commitment to ensure all attendees have a valuable and enjoyable experience.

Customer Service

We cannot do this work on our own. To think about how we can best serve and engage with our customers, partners and friends, we held a session dedicated to considering our strengths and opportunities in this domain across our business lines. The people we work with are the foundation of our organization, but we know there’s always room to improve. We spent the time brainstorming how we can ensure that anyone who interacts or engages with EcoDistricts is responded to in a timely and thoughtful manner. To this end, we will be implementing processes around external communications moving forward.

Our team was grateful for the opportunity to focus on how we can best serve our clients, customers, and the communities we work in. We are looking forward to a successful 2017!


  • Reed House photo courtesy of The Houses on Manzanita Beach

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