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  • Writer's pictureBen Finzel

The Common Sense Colloquy Years Five and Six in Review – My Favorite Comments from our Participants

Selecting my favorite comments from the most recent Common Sense Colloquy Q&As is both challenging and fun. I’m always struck by how relevant the comments from our participants are, and how much they have in common with each other. Listening, engaging others and simplifying what you say and how you say it come up as advice again and again. But what makes the series so interesting to me are the other nuggets of wisdom that may be specific, funny and/or inspiring.


The past two years included all of those benefits, and my favorite comments are all of those things, with an emphasis on the practical, particularly in relation to energy, environment and equity communications. I hope you’ll enjoy this final “highlights reel” of the past two years of Common Sense Colloquy Q&As and I hope you’ll join me for the fantastic conversations to come in Year Seven, which begins next month.

I’m so thankful to Erin, Lionel, Patrice, Brian, Carmella, Mazen, Lisa, Guido, Tanya, Brian, Blaine, Shelley, Nathaniel, Elena Joy, Rob and Aidan for making the fifth and sixth years of the Common Sense Colloquy so informative, insightful and interesting.

As always, thanks for reading these posts and sharing your thoughts on our social media channels and in emails and calls. And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, and like us Facebook and Instagram. 


“Communications reflects culture. How we speak to each other in different parts of the world varies quite a bit in terms of vocabulary and writing styles, but also in reflecting how we see history, the world, and our place in it. It’s critical to adjust communications based on these factors, whether your audience is an entire country or a professional society. Stay true to your voice but take the time to understand the nuances of how different people see themselves and hence how to convey your ideas.”



“Generally I try to speak as if I am speaking to my neighbor. I try to make the topic not only understandable, but important and interesting to them, to make them want to call their Congressperson and ask them to act. That can be a challenge when talking about bulk power markets and transmission! But it’s a fun challenge and a very important one.”



“So much of the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is meant to tear down happiness and joy through the idea that “wickedness never was happiness”. Many of us have been fed the narrative that if you live life as a queer person, you will only be miserable (or dead from suicide or AIDS in the extreme propaganda moments). Every time LGBTQ+ people and families are able to revel in their joy, it pushes back on that idea and proves that living your life authentically is the fast track to joy.”



“One of the trends that worries me most is the growing sense of climate despair or climate fatalism among some people, particularly younger millennials and Gen Z. Even as we emphasize the urgency, we need to convey that there are solutions available, that we are making real progress, and that there are steps we can take now to ensure a safer and more prosperous future.”



“For a century, our textbooks have only featured white men as the founders and leaders of this profession: no women or people of color or representatives of the LGBTQ or disability communities. We take it as our mission to uncover everyone’s stories, and literally change the way we tell the story of our history. By doing that, we help today’s diverse young people feel greater connection to this industry.”



“Business isn’t debating climate change and decarbonization: it’s moving forward to deploy solutions. The U.S. renewable electricity market over the last 15-20 years is a fantastic example of business leadership and effective policy: businesses’ demand for more renewable electricity has leveraged and helped drive policy; the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit at the federal level and renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in some states. The result has been a dramatic, non-partisan expansion of clean, domestic renewable electricity supply.”



“We know from experience that places will not get protected and be well stewarded without the constant involvement and oversight of nearby community members. When organized and mobilized, communities can compel elected officials and agencies such as the Bureau to be responsive to the conservation of the land and our natural and cultural heritage. Public lands are great unifier and community engagement is the one constant as our national politics whipsaws after each election.”


Tanya Churchmuch, MuchPR


“One of the most important things I’ve learned in my career is that being my open and authentic self is good for business. There aren’t many out lesbians in the PR industry generally, even less in senior positions. But it’s when I’m embracing this part of myself and not worrying about what people will think of me being a lesbian that I’m able to focus on bringing the best version of myself to the table.”


Guido Patrignani, Greenwood Energy


“The world is now starting to grasp an idea of how the next decades will unfold in terms of extreme weather events, and we believe the public and private sectors are now called to work together in advancing innovative and sustainable ways of developing into a greener future to try to minimize some of the most harmful effects of those events. Due to their scale and impact, infrastructure projects represent the perfect field to start reimagining development, and at Greenwood we are driven by the hope that our projects serve as a catalyst for other positive initiatives around the world.”


Lisa Manley, MARS


“I think there still is opportunity to link this work to value creation. We need more brands that put purpose and sustainability at the center of how they build customer and consumer experiences. And we need to see the trends related to conscious consumerism continue to grow!”



“One of the fundamental techniques of problem solving is the reverse engineering approach. Reverse engineering is the act of breaking down or dismantling an object to find out how it works. The knowledge gained from understanding how things work, gives you the ability to recreate a system or an object with added enhancement. Being an engineer by education, I learned to apply this systematic and analytical approach to problem solving. Breaking down one big problem into may smaller problems makes it easier to systematically find smaller solutions.”


Carmella Glover, Diversity Action Alliance


“The diversity piece is just the beginning. Bringing in talent from a variety of backgrounds looks great on paper and is the quickest win, but the real work comes in retaining that talent by identifying and dismantling inequitable practices and policies that are barriers for marginalized professionals within our organizations. When companies begin to do the DEI work, once we’ve admitted there is an issue and started on the path to rectify it, the next challenge is sustaining those efforts and investing adequate resources to drive a return and results. Diversity, equity and inclusion must be a part of an organization’s Strategic Plan with measurable goals throughout and experts to support the execution.”


Brian Bond, PFLAG National


“Well, both clean water and clean air are as essential as equality and equally worth fighting for. Bold change requires bold voices, bold storytelling. And these are two areas that absolutely need bold change to save lives, right now. It’s so important to speak up, even when it’s maybe not the popular thing to say—but when you have RIGHT on your side, and personal passion and stories, change happens.”


Patrice Tanaka, Joyful Planet


“I believe in the abundance mentality and being generous with my time, energy, and resources. This has always been my personal philosophy and strategy for success.”


Lionel Johnson, Pacific Pension Institute


“Communications are critical in any organization, public, private, or non-profit. Yet, what constitutes effective communication can vary depending on culture, norms, and sometimes individual personalities. Over the years, I have learned to adapt my communication style to the specific audience, situation, or the best available channel.”


Erin Burns, Carbon180


“I think coming off the Hill, it made me a very tactical person. Many times, it’s not about just having a good idea -- lots of people have good ideas -- but about: Can you communicate it to staffers in members in their language? Are you creating materials that they’ll actually read and that will answer the questions they have? Have you cleared your idea with the stakeholders that member cares about? Do you know the players on the issue? Strategy is as important as content.”





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