Leah McMichael is a Sustainability Educator, Writer, and Editor.
Daniel gave his word to introverts that the Hoosier Climate Party would make networking fun. Feeling my forward in the space-dark lobby of the secret downtown location, I confess I had my doubts. How do you get a hundred people to talk to each other, when their skills range from worm farming to proposal development and their passions vary from Indy’s best vegan restaurants to Russian literature?
Vision casting is important. Daniel introduced Carbon Neutral and its mission for people to take responsibility for, and clean up, their carbon trash. He reminded us of the talent in the room, and threw down the challenge: how do you decrease carbon emissions and make life better in Indiana? Obviously by playing Bingo.
Carbon Neutral promotes change without shame, a vision of the game where the point is not competition but the chance to go on playing the game of life in this beautiful home we share. So networking looked like yellow bingo cards, identical grids of challenges. Talk to someone in your sector. Start a group chant. Talk to someone outside your sector. Create a secrete handshake with someone who shares your favorite animal. It was structure and whimsy enough to take the edge off a room full of strangers. And this introvert can attest—yes, it was Fun.
We were set lose on High Alpha’s vertiginous co-working space and roofscape, bingo cards a passport to the yet wilder world of conversation. You may not know it, but climate people are in it for love. Love of their children, of hiking trails, of clean air and safe food and pet chickens and dogs. We wrote our reasons on ribbons and tied them to a tree, swapping photos and stories alongside LinkedIn profiles and shop talk. Do you make more impact in the world by saving a hundred lives or helping thousands indirectly? Why doesn’t Marion County have a Department of Solid Waste Management? What kind of climate learning does Terra.do offer? How do you live awake to the world’s beauty?
Engrossed in rooftop conversation, I didn’t get to see the wall of ideas for lowering emissions and raising quality of life in Indiana. But as the light turned golden and the Bingo winners were drawn (I was, alas, not one), we were reminded of mentorship and meet-ups ahead. The party is just getting started.