Stacie Shepp, the Green Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and I got connected recently as mutual sponsors of 350.org’s The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Speak for Me campaign. I’m a big fan of the Green Chamber of Commerce’s mission and work and took the opportunity to interview Stacie. Here’s the interview (drop any more questions you may have in the comments below and I’m sure Stacie will respond):
1. Starting off with a simple one, why and when did the Green Chamber of Commerce get started?
The Green Chamber of Commerce was started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007. It was started in response to the dissatisfaction many businesses felt with the US Chamber of Commerce, who was not representing them in a way that they felt matched their environmental and social values. The original founders wanted to create an organization that would support the development of sustainable business practices and advocate for green public policy.
2. Where is the Green Chamber today and where do you envision it in 10 years?
Today the Green Chamber of Commerce represents businesses across the US with chapters in Las Vegas, NV and North Carolina. We also have chapters forming in Reno, NV; Hawaii; and Oregon — with more on the way. In ten years we aspire to be the alternative to the US Chamber of Commerce with thousands of chapters across the US and internationally that represent businesses that are committed to creating an honest economy.
3. Like Important Media (the media network Planetsave is a part of), you are an official partner of 350.org’s “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Speak for Me” campaign. Of course, you have a clear reason for it (you’re just trying to steal their business, right?) — but in all seriousness, what does this campaign mean to you and what are you doing to help it?
Yeah! You guessed it! We are trying to steal their businesses. Or maybe a better way of putting it is that we are working on creating an alternative Chamber of Commerce that represents businesses that are committed to sustainable business practices. When we first heard about the 350.org campaign, we immediately contacted them and joined. We were excited to see that 350.org was addressing our concerns with the US Chamber — such as, how it is funded and what that money is used for. For example: lobbying against all that we are working towards in terms of climate change legislation. We are helping the campaign by asking our members and community to join the “US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me” campaign and suggesting that those businesses that sign on to the campaign join our organization so that we can better represent them.
4. You’ve got a number of members already (and I noticed some big names, like Ernst & Young), but there are a ton of companies out there who could and should join, including some big ones that have spoken out against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s attacks on climate legislation and have even left the Chamber or its Board of Directors. How do you go about getting companies on board? And are there any particular well-known companies you are currently targeting?
Our membership base is currently made up of mostly micro and small businesses. We have a lot of ways we go about getting new members, including attending and hosting events, social media, and word of mouth… and our Ambassador Program that will be launching soon. We have quite a few founding members who have been with us since the beginning who have supported to growth of our organization. We are working with the American Sustainable Business Council on a campaign that would help attract larger corporate companies that have left the US Chamber of Commerce by leveraging the 350.org campaign. We also have sponsorships available for companies that want to support the Green Chamber in addition to being members and we are talking to a few mid-size companies, like Method Products, about becoming members as well as other B Corp certified businesses similar to their size who are committed to sustainable business practices.
5. Anything else you’d like to mention?
Thank you for interviewing me. We rely also on good PR to get the word out about our organization and invite you and your readers to join the Green Chamber today! For more information visit our website at: www.greenchamberofcommerce.net