In June 2021, we invited artists through an open call to submit their ideas for public art projects in large scale, with a focus on our sustainability story. The artwork could be in any medium; including but not limited to, murals and sculptures, utilizing elements “recovered” from our recycling area.
We were looking for artists to propose meaningful Public Art pieces for select spaces within Hastings Park that reflect our partnership’s shared sustainability objectives and tell our story through the themes of zero waste, water use, and energy conservation.
Ron Simmer was selected to create three pieces on the themes of Energy, Water and Zero Waste.
Vancity and the PNE: A Tale of Two Partners
In 2007, Vancity and the PNE first connected through a very traditional sponsorship model centered on a single Vancity Member Appreciation Day during the PNE Fair. Over the last 13 years, our work together has re-imagined what partnership could look like and transformed the year-round sustainability landscape at PNE.
In 2010, Vancity and the PNE began shifting our relationship away from transactional sponsorship towards impact partnership. Through conversations about shared values, the importance of environmental sustainability became the pillar of our work together. Although Vancity primarily activated on site during the 15-day PNE Fair, both organizations shared a vision of a more sustainable future. We completed a sustainability audit of the PNE’s full operations which provided strategic direction for all sustainability initiatives implemented over the past decade. Through this partnership environmental sustainability has become a key part of the PNE’s year-round operations. Vancity and the PNE are both incredibly proud of how our work demonstrates the depth of impact that can be achieved when organizations come together as partners around shared values and a common goal. Our teams became allies, resources, and friends, positively impacting a variety of stakeholders and inspiring other strategic partners to re-think how they could join PNE’s incredible sustainability journey.
Planet – Achievements
Vancity and the PNE focused our partnership on the strategic goal of becoming Zero Waste. Vancity Member Day became a pilot for Zero Waste Events, eventually building over time until all 15 days of the PNE Fair became Zero Waste. Soon these best practices were also implemented into year-round operations. From vendor relations, to green buildings, to green lifestyles and beyond, the PNE has fully embraced environmental sustainability as a lens through which all organizational decisions are made. It was only a matter of time until PNE began to be recognized nationally and internationally as leader in sustainable fairs:
- In 2018, the PNE won the Recycling Council of BC Innovation award for our Zero Waste achievements and for “services beyond expectations in environmental stewardship”
- The PNE became an industry resource on sustainability for Fairs, Festivals, and multipurpose venues across North America
- Our partnership continues to be referenced at industry meetings as an example of best practice where we are collectively recognized for our forward thinking and influence in this sector
- We achieved (and exceeded) our waste diversion results faster than anticipated: shifting from 50% waste diversion during the PNE Fair in 2015, to 73% waste diversion (including year-round operations) in 2019.
People – Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice
People are the backbone of this successes. Together we co-developed zero-waste sorting stations, signage, education, and processes to ensure maximum waste could be diverted from landfill. Hundreds of Vancity staff volunteers helped educate fairgoers on correct waste sorting. The Binners’ Project was brought in and trained as waste sorting experts to educate guests and support with back of house sorting. Working with the binners deepened our impact by creating space for a traditionally marginalized group to become publicly recognized for their expertise. The meaningful employment and opportunity to serve the community made the PNE one of the most sought-after binner employment opportunities and added the essential element of inclusion to our sustainability work.
A Legacy that Lives on
As our partnership comes to a close, we will once again complete a sustainability audit to measure just how far we’ve come and ensure the PNE has a roadmap for the future. We are extremely proud of the successes we’ve accomplished throughout this 13-year journey and are so excited to see the PNE continue to flourish as a leader in sustainability, resting on the strong foundation of our shared legacy.