Supporting our Members and Community through Change
By Anna Munson
There is a fresh, cool breeze drifting though door next to my kitchen table as I draft this article. It is a drastic change from the heat and humidity of the previous several days. I love hot, sticky summers but welcome the change to autumn when it arrives. Change is central to our lives right now.
Our Association and Sections have made many changes to continue to support our industry and our members through the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that we have worked our way through the initial scramble to adapt and have moved into an operational phase with plenty of contingency plans.
When the decision was made in early spring to hold the 93rd CSWEA Annual Meeting fully virtual, everyone involved in planning the Annual Meeting scrambled to change their approach. The Technical Committee had to completely change their scheduled session times, adjust presentation tracks and coordinate obtaining recorded presentations from the speakers. Our Executive Director, Mohammed, led the effort to evaluate and select the virtual platform. His CSWEA responsibilities changed from CSWEA Executive Director to Virtual CSWEA Conference Developer. Our Conference Sponsorship group shifted from working to fill an Exhibit Hall to convincing vendors to give the Virtual Exhibit Hall a try. Changing to a virtual conference was a tremendous amount of work. On behalf of the Minnesota Section, I want to thank everyone who worked so many extra hours to make the Virtual Annual Meeting a success.
The Minnesota Section held its business meeting virtually on Tuesday during the CSWEA Annual Meeting. In general, most Section committees have continued their activities as initially planned or have modified them to be able to continue. For example, in July the Public Education and Outreach Committee hosted a virtual public showing of the movie Brave Blue World, followed by a virtual discussion panel. The Minnesota Exchange (MNX) planning meeting was held via GoToWebinar in July to plan the Section’s priorities for the coming year. The Stormwater Committee planned a bike tour of various Minneapolis stormwater projects. It is scheduled for September 17th. The Resource Recovery and Energy Committee continued their monthly virtual learning sessions. Before the Section meeting concluded we welcomed new leaders into the following roles: Government Affairs Vice chair, Collection Systems Committee Chair and Vice chair, Public Education Committee, Awards Committee and the Section Chair and Vice chair.
Minnesota Section activities planned for the next few months include the Minneapolis Stormwater Bike Tour in September, an outreach event for University of Minnesota students in October and a virtual Conference on the Environment slated for November. The Association will host a series of webinars on Effective Utility Management this fall in place of an in-person event. Each of these activities will be different than they would have been in a normal year but will still provide our members with a chance to learn and engage with our professional community.
None of us know whether our next CSWEA Annual Meeting will be in-person, virtual or some combination of both. It’s impossible to know if I’ll still be working at my kitchen table or back at the office. However, we can be confident that our Minnesota Section and CSWEA will make the changes we need to continue to support our members and serve our community.