SEE Expo ends after 10-year run

SEE Expo ends after 10-year run-attachment0

Organizers of the annual Southern Energy & Environment Expo announced yesterday that the exhibition is ended, after a 10-year run for the three-day event.

“It’s with sincere regret that we announce the end of the Southern Energy & Environment Expo after 10 years,” writes SEE Expo founder Ned Doyle in a letter appearing on their website, noting that early registrations for the event will be refunded. “Let us say ‘Thank you,’ deeply and sincerely, for everyone’s past support,” the letter continues.  “Coordinating the S.E.E. event has been an honor and a privilege, working with literally thousands of the finest people across the region. We’ve made a difference over ten years, the event has been successful in terms of education, information and our sustainable community interactions. But we need something new.”

The letter also announces the closing of Our Southern Community Center, opened earlier this year, which will shut down on June 11. “We risked what little personal savings we had to open, based largely on suggestions over the years that the region needed more than a 3 day event — [that] the public should have a year-round S.E.E. -style option for the public to access affordable, sustainable education. Unlike the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie, we built it… but (almost) no one came.”

“Business is business and we lost the gamble,” the notice reads, noting that the organization is planning to hold a ‘gone out of business’ sale, Saturday, June 11, offering solar products, a solar hot air collector, affordable tables, chairs, bookshelves and desks.  “The decision to close the Our Southern Community Center is disappointing, but a rational business decision,” according to the SEE website.

Regarding the decision to end the Expo, the notice states that the decision to end the S.E.E. event was difficult. “The event…was very successful amongst ourselves, but it failed to “connect” with the general public.” Organizers say they felt that “the mainstream media basically ignored our event for a decade (with one or two exceptions), despite an estimated 50,000 attendees, $5 million+ [added to] the local economy and being the largest event of its kind in the South.”

On the bright side, they say, “a special media ‘tip of the hat’ goes to BackHome Magazine, Mountain Xpress, MAIN and WNCW for their decade of ongoing support. Our event success was due primarily to grass roots ‘word-of-mouth’, the efforts of many organizations, in particular the WNC Alliance and the WNC Green Building Council, among a number of others. In our last few years we had the participation of a wide spectrum of businesses and organizations, from the Canary Coalition to Progress Energy. Thank you all, again!”

Meanwhile, the statement says, “a majority of the American public still does not get the message. Millions still believe industry spin that nuclear power is safe & affordable. That we can ‘drill baby drill’ for unlimited oil. That climate change is a liberal hoax. That coal is ‘clean’. That populations can continue to rise. That we can spend trillions fighting wars and then lower taxes to pay for it. That shopping at Wal-Mart is good for our economy. That we can live without clean air, clean water and healthy foods. That corporations deserve the same rights as people.”

“We’re still available for talks, programs and workshops in the regular formats,” the announcement reads. “It’s not a question of stopping our sustainable outreach, but a question of how to adapt to today’s reality. Or lack thereof.”

The text of the announcement is provided below:

June 5th, 2011

Dear Friends of Our Southern Community and the Southern Energy & Environment Expo,

It’s with sincere regret that we announce the end of the Southern Energy & Environment Expo after 10 years and the closing of Our Southern Community Center. Early S.E.E. Exhibitor registrations will be refunded.  New ideas for our sustainable community efforts are encouraged. If you read no further, let us say “Thank You”, deeply and sincerely, for everyone’s past support,  as well as offer an apology for any inconvenience to your plans with this news.

Coordinating the S.E.E. event has been an honor and a privilege, working with literally thousands of the finest people across the region. We’ve made a difference over ten years, the event has been successful in terms of education, information and our sustainable community interactions. But we need something new. Times have changed, and not for the better. The rest here  is to explain the decision to seek a new path towards sustainability. For all of you that have participated, all the energy and effort invested in the S.E.E. event and all the years we’ve worked together as a community, an explanation is deserved for those interested.

The OSC Center is Closing

Our Southern Community Center recently opened, but is closing June 11th. We risked what little personal savings we had to open, based largely on suggestions over the years that the region needed more than a 3 day event – the public should have a year-round “S.E.E. style” option for the public to access affordable, sustainable education. Unlike the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie, we built it… but (almost) no one came.

Business is business and we lost the gamble. We’ll be having a garage sale,  Sat June 11th, as we close for good, and if you’re interested in some solar products, a solar hot air collector, affordable tables, chairs, bookshelves and desks… stop by for our ‘gone out of business’ sale as we try to minimize our financial losses at OSC Center. The decision to close the Our Southern Community Center is disappointing, but a rational business decision.

The S.E.E. Expo is Ending

First, 2011 S.E.E. registrations will be refunded. In no way is the S.E.E. event closing and keeping anyone’s money, to be crystal clear. Organizations and businesses willing to waive their refund or take a portion due will be deeply appreciated considering our situation, but in any case, you’ll be contacted by June 8th about refunds.

It’s our plan to come up with some new approach, event or sustainable effort. It’s not about giving up, but changing course to reflect the reality of today. The S.E.E. wasn’t about making money, other than paying the event overhead, and as coordinators we didn’t receive a salary for 10 years. But we did get quite a few excellent T-shirts  .

The decision to end the S.E.E. event was difficult and complicated. In 2000, there was a consensus that a fundamental problem was the lack of public education regarding the benefits and the inter-relationships of clean energy, local economies, environmental conservation, social justice and sustainable economic development. For most of you, this has been a classic ‘no-brainer’ from the beginning, but for the general public it was, and evidently still is, a radical concept. The event within our regional sustainable community was very successful amongst ourselves, but it failed to “connect” with the general public.

Mainstream media basically ignored our event for a decade (one or two exceptions), despite an estimated 50,000 attendees, $5 million+ into the local economy and being the largest event of its kind in the South. On the bright side, a special media ‘tip of the hat’ goes to BackHome Magazine, Mountain Xpress, MAIN and WNCW for their decade of ongoing support. Our event success was due primarily to grass roots ‘word-of-mouth’, the efforts of many organizations, in particular the WNC Alliance and the WNC Green Building Council, among a number of others. In our last few years we had the participation of a wide spectrum of businesses and organizations, from the Canary Coalition to Progress Energy. Thank you all, again!

But times have changed since 2000. We’ve endured a decade of unfunded $2 trillion (so far) wars, the Gulf / BP disaster, the devastation of Katrina, Fukushima’s nuclear tragedy, rising global temperatures, increasing climate change emissions, accelerating species loss,  unprecedented arctic melting, more tax breaks for the most wealthy and global corporations, education funding being slashed, rolling back environmental regulations for a ‘better business climate’, ‘fracking’ that permanently contaminates groundwater, expanded mountain top removal for coal ……. the list goes on and on.

And yet, inexplicably, despite logic, the facts and current events, a  majority of the American public still does not get the message. Millions still believe industry spin that nuclear power is safe & affordable. That we can ‘drill baby drill’ for unlimited oil. That climate change is a liberal hoax. That coal is ‘clean’. That populations can continue to rise. That we can spend trillions fighting wars and then lower taxes to pay for it. That shopping at Wal-Mart is good for our economy. That we can live without clean air, clean water and healthy foods. That corporations deserve the same rights as people. Feel free to consider your own example of the current lunacy.

What makes it lunacy is that we have rational proven solutions to the problems being implemented in the rest of the world today. Green building to raise values and put people back to work, clean energy with solar, wind, energy efficiency, local agriculture, better town & urban planning, you probably know the story, so I won’t list more examples. These proven solutions, taken together, are less expensive, more profitable for more folks, respects life on the planet and forms a sustainable economic foundation for the long haul. Worse than being ignored, these solutions are being actively resisted.

Those of us concerned with rational, sustainable solutions are simply outnumbered, for whatever reasons. Holding an 11th Annual S.E.E. Expo would be, as the saying goes, today little more than preaching to the same choir. We already know the ‘songs of sustainability’, it’s the majority we need to reach…. but have not been able to reach. It’s time for some kind of change in approach. I don’t know exactly what change (it’s not a political slogan here), but doing the same thing again with no real hope of making the needed changes, makes little sense. The Southern Energy & Environment Expo has done a fine job in many ways, helped many people, created jobs, saved money and much more. It’s been a great ten years and I’m proud of our community effort, but it’s better to go out with a respectable legacy than fade away with time, in my opinion.

Where Do We Go from Here?

If you’ve read this far, thank you again. Your thoughts and creative ideas are warmly welcomed.  Among the new ideas being considered are smaller traveling events, coordinating and managing events locally, producing videos and internet outreach and education, individual and community consulting for sustainability and more. We’re still available for talks, programs and workshops in the regular formats, it’s not a question of stopping sustainable outreach, but a question of how to adapt to today’s reality. Or lack thereof.

Our mailing address will revert back to P.O. Box 1562, Etowah, NC 28729 for any S.E.E. or OSC Center correspondence. The websites will stay up to inform the wider public and the emails will remain the same, although it may be a bit longer than usual before I can reply to your emails after June 15th.  The phone number 828 696 3877 should be good until June 15th here at the OSC Center, feel free to call or leave a message if we miss your call.

Thanks for all your support over the years and understanding in this matter.

Ned Ryan Doyle

Ted Wilson

Southern Energy & Environment Expo  www.seeexpo.com info@seeexpo.com

Our Southern Community Center   www.oursoutherncommunity.org info@oursoutherncommunity.org

SHARE

4 thoughts on “SEE Expo ends after 10-year run

  1. Barry Summers

    Huge thanks are due to Ned & everyone who has put on SEEXPO all these years. I know that I’ve learned a lot & have seen others taking away info that will help us move our corner of the world in a better direction. Well done & keep up the fight!

  2. Ned Ryan Doyle

    I’d like to thank the Mountain Xpress -again- for all the support given over the last 10 years. SEE was a community affair in the truest sense and Jeff realized that from day 1. I’ve had emails all day, over 50 so far, from great folks who understand the reasons, so to them too, thanks again. Perhaps ending SEE will spark the new idea, approach or whatever we need to move forward into a rational, sustainable future. I sure hope so. Peace, Ned

Leave a Reply