RCE Greater Portland-2015

1. Project Title: 
NWEI EcoChallenge
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
3. Project partner contact information : 
Northwest Earth Institute
Coordinating Organization
Main Contact: 
Rob Nathan
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

This annual community event, sponsored by RCE Greater Portland partner, the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI), creates teams of participants from neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and beyond, who take on a challenge to change a behavior for two weeks. The EcoChallenge is open to anyone who would like to make a commitment to living a little lighter on Earth. Whether at work or on campus, with friends or family, NWEI encourages developing camaraderie and friendly peer pressure to make change a little easier, and a lot more fun. A great team-building and personal experience, the EcoChallenge makes a real difference in our own lives and the community.

The teams are on-line, so people can join from across the region and around the world. This fun and meaningful opportunity helps people learn something new. Plus, teams and individuals can compete with each other and win prizes!

The regional challenges that this project addresses focuses on environmental issues and actions that we can take in our homes, workplaces and communities. NWEI allows us to choose an EcoChallenge category that appeals to us: Water Conservation; Energy Efficiency; Sustainable Food Options; Alternative Transportation; Trash Reduction; Civic Engagement; Connect with Earth; or Choose Your Own. They ask participants to be realistic about what challenges people take on and then to let our family and friends know about our challenges. Using social psychological theories, they have found that sharing our EcoChallenges is a great way to inspire others and hold ourselves accountable.

Once the EcoChallenge starts, participants are able to check in each day and identify whether they achieved their goal or not and then blog about their efforts. Some participants post pictures and share suggestions with each other. Checking in and blogging earns the individual and team points and adds to the fun of the experience.

Because the EcoChallenge is on-line, people participate from all over the greater Portland region, the United States, and internationally. Many of our RCE partners create teams and use this as an annual event to build relationships and make a difference.

This year was extra special, as UNU-IAS program associate Kyoko Shiota was interning with RCE Greater Portland and she chose to work with our partner, NWEI, to learn about their discussion courses, curriculum, and the EcoChallenge. She created an international RCE team, which introduced the UNU-IAS and other RCEs around the world to one of RCE Greater Portland's favorite projects. We hope that other RCEs will participate in the future as well.

More details are available at www.nwei.org.

6. Project status
The 2015 EcoChallenge took place this year, from October 15-29, 2015, with over 4,300 participants.

We have had an RCE Greater Portland team for three years, even before we were officially recognized as an RCE. This year, our official RCE Greater Portland team had only 10 members, but we invited partners to create teams across our region. We had teams participate from many of our partners, with a range of team members:
Center for Diversity and the Environment (12)
City of Lake Oswego (7)
City of Portland (8)
Create Plenty (7)
Marylhurst University (26)
Metro (32)
Multnomah County (48)
Oregon Zoo (6)
Portland Community College (9 teams- 150 participants)
Portland Public Schools (21)
Portland State University (2)
University of Portland (32)
University of Portland's MBA class (22)
Washington County (49)
Waste Management (9)

The international RCE teams had 36 participants, from Japan, India, Colombia, Zambia, and Kenya. Kyoko Shiota served as the team captain.

It was a great success and we look forward to doing the EcoChallenge again next year.
8. Tagging