The Butterfly Effect in Action

butterflyIt has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.  This morning, I discovered my own little “Butterfly Effect” right here in Cherry Hill, NJ.  The “flutter” happened about a year and a half ago.  I was asked to give a five minute talk about sustainability to some local businesses at a Breakfast with the Mayor event.  I remember struggling with the challenge of saying the most meaningful thing in the shortest amount of time possible.  I went with a quick overview of sustainability and the importance of adopting sustainable business practices on our changing planet.  Local businessman, Jon Perper of Playdrome Bowling Center attended the breakfast that day.

This morning I met with Jon. He described it something like this, “I had already been thinking about my lighting and energy use from a narrow dollars and cents perspective. Hearing you talk about sustainability provided me with the whole picture and set me on a new journey.” Since that day, Jon has been quietly making major changes in the way he does business at his Cherry Hill bowling alley. In addition to doing an LED lighting retrofit, putting on a reflective roof and changing many of his food service products, he hosted an energy efficient lighting fair through NJ Clean Energy and is beginning to do education/outreach for his regular customers. Jon told me how he used to try to unsuccessfully motivate his employees to turn off the lights in order to save him money. Now the whole team is collaborating on best practices for sustainability. In fact, one employee took the initiative to find and purchase the most efficient printer, which now sits prominently in Playdrome’s office. Through participation in the SCH GreenBiz Task Force and last summer’s community visioning conference, Jon expanded his understanding of sustainability. He showed me the powerpoint that he created to educate his national bowling association and shared his vision for greening the entire industry.

This morning I received a valuable lesson. In my role as a sustainable community organizer, I spread a lot of “seeds”.  I don’t always know how much of my message sticks with the people I speak with. It was really gratifying to hear Jon’s story this morning.  I even allowed myself a little daydream about how many seeds Jon is planting in the bowling community, here in Cherry Hill and across the country.  I’ll keep Jon’s story in mind the next time I flutter my wings!


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