Welcome to Environmental Fund for Arizona’s blog site on WordPress.com! Arizona ‘greenies’ are encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences in making Arizona healthier, more sustainable, and eco-friendly. Now let’s start talking…


Building on the momentum and awesome support we’ve experienced over the past few years, EFAZ is ready to take it to the next level in 2012!

But to make sure we’re offering the greatest benefit to the community – and in doing so – providing greater awareness and support for our EFAZ member organizations – we needed to hear from you!

We’re excited to present the following results summary from our EFAZ Value Survey 2012! The results shown reflect the most common responses based on highest percentage.

Here’s what you told us…

How did you hear about EFAZ?

  • Personal contact w/board or staff
  • Referral or networking

What are your top areas of interest?

  • Environmental Policy
  • Wildlife
  • Climate Change
  • Renewable Energy

How often do you visit our website?

  • A few times per year

How could we improve our website?

  • Provide a listing of environmental jobs & volunteer opportunities
  • Highlight your member groups’ work to educate the community
  • Show Arizona and national environmental issues
  • Drive people to the website via Facebook & Twitter
  • Make the site more interactive

Do you read our monthly Green Sheet newsletter?

  • Usually

If so, which sections do you read most often?

  • AZ environmental news
  • Upcoming events
  • All sections

How could we improve our newsletter?

  • Spotlight how EFAZ funding is helping your member groups
  • Add more photos
  • Add more links back to your website

How can we provide the best benefit to you and the community?

  • Strengthen your visibility to add more workplace giving campaigns
  • Show EFAZ member groups’ work and impacts
  • Promote AZ environmental news & issues
  • Offer environmental educational sessions
  • Hold ‘Get To Know EFAZ’ events

What do we do well?

  • Sharing great information
  • Keeping us informed about what has been achieved
  • Your business model is great – providing an alternative to the United Way to help the planet

What could we improve?

  • Make more folks aware that they have a ‘green’ charitable choice at work
  • More testimonials and updates about what you’re doing
  • More media coverage
  • Host a quarterly event about what you’re doing to involve the community

How can we help to know you better?

  • Host an informal gathering with others
  • Offer volunteer opportunities

What motivates you to give to charities?

  • Caring about the cause and how donations are used

What are your main challenges to giving to charities?

  • Not clear how my gifts will help
  • Lack of funds
  • Don’t know the charity well

What would you like to know about us?

  • What are the main objectives for EFAZ in 2012?

A huge thank you to all of you who participated in our survey. Your feedback will help us as we reassess our Strategic Plan this year and establish our priority activities. Stay tuned!

The success of our recent anniversary event in October would not have been possible without the generosity and passion of Hollie Dunn of Thalia Event Design. Not only did Hollie donate her services for the event, she planned and executed it with brilliance – all basing it upon sustainability and supporting the local economy.

Read here how she began Thalia Event Design and what drives her in the job she loves!

What is your elevator speech for Thalia Event Design?
We’re an event planning firm that focuses on economic and environmental sustainability to benefit our local community. We try to make events as close to zero-waste as possible and source event products and services from locally based vendors. We want to leave our environment and economy in a better condition for our children.

What led to the creation of Thalia Event Design?
I saw a gap in the marketplace for sustainable event planning. I discovered that an event can produce a half-ton of waste. Moreover, using local vendors to support community businesses really hasn’t been a priority. With national providers, this adds more to the carbon footprint and    the dollars don’t stay local. These are the major things that led me to open Thalia Event Design. I    felt it was important for someone to step in and fill these needs.

Tell me some of your most interesting or memorable events you’ve done
Back in 2003, I did a special event for an employer. It was a promotional sales event during the summer for about 100 select customers.  I created the layout, look, and design of the entire space, including entertainment with a DJ. Moreover, I really had to consider and strategize what would bring them in? What would drive them to attend? What’s in it for them? We promoted the event through invitations and personal phone calls. The event required major organization, but it was the event I learned the most from. It helped me to realize I was good at doing this, and I found it was what I love to do!

What are your top 3 MUSTS to make an event successful?

  1. Good food is always priority number one.
  2. Really great decor – a dramatic statement – to transform people from their day-to-day lives to something completely different – where they say ‘wow, I want to be here!’
  3. Great entertainment – making sure people are having a good time – having something for them to really focus on and enjoy.

How has your company and mission resonated in Arizona? What has been people’s response so far? Do you think attitudes are shifting – both by individuals and businesses?
It’s definitely been well received. After learning more about our approach, people are impressed with the idea of really doing something in a different manner. This is not just about having a green event – it’s about having a truly sustainable event while also focusing on the economy and job creation by working with local vendors. People really need these jobs right now.

A lot of people really grasp this and carry it with them. People have gotten on board with that. I do think their attitudes are shifting, especially with our current economy. When you use a local vendor, you are working in a sustainable way that will stimulate our growth and job creation. By just shifting a little bit of our focus, we can really reverse the cuts in our economy.

If you could get one message out to everyone, statewide, nationwide, etc. about what you’re trying to do, what would you say?
I think the biggest concern and hurdle I’ve encountered is that a lot of people shy away from the word sustainable. For many they think it means that they have to give up something, which is almost never the situation. In reality, it’s just a matter of knowing what your options are.

For example, choosing grass-fed originated filet mignon vs. corn-fed if a client wants to serve a fine steak to guests. It’s good to learn where things come from, and it’s about getting back to the basics. We never ask anyone to give up something they desire to have a sustainable event. They have choices to get what they really want and in ways that benefits both them as the host, our environment, and our economy.

Why do you like your job?
It’s hard to consider what I do a job. I can do what I love to do – to take something that usually is incredibly stressful and turn it into something incredibly enjoyable. I love to see my clients’ faces on their event day after all the work is done – to see them amazed by the finished result. I love being able to do that for someone. Also, because everything done for the event is local, I know we’re not damaging our environment. I’m helping my clients, and along with that, I’m doing something for the betterment of our community as a whole. I really appreciate that opportunity.

For brilliant event design, contact: www.thaliaeventdesign.com

Here’s the latest from GreenBiz.com on their State of Green Business Report for 2011. A lot to digest but a great and informative read.

Minnesota is kicking our butt. No, I’m not talking ice hockey or the fact that they have 10,000 lakes – yes, it’s not just their state motto. Rather, I’m talking about their killer support for their environment – hey, they have 10,000 lakes to keep pristine remember? But seriously, Minnesota is leaving us in the dust when it comes to supporting the environment through workplace giving. What’s that you ask? Workplace giving is just that – where employees in companies, cities, counties, universities, or really any organization can give to charities through their workplace, usually via payroll deduction.

For decades, the United Way has been the biggest player on the block. But more recently, other groups, called federations, have joined in looking for an equal piece of the workplace giving pie, representing other nonprofit sectors including the environment. EarthShare is the granddaddy of environmental federations and has 19 state affiliates across the country. There are however a few of us ‘rogue’ independent greenies, like our own Environmental Fund for Arizona (EFAZ) but the Minnesota Environmental Fund is one that we Arizonans would be wise to emulate.

In a little over 15 years, MEF has established itself in 140 campaigns across the state, including private companies as well as cities and counties, and now brings in on average $850,000 in donations annually for its 21 environmental group members. No matter how you slice it, that’s a nice chunk of change for MEF members to help continue their missions.

Now contrast this to how Arizona is matching up…or not. Just 17 workplaces across the entire state currently include a ‘green’ choice in their workplace campaigns. For those of us who connect the environment, smart growth, and sustainability to the health and vitality of Arizona’s future, not to mention who believe in the ‘spirit of philanthropy,’ you’d think offering an environmental choice to workplaces would be easier. It’s not. Unfortunately, sometimes long-standing tradition trumps common sense and cool ideas.

Why is ‘giving green’ at work so darn great and why should Arizona take notice? I’ll tell you. Not only does it introduce hundreds, if not thousands of folks to terrific environmental nonprofits who might not have access to companies themselves, but do amazingly cool work for our environment, but it allows Arizona employees to learn about the incredible variety of environmental issues being tackled across the state, and helps them to get involved. Think Sonoran Institute and their work with Superstition Vistas. Think Audubon Arizona and their recent opening of the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, the gateway to a lush Sonoran riparian habitat used by over 200 species of birds and other wildlife. And don’t forget Grand Canyon Trust. They’re our champions of Arizona’s – and the nation’s – spectacular treasure, the Grand Canyon and the Colorado Plateau. These are just 3 of 29 organizations that make up EFAZ – raising nearly $800,000 to date to improve our environment.  Here’s another reason – one that is ridiculously obvious. Arizona is pushing ‘green’ in a big way, no not just to save the planet but for more practical reasons, like recharging our state’s economy with green jobs. Solar energy…hello? Water issues…we’re all over it. Why wouldn’t companies, cities, counties, and universities welcome a green choice into their campaigns?

So, what’s the moral of the story? Let’s not let Minnesota keep kicking our environmental butt. Isn’t the Grand Canyon and the Sonoran Desert worth saving? I say ‘wake up Arizona and smell the organically-grown, fair trade coffee.’