Diana Connolly

About Diana Connolly

Diana Connolly is the founder of the event production company Groundswell Marketing, which has been producing conferences, trade shows, and special events for over 20 years. She also recently completed a “green” MBA program, which focused on how enterprises can be profitable while being socially and environmentally responsible. There is an enormous amount of knowledge out there, and Di will forever be a student of sustainability. Someday she may consider herself an expert, but until then she aims to stay curious and vigilant.
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    Cocktails with Connolly – Nashville: Sippin’, Pickin’ & Green Event Plannin’

Cocktails with Connolly – Nashville: Sippin’, Pickin’ & Green Event Plannin’

“More Iced tea, darlin’?” His sincerity was disarming and his drawl belied a wit as fast as a hot knife through butter. We fell into an easy banter. He gave me confidential advice, “Hon’, you want to get the brisket, they do it right here.”  He really cared if I had enough iced tea. When he left the tab I saw a note attached and my heart fluttered. Then it sank: only a flyer for his upcoming gig, a singer-songwriter night at The Bluebird Cafe. Welcome to Nashville. And welcome to my 10th blog about three of my passions: sustainability, events, and fine food and beverages.

Bourbon won’t cure my achy heart, but it’s another thing they do right here. So let’s head to the Black Rabbit for a little sippin’ and drankin’. I recommend the aromatic Hoffa’s Inside Job: made from small batch, high rye Belle Meade Bourbon, Heering Cherry Liquor, orange bitters, and Absinthe. Ahhh. Now that we’re settled in, let me share a few highlights about our event at Nashville’s Music City Center, the beautiful, art-filled, guitar-shaped convention center.

We received top shelf service from the MCC’s Technology Department. DrupalCon, a web developer conference, has a reputation for stressing a building’s IT network. Our Technology Manager, Chris Jolly, understood our complex technical needs and was committed to handling the challenges with grace – whether it involved re-configuring the firewall, tweaking NAT states or emptying PAT tables as fast as we could fill them. Chris was also our go-to for digital media throughout the venue and assisted us with testing and fine-tuning. The equipment and tools for managing the network and the media system were state-of-the-art, and Chris was on top of his game.

Tony Jones helped with print […]

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    Coffee with Connolly – Vienna: Old World Charm, Mit Screaming Fast Wifi

Coffee with Connolly – Vienna: Old World Charm, Mit Screaming Fast Wifi

Let’s start today’s chat at Café Central, where we can take in an expresso, a lemon torte, a warm apple strudel, and the pleasant din of fashionistas, artists, intelligencia, and piano music swirling aloft in the vaulted art nouveau ceiling.  While the fine china and pastries arrive on our marble table, I’ll confide a shocking production tale with you: our show went as smooth as a Viennese Cream Slice. Welcome to my 9th blog about three of my passions: event production, sustainability and fine food and beverages. This adventure takes us to Vienna, Austria and our conference at the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center.

 A successful show is not an accident. With a gratuitous nod to our Austrian friend Sigmund Freud, let us analyze what went right…

• Dedicated Venue Staff. The Messe Wien demonstrated their commitment to excellence by dispatching catering, IT, and management staff to spend a day with us during our 2016 event. They continued to prove how much they cared about our conference throughout the year – kudos to Martina Candillo and Christine Schlagbauer for answering over 1,000 e-mails, always with patience and grace. 

• One Master Floor plan. There is almost nothing better than a blend of voices singing from the same page! From the beginning, all departments and external vendors had access to one master plan that captured room set-ups, AV, staging details, catering set-ups, and exhibit hall stands. When I am archduchess, every venue will offer a single cross-departmental plan.  Thank you CAD man Martin Kreidl, for helping us all work in harmony.

• Outstanding IT. DrupalCon, a tech conference attended by hard-core web developers, historically strains the limits of venue WiFi. Wolfgang Lehner at Kapsch, in partnership with our IT consultant Will Jones […]

  • Permalink  Star-Spangled Banner from the War of 1812. Baltimore Harbor is the site where Francis Scott Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner after Americans won the Battle of Baltimore and raised the flag over Fort McHenryGallery

    Cocktails with Connolly – Baltimore: Talking Trash in Charm City

Cocktails with Connolly – Baltimore: Talking Trash in Charm City

A frosty local IPA, a fully laden ballpark dog, the anguishing torque of the pitcher’s arm…and when I whisper Camden Yard’s sustainability stats in your ear, I hope I’ve taken you to The Zone. Welcome to my 8th blog about 3 of my passions: event planning, sustainability, and fine food and beverages.

We are in Baltimore to produce DrupalCon, taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center. My team and I manage production logistics for catering, AV, IT, signage, registration and the exhibit hall, and touch many decisions that affect whether the conference is executed in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

Sustainability is war. It’s messy. There are compromises. It’s a daily fight against convenience, habit and the status quo.  There are days when we feel hope and days we feel hopeless. We might lose some battles but we must persist.

I am often war-weary when I encounter facility staff who live in a mythical world where clean air, water, land, and fossil fuels are infinite resources. You know, that ideal world, where the Free Hand of the Market might actually work. Alas, we live in a world where our economic system needs to be redefined, based on the real world of finite natural resources and imperfect transparency of information.  Fortunately, I was heartened to learn that the Baltimore Convention Center follows ASTM/APEX sustainable event standards, and is an ally in this battle.

Today let’s talk trash. DrupalCon, like any conference of approximately 3500 people, has quite a bit of environmental impact. Consider the scale of our catering needs: we serve over 9,200 lunches, 750 gallons of coffee, and 1,500 beers over the course of 5 days.  What happens to all that catering waste? I was eager to dumpster dive to learn more, and requested a sustainability tour. I was pleasantly surprised when Mac Campbell and Chris Simmons at […]

Cocktails with Connolly: Atlanta – Vodka, Venues, and finding your Voice in the city too busy to hate.

Two venues worth considering for your special event in downtown Atlanta sit across from each other in the beautiful Centennial Olympic Park: the World Of Coca-Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Before we dive into these two venues, let’s grab a bar stool at the nearby Legal Seafood, and let me order you a….

A photo posted by Diana Connolly (@dianaconnolly007)

Anjou Pear Martini – Grey Goose Pear Vodka, St. Germain, Pierre Ferrand 1st Cru de Cognac, simple syrup & lemon juice. 

This refreshing cocktail cuts through the humidity and soothes the throat after logging 27,000 steps scouting venues for the upcoming Facing Race Conference held in Atlanta this November.

The Face Forward team who produce this conference are experts in fostering thought leadership in racial and social justice, and I’m grateful to be able to support their work. As technical production lead, it’s my role to make sure the revolution is well amplified, in HD, and Live-Streamed.

So, what do Atlanta, Coca-Cola, Human and Civil Rights, and green event planning all have to do with each other? Marketing.

Coca-Cola, Inc. is the perhaps the world’s best marketing company. It’s ingenious how they have imprinted their brand deep into our lifestyle and culture. From Norman Rockwell to the present, product placement experts have made sure a coke is always in the picture. They have created demand on every continent, and to quench this worldwide thirst, their scale of their operations is massive. In 2014 alone, Coca-Cola used 304.8 billion liters of water to produce and bottle their products. You can find this fact in their annual sustainability report, which covers Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) key performance indicators such as ethics, environmental impact, human rights, labor practices, and product responsibility.

Why does Coke report […]

  • Prague Convention Center at sunset
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    Cocktails With Connolly: Prague – molecular mixology & the science of green printing

Cocktails With Connolly: Prague – molecular mixology & the science of green printing

Deconstructing cocktails and green printing for an eco-friendly event, over the city of 1,000 spires.

This blog is the third in a series about sustainability, green event planning, and fine food and beverages. You can find the entire series here.

Most people know Prague as a gorgeous, romantic place to visit. I was quite fortunate to be there on event planning business, which afforded me a view of how modern day Prague is addressing sustainability issues. Today, I’d like to share a few stories with you, but before I start, let’s head to Tower Park, and take the elevator up to The Oblaca Bar. While we enjoy the breath-taking views, let me order you a …

Three Sisters Molecular Cocktail – The Oblaca Bar specializes in molecular mixology. In this drink, 3 different deconstructivist cocktails are served in a set of test tubes. Let’s start with the reimagined Lemon Drop, with its spherified drops of lemon-vodka juice that slip around on your tongue before they burst in your mouth. Delightful!

This is just the bar, and just the drink to recharge and inspire us, after a long week of producing a conference at the world-class Prague Convention Center.

The Prague Convention Center is beautiful, set atop a hill a few tram stops away from Old Town. The building was designed so that many of the meeting rooms have outstanding views. But the jewel of the building is Congress Hall, ranked among the best concert venues in the world, and host to the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

The convention center’s in-house catering company is the world class Zátiší Group, who deliver hot, delicious conference meals at a fraction of the cost of most other western European cities.  Zátiší is committed to “happiness on all fronts”: not only do they donate leftover meals to those in need, they are deeply committed to […]

Cocktails with Connolly: Green Conferences in the Golden City

San Francisco, a decadent cocktail, and a green conference planner’s ideal venue.

As a conference and trade show planner, my work takes me to convention centers and major venues around the world, giving me a unique view into what cities and large facilities are doing to address sustainability issues.

In this blog I’ll be writing about three of my passions — sustainability, event planning, and fine food and beverages. This is actually the second blog in this series: you can find the first post here.

Today, I’ll be sharing some lessons I learned from planning green conferences in the fanatically eco-friendly city of San Francisco. But first, sit back, relax and let me order you a…

A photo posted by Diana Connolly (@dianaconnolly007) on Jun 30, 2016 at 10:02am PDT

Decanted Mother-in-Law – Bourbon, curaçao, maraschino, amber, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, served in an apothecary bottle from The Interval Bar, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco.

I highly recommend this drink at this bar after a long week producing a 2500+ person conference at Fort Mason Center. Especially if you are a would-be sustainability expert and want to level-up your game.

The bar is operated by The Long Now Foundation, which fosters thought leadership on sustainability issues with a 10,000 year lens. Some of the decanted spirits leading this organization include executive director Alexander Rose, artist Brian Eno, environmentalist & writer Stewart Brand, and Kevin Kelly, senior Maverick at Wired magazine. We’ll need another cocktail to talk about the 10,000 year clock, the upcoming Long Now Member Summit, and other visionary programs of this unique organization.

The Interval and Long Now Foundation are located in Fort Mason Center. A former military base, it is now a vibrant arts and cultural center, and an ideal setting for planning a green event. Across the 13-acre campus […]

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    SOCAP 2016: Your Carbon Footprint: Conferences, Travel, and Climate Change

SOCAP 2016: Your Carbon Footprint: Conferences, Travel, and Climate Change

A SOCAP Conversation with Diana Connolly and Eric Zimmerman

SOCAP has become a gathering place for investors, innovators and entrepreneurs committed to addressing climate change. And yet, as we meet we create a considerable carbon footprint and contribute to the very problem we’re trying to address. We recently sat down with Diana Connolly and TripZero Founder Eric Zimmerman to talk about the surprising biggest factors driving climate change today, and their own approaches to reducing or even eliminating the carbon footprint.

This year SOCAP has partnered with TripZero to reduce the environmental impact of our conference. Attendees can now book your hotel room for SOCAP16 with TripZero (at a great discounted rate). TripZero will then measure and offset the carbon footprint of your trip to the conference, at no cost to you.

SOCAP’s Production Manager, Diana Connolly, also uses her expertise in green event planning to ensure that the event is produced in a way that aligns with our commitment to environmental responsibility.

What is the carbon footprint of an event like SOCAP, where over 2500 attendees convene for 3 days?
DianaConnolly: Greenhouse gas emissions generated by an event come from three sources: activities generated by planning the event, electricity used at the event site, and the emissions generated by attendee travel. Of these three areas, about 85-95% of event GHG emissions come from attendee travel, and among this category, air travel is the primary contributing source.

In sustainability management & reporting, activities that are under the direct control of the show managers are called Scope 1 and Scope 2 activities. Scope 3 activities are the result of the event, but are not under the direct control, which unfortunately makes it trickier to manage. Attendee air travel is considered a […]

  • Human Rights Wall at CCIB
    Permalink Human Rights Wall at CCIBGallery

    Cocktails with Connolly: gin, fresh grapefruit, human rights, event swag, over ice

Cocktails with Connolly: gin, fresh grapefruit, human rights, event swag, over ice

Cheers to human rights in Barcelona

In this blog I’ll be writing about three of my passions — sustainability, event planning, and fine food and beverages.

I’ve been producing “green” conferences, trade shows and other events around the world for the last 20+ years. Through this work I have gained a unique perspective on how different cities and venues approach sustainability. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.

Whether scouting locations or producing an event, the days are long and often stressful, but evenings are the reward. At night we get to experience local culture, and finding just the right spot for a cocktail is one of the best ways to capture the unique vibe of a city. In this series, I’ll not only be sharing event planning advice— I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite cocktails with you too.

So sit back, relax, and let me order you a…
Bitter & Twisted – made with gin, grapefruit juice, Compari, passion fruit juice, served over ice and garnished with large slices of fresh grapefruit, from the super fun Crepes Al Born, in Barcelona’s Born district.

After 7 long days at the (spectacularly cool) Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB), when the 999th detail – flawlessly executed – has fried you as crispy as a Croqueta de Bacalao, this refreshing tropical cocktail will turn around your day and set you right for enjoying a balmy Catalonian evening.

This cocktail pairs nicely with the entrancing Modernisma architecture, the sensuality of the water’s edge; the live music wafting through the streets, and that table-side Iberian ham carver, with his leather carving glove, offering to “carve your ham,” that you just can’t say no to…

But of all my Barcelona impressions, I was most moved […]

DrupalCon: Producing a Sustainable Conference

The Drupal Association aims to produce DrupalCon conferences in alignment with our commitment to environmental and social responsibility. As the production manager, I have an important role in making sure we make informed purchasing decisions and form strategic partnerships with our venue and vendors. I’d like to share just a few of the things we address behind the scenes during the planning process.
Read more….

All Events Should Be Green Events

From public conferences, to industry meetings, to world summits, events are where people gather to announce academic breakthroughs, discuss industry changes and societal challenges, and put forth our best ideas and thought leadership. Live events are not going away.

All of us who plan events need to understand how the decisions we make at even the smallest level contribute to a global industry impact. SOCAP (Social Capital Markets), acts on values by making informed decisions in order to minimize impact and support vendors and suppliers who are making a difference.

Read more in this article from Diana Connolly:

Green Event Planning: Sustainability at SOCAP

By |November 17th, 2015|news|0 Comments|