Thank you to Julien Scherliss for these great photos
Congrats to our 2018 Sustainability Champion Award Winners!
Sustainable Connections awarded four Whatcom County businesses and two individuals Sustainability Champion Awards last Thursday for their deep commitment to making a positive impact locally. The Awards are an annual recognition of Sustainable Connections members who are leaders in the following four categories: Strong Community, Healthy Environment, Meaningful Employment, and Buying Local First, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award for an individual (or two) who has made substantial positive changes within their organization and the greater community. We had a great photo booth with some silly props, and had fun getting a little silly with these wonderful local businesses.
Strong Community: Dawson Construction
These businesses actively engage our community, lead by example, and give back. They collaborate and share their knowledge with others.
Dawson has proven their ability to strengthen the community in many ways. They give generously, champion initiatives that help people and planet, and directly support multiple community organizations. In 2017, they donated a Bobcat, worth $20,000, to the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition! Dawson also sponsors a myriad of events including the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis and continually finds ways to help Whatcom’s youth, including being active with the YMCA and recently donating $100,000 toward the installation of a rooftop solar array for the new Sehome High School. Dawson excels at finding affordable, practical ways of making every project sustainable. They are champions of net-zero energy building, solar, rainwater irrigation, green roofs, and responsible waste management. They are hard at work every day on projects small and large and continually find new ways to build a stronger community. Jeremy Carol, Vice President, and Chris Abbey, Project Manager, pictured above were happy to receive this award on behalf of the company.
Healthy Environment: Dandelion Organic Delivery
These businesses measure the triple bottom line benefits (people, planet, profit) of their work. They inspire others to implement sustainable business practices, too.
Owners Maria Stavrakas and Jonny Lane (on the far right) are dedicated to sustainability and have taken many steps to incorporate green business practices into their business model while educating customers at the same time. Their fresh produce boxes are seasonally sourced from over 30 local growers and have helped encourage the growth of sustainable farming practices and small family farms. They are completely dedicated to zero waste practices and produce only a handful of trash from their business each week. They also provide a plastic film collection service for their customers and go out of their way to deliver it to Northwest Recycling. By avidly reducing waste sources, re-using, composting, and recycling all leftover materials or produce, their trash is often made up of just a twist ties and produce stickers. They have also installed a 50-panel solar array at their business, use LED lighting and a tankless water heater, and purchase any additional electricity needed from renewable sources through Arcadia Power. During peak sunny season, nearly 100% of their use is supplied by their array! Not only does their product encourage healthy eating for their customers, their business strives to create a truly healthy environment for all! Also pictured on the far left are their kiddos, Thanos and Sotiri, and some of their beloved staff.
Meaningful Employment: Superfeet Worldwide
These businesses provide employment opportunities that engage employees, provide livable jobs, and plan for the future.
Superfeet is 100% employee owned and provides a thriving and welcoming work space for all their employees. They are dedicated to their employees and pay livable wages along with a benefits package that includes two paid days per year to volunteer with an organization of their choice. Their “Be The Awesome Campaign,” which began as a company-wide initiative to coordinate volunteer efforts and financial support for local charitable organizations, has now grown to include over 1,000-volunteer hours annually and a donation of 1% of annual sales to help people get back on their feet. They also undertook a huge lighting retrofit project to provide a more comfortable work space and better quality light for warehouse workers. Jeff Ritter, Payroll and Benefits Specialist and Annie Howard, Director of HR accepted the award on behalf of the company. One employee summed it up by saying, “All of us at Superfeet are thankful for the opportunity to work for and be employee-owners of a company that puts people first. And while that people-first mentality certainly applies to the products we make, it extends far beyond that, from taking care of each other to helping people in our own community shape strong foundations for a healthy future.”
Thinking Local First: Good To Go Meat Pies
These businesses promote a strong and diverse local economy by taking measure to increase awareness about the personal, community, and economic benefits of choosing local first.
Owner Holly Bevan-Bumford (pictured in the middle of two of her lovely employees) says that Good To Go has allowed her to combine her love of cooking with her passion for how food is grown and raised. She moved to Everson when she was young and has been an integral part of the community since then. Over the six years her business has been open, Holly and her husband Beau have continued to take steps each year to increase local sourcing. Their fruits and veggies come from local farms such as Broad Leaf Farm, Terra Verde, Hopewell Farm, and Cloud Mountain Farm Center during the growing seasons. During winter months, Good To Go purchases produce from locally-owned grocers such as the Community Food Co-op. Holly also works hard to source meat from local farms that has been humanely raised without any antibiotics. She proudly lets her customers know exactly where her ingredients come from. Items like flour, beef, cheese, pork, lamb, and chicken are sourced year-round from producers like Fairhaven Organic Flour Mills, Meadow Fed Farms, and Appel Farm. Good To Go Meat Pies is an incredible example of how a restaurant can thrive and support other local businesses at the same time.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Cheryl & Tom Thornton
This award is given to a business leader(s) in our midst that are taking action to make our community even better, and represents all four tenets of strong community, healthy environment, meaningful employment, and thinking local first.
Tom & Cheryl have been working to transform our community for over 40 years. They have been innovators in our food and farming community; board members of multiple keystone organizations; founders of their own nonprofit; and supporters, mentors, and guides for new generations of farmers. Cheryl has been active with the Nooksack Valley School District Board since 1995–working hard to advocate for fresh produce for school lunches. Tom was a founding member of the Whatcom Community Foundation and has served on many boards and advisory groups over the years. They are Whatcom County’s aggregation site for the Puget Sound Food Hub and they work with new and experienced farmers through both their internship program and incubator site to create cooperative accessibility to processing equipment and land. They have also worked diligently for years to to develop and expand markets for locally-grown fruits and vegetables including building relationships with Peace Health Hospital and Aramark. Fellow collaborator Max Morange of Bellingham Food Bank said it best: “Tom and Cheryl Thornton…have invested their lives in feeding and educating our community. For four decades, their constant connection to the local food system may only be surpassed by the number of homes, farms, and lives that they have inspired. As producers, mentors, and dreamers, they played a critical role in the early days of sustainable agriculture; at the helm of Cloud Mountain Farm Center, they have bridged gaps in rural and urban Whatcom County alike, sowing the seeds of new ideas with the old guard as well as the new faces of local agriculture.”
The Sustainability Champion Awards are made possible in part by generous donations from our Sustainable Business Development Program Gold Sponsors: Sampson Rope and RDS Inc.; Silver Sponsors: Healthy Pet, PSE, and Itek Energy; and Bronze Sponsors: Beneficial State Bank, Samuel’s Furniture, Chrysalis Inn & Spa, Heritage Bank, Home 2 Suites, and the Mt. Baker Care Center.