By Mark Peterson

I can honestly say that I have never worked at a place quite like Sustainable Connections (SC). There are so many things that make this organization special and someone could write an enthralling short novel about the stories, shenanigans and massive impact this non-profit has achieved. It is not often you see a place that has somehow hired such passionate and capable high performers. Proof that good things attract good people, I suppose. The sheer quantity and quality of work that this non-profit cranks out on a limited budget feels superhuman. But quite the contrary, Sustainable Connections’ work at the core is about being human – and how we can be better humans to our planet, our community, our colleagues and ourselves. For these reasons, and too many more to name, it is REALLY flipping hard for me to say goodbye.

In yet another unique vote of confidence and trust, I was encouraged to pen a final blog for SC – my own farewell. I assured myself I’d be able to keep it together and make it through the misty eyes and crank out one final piece for an organization that I love and will be forever grateful to. As I type away, each keystroke brings back memories, the overwhelming majority of them so good it is difficult to recollect the hard times. But, there were hard times – funding challenges, the untimely passing of a beloved co-worker and prior departures of valued staff. The sprinkle of hard times mixed with all good ones, combined with the massive successes, are just part of the recipe that makes SC so delectable.

Being here at SC I have learned so much both professionally and personally. I had the opportunity to refine a Toward Zero Waste program, create and implement a Food Recovery Program and help businesses pursue comprehensive sustainability programs. All in an environment that allows people to do their best work, the way they work best, while providing opportunities for professional development and personal growth. It is no wonder so many “graduate” from SC and continue to do more good things. Even more, SC sends their employees off with the best of wishes and in my case with full support and encouragement.

To be clear, it would take a very special opportunity to pry me away from SC and it just so happens that opportunity arrived at the right time in my career and the right time for my family. My efforts to successfully pursue employment elsewhere were greatly enhanced by the kind words and references provided by two of my most favorite humans in the world – Rose Lathrop and Derek Long. I recall hosting the Smart Business Summit a few years ago and being struck by the words of one of the keynote speakers. They shared how helping your employees grow to the point of outgrowing your organization, then helping them achieve new heights in a new organization, is one of the most authentic things you can do as an employer. I feel so humbled and fortunate to have this authenticity bestowed upon me.

So, it is true – after just shy of 9 years and an incredible run with Sustainable Connections I am moving on. Recently, I accepted a position with Bellingham Public Schools as their new Director of Facilities and Sustainability. There is no way around it, without Sustainable Connections, I would not be in the position I am today. It is hard to say goodbye to all these wonderful businesses and people I have been fortunate enough to work with over these past years. But most of all it is hard to say goodbye, at least in a work sense, to a team of colleagues whom I adore. Together, we have watched kids grow up, weddings, babies being born and in work and life we have shared so much goodness.

But alas, here were are, the end of my chapter at SC and yet both our futures are bright! I look forward to watching from afar all the great things Sustainable Connections will accomplish in the future and share some of my own too. As these mysterious saline droplets stream onto the keys, I struggle to capture the rest of my thoughts and really find myself…just so incredibly…grateful.


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