Sustainable Connections honors businesses, John Blethen


A press release from Amy Vergillo at Sustainable Connections describes Whatcom County businesses that received sustainability awards:

"Sustainable Connections awarded five Whatcom County businesses as sustainability champions at the organization's 12th annual All Members Meeting and Potluck.

"Drawn from the four tenets of Sustainable Connections' mission, the award categories were leaders in promoting Strong Community, Healthy Environment, Meaningful Employment and Buying Local First, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award for an individual who has been a leader in making positive changes within their business and the greater community. The winners are as follows:

"Strong Community: WECU

"Not only a leader in banking services, WECU also strives to support education, health and community concerns through nonprofit donations and volunteerism. They offer many financial education opportunities, free of charge, to promote the financial literacy of residents. In 2013 alone, WECU's Social Responsibility Committee oversaw the donation of $112,000 directly to dozens of Whatcom County based nonprofits. Additionally, employees of WECU are encouraged to donate to the United Way to support other important causes, and last year they did so to the tune of nearly $70,000.

"Healthy Environment: Terra Organica

"The meticulous sourcing of products for Terra Organica is undeniable. Their enthusiastic support of local food and farming businesses includes taking staff out to visit farms. They boast Whatcom County's only all-organic produce department. And Bellingham has been made more aware of Genetically Modified foods through the nationally recognized labeling campaign Terra Organica undertook; an act that 'took a lot of time and courage to achieve,' said owner, Stephen Trinkaus.

"Meaningful Employment: Bellingham Bay Builders

"A worker's cooperative and general contractor, Bellingham Bay Builders is committed to building enduring structures in concert with our community and shared environment. As a worker's cooperative, the owners believe in democratic decision making and fair distribution of profits. Bellingham Bay Builders supports personal development of the workers and provides long-term work and living wages. Their mission and guiding principles are truly triple bottom line.

"Buying Local First: Ciao Thyme

"Ciao Thyme has been a leader in purchasing directly from Whatcom and Skagit farmers for over 12 years. This past year alone, Ciao Thyme did business with 84 local businesses and sourced directly from 34 area farms, keeping more than $50,000 in our regional food economy. Co-owner Jessica Gillis explained that they buy local 'because it brings a sense of place to our food, protects the land where we live, allows our community more self-reliance, and fosters relationships with real people in our region ...'

"Lifetime Achievement Award: John Blethen, owner of New Whatcom Interiors

"In addition to being the owner of New Whatcom Interiors, a quality custom cabinetry shop in downtown Bellingham, John Blethen has developed some impressive live/work units on the north end of downtown Bellingham, organized the Creekside Solar Project, and performed numerous energy-efficiency improvements to the Creekside Building. John has had a long-term commitment to open space through Parks and Greenways, and his decades of volunteerism have bettered our environment and our community undoubtedly.

" 'There are so many inspiring stories of businesses making conscious efforts to better our community, our environment, and the lives of their workers,' said Abby Hade Terpstra, membership coordinator at Sustainable Connections. 'It is an honor to present these awards to truly exceptional entrepreneurs and to share their stories of innovation and success.'"


Sarah O'Sell says the Western Washington University Industrial Design junior class is working on a product and idea development project about exercise. They have created a survey to gain insight about people's exercise experience.

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