Oh what a night! With over 200 attending the 2015 Sustainability Leadership Awards opened at 6:30pm on January 23 with an hour of lively networking, giving nominees and attendees and chance to connect. New introductions were made and old friends reunited, including several who have been involved in Seattle area sustainability since the ‘90s. On their way in to the event, many attendees took advantage of the Tesla car parking shuttle, experiencing a ride in this game-changing electric vehicle. Once inside, looking around the festive MOHAI venue we heard more than once, “Wow, this is amazing!”
Indeed, it was an amazing evening. The attendees took their seats and were served a mouth-watering array of dishes by Herban Feast, a noted “Best of the Northwest” caterer. Terri Butler, Sustainable Seattle’s Executive Director, welcomed attendees and thanked the lead sponsor Seattle City Light, as well as sponsors Saturna Capital, Enwave, UW Surplus, Lead the Difference, and Floral Soil Solutions.
Board Chair, Dave Woolley-Wilson, introduced the evening’s master of ceremonies, Paul Shoemaker, Founding President of Social Venture Partners International. Paul welcomed the crowd and set the tone for the evening in his opening remarks emphasizing the multi-faceted positive impacts of social innovation.
Then, show time! Judges representing each category of award stepped to the stage in sequence, giving the audience insider information about the judging process and the challenges in choosing the winners. As each winner was announced their delight in being chosen warmed the audience, filling the room with energy throughout the evening.
Midstream Terri Butler stepped to the stage to share with the crowd information about Sustainable Seattle’s programs. She spoke about the PNW Resilience Challenge which launched last October, the business programs that provide tools and networking for sustainability professionals, and the community work which is focused on climate impacts and stormwater. She spoke about the wide network of people who are key partners in Sustainable Seattle’s work, then shared a video with compelling comments from four of these partners, Ruth Lee of Sustainable Business Consulting, David Brenner of Riddell Williams, Cari Simson of Urban Systems Design, and Jill Jago, Communications Strategist for GLY Construction.
Garrett Kephart, Sustainable Seattle board member and Point B consultant, followed, asking the audience for their financial support while speaking to the changes happening in the region including rapid growth and more storms due to climate impacts. He emphasized the importance of paying attention to these changes and making sure our communities are well designed and connected so they are resilient into the future.
The final award, the Sustainability Hero, was presented by last year’s Hero, Bill Thorness. His remarks leading up to the announcement touched on happiness and Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness as a compelling way to measure well-being. Then, he went on to deliver happiness to the 2015 award winner, BJ Cummings.
The night wound up with an hour and a half of networking, closing at 11pm when the last attendees drifted out the door.
more about the Awards and nominees
more about the Awards and nominees
The winners are:
Sustainable Hero: BJ Cummings, founder of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, for her leadership in empowering residents to bring their voices to the table in the "River for All" campaign, building EPA and government support for cleanup of the superfund site.
Significant Newcomer: Tiny Trees Preschool for its innovative approach to making outdoor preschool education affordable for a wide range of families.
Creative Solution: Co-winners include Forterra and the City of Tukwila for their collaborative approach addressing sustainability challenges in the diverse community of Tukwila, and RE-USE Consulting for finding sustainable alternatives to demolition.
Setting and Example: The Seattle Mariners for their leadership in sustainable ballpark operations since 2006.
Transportation Changer: Pronto Cycle Share, for providing access to a low-cost, fast, flexible, and convenient transportation alternative.
Resource Impact: Co-winners Pike Place Market PDA and Seattle Tilth for bringing healthy food access to hundreds of Seattle's most vulnerable families and Travelers Against Plastic for their initiative to educate global travelers about the harmful impacts of plastic water bottle usage.
Transforming Spaces: Co-winners, Highland Park Improvement Club, the Nature Consortium, and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, highlighting their work in building healthier, vibrant communities in South Seattle.
People’s Choice Award