Sustainable Connections Programs
Building upon the natural stewardship local business owners have for their own community, our programs focus on strong community, healthy environment, meaningful employment, and thinking local first. We’re supporting a community of innovators in green building, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and independent businesses in town centers while mentoring a new breed of entrepreneurs that have designed their business with a sustainable vision.
We support our members in their efforts to be stewards of our region, and in turn we ask our community to be supportive of our local, independently owned businesses. We have become known as a place where local business, working well with local government and non-profits, are making marked progress toward a future we can all be proud of. We can – and are – demonstrating that it is possible to balance and excel in economic, environmental, and social arenas.
We help our members be more sustainable in their daily practices, and facilitate sustainable economic development through:
- Education: providing technical assistance for businesses and partner organizations that builds our community’s capacity to participate in the opportunities of a sustainable economy;
- Connections: connecting businesses to each other to share best practices and do more business together; and,
- Market Development: engaging in public promotion and education that creates opportunities for sustainable economy businesses.
Our current program areas include Think Local First, Sustainable Business Practices, Food & Farming, Green Building & Smart Growth, and Energy Efficiency & Renewables. Sustainable Connections also serves as a model to other communities thorough SC Consulting work.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Our flagship Think Local First program enhances the livability of our community, the stability and diversity of the local economy, and the retention and expansion of independent, NW Washington owned businesses. Launched in 2003, today there are few locals who do not recognize the Think Local - Buy Local - Be Local brand, which increases awareness about the personal, community, and economic benefits of choosing local first
. We’re honored our community is now ranked #2 in the nation for local retail vitality, and that Think Local First has driven 60% of our neighbors to change their shopping behavior.
Building on Think Local First successes, our new Eat Local First campaign aims to shift family and restaurant food budgets to be 10% more local, so that more of the food eaten here is grown, caught, or raised locally. Currently, only 2-4% of Whatcom County food budgets are spent on local agricultural products. Small changes add up in significant ways: a 10% shift would mean $50 million more circulating in our local economy, supporting sustainable farmers and ensuring availability of diverse agricultural products.
We’re working with local restaurants and retailers
, food artisans who commit to purchasing more local, nutritious food from farmers and fishers, and serving it to our community. Eat Local First weaves edible links to our place, our neighbors and the seasons, challenging Whatcom County residents to ask themselves “how much local is in my shopping bag or on my plate?” Together, we’re celebrating what makes our community special, growing a resilient local food system, and building a prosperous local economy. Your GiveBIG donation will keep these programs going strong, and allow us to research new projects to further enhance this work in 2013.