2012 Nominees PDF Print E-mail

We are now accepting nominations for the 2013 Sustainability Leadership Awards!  Submit your nomination by October 8.

 Congratulations to our 2012 winners!  See more about the evening here.  You can view 2011 Award winners and nominees here.  Here is a full list of the 2012 Sustainability Leadership Awards winners: 


Change Agent
BEST (Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking) Alliance

Vitalizing Local Sustainable Economies
Fresh Bucks (Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment
and Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance)

Stewards of Healthy Ecologies and Humans
Alaska Airlines Green Team
Cascade Harvest Coalition/Farm-to-Table Trade

Livable Urban Communities
Seattle 2030 District
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Sustainable Hero
Diana Vergis Vinh, the founding spirit behind the launch of Community Kitchens in Seattle


Meet the nominees that you submitted for Change Agent, Livable Urban Communities, Stewards of Healthy Ecologies and Humans, Vitalizing Local Sustainable Economies, and Sustainable Hero! The winners of each category will be announced at Sustainable Seattle's 2012 Sustainability Leadership Awards Dinner.  Learn more here.   The judges are members of the community - meet them here

BEST (Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking) Alliance
Led by Mar Smith, Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking Alliance (BEST) is a non-profit organization built through partnerships, developing resources, training businesses, and innovating new solutions.  In 2012, BEST and partners successfully advocated for the passage of a key piece of legislation to prevent human trafficking in foot massage facilities.  Since the efforts began, investigations into human trafficking and illegal massage in Washington have increased substantially thanks to the diligence of legislators, the Department of Health, ICE, and law enforcement.  BEST forged another key partnership with the Washington Lodging Association leading to collaborative efforts between leaders in the local lodging industry, law enforcement, and victim service providers for sex trafficking prevention in local communities.

Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative
The Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative, formed in December 2010, is a truly community owned solar cooperative that provides private citizens and businesses the opportunity to buy into a commercial scale solar electric system and gain the financial, community education and planetary environmental benefits.   In 2011, the Co-op built a 4.2-kilowatt solar system on the roof of the Frances Anderson Cultural Center in downtown Edmonds with the participation of 37 co-op members; in 2012 they added a larger 18.9-kilowatt system. The Co-op uses locally-manufactured solar equipment and is selling the power to the City of Edmonds at a 40-percent discount. The Cooperative was formed under a partnership between Sustainable Edmonds and solar project developer Tangerine Power.  This project serves as a shining example for other communities.

Kirkland-based GridMobility is a smart grid technology company  that has a cutting edge technology enabling business and consumers for the first time to choose electricity based on their preferences to save money, lower their carbon footprint, and increase energy efficiency. Their technology enables businesses to choose renewable-generated electricity through the seamless integration with energy controllers utilizing asset capacitance to preferentially deploy renewable energy. GridMobility technology enables shifting demand into periods where renewable energy is available and away from periods of peak usage, thereby increasing both renewable integration and energy efficiency. In July 2012 GridMobility successfully completed the BPA "Running with the Wind" pilot program in 100 homes with Mason County PUD3.

Materials Innovation Exchange/NBIS
The Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS) works  to get a close loop system, website, and innovation exchange into place for industrial and commercial waste.  Their goal is to strengthen businesses and reduce the waste and overuse of virgin materials. NBIS hosts materials roundtables in which they bring together stakeholders for a material and address the flow of a particular material and discover regional opportunities for a closed loop system for reusing these materials, keeping them in the local economy.  Topics this year were Plastic Sheeting and Refractory Brick (Next year:  Chemicals Roundtable and a Construction & Demolition Roundtable).  In 2012, NBIS launched the "Materials Innovation Exchange."  This web site is where companies can buy, sell or trade industrial by-products, users can find innovative solutions from around the world for material reuse challenges, and one can calculate the impact of trades and sales.  This model can be adapted for other projects and regions.

Northgate Pedestrian and Bike Campaign (Feet First, Cascade Bicycle Club and Northgate Community Leaders)
In 2012, a major pedestrian/bicycling/transit advocacy campaign led by Feet First Cascade, Bicycle Club, and Northgate Community Leaders (including Pinehurst, Haller Lake and Maple Leaf) netted a change in the plans by Sound Transit to build a large parking garage as part of their Link light rail station at Northgate.   The concern is that this parking garage will encourage a dependence on cars rather than a commitment to moving towards sustainable modes of transportation, including walkability, bicycling and bus use.  The advocates and their partners argued that the project should include improvements to pedestrian and bicycling routes to and between public transit stops and create more and clearer bus and transit stops. The campaign's effort resulted in a $10 million commitment by Sound Transit matched by $10 million by the City of Seattle to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the Northgate Link Light Rail Station.  In addition, the size of the proposed parking structure was reduced and funding was added to the project for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the I-5 to connect the station to North Seattle Community College.

The Happiness Initiative
Laura Musikanski and John de Graaf sparked local enthusiasm around a growing global happiness movement in 2011 when they founded the Happiness Initiative.   The Happiness Initiative provides resources to help communities measure and improve happiness. The movement is shifting society’s focus on money, wealth and economic growth as the prerequisites to happiness, to a comprehensive measure of wellbeing. The project is modeled after the Gross National Happiness philosophy from the country of Bhutan.  The project developed a comprehensive and fully validated well-being online survey that over 25,000 people have taken, with the number growing every day. The first Seattle Happiness Conference, held in August in Seattle, brought more than 200 people together and attracted participants from all over the globe.

Thriving Communities/The Whidbey Institute at Chinook
The Whidbey Institute at Chinook facilitates programs and events that inspire practical and lasting changes in the areas of: Leadership Transformation; Community Vitality and Sustainable Action.  In 2012, they initiated a 5-year series of “Thriving Community Conferences” to  explore the critical issues facing small communities, bringing together members from multiple communities throughout the Cascadia bioregion to share ideas about how to nurture sense of community, capacity for resilience and ability to thrive -  building sustainability to meet the growing critical needs of individuals, families and communities.  The 24 communities at the conference in February (theme was food) formed partnerships and alliances, keeping in touch by utilizing a wiki between conferences. The themes for the next five years of Thriving Community Conferences include:  local economy, health, home/shelter, energy, and community & culture.

In September 2012, the first ever Women in Innovation Summit (WINS) was held at Seattle Center, led by Kristiina Hiukka.  This new concept for gathering passionate women to share, collaborate, and innovate to solve our world sustainability problems started as a seed of an idea.  It grew into a conference involving 100 volunteers applying their skills to create the first ever conference of its kind.  Ideas were not only shared but catalyzed with follow-on actions.   Since the conference, a number of actions have taken off including community sharing of socially conscious purchasing choices through the hashtag #pursepower.   The concept for the conference was to hear from inspiring leaders, then come together in working groups to participate in shared innovation, developing tangible proposals and commitments from participants to take the ideas forward that would be most likely to bring about lasting change.  The conference resulted in tangible action.

GreenPod Development
GreenPodTM Development LLC, led by Ann Raab,  is a Port Townsend-based company started on a simple idea: to offer a new type of affordable and sustainable home, respectful of the environment and incorporating the works of local craftsmen. They offer a variety of beautiful, sustainable, energy efficient home designs.  Starting at the size of 450 sq ft., these "pods" demonstrate the principles of saving energy and living in a low-maintenance environment.   The company is built with five principles: to be energy-efficient, maintenance-free, constructed with sustainable materials, use water conservation practices and to be unique.  Says Raab: "And while we can build them to any size, we want to show people that they can be happy in 450 square feet."

Grow Community
Grow Community, located in downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island, is the first residential community under construction that has received the “One Planet Community” Sustainability endorsement from U.K. non-profit BioRegional.   This 131-residential unit complex will serve as a model for a new eco-urbanism, with the idea to create a way of life where resources from one planet are enough for the world.  Three model homes opened in 2012. Solar panels made in Washington state, supply the energy for shared Nissan Leafs.  In addition, every eight homes will make up a “micro-neighborhood” surrounding a community garden where they will grow their own food together, building community.  This fall, construction is started on the first 3-acres focused on 25 buildings. The aim of the development is to be about more than sustainable homes, it aims to be about community.

Seattle 2030 District
Representing more than 23 million square feet of downtown building space, the Seattle 2030 District is an interdisciplinary public-private collaborative between the city, King County, and dozens of private-sector leaders working to create a groundbreaking high-performance building district in downtown Seattle over the next 18 years.  Members openly share best practices, challenges and consumption data.  Buildings are working together to reduce their energy use, water use and transportation emissions to half of benchmark levels in existing buildings by 2030.  Targets for new buildings envision carbon-neutral construction in Seattle in 2030.   The Seattle 2030 District aims to be the catalyst making this new scale reality. Last year, the 2030 District was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to represent Seattle, along with Los Angeles and Atlanta, in President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways started in August 2011 with three neighborhood groups in Beacon Hill, Bryant, and Wallingford, all with people eager to reclaim local streets as safe and healthy community places.  Cathy Tuttle and Eli Goldberg sparked and lead the effort with an ever-growing team.   Greenways substitute what seems like a niche concern for bicycle safety on city streets with a broader concern for making residential communities healthier, more livable places that offer comfortable mobility for everyone, across all life stages.   These greenways are nonarterial streets altered to give priority to bicyclists and pedestrians and to accommodate cars at reduced speeds.   The movement has now grown to 19 Neighborhood groups which are advocating for greenways.

Solarize Campaign/Northwest SEED
Through the Solarize Seattle program and the Solarize Washington programs, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED) has helped five separate communities implement group-purchase solar installation programs that are completely grassroots, community supported efforts.  The program simplifies and streamlines the process of buying, installing, and connecting solar.  The newest project is Northwest Seattle, which will be in partnership with Seattle City Light.   In less than two years, Northwest Seed’s campaigns have added 138 solar systems to the regional electric grid, totaling more than 600 kilowatts of solar electricity capacity and investing $3.8 million in our local solar economy.

The Bullitt Center
The Bullitt Center is on track to be the greenest commercial building in the world when it opens early next year.  Through an array of solar panels on the roof, the building will generate as much electricity in a year as it uses.  By capturing and treating rainwater on-site, it will supply everything save drinking water as well as compost human waste through bins in the basement.  As the first building to follow the requirements of the “Living Building Challenge” developed by the International Living Building Institute, the building is aiming to change the way people design buildings by reducing the massive energy appetites of modern cities on building at a time.  300 miles is the radius for purchasing of steel, concrete, and other heavy materials. 600 miles is the radius for purchasing of all wood.   As an MSNBC headline said, “Could this $30 million green tower be the future of world cities?”

Alaska Airlines Green Team
In 2012, Alaska Airline released its first comprehensive sustainability report this year.  The report showed that enough aluminum to build three new airplanes was recycled in 2011, as well as 185 tons of paper.  Flight attendants recycled 91% of paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass generated on Horizon flights and 49% on Alaska flights.   They have reduced their carbon emissions by 30 percent per passenger mile since 2004.  In their shift to Bombardier Q400’s from Boeing 737’s, Alaska become the most-efficiency domestic carrier in the U.S. in terms of fuel per revenue passenger mile. They are continuing their efforts, by changing their ground support equipment vehicles to electric whenever possible. In addition, they have started incorporating renewable energy with a wind and solar project in their Nome Airport facility. They also are planning energy efficiency renovations in their offices, terminals and other buildings.  A key figure in this work is Jacqueline Drumheller.  In 2008, she co-founded Alaska Airlines’ corporate sustainability program.  She has raised awareness of the importance and value of environmental stewardship through the launch and leadership of a cross-divisional Green Team, leading to a company-wide adoption of new “greener” business initiatives and strategies.  In 2009, she completed Alaska Air Group’s first ever Corporate Environmental Responsibility Report, and in 2012, finished Air Group’s first GRI Sustainability Report.   By institutionalizing sustainability and integrating environmental decisions into routine business decisions, Ms. Drumheller believes that businesses can improve their brand value and corporate image, increase employee engagement, cut costs, and reduce risks.

Beacon Food Forest
This year, after years of planning, negotiation, and coalition building, the Beacon Food Forest finally broke ground on their sustainable urban agroforestry/public park project.  Food Forests are a land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in edible trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals.  BFF is believed to be the largest food forest on public land (Jefferson Park) in the United States.  By design, edible food grown in the public area of this 7-acre food forest will be freely available to all park visitors.  There will also be private allotments.  The Beacon Food Forest aims to bring together the diverse Beacon Hill neighborhood together in this urban farming and land stewardship effort.  The project also aims to provide healthy affordable food to the surrounding community.

Cascade Harvest Coalition/Farm-to-Table Trade
The Cascade Harvest Coalition is the one stop resource center for food and farming and has three main programs focused on: Supporting Farmers, Educating Consumers and Building healthy Communities. Mary Embleton, CHC's Executive Director and her small staff have effectively been bringing consumers and producers together for the past 15 years and have taken what was an idea “local food” and have helped to bring it to a reality for many local farmers and Seattle consumers alike.  Last year, Farm-to-Table Trade meetings were held around the state with over 20 partnering organizations, attracting 1,145 participants and generating new sales of over $50,000.  They also brought together land seekers and landowners through their "Land Link Program" and developed an extensively distributed Puget Sound Farm Guide.

CBRE Property Management Team
CBRE was the first property management firm in Seattle dedicated to climate issues.  Within the buildings they manage and for client organizations, they assist with energy efficiency programs.   Earlier this year, the firm launched the Real Green Research Challenge, a four-year commitment to fund leading-edge sustainability research and innovation relating to commercial real estate.  They are accepting submissions for research proposals to develop solutions to the industry’s critical environmental challenges.  Randi Pierson, Senior Real Estate Manager, along with her team, has been a major mover in waste reduction in commercial buildings in Seattle through innovation and leadership.   In management of three downtown buildings, they have engaged the vendors and tenants to engage in sustainability actions.  They began with food scrap recycling, resulting in $3000 annual savings and are now moving on to other green measures, including Energy Start certification and lighting retrofits.   Now, they are challenging all of the other city’s property management firms with the question “Why wouldn’t you compost?”

Expeditors International Green Team
The Green Team, led by Seattle-based Derek Eisel, has performed an amazing feat at Expeditors International, a six billion global logistics company headquartered in Seattle.  The green team is made up of hundreds of employee volunteers from over a hundred company locations worldwide to build a sustainability program from the bottom-up.  The team also has support from senior management champions to move the program to entirely new levels of commitment, effort, and improvement resulting in an annual company-wide greenhouse gas footprint report.  They also work with customers to measure their transportation greenhouse gas footprint and recommend logistics solutions to optimize their supply chain to reduce their footprint and save money.  The efforts of the team has moved a conservative Fortune 500 company into the ranks of those making highly credible efforts toward sustainability improvements.

Fairmont Olympic Green Team
Led by Joanne Day, Assistant Director of Human Resources, the Fairmont Olympic Green Team has implemented an impressive waste reduction plan.  This volunteer group is made up of 20 passionate individuals who are driven to do this work on top of their formal job.  The program development involved a cross-functional set of employees and resulted in reducing the hotel’s waste from 20% recyclables to a peak of 65% recyclables.  In the first 3 quarters of this year, the hotel has recycled almost 225 tons of waste.  These accomplishments are in spite of having an international traveler customer base with many different levels of knowledge with respect to trash receptacles and trash management.  In addition, the team just installed an electrical vehicle charging station and EV carpool.  To top it off, the hotel recently installed 5 beehives on the roof.

Golden Age Dentistry
There are very few people who have a heart for serving the aging population.  Dr. Caldier of Golden Age Dentistry travels to nursing homes to provide dental services to the elderly and to medically compromised individuals.  In her mobile dental practice, she has achieved a high-level of care similar to private practice.  With a staff member at each nursing home handling coordination and needed follow-up, Calder is able to focus on providing careful, compassionate care to the geriatric population.  Right now, her goal is to translate this care to every nursing home in the state, with dentists around the state “adopting” a nursing home.  In her work, Michelle Caldier has gone above and beyond what a dentist does, and overall believes in sustaining the health of seniors in the community.

Green Corps (Goodwill and Seattle Parks and Recreation Department)
Started in 2012 by Goodwill and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Green Corps selects at-risk young adults to take part in their nine-month program where their time is split between Goodwill and Forest Restoration and Trail work in Seattle Parks, helping them earn a GED and gain work skills, all while learning about teamwork. This is the next step in Parks and Goodwill’s summer high school programs they have been running for the past 3 years.   Corps members receive a $1200 per month stipend for their contribution to the Parks and Goodwill.   Green Corps is an innovative program that helps remove some of the obstacles around getting a job and instead presents opportunities for these at-risk youth.

Trash Backwards
Trash Backwards is passionate about turning trash into a resource. The vision is of a waste chain that is a cycle that never ends in a landfill, an idea that sprung from the founders' work collecting garbage from local beaches.  They publish original content aimed at helping people rethink their old stuff, finding new ways to refuse, reduce, and reuse what’s already in existence so that less virgin material needs to be consumed for production of new stuff. They have also developed a database of rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle solutions from around the world.  Most recently, they’ve been developing a Trash Backwards web tool and mobile app to share this resource widely. CORA is a new venture with the goal of removing items from the waste chain. For example, when you type in "coffee bag," the app will produce craft ideas, the name of a company that upcycles coffee bags into other products, and ways to recycle the bag.

#SocEnt Weekend - HUB Seattle, Nsansa, Fledge
Over the last few years, HUB Seattle has brought together social entrepreneurs through hosting events and promoting others.  In coordination with nsansa and Fledge, they launched #SocEnt Weekend in February 2012.  During this weekend, these three Seattle-based organizations coached and supported entrepreneurs who have social venture concepts that they want to turn into for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises.   In this first weekend course, 80 entrepreneurs moved their ideas through the process, resulting in 13 new companies.  In a second weekend in October, 50 more attendees participated.  Bringing social enterprises to the forefront of Seattle’s entrepreneurial community by setting a positive example for Seattle and other communities around the globe, the weekend program highlights the potential of great new ideas that will not only result in good organizations and businesses, but good citizenship.

Seattle-based 3TIER helps the global renewable energy market manage the risk of siting and operating utility scale wind and solar energy projects.  They are an industry leader in applying weather simulation modeling to accurately predict wind power production over time.  In August, they were selected through a competitive process by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to update the U.S. wind integration dataset.  This dataset will be used to explore the potential impacts of integrating large quantities of wind energy onto the U.S. electrical grid.  3TIER's work is having an impact right here in the Pacific NW:   On a windy October 16th morning, wind energy production surpassed hydro energy output and this was accurately forecast by 3TIER 2 days in advance.  This record generation of wind energy is the result of the significant build-out of new wind power in the region, underscoring the importance of having a reliable wind power forecast like 3TIER.

Backyard Barter/Urban Food Fair
Backyard Barter was founded by Creagh Miller in late 2011 as two complimentary efforts: an online resource and monthly in-person events where people could engage in cash-free exchange of goods.  On the website, individuals can connect with others, sharing their goods and information.  They learn from each other and build relationships with neighbors.  The monthly in-person events move from neighborhood to neighborhood, offering a place for learning and sharing.  They collaborate with local organizations to make these events happen.  The 2012 events culminated in an Urban Food Fair on November 4, where over a 100 people connected over local grown and made food.  This effort offers a new avenue for local food to display their goods.

West Seattle Fixers' Collective
Started in late 2011 and seeing large growth in 2012, the West Seattle Fixers' Collective has inspired neighbors to take a second look at all the items the buy and, far more importantly, all the items that they throw away.   Members share a common interest of refusing to throw things out, fixing their belongings or helping others to fix them.  The group encourages folks to be curious, to explore, and to try to repair rather than discard.    Meeting regularly at the West Seattle Tool Library, projects include everything from re-sewing umbrellas to repairing home appliances.    Fixers collectives inspire and incentivize people to repair. Co-founder Greg Kono explains, "I could do my own stuff at home, but you learn different approaches, different ways, when you see how other people fix things. And they encourage you, too."

Fresh Bucks (Seattle Office of Sustainability and the Environment/Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance)
Seattle Office of Sustainability and the Environment along with partner Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance kicked off Fresh Bucks in 2012.  While the USDA recognizes that maximizing the use of food stamps at farmers markets improves low-income households' access to "fresh, nutritious foods," redemption rates nationwide fell steadily from 1993 through 2009, when a mere .01 percent of benefits were spent at farmers markets.  The Fresh Bucks program addresses this by matching participating shoppers' daily electronic benefit transfer (EBT) purchases up to $10.  The goals are to increase the variety of healthy and nutritious foods available to participants, aid the farmer, and support local economies. A survey of farmers market EBT shoppers found that 81% purchased more fruits and vegetables as a result of Fresh Bucks and 74% purchased a greater variety of produce at the market than they normally would. In addition, 72% of shoppers surveyed said Fresh Bucks made a difference in their families’ diets.

Magnum Print Solutions
Magnum Print Solutions is a Seattle-based company providing supplies and service to printers and copiers throughout the region.  Magnum is also the largest remanufacturer of toner cartridges. Because Magnum also supplies the cartridges, they are able to re-utilize them in the manufacturing side of their business, creating a closed-loop system.   In 2012, Magnum Print Solutions sought and achieved a partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to recycle their cartridges.  Based on a conservative average of 151 cartridges recycled through this partnership every month, the resulting annual environmental savings includes 5436 quarts of oil, 16308 pounds of raw materials, 7248 pounds of recyclable material from landfills, 18 trees, 12865 gallons of water, and 2174 pounds of greenhouse gases.

Metamorphic Gear
Launched in late 2011, Metamorphic Gear is a great example of an upcycler.  The company transforms unwanted sail and truck tarp material destined for landfill into stylish bags and accessories. A material that once moved boats over the oceans now helps customers look good and feel good as they move through their day.  The brand is a brainchild of Lindsay Lawrence who witnessed the durability of sail material before it was sent to the landfill.  He decided to give it a new lease of life as the major ingredient in Metamorphic Gear’s products.   Metamorphic Gear’s love for the ocean also translated into allocating 5% of the retail price of each of the products to cleaning up the ocean.   Currently, they are working on a campaign to clean up beaches on the Midway Islands.

Rubberneck Farm
Rubberneck Farm is an Edmonds urban neighborhood organic farm serving folks from Everett to Seattle.  In addition to growing and selling food,  owners Mike and Melissa Mearns are advocates.  They spent about six months last year fighting for the rights to grow and sell produce to the people of Edmonds "right here from our little Urban Farm" .....and their work on the Farm Edmonds Now! campaign resulted in the passing of an ordinance in the City of Edmonds in 2012 giving anyone the ability to grow and sell produce in the City of Edmonds without business permits.  Rubberneck Farm continues to propagate the suburban farm movement, showing people they can grow food in their yards – rather than just lawns by writing newsletters and blog articles (recent topic:  DIY lawn removal).

Scope 5
A growing number of organizations manage sustainability-related data using spreadsheets, and increasingly need to improve upon their efficiency and potential performance associated with these efforts. In 2012, Scope 5 is leading a second wave of "accessible" sustainability data management software for a wider range of organizations than can be addressed by the first wave of solutions. The web-based software started being used in 2012 by several Seattle area organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 multinational to high-profile municipality. Scope 5 recently won Social Innovation Fast Pitch competition for for-profit social enterprise.

Food Deserts!  Carrie Ferrence and Jacqueline Gjurgevich saw a need and filled it by forming Stockbox, a small-format grocery company.  Through their small stores placed in existing storefronts or reclaimed shipping containers, they improve access to fresh produce, meal solutions, and essential staples across urban communities, addressing issues of “food deserts”.  They also offer food education and a design aim to encourage a love of grocery shopping.   The model of the store is to reduce high ongoing operating costs and focus on inventory that moves most efficiently, reducing waste.  In September 2011, they opened a trial store with 300 types of items in the Westhaven Apartments parking lot in Delridge.  They opened the first permanent store in South Park in August 2012.

Carl Woestwin
Carl is a food and compost hero! He co-founded Seattle Tilth and the Good Shephard gardens in 1974 and worked over the next ten years to develop Tilth into a robust organization.  He rode his bike to work, toted his lunch in a reusable lunch sack, had chickens and only one car for the family. For 22 years, Carl has been key to developing of an astonishing variety of innovative waste reduction programs for Seattle Public Utilities. He has had a hand in all those food and composting initiatives you have been part of for the past 2 decades (do you have one of those green cones?). He is currently the Project Manager for the “One Less Truck Pilot” (every other week garbage collection). His latest project is having people to weigh their food waste – over 300 people have already volunteered! Quote from Carl about why we waste food: “There's nothing mysterious about it. You put something on the refrigerator shelf, and it migrates to the back of the shelf, and the next time you see it, it's blue."

Diana Vergis Vinh 
Diana tackles health problems by building community! Officially she is an Advanced Practice Nurse Specialist at Public Health Seattle and King County working with Teen Health Centers on obesity prevention. Outside of her public health job, she works on food justice through urban agriculture and community kitchens as well as edits the publication “Urban Farm Hub”. In her fieldwork, she noticed that people weren’t cooking as much as they used to because of pure exhaustion or lack of time or skills. “I’m a mom with three kids myself,” she says. “I know it’s hard.” So two years ago, on her own time, she launched the Rainier Community Kitchen and since then, she has helped start other community kitchens including those with focuses on people with mental disabilities, low-income housing residents, and seniors. Community kitchens are designed to feed the soul as well as the body as well as to be a place to connect with other community members, learn new skills and have some great food. Quote from Diana: “It’s not rocket science. You get a group together to get them cooking, interacting and packing a freezer full of nutritious food. The real goal is to increase healthy food in people’s bellies and to have them connect over food — to chat while they’re chopping carrots.”

Kimberly Sims
Kim is the hero who inspires her neighbors! After working at UW in health sciences for 24 years, she decided to jump in with both feet to try to live a sustainable lifestyle. In addition to her own yard of native plants and a pea patch plot, she now has taken over her neighbor’s yard (“the farm”) with a huge vegetable garden so that she now provides 20% of her family’s food. She has a three bin composter and takes in grass from her neighbors (helping them while helping her create the right compost mix). She thoroughly insulated her house, installed solar panels, makes her own soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, and candles and ferments vegetables (and leads workshops at Sustainable NE Seattle skills fair). At Nathan Hale school she initiated a composting program and got groundskeeper to save the leaves to add them to the compost. She is teaching her neighbors – ropes them in when they stop to ask questions about her electric car, and then gets them to learn about all of the other things they can do! She is not out there preaching, she is out there doing it – her goal is to inspire people to just put in one tomato plant. Composting is her “favorite thing to do in the world.” She thinks it is magic and “it will save the planet if we can all get doing it!”

Laura James
Laura exposes the “ick” in the murky depths – and inspires action! As an artist, videographer, environmentalist, and diver, she has volunteered for search and rescue missions and helped educate school kids with the Marine Science Afloat™ program as one of their ‘diver scientists.’ Laura organized a diving team to remove over 1,000 lbs of discarded marine and automotive batteries from a West Seattle scuba diving site. In the past few years, she began making short incredibly effective videos that really tell the story. She has contributed her underwater clips showing stormwater and combined sewer pollution coming out of drains, bottom-swelling wildlife, and the littered (cigarette butts, plastic bags, and more) bottom of Elliot Bay for use by many media outlets, environmental films, and web pages. Recently, Laura has become the lead ambassador for the Tox-Ick Monster campaign, educating people about the ways everyone can contribute to the health of Puget Sound. A quote from Laura: "With my first underwater breath, I knew instantly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’d found my place... My goal is to give back by inspiring divers and non divers alike to look ‘Beneath the Looking Glass,’ to see our waters as a reflection of humanity itself. I believe by furthering people’s understanding and connection to our water-planet, we can encourage everyone to become stewards, to take action, to protect and preserve what we hold so dear for the future generations.”

Paulo Nunes-Ueno
Paulo is a streets hero, on and off the job! As Director of Transportation and Sustainability for Seattle Children’s Hospital he has helped the institution win numerous accolades for green efforts such as commuter programs and mercury and waste reduction. He has been a prime mover behind the new 39th Street Greenway (re-doing the street for pedestrians and bikers) which opened this year. Also, in 2012, with just a simple sand box, he has challenged the city to re-imagine the balance between safety and active community life. When his family moved into a new house, he installed their old sandbox in the planter strip in front of their home. It sparked the city to declare that he would be fined $500 a day because of an existing prohibition against sandboxes in the strip. He didn’t fold – instead he fought back and even initiated an online petition “Save Our Sandbox.” Paulo told a reporter, "I told them this is a silly rule. We should be encouraging neighbors to get together and children to play outside." His block is teeming with little kids and the sandbox has become a gathering spot for everybody. Quote from Paulo: “I think we have so much to gain by allowing people to be creative in how they use the planting strips for community gathering places. Sandboxes, picnic tables, benches create places to gather with neighbors and make new friends–for kids and adults. These neighborhood ties make us more resilient and safer as a community.”


Be a Part of It!



           join button











           Join our mailing lists:



sgd_logo 2


tools for tomorrow logo

Upcoming Events

Get Involved