Bellingham: The “gold standard” of sustainability

This is one of the many reasons why I love it here in Bellingham:

PBS chooses Bellingham to show sustainable economy
By JESSICA BADER – The Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM — Bellingham will be one of many cities nationwide featured in a PBS “Now” special called “Fixing the Future.”…

“Bellingham is kind of the gold standard for sustainable, local businesses. It seems like people here get what it’s about,” Brancaccio said. “And it’s not just price, it’s something else. (In Bellingham) you know where your food is coming from, rather than it being a mystery. (Food) doesn’t come from across the world, emitting carbon (in travel).”

The crew filmed in a variety of locations: Lummi Island Wild, which practices sustainable reefnet fishing; the Willows Inn, a bed and breakfast that serves local fish and produce; a treetop office with a green roof that hangs over Chuckanut Bay; the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University; Whatcom Educational Credit Union, which has built three LEED-certified buildings; Wood Stone Corp., which manufactures ovens; Mallard Ice Cream, which uses local ingredients; and the Community Food Co-op.

“There are so many good stories in Bellingham and Whatcom County about local businesses reducing their environmental footprint and … supporting one another,” said Derek Long, executive director of the nonprofit business group Sustainable Connections. “(Bellingham) is faring better in this slow economy than other communities are, and I think all our investments over the years in supporting each other and local businesses is why.”

More and more these days I’m finding it harder and harder to be around people who spend a lot of time talking about all the crappy things going on in the world. Oh, I notice all those crappy things. It’s impossible not to.

And yet, along with rationing my exposure to news media, I take tremendous solace in the fact that I live where I do, in a community where a critical mass of people “get it”, get the importance of thinking and being and buying and eating local, get the importance of reducing our footprints, bicycling and walking, building green and conserving green.

Corporate greed and political corruption are major problems that demand vigilance and activism, but what’s happening here in Bellingham and elsewhere is another critical strategy. If federal, state, and local governments are failing us, a community can just decide to do things differently. There’s nothing against the law about supporting local agriculture, engaging in habitat restoration, or promoting sustainable transportation.

It’s a very Ghandian, be the change you wish to see in the world, idea and I’m grateful that it’s alive and well here in Bellingham.

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