Street Talk

Street Talk: Completely sustainable

Civic duty.

June 22, 2018
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A nonprofit that promotes sustainable business looks like it will remain sustainable.

The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF) held its annual meeting June 18 at the Salvation Army Kroc Center to discuss the nonprofit’s fiscal year 2018 financial results and progress toward its strategic goals.

Daniel Schoonmaker, executive director of WMSBF, said the organization is being “good stewards” of the resources provided by its member organizations, which include Experience Grand Rapids, Mercantile Bank, Aquinas College, Mercy Health, Herman Miller, Stryker and many more.

“We ended our 2018 fiscal year a few weeks ago at the end of May, and we are in better financial position than I think we have been in the organization’s history,” Schoonmaker said.

The organization saw “record revenue” of $198,567.19, exceeding its goal of $147,220.28.

WMSBF spent $175,727.26 in FY 2018, slightly more than the $169,723.04 it budgeted for expenses.

This left the nonprofit with $22,839.93 in net income, compared to the $5,063.96 it expected to have in the bank by the end of FY 2018.

The 2018-19 board of directors includes Steve Ramus, Perrigo, president; Doug Tamboer, Consumers Energy, vice president; Sarah Chartier, Spectrum Health, secretary; Bill Morgan, Morgan & Morgan CPAs, treasurer; and Alice Jasper, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Office, equity officer.

Sara Meyer, Environmental Resources Management, is immediate past president.

Outgoing board members include Dave Rinard, Steelcase, who was selected to receive WMSBF’s 2018 President’s Award; Alison Sutter, city of Grand Rapids; Sharon Darby, Cascade Engineering; Lynette Wolf, Lake Michigan College; Sara Yob, Grand Rapids Community College; and Darwin Baas, Kent County Department of Public Works.

WMSBF staff includes Aaron Bouwkamp, program manager, and Leann Lyden, program assistant.

Eric Foster, founder and principal, Progress Strategies+, presented a report on common sustainability protocols and racial equity research he conducted for WMSBF to help the nonprofit with its Equitable Sustainability Project.

Schoonmaker said the project launched last year with a grant from the Wege Foundation and consists of a 25-member task force working on improving the diversity in sustainability initiatives, leveraging sustainability to improve racial and economic outcomes, and introducing sustainability to minority businesses and entrepreneurs.

The “exciting” work is ongoing, he said. Steps taken so far have included adding the equity officer position to the board of directors, creating an employee handbook and conducting three training sessions for the board of directors.

Following the meeting, WMBSF hosted a panel discussion featuring Anne Marie Hertl, West Michigan regional coordinator, Michigan League of Conservation Voters; Chris Kolb, president and CEO, Michigan Environmental Council; Guy Williams, president and CEO, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice; Jeremy DeRoo, executive director, LINC UP; and Kaushik Nag, director of global enterprise change management, Amway.

The panel discussed topics including how activists and industry can work together on sustainability; water pollution spreading in Michigan; neighborhood revitalization issues, including Kent County’s lead paint levels; and businesses’ responsibility to self-adopt renewable energy standards.

Kolb said these are issues businesses have known about “for decades,” but they weren’t willing to look at their impact until now.

“It’s about engagement of communities,” he said. “See what your neighbors are facing and do more.”

Play on

A new crowdfunding campaign has been established to benefit the rebuild of Grand Haven’s Imagination Station, a plan called the Reimagine Project.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by July 27, the project will win a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places program, said the MEDC and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

Donations can be made at patronicity.com/reimagine.

“The Reimagine Project is a great example of community-led placemaking,” said Katharine Czarnecki, MEDC senior vice president of community development. “We are pleased to provide resources for and serve as a partner in this collective effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

This campaign will complete the final phase of the redesign and rebuild of the original imagination station.

“It is obvious that the Imagination Station holds a place in the hearts of this community,” said Reimagine Fundraising Co-Chair Katie Appold. “People have rallied for this play space and given generously since the campaign launched. The matching funds from the MEDC will only help this already incredible momentum.”

After a year of visioning, consulting and evaluating, the Imagination Station steering committee chose a design meant to serve all members of the community and include elements to highlight the local culture.

The new play space will highlight iconic features of the community and be fully accessible to children of all physical abilities.

The new site will include a poured-in-place foundation to allow wheelchair accessibility on second-level play spaces, multiple colors to assist the visually impaired, sensory stations, an inclusive orbit and multiple swing styles to allow children of all abilities an opportunity to swing together.

The local features of the design include the lighthouse, a Pere Marquette train and a “wobbler” catwalk bridge.

“Creating public spaces that can be enjoyed by people with all levels of abilities is key to being a welcoming community,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “Grand Haven’s Reimagine Project is setting a good example for all Michigan communities.”

City seat

The city of Grand Rapids Clerk’s Office is accepting applications for Third Ward City Commissioner.

David Allen stepped down from his role as Third Ward commissioner June 12, citing the need to focus more on his responsibilities as executive director of Kent County Land Bank Authority. He had been on the city commission for over two years.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age or older, registered to vote and live in the Third Ward. Applicants also must have been a resident of Grand Rapids at least six months before the date of the appointment and be in good standing with the City Attorney and Treasurer offices and the city’s Income Tax Department.

Applicants are asked to complete a personal application form on the city clerk’s web page, as well as provide the following information:

  • Understanding the work of a city commissioner
  • Understanding the issues the city and the Third Ward are experiencing and the proposed resolutions to these issues
  • Level of professional and personal flexibility and plans for managing the demands of a part-time position that has full-time expectations
  • Professional experience and educational background and examples of involvement in addressing local issues and how these can be utilized in the role of city commissioner
  • Experience working with diverse groups of people who may have diverse opinions about critical issues

The application link will be available until 5 p.m. July 2. The City Clerk’s Office will then publish the list of applicants on July 6. The city commission will discuss and announce the schedules for candidate interviews, the public hearing and the vote at its July 10 Committee of the Whole meeting.

A subcommittee comprised of Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear, First Ward Commissioner Jon O’Connor and Second Ward Commissioner Joe Jones, as well as Third Ward residents, will conduct first-round interviews and make finalist recommendations to the commission.

Allen’s term is up for re-election in August 2019.

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