West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s June luncheon meeting was full of activity and thoughts on how to continue to promote West Michigan’s sustainable future. Three speakers from around West Michigan spoke about the ways they see the region’s organizations balancing the triple bottom line to create a vibrant economic and environmental future for area citizens.
The three speakers included David Swan of the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, Randy Olinger of Lakeshore Advantage, and Rick Chapla of The Right Place. All three speakers emphasized the importance of a concept they called “placemaking” which is a process by which public areas are organized in such a way to promote the health and well-being of the public, while utilizing the local community’s assets and inspirations; often with a central focus on landscape. This emphasis on placemaking is a sustainable idea, according to the speakers, because it allows for the preservation of natural resources in the creation of spaces which allow for public interaction. It also allows for places to be accessed by different forms of transportation in order to minimize the community’s reliance on cars.
Olinger and Chapla also seemed to agree that sustainable technologies, transportation, and business practices were important in moving toward a more environmentally friendly West Michigan. Both Lakeshore Advantage and The Right Place work to help companies start up or grow in sustainable ways, including emphasizing the triple bottom line and the creation of eco-friendly products or services.
Swan’s presentation of the work of the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance emphasized the need to protect West Michigan’s natural resources, not only for the health of the environment, but also for the impact those natural resources have on the region’s economy. Swan drove his point home with a book he provided to those in attendance at the meeting which displayed art work by local artists who make a living by painting, photographing, and otherwise responding to the beauty of the natural dune land in Saugatuck.
Finally, the June meeting gave members a chance to say goodbye to some retiring board members and welcome the new leaders into their positions. Dan Buron, Mark Lenz, Carol Pike, Rick Post, Brian Vilmont, and Gayle DeBruyn were thanked for their service as they retired their spots on the WMSBF board, while Marylu Dykstra, Cindy Locklin, Carol Parsaca, Justin Swan, and Steve Teitsma were all welcomed. The new board had its first meeting immediately following the luncheon.