Event Review

September Monthly Meeting


September 9, 2013; 12:00-2:00 p.m.
WMSBF Monthly Meeting
Downtown Market
435 Ionia, SW Grand Rapids

Join us for lunch at the new Downtown Market! Rhoades McKee and Beene Garter will be hosting our meeting. Having recently established an agricultural services group, Rhoades McKee will explore the topic of sustainable agriculture practices and the status of the Farm Bill. Parking available on site.

If you would like to attend this meeting, you must register by email to info@wmsbf.org by Thursday, September 5. Cost of attending is $10 for members/$15 for non-members. Payment may be made by cash, check, or credit card at the event or by credit card in advance through the home page of our website, Programs & Events/Monthly Meetings on the top menu, http://www.wmsbf.org.  A $1 additional processing charge is included for credit card payments.


WMSBF Board President Welcomes New Director!


It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Dan Schoonmaker to the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum in the staff role of Director. He will begin his duties officially September 16.

Dan comes to us after serving three years as the Director of Communications and Member Services for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, where he was highly successful in fund development and expansion of their volunteer base. Dan has served on our Board for the past couple of years as the nonprofit sector representative. Dan’s ties to the community are very strong and his passion for sustainability runs deep.

Please join me in welcoming Dan into this newly expanded staff position.

– Jennifer Wammack, WMSBF Board President

Event Review

April 2013 meeting

April Meeting Features 2013 Essay Contest Winners


Winner:  Michele Van Houten – The Country Cemetery 
Honorable Mentions:  Theresa Hogerheide – From Vine to Virtue & 
Anne Reynolds – Constructive Dissent

4-8-13_meetingGabe Wing, WMSBF Board President, welcomed members and guests to Calvin College’s Bunker Interpretive Center, which once again graciously provided a beautiful setting for recognition of our annual Essay Contest winners and a celebration of Earth Month.

This year’s theme was the Value of Virtuousness, inspired by Kim Cameron’s January presentation on Positive Organizational Scholarship. Click HERE for more information on the essay contest and to read the essayists’ thoughtful reflections.

Contributing to the meeting were Brock Rodgers, izzy+, who shared a personal Earth Day retrospective; Lindsey DesArmo, GVSU, who promoted Active Commute Week in May; Deanna Demory, United Way, who planted a few seeds of collaboration; and Dan Schoonmaker who offered a rapid-fire review of West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s past, present, and future initiatives.

Special thanks to members of our essay review panel, who have already begun  discussions on topics and expanded outreach for next year’s essay contest: Dave Aupperlee, BISSELL; Shelley Irwin, WGVU; Terri McCarthy, Wege Foundation; Brenda Moore, Grand Rapids Urban League; Su Paauwe, NTH Consultants; David Rinard, Steelcase; Dan Schoonmaker, West Michigan Environmental Action Council; Justin Swan, Organicycle; Jennifer Wammack, IDa Design; Gabe Wing, Herman Miller; Lisa Locke, WMSBF.


Event Review

The Value of Virtuousness & Wicked Problems

March 19, 2013; 6:00 p.m.

2013 Davenport Presidential Lecture Series, Co-Sponsored by the WMSBF
Davenport University Sneden Auditorium
6191 Kraft Ave., Grand Rapids

The subject of Wicked Problems was raised by Dr. Kyle Whyte, Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University, at our Corporate Social Responsibility Conference last fall. Wicked Problems are characterized by deep ambiguity in the assumptions and philosophical categories used in their articulation; corporate ethics involving complex problems with high degrees of uncertainly surrounding cause and effect and practical solutions.

Davenport University and the WMSBF  welcome back Dr. Whyte for a more in-depth exploration of Wicked Problems, how they come about and how to address them.   His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion of local business leaders sharing insights into their own struggles with a broad range of Wicked Problems.

Click HERE for a flyer. For more information, contact Jack Cichy, jcichy@davenport.edu,  or Lisa Locke, llocke@wmsbf.org.  RSVP to Barbara Rhodes Williams at 616.698.7111 or brhodes@davenport.edu no later than 3/12/13.  Space is limited so reserve your seats early!

2013 WMSBF Essay Contest — Submissions due March 4 by midnight!

What are the virtues manifested by individuals or businesses/institutions that most profoundly enrich your life?  What character traits inspire and motivate you to create – and share – a meaningful and productive quality of life?


Tell us a story

1,500 word limit. Submissions are due March 4, 2013. Winners will be recognized at the April 8 monthly luncheon meeting at the Bunker Interpretive Center and invited to read their essays. Program will be videotaped.  Click HERE for press release with contest and recognition details  and submission form.  Hear Shelley Irwin’s interview with Jennifer Wammack and Lisa Locke from today’s WGVU Morning Show here.

This essay contest is a unique opportunity for us to further bridge our corporate and personal worlds; to dig a little deeper, to push the limits of our understandings, and to share our insights and inspirations. Sharpen those pencils and help us spread the word!!

Click HERE to see essays submitted last year.

February Meeting Overview...Living Building Challenge

Matt VanSweden_LBCAt our February 11 monthly luncheon meeting,  Matt VanSweden, Integrated Architecture, led a presentation and discussion on the Living Building Challenge. This is a certification program that provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment – Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Benign.   Table discussion provided much valuable feedback and suggested a great deal of interest in continuing conversations and exploring possibilities for local initiatives.  If you are interested in being a part of that conversation, please contact Matt at MVanSweden@INTARCH.com

Matt’s presentation can be downloaded HERE.

Event Review

February 11 Monthly Meeting & 2013 Essay Contest

February 11, 2013; 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m
WMSBF Monthly Meeting

Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church
514 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids

Matt VanSweden, Integrated Architecture, will lead a presentation and discussion on Living Building Challenge, https://ilbi.org:

  • PHILOSOPHY, ADVOCACY PLATFORM AND CERTIFICATION PROGRAM.  Because it defines priorities on both a technical level and as a set of core values, it is engaging the broader building industry in the deep conversations required to truly understand how to solve problems rather than shift them.
  • an EVOCATIVE GUIDE. By identifying an ideal and positioning that ideal as the indicator of success, the Challenge inspires project teams to reach decisions based on restorative principles instead of searching for ‘least common denominator’ solutions. This approach brings project teams closer to the objectives we are collectively working to achieve.
  • BEACON. With a goal to increase awareness, it is tackling critical environmental, social and economic problems, such as: the rise of persistent toxic chemicals; climate change; habitat loss; the collapse of domestic manufacturing; global trade imbalances; urban sprawl; and the lack of community distinctiveness.
  • a UNIFIED TOOL. Addressing development at all scales, it can be equally applied to landscape and infrastructure projects; partial renovations and complete building renewals; new building construction; and neighborhood, campus and community design.
  • PERFORMANCE-BASED STANDARD. Decidedly not a checklist of best practices, the Challenge leads teams to embrace regional solutions and respond to a number of variables, including climate factors and cultural characteristics.

He’ll introduce a group that has formed in Grand Rapids, who has taken this Challenge and added a little West Michigan flair.  Join us as we explore how business, both small and large, can – and should – take on this challenge.

Sponsors for this meeting are Integrated Architecture, Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church & the Grand Rapids Urban League.

If you would like to attend this meeting, you must register by email to llocke@wmsbf.org by Thursday, February 7. Cost of attending is $10 for members/$15 for non-members. Payment may be made by cash or check at the event or by credit card in advance through the home page of our website, Programs & Events/Monthly Meetings on the top menu, http://www.wmsbf.org.  A $1 additional processing charge is included for credit card payments.



January Meeting & Scholarship Recipient

January Meeting Overview

Kim Cameron at BunkerPositive energy, the heliotropic effect (organic tendency to lean towards the light), positive deviance, and a virtuous state of being; these were all key ingredients in Dr. Kim Cameron’s presentation on The Value of Virtuousness at Calvin College’s Bunker Interpretive Center. Dr. Cameron, of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, discussed research on the link between positive energy – or virtuousness – and employee performance in both the public and private sectors. He used empirical data and personal anecdotes to show this link, and to help define ways to increase positive energy and productivity, or a virtuous state within organizations.

Dr. Cameron pointed out that people organize to eliminate deviance from the norm, because deviance is seen as strictly negative. However, eliminating deviance also means taking away opportunities for individuals to be extraordinary. Virtuousness, positive imagery, and positive deviance create a state of coherence, where the mind and body functions are perfectly aligned. More information can be found on the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship website, http://www.centerforpos.org.

Special thanks to Busy Bea’s ServicesIDa Design, Lake Affect Design Studio The CarbonNeutral Company for sponsoring this special presentation to kick off the new year.

2013 Scholarship Recipient

Abby Samotis - scholarshipAlso at the meeting we introduced our 2012 Scholarship recipient:  Abby Samotis.  Abby is a Junior in the Sustainable Business program at Aquinas. Her passion was beautifully expressed in her essay:  My love for flowers accompanied me to my first job at a local greenhouse. I was living my dream. The hours I spent digging in the dirt, taught me more about life, than any teacher, preacher, or friend.  Seeing how much nature had taught me assured me it needed to stay incorporated in the rest of my life. Congratulations, Abby!!  And our sincere appreciation to all the students who submitted applications.  Our best wishes to you on your sustainability journeys.  We’re counting on you!!


Member News

November Monthly Meeting

November 12, 2012; 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m.
WMSBF Monthly Meeting
Kentwood Office Furniture
3063 Breton SE, Grand Rapids

The WMSBF Energy Committee, supported by the Tools & Resources Committee, will be introducing the Energy Assessment Guide (EAG), a complement to the Primary Self Assessment Guide (SAG) completed by many of you on the Chalk & Wire web-based tool. This is the next phase of our DEQ grant supported pollution prevention project. The SAG included a section on Energy but this guide provides a much more comprehensive approach to evaluating knowledge and integration of energy efficency/conservation practices. It is intended to be a valuable tool to a range of business sizes and sectors. Following background on the process and a look at the final product, there will be table top dicussions to elicit member input. Stay tuned for information on upcoming Waste and Corporate Social Responsibility Assessment Guide roll-outs…

If you would like to attend this meeting, you must register by email to llocke@wmsbf.org (mailto:llocke@wmsbf.org) by Thursday, November 8. Cost of attending is $10 for members/$15 for non-members. Payment may be made by cash or check at the event or by credit card in advance through the home page of our website, Programs & Events/Monthly Meetings on the top menu, http://www.wmsbf.org. A $1 additional processing charge is included for credit card payments.

Event Review

2012 CSR Conference a Great Success!!


Dirck Lyon thanking guest speaker, Jim Musial

October 8, around 130 people from around West Michigan gathered at Amway Corporation to hear corporate philosophies, candid insights and creative examples of local CSR projects, practices, and partnerships.

The event was hosted by Amway Corporation, Cascade Engineering, Community Sustainability Partnership, and West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

Following welcomes from the hosts, Mayor George Heartwell offered opening reflections. Jim Musial, Vice President of CSR for Wolverine Worldwide, presented on Linking the (WWW) CSR Strategies of Tomorrow to the Legacy of our Past.  Throughout the day, participants were challenged to expand their understandings of the Ethical and strategic meanings of Shared Value;  evaluate their own Corporate Citizenship; pursue Partnerships for Social Impact; and address the Wicked nature of the CSR-related problems we all face.

Bonnie Nawara, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women; Kyle Whyte, MSU; Jim Musial, Wolverine Worldwide

In fact, Wicked Problems, raised by Kyle Whyte, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at MSU, became the buzz phrase of the day; referring to serious, observable, persistent problems that are difficult to clearly define, predict, measure, or address, much less find consensus on. All the more reason for commanding our most focused, visionnary, and respectful attention.

Operations in Your Water Cycle; Operations to Social Good

Neil Hawkin, Vice President Sustainability & EH&S, Dow Chemical, presented on The Science of Shared Value and Dow’s Four Pillars of Sustainability. Panels addressed social entrepreneurship, water and carbon management, and leveraging core competencies in your business to positively impact human health and well-being and the natural environmental. Dr. Thomas Haas, GVSU President, offered some closing reflections.

We want to express special thanks to our sponsors who all contributed to make this such a successful event: Brewery Vivant, Fifth Third Bank, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, MiBiz & The Right Place. Special thanks also to Amway for providing a wonderful setting and luncheon.

The conversations and charge for new creative initiatives will continue. We’ll keep you informed and engaged in this community challenge.