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Leadership in Sustainability Awards — Nov 2

The Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy is pleased to announce the 2013 Leadership in Sustainability Award winners.

The recipients are Cathryn Couch, executive director of the Ceres Community Project, Paul Kaiser, owner of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, William P. Gallaher, board chair of First Community Bank, and Alvarado Street Bakery.

Recipients will be honored at the Institute’s Awards Dinner and Fundraiser, November 2.

The awards are made for exceptional accomplishments in creating a more sustainable community, especially contributions to environmental stewardship, economic vitality and social equity.

Cathryn Couch founded the Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol in 2007. Among the Project’s ambitious undertakings are: providing free meals, nutrition education and a caring community for persons with serious illnesses; educating young volunteers as gardeners and chefs to give them needed work skills; and educating health professionals and others regarding the link between healthy food and wellness.

Couch is also a founding member of Sonoma County Food Systems Alliance and has received other awards for her work.  She previously worked for the Hunger Project USA.

Paul Kaiser’s family farm lies just northwest of downtown Sebastopol, grows food year-round for CSA sales, and serves as a model for sustainable practices. For example, located at the convergence of two creeks, Kaiser is expanding riparian corridors, increasing the quality and area of habitat around seasonal and permanent ponds, introducing native habitat hedgerows and relying on springs and surface runoff for irrigation rather than on deep aquifers.

The list of exemplary farming methods goes on, from compost to rotating grazing and reduced erosion. Kaiser and his team work hard to produce great food with the lowest possible impact.  Kaiser also teaches and offers work experience for apprentice farmers, writes a weekly article for his CSA members on food and farming, and participates in the Sonoma County Food Systems Alliance.  He received a national Pollinator Conservation and Awareness Award in 2010.

William Gallaher, through his role at First Community Bank and as an individual investor, led the effort to provide local, low-cost funding for Sonoma Clean Power, enabling the program to get underway next year.  His reputation for fiscal responsibility and experience in development helped convince others on the bank’s board to commit loans needed for the local utility to contract for power.  Gallaher’s background includes property development, principally senior housing at Oakmont, and other assisted living facilities.

The worker-owned cooperative known as Alvarado Street Bakery traces its roots to the “Food for the People, not for Profit” movement in the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s. A founding group started producing baked goods in 1979.  Originally a non-profit, the bakery became a coop in 1981.  Currently employing over 100 people, dedicated to providing good working conditions, a living wage and quality benefits, as well as producing the highest quality organic baked goods anywhere and deriving over 40 percent of its electricity from roof-top solar, the company has thrived and given back to its community, demonstrating leadership and an outstanding model.

Alvarado St. Bakery is a Sonoma County Green Certified Business.  It was one of ten businesses awarded a National Green Jobs award in 2010.

The Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy has honored community and political leaders whose work has led to significant improvements in sustainability for nearly a decade.  Past award recipients include Oliver’s Market, Don Wallace (President, Dry Creek Vineyard), Indigenous Designs, Ann Hancock (Executive Director, Climate Protection Campaign), and Bayer Farm.

The Institute seeks sponsors for the event this year.  Anyone interested in an opportunity to be affiliated with these outstanding community leaders is urged to participate.