Living Sustainably: Awards event honors Lakeshore sustainability stars

By Hanna Schulze and Michelle Gibbs Local First and Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

A first-time event in Holland, the Local First Lakeshore Annual Meeting, included honors for five different businesses, projects and individuals for their support of local business and sustainability.

Five awards recognizing business and individual efforts supporting local initiatives and sustainability were presented Thursday, Feb. 8, when Local First hosted its inaugural Lakeshore Annual Meeting.  The event was held for the first time in Holland to recognize the growing number of businesses on the Lakeshore that are working toward positive change in West Michigan.

Local First has been hosting an annual meeting in Grand Rapids since 2010. It’s a platform to honor those that contribute to the local economy and act as stewards of the environment and the people in their community, and some Holland businesses have been honored there in the past.

This year, Local First was excited to partner with the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute and Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance to honor a larger group of Lakeshore businesses.  The event, presented by EPS Security, was held at the CityFlats Hotel.

Local First’s LocalMotion Awards were presented in three categories.  
Best for the Environment – for measuring energy use, water use, and general carbon footprint and for sourcing local to cut down on shipping, as well as participating in energy efficiency programs:
 Finalists – Lemonjello’s, Country Winds Creamery
 Winner – EcoBuns Baby & Co.

Best for Employees – for institutional policies that allow for better quality of life for employees, such as health benefits, retirement savings, paid volunteer time, maternity/paternity leave, and regular performance reviews:
 Finalists – Higher Health Chiropractic, Visser Farms
 Winner – Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland

Best for the Community – for giving back to the community by donating time or resources to non-profit partners, providing community education, and investing in infrastructure or amenities that create a more inclusive, welcoming place:
 Finalists – Globe Design and Vision, Betterway Imports
 Winner – The Bridge

The Project Clarity team was among those honored Thursday evening for sustainability efforts. Michelle Gibbs presents the award to, at left, Travis Williams, Lynn Kotecki, Rob Vink, David
Nyitray, Kelly Goward, Dan Callam, and Alison Brink.

Thursday the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute also inaugurated a new award recognizing a top community project. It recognized the outstanding work of Project Clarity to create a more sustainable community through education and engagement activities.   The goal of Project Clarity is to “restore the water quality of Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed. The multi-phased approach provides solutions focused on land restoration, Best Management Practices (BMPs), community education, and long term sustainability.”

And finally, for nearly a decade, Local First annually has honored one individual with the Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award, named after the organizations’ founder emeritus. The award recognizes contributions to the local community, dedication to economic and environmental sustainability, and embodiment of the mission to live local.  This year, with a new Lakeshore area Legacy Award, the group recognized Holland resident Paul Lilly.

Lilly has been an integral part of the sustainability movement in Holland since he opened his business, Lakeshore Cleaning and Facilities Service, in 2002. Since 2008, Paul has served on the board of the Holland Community Sustainability Committee, which develops and promotes Holland’s energy strategy. Among his many volunteer leadership positions, Paul has served on the Pastoral Council at Our Lady of the Lake Parish, and has given countless hours of service to sustainability initiatives across the region.

Event photos can be found here.

 Hanna Schulze is the program and fund development manager at Local First.  Michelle Gibbs is the director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: The business and local consumer are the driving engines to generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new businesses and industry.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.