Who’s making South Sound better in 2014?

jdodge@theolympian.comJanuary 7, 2014 

Let the record show I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t made one in years and don’t remember what the last one was anyway.

We have jokingly talked about the need to clean out the downstairs bedroom, which is euphemistically called the storage room, but functions more precisely as the out-of-sight, out-of-mind room.

And the basement carpet could sure use a cleaning. I mean REALLY use a cleaning: The animals have worn grimy trails from their pet door down the hallway to the steps leading upstairs to warmth and food. But those are just distasteful household chores that are easy to ignore another week, another month, another year.

I do, however, have an idea for a project here at work that fits nicely with the new year, a project that asks my readers to help me check the pulse of the community.

I want help answering some questions. Who are the people who make significant contributions to quality of life in South Sound? Who are the individuals, either in the spotlight or behind the scenes, who wield influence, who make the community a more vital, healthy, diverse and caring place. Who are the Difference Makers 2014?

We’re not looking for power brokers in the good ol’ boy sense of the phrase. We’re looking for innovators and motivators, the best and the brightest, results-oriented community leaders who excel in their fields, whose actions speak louder than their words.

And what are the fields of excellence by which to define our Difference Makers? Here are a few — in no particular order or priority — to think of when nominating someone for recognition.

Business and economic development: Who are the business leaders who want to grow the economy in a sustainable way? Who are the ones who don’t see job creation and environmental protection as competing values? Who are on the front lines, leading South Sound back from the Great Recession?

Arts and entertainment: A healthy community supports the arts and encourages artistic creativity. Who are the artists and entertainers whose work inspires and nourishes the soul?

Governance: Which elected and nonelected government officials and policymakers enrich the community through thoughtful actions? Who are the problemsolvers, the long-range thinkers, the leaders who know when to be bold and decisive and when to work in the middle ground of compromise? Focus on local governance first, but don’t ignore the fact that our community is the seat of state government.

Environment: Who are the environmental leaders working to conserve water and energy, protect fish and wildlife habitat, curb greenhouse gas emissions and encourage wise use of finite natural resources without demonizing job creation and economic growth?

Philanthropy and public service: By their very nature, many philanthropists work behind the scenes, supporting community causes without recognition. But what’s wrong with giving a little credit where credit is due? Help identify some of the charitable giants in South Sound. In addition, single out the tireless workers who work to stamp out hunger, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and abuse. There are caregivers aplenty in South Sound. Let’s recognize those making the most difference.

Education: Education is a lifelong journey, critical in the early years of childhood development, essential through the formative years and well into life’s later stages. Who are the educators in South Sound who change lives and lead the way?

This is an opportunity to recognize your friends and neighbors, business associates and parishioners, for the good work they do. Send your nominations of 250 words or less, including name of nominee and category, to: jdodge@theolympian.com. In the email subject line, use “Difference Makers 2014.” I’ll use my Soundings column to profile some of the Difference Makers 2014 and provide project updates along the way.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444 jdodge@theolympian.com

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