The crowd was buzzing with excitement while enjoying local wine and food at the Sustainable Contra Costa Awards Gala, held at the Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek.
“We never expected the first awards event to be quite as wonderful and popular as it was – we actually had to stop selling tickets,” said Tina King Neuhausel, board chair of Sustainable Contra Costa. “For a nonprofit starting out with no budget, it takes a community to build excitement and interest, and that’s exactly what is happening here in Contra Costa.”
The event celebrated the efforts and accomplishments of more than 60 nominees. The six winners were recognized for helping the environment, helping people and strengthening their communities.
Sen. Mark DeSaulnier brought laughter and cheer to all as he presented the awards, especially when he did a drum roll on SCOCO Co-Founder Marsha Golangco’s head. Local artist Connie English handcrafted the beautiful award plaques from recycled glass donated by Vetrazzo.
The winner for the Business category was PMI Group, which demonstrated sustainability leadership from top management through all levels of staff. The Small Business winner was Children’s Choice of Danville, which provides sustainable lunches to 120 local schools. The Government category was won by the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority’s Reuse and Cleanup Days Program, which provides convenient curbside collection of reusable items and distributes them to those less fortunate.
The winning Individual was Tom Powers for his lifelong commitment to sustainability in Contra Costa. The Community winner was the San Pablo Watershed Neighbors Education and Restoration Society (SPAWNERS), a grassroots organization that inspires appreciation and stewardship of West County’s riparian habitats. The Contra Costa Centre Transit Village took the prize in the Smart Growth category.
Visit www.sustainablecoco.org to learn more about the winners and view all the nominees.
The success of the evening was attributed to the dedication of the volunteers who made it happen and the generosity of the sponsors: Allied Waste Servies, Mt. Diablo Recycling, Real Goods Solar, and San Francisco Business Times, among others. Food, wine and music were donated by local Contra Costa businesses: Sunrise Bistro, Walnut Creek Yacht Club, PRIMA, Serendipity, Va de Vi, Walnut Creek Baking Company, and extreme solo acoustic guitar player EM K. Local wine was enjoyed courtesy of Captain Vineyards, Wente, Sterling Albert, Rock Wall, Viano, and Rosenblum Cellars. Lucky silent auction winners went home items such as a small-scale wind turbine from Infin8 Solutions, a live worm compost bin from Monster Worms, and a HOG Rain Barrel from Urban Farmer.
The event was also a fundraiser for the newly formed nonprofit organization Sustainable Contra Costa, which will fill a significant community need by providing inspiration, education and valuable resources to help local residents, businesses and governments take action to create a more sustainable region. The organization will continue to raise funds to support its upcoming projects, including the Contra Costa Sustainability Hub Web portal and urban farm projects.