Western Campus Site Host of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Conference June 14-17

Contact: Seth Vidana, coordinator, WWU Office of Sustainability, (360) 650-2491; or Shannon Wright, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies Shannon@livingeconomies.org, 360-746-0840 ext. 105

BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University will be the site for the ninth annual Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Conference June 14-17.

The conference, themed "Place Matters," will include more than 80 speakers, 10 plenaries, 24 interactive sessions, three intensive pre-workshops, four 'living economy” tours, and a variety of networking and social events. Hundreds of entrepreneurs, business network leaders, economic developers, sustainability experts, and local government and community leaders will gather at the conference to explore new practices in growing community health and wealth and share tested models for social entrepreneurship and local economic development.

“When BALLE approached us to host their national conference on our campus we saw it as an opportunity to highlight values that BALLE and Western hold in common, such as support of local economies,” said Rich Van Den Hul, vice president for Business and Financial Affairs at Western.

 “BALLE showcases and connects leading entrepreneurs, investors and local innovators – whatever their field – who are trailblazing a new economy that is sustainable and locally based, and this conference will harness and focus those efforts," said BALLE executive director Michelle Long. "The conference is led by businesses – the entrepreneurs and innovators who are building our homes, growing and distributing our food, and powering our lives."

Western has a long and distinguished tradition of national leadership in sustainability, including creation more than 40 years ago of Huxley College of the Environment, one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation;  an award-winning Vehicle Research Institute, whose 100-mpg vehicle was a finalist in the recent Progressive X Prize competition; one of the first student recycling programs in the country; and a student-led initiative – the first in the nation funded entirely by student fees – ensuring that 100 percent of Western’s electrical power comes from renewable sources. Western’s Office of Sustainability leads a host of initiatives, ranging from sustainable transportation to a campus commitment on climate neutrality.

 “Western is an acknowledged leader in a wide range of efforts on sustainability, which we are incorporating on a daily basis in many and increasingly most campus operations,” said Seth Vidana, coordinator of Western’s Office of Sustainability. 

BALLE and local host Sustainable Connections are bringing together a national community of socially responsible, small business owners and thought leaders to create meaningful economic change at the grassroots level. The conference website is: http://www.livingeconomies.org/conference-2011.