A letter from our Executive Director

April 11, 2017

Chris and his two boys

Believe it or not, I started out my career by determining how to best pave over farmland to make room for new big box retail stores.  This was New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the late 1990’s, and the “birthplace of the mall” was riding a wave of commercial sprawl that was eating up soybean and corn fields far outside the urban core.  I was an engineer-in-training, tasked with figuring out how big of a hole needed to be dug in the ground in order to contain all the runoff generated from the endless acres of asphalt parking.

I knew then that something didn’t feel right about the work I was doing – not just the long hours and stale coffee, but the sinking feeling that came from watching smart people dedicate their careers to flattening and sealing up their natural environment.  And all in the name of improving access to kitty litter and double cheeseburgers.

Fast forward to today: ten years since moving to the Northwest, and nothing could be farther from my halcyon days plugging away at roadway expansions and sewer extensions than the recent work I have been able to achieve focused on community development.  A lot of that work – particularly overseeing habitat restoration of industrial shorelines and building a “complete” street and in my new hometown community of Bainbridge Island – made my move to Futurewise an easy next step.  Futurewise’s multi-pronged approach to combating sprawl, protecting natural resources, and encouraging equitable, opportunity-rich cities is one-of-a-kind here in Washington State, and I’m proud that we’re leading the way for the next generation.  These feelings of pride and purpose permeate the moments when I watch my own two boys – 4 and 6 at this writing – observing birds, playing on the beach, and staring agape at our landscape from atop the Space Needle.  We’re so lucky to be here – and there’s so much work to do if we’re going to grow sustainably.

In the next few years, amidst a level of political and environmental uncertainly not witnessed here in generations, we will be forging ahead with our partners – both organizations and individuals – to advance the mission of Futurewise.  Together, we will ensure that both fish and rural populations have water for their thriving environments.  Together, we will protect small farms that grow the majority of our local food.  Together, we will advocate for transit access and affordable homes.  Together, we will build a future for our state is stronger, healthier, and equitable for all.   

Thank you for supporting Futurewise in bending the curve towards sustainable and equitable solutions to our environmental challenges.  Email me at chris@futurewise.org, and tell me what drives you to support Futurewise, and how we can continue to meet your highest expectations.   I’m greatly looking forward to working with you.

Chris Wierzbicki, Executive Director