A letter from incoming SuSol Board President Maggie Kolk
The past few years have been challenging in so many ways for most of us. Sustainable Solano’s strength and resilience under the leadership of Executive Director Elena Karoulina in the face of these challenges is remarkable. Marilyn Bardet, outgoing Board of Directors president, has played no small part in supporting Elena, the team, and the board through demanding times. Marilyn will be a hard act to follow. Fortunately, she will remain a board member, and I am confident that I can rely on her future support and nurturing mentorship.
As we begin a new year and as I take on the role of board president, reflection, gratitude, and anticipation for what’s to come are at the forefront of my mind
Reflection and Gratitude
True to our mission of “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole,” SuSol continues to grow and expand countywide programs to support and sustain the Solano County community. Like any organization, the team experienced both change and growth in 2022. We welcomed new team members, said farewell to others, and look forward to bringing on additional dedicated, enthusiastic team members in 2023. The newest member of our board of directors, Treasurer John Uselman, brings the skill and professional expertise needed as we move forward into our next phase.
The key ingredient for the continuing growth and success of SuSol is the dedication and devotion of all of the people who make up the team managing and supporting our programs — sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient communities, youth engagement, sustaining conversations, and community gardens. (I proudly share that Avant Garden on First Street in Benicia provided over 1,000 lbs of fresh organically grown produce to the Benicia community in 2022. We are over the moon grateful for our volunteers who helped in this effort!)
Wholehearted appreciation and gratitude are sent to the entire Sustainable Solano team and volunteers for their commitment and hard work. To paraphrase Proust: you are “the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
We also are lucky to have the continuous support of funders who see the value of SuSol’s work here in the county, including the Solano County Water Agency, which first helped the organization grow from Benicia to throughout the county and continues to support our Solano Sustainable Backyards program today, and Solano Public Health, which saw the value in community gardens that increased access to fresh produce into Solano communities and moved that to action by supporting our Solano Gardens program. From the big funders to the individual donors, we are grateful to have the support of the community.
Details of SuSol’s accomplishments and activities can be found on the What’s Growing? blog.
Looking Forward to 2023
While I do admit to a bit of trepidation taking on a new leadership role, my excitement for the future of Sustainable Solano mitigates any fears I have about filling those big Marilyn Bardet shoes!
The future is bright for SuSol with existing programs flourishing and new support mechanisms coming from respected valuable resources. The perfect holiday gift arrived early in December in the form of a capacity-building support grant from a Bay Area agency. This grant is just the boost SuSol needs to transform our organization in the coming years.
Brilliant team members and supportive, experienced board members are committed to thinking outside the proverbial box and bringing new innovative ideas to the table. 2023 promises to be exciting and transformative for SuSol. To quote Walt Disney, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we are curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Finally, do you ask yourself “What can I do to live a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce the effects of climate change?” With a variety of programs to choose from, I urge you to take the leap and get involved in one or more of SuSol’s important sustainability programs. What is your passion — Air Quality, Local Food, Youth Engagement, Workforce Development? Attend SuSol events, volunteer for one of our programs, and become a friend of Sustainable Solano by donating to support our mission.
Wishing all of our Sustainable Solano community the very best for a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous 2023.
President, Board of Directors