Hardi Adam, a student from Ghana studying business management administration at Whatcom Community College through the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program, found inspiration from a tour of Bellingham’s City Hall. In order to learn about local government and sustainable city policies, NWCCI students toured the City Hall, including a 10 minute question and answer session with the mayor. The tour concluded with an overview of Bellingham’s long-term environmental plan and a first-hand look at how the city implements these goals through green spaces, green roofs, LEED buildings, porous concrete, and rain gardens.
On our arrival at the Bellingham City Hall, we were greeted by our tour guide. She explained that this beautiful, decorative art deco building was built in 1939 and historically it housed convicted prisoners. It has three statues: a figure holding a baby, symbolizing family and society in Bellingham; a figure holding a sword, symbolizing industry and jobs for the people; and the center statue, which has three faces demonstrating support to the government.
Next we received a surprise visit from the mayor! Mayor Linville was elected mayor in 2011 and began her work as mayor in 2012. Born and bred in Bellingham, Mayor Linville worked in the legislature for about seventeen years before becoming the city’s first woman mayor. She says that her favorite part of the job is problem solving, and even though it is a difficult task being the city’s first female mayor, she is doing her utmost to solve all problems concerning the city of Bellingham.
Following our informative conversation with the mayor, project engineer Mr. Freeman Anthony introduced us to areas of focus, including:
- clean, safe drinking water;
- a healthy environment;
- a sense of place;
- a vibrant sustainable economy;
- equity and social justice.
He then sent us out to view the projects, including green roofs, porous concrete, bike lanes, and pedestrian designated spaces. This was a rare experience for me, since in my own country, Ghana, it can be difficult to meet mayors and their staff.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.