Each year the Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation awards the William Dittrich Award to an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to parks, trail, and recreational opportunities within Whatcom County.
The award is presented at our annual Holiday Mixer & Awards Presentation, held in early December.
Past Dittrich Award Honorees
Lisa Friend, a staunch advocate for parks and trails in Whatcom County, is a long-time friend of the Foundation, having serving on the Board of Directors for several years. After a brief stint in Colorado, Lisa returned to Whatcom County and immediately resumed her involvement inthe local parks and trails community. She is currently, among other roles, President of the Friends of Tennant Lake and Hovander Park.
Ms Friend, also a former recipient of the RE Sources “Environmental Heroes” award, is a lifelong conservationist who specializes in recycling and composting. When she’s not volunteering to staff a “Zero Waste” set-up at community events, she’s likely in her garden or walking a local trail. In addition to walking the renowned “Camino de Santiago” in Spain, Ms Friend has covered most of the 1,000 miles walked and documented by John Muir after the Civil War. “I wanted to see what had changed and what had remained the same in the deep south since Muir’s trek,” our award-winner says: “Everything had been built on, of course, except the woods near Mammoth Cave and the old road into North Carolina from Tennessee. Many of the plants Muir saw were still there, however, and the people remain generous at heart.”
Sporting a “Nooksack Loop Trail” patch nearly everywhere she goes, Ms Friend has walked around Whatcom County, too: “I walked from Bellingham to Birch Bay when I was training for my trip to the south,” she says. “The walk along the Nooksack from Marietta to Hovander is a lovely day-hike, as is the Interurban Trail from Fairhaven to Larrabee.” She looks forward to completion of the Nooksack Loop and is a passionate advocate for park and greenways funding.
“I plan to write a big check to the Foundation on Dec. 1 to help fund a countywide greenways effort,” she says. “I hope all my friends will join me in launching this new endeavor.”
Wethank Lisa for her years of dedication and service, and hope that there are many more exciting milestones ahead in her parks, trails, and open space conservation endeavors.
The Foundation presented Mr. Griffin with the 2015 William Dittrich award in honor of the many years of volunteer service and advocacy that Mr. Griffin has contributed to parks and community spaces in Bellingham. Brian was instrumental in the creation of some of the most beloved public parks in Bellingham, including the Fairhaven Village Green, Boulevard Park, and Depot Market Square, home of the downtown Farmer’s Market.
Mr. Griffin is an active community member and local historian. He has written four books about local history, and currently presents a weekly series called “Did You Know?” featuring local historical stories for the SPARK Museum’s radio station KMRE. His newest local history book, “Fairhaven” is set to come out in December 2015. Brian is also an avid Ukulele player and maker.
Short biography of Brian Griffin:
Brian Griffin enjoys deep roots in Bellingham and a fascination with its history. He was born here in 1932 and with the exception of four years attending Whitman College, and two years with the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps in Korea he has lived here all of his life.
He has enjoyed a life of many activities, interests and achievements. He is the author of six books, two of them about native bees and four about local history. He has been an insurance broker and a founder of Unity Group Insurance, A retailer and a founder and President of The Childrens Company; a nationally known expert on Osmia Lignaria, the Orchard Mason Bee and the creator of a unique business, Knox Cellars Native Bee Pollinators, a business which popularized this important and now popular pollinator.
He has been active in community projects, initiating and leading the drive to build the downtown Parkade; He led the campaign to build a downtown shopping mall and sold the local improvement district that provided trees, bollards and new sidewalks for the downtown. He played an important role in the creation of Boulevard Park; He was the Chair and leader of the Fairhaven Village Green Committee given credit for building the Green. Most recently he led the effort to build Depot Market Square, the home of the Bellingham Farmers Market.
Griffin, a Whitman English major turned historian has written Boulevard Park a local history, He co-authored My Darling Anna, another local history and he wrote the catalogue for the Whatcom Museum exhibition which he curated called “Treasures From the Trunk, The J.J. Donovan story”. In December 2015 he published his latest local history book “Fairhaven”.
His history research has resulted in many exciting finds including a large steamer trunk filled with the papers of J.J. Donovan, one of Bellingham’s most historic and important citizens.
Griffin has been honored with the Sally Rogers Award for Lifetime Achievement by his alma mater, Whitman College; The Whatcom County Lifetime Business Achievement Award by the Northwest Business Monthly; the Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award; The Rotary Club of Bellingham Community Service Award; The Whatcom Parks Foundation William Dittrich Award, and in 2015, The Bellingham Mayor’s Living Treasure Award.