Patrick Robinson
Michael Ryan, Dean of Hospitality and Service Occupations at South Seattle Community College was honored by Sustainable West Seattle as their 2011 Sustainable Hero of the Year, at their summer potluck event Monday Aug. 15. CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

SLIDESHOW: Sustainable West Seattle honors SSCC's Michael Ryan as Sustainable Hero of the year

The members of Sustainable West Seattle gathered at Lincoln Park near the beach on Monday, Aug. 15 to honor Michael Ryan, Dean of Hospitality and Service Occupations at South Seattle Community College, as their 2011 Sustainable Hero of the Year.

The potluck event also featured Alki Kayak Tours and Greg Whittaker who brought paddle boards and kayaks for test rides on the calm waters of Puget Sound.

CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

Patrick Dunn explained why they chose Ryan for the award. "Mike's been great on a number of different things and really put himself out there to make sure that projects go through and that people are pursuing them."

Ryan said, "This is a great group and I think to have these guys recognize what I've done, I'm just in awe of what they've done. I feel like I was a facilitator who helped them follow their passion and it just yielded amazing results. I was a small piece of that puzzle. They did all the work and it seems like I'm getting all the credit so it's been very humbling."

He pointed to what he's done by noting he's the Dean of the Culinary Arts Program, Landscape Horticulture, Wine and the Pastry program. " It all ties in with food systems, with agricultural systems. When I first got to South a little over three years ago the campus used a lot of styrofoam.

They didn't have a lot of sustainable practices in place, and that's understandable. It's what you get with a large state institution that's meant to feed students.

They weren't really concerned about those issues then. When I got there we started phasing some of those things out and moved to composting. It snowballed from there. I'd talk to one person about it and they would say,'Hey you should also do...biofuel and you should also do cage free eggs and you should go 100% local organic with your food sourcing. We did that at one of our restaurants as an experiment.

So it's been fun. It's been challenging with an administration that's very supportive but they have limited resources. For example when it came to allowing the orchard to come in, it didn't cost us anything so because volunteers did all the work the school gets a fantastic garden and they get what they wanted, a garden for the community."

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