Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955


Banner on bikeWhile most businesses appear driven to keep their ethics and politics hidden in a closet, away from public view, afraid of turning off potential customers, you won’t find that tendency here.  Both Cindi and Rick believe otherwise.  Given our need to drastically slash our culture’s carbon footprint, there simply isn’t time to hide behind some unspoken veil in order to hide one’s activist tendencies.  Whether personally or corporately speaking, we wear our activist tendencies on our sleeves.

Yes, this exposure may hinder some potential clients from finding their way to our door, but another perspective is self-evident… clients and employees do find their way into our place and our way of doing business… of building community.  Our hope is that those with shared values more than offset the potential allergic reaction others may feel when they interact with our branding and messaging … to build resilient families and communities, sustainable businesses, social equity, and a verdant earth.

We’re banking on that and to date it has worked very well, thank you!

“Ever since we first met Rick Dubrow, we’ve wanted to have a remodeling project on our plate so that we could hire A-1 Builders. We like supporting a company that’s known not only for quality work, but also for a genuine focus on environmental stewardship and sustainability in their business operations and in all that they do for our community.” – Cynthia St. Clair and Phil Humphries

Thank you for helping us build community one house at a time; one organization at a time.

We’ve been busy!  Rick co-founded Futurewise Whatcom, Sustainable Connections, Transition Whatcom, Living Democracy and the NO COAL! Political Action Committee.  Amidst this era of birthing these organizations he was also on the Board of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities for 18 years!

Cindi, alongside Rick, also co-founded Transition Whatcom, and her baby since the Great Unleashing was to spearhead the Whatcom Folk School.

Something that weaves its way into most every activist effort described here is the need for resiliency.  In order to roll with the concurrent punches of climate change, environmental deterioration and economic instability, building personal, family and community resiliency seems essential to us.  And this means buying local.  When we helped create Sustainable Connections we coined the phrase ‘Buy local, or bye-bye local’.  Sure, its cute, but it’s also very powerful.  We do this in so many ways.

Just what is it that drives us so hard to do this activist work?  Good question.

It’s no wonder that Rick’s very first ‘On The Level’ column in the 3/28/07  Cascadia Weekly addressed this.  Here’s what he wrote………

Why am I an Activist?

During the March 24th debut of my “On the Level” green building show on KMRE 102.3 FM, Phil Printz, the show producer, stopped me in my tracks like a deer struck by headlights.  He asked me…. “Why, Rick, do you spend so much time and energy on community and environmental issues?  What drives you?”

Although I’m passionate about my activism with Sustainable Connections, RE Sources, growth issues and the sustainable business practices here at A-1 Builders, no one has ever asked what drives me.

This drive feels like gravity.  I don’t ask myself why something I drop has fallen to the ground.  It just is.  Rick Dubrow just is….. an activist.  It’s in my blood. But why?

I’ve been pondering Phil’s question ever since I stumbled through my spontaneous answer to his query on the radio; a question that I’ve simply not embraced before.  Allow me to share my thoughts…….

Every facet of our natural world is in some stage of collapse.  Water, air, soil, whatever……… the natural fabric within which we obtain everything we need to thrive as an animal is coming apart at the seams.  Yes, some segments of society get it and are changing their ways, aligning their actions with their values, but the pace of deterioration, it seems to me, is continuing, if not increasing.  With population and consumption on the rise, the smaller ecological footprint of the cultural creatives can hardly keep up with the further impact of more people taking more resources from our natural fabric.

Our mainstream paradigm is compelled to consume resources and produce humans.  Seems to be all about private interests; private rights.  Vance Packard articulated this drive oh so well in 1959:

“As businessmen caught a glimpse of the potentialities inherent in endlessly expanding the wants of people under consumerism………….what was needed was strategies that would make Americans in large numbers into voracious, wasteful, compulsive consumers — and strategies that would provide products assuring such wastefulness..”

Production and consumption are destroying the commons, and we need our commons — our air, water, soil – to be healthy if we as individuals are to be healthy.

Given an unhealthy and deteriorating natural environment, it’s time we pay far more attention to our responsibilities, as opposed to our rights. There’s a necessary collision afoot articulated so well by the A-1 Builders’ readerboard quote that we shared with you a few weeks ago: “This land is my land.  This land is your land.  Which explains all the lawsuits.”

My personal drive to work on community issues is fueled by the belief that you and I are responsible for our actions that sustain a healthy environment. Simply put, we’re animals slowly dying from the toxic soup we’ve brought upon ourselves.

If you’re nodding your head up ‘n down at this point then your values are undoubtedly aligned with this need to focus on our mutual responsibility.  But what about our actions…. are they aligned with these values?

Henry Miller said it this way: “The world is not to be put in order, the world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.”

I ask myself this each and every day:  since my actions contribute to this environmental soup, what actions can I take to further align myself with chicken soup and not toxic soup?

My mother used to tell me to eat chicken soup when my innards were less than healthy.  Damn…….  Mother Earth and my Mother are telling me the same thing!  (Maybe she was right?)

Part of my contribution to this chicken soup we eat and breathe is to remain as active as I can be in my community as a gladiator for a healthy commons.  To that end I will act until I can act no more.

Come join me on this chariot and help me make more chicken soup.


“We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing economic argument for continued population growth.  The health of our economy does not depend upon it, nor does the vitality of business, nor the welfare of the average person.”

– John D. Rockefeller, III, Chairman, Commission on Population and the American Future, 1972

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