Passionate, community-minded and up for a challenge, Huxley graduate Rose Lathrop has dedicated her career to sustainable planning and design. A former employee at Aiki Homes, which specializes in sustainable, green and co-housing development, Lathrop made a change in 2012 and became the Green Building and Smart Growth program manager at Sustainable Connections. She is also the executive director of the Northwest Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Their mission statement reads, “NWAIA exists to support and promote the design profession as an essential component of creating a clean and prosperous future for all; we demonstrate the value of design through education, inspiration and example.” That mission statement applies to Lathrop as well. Upon taking her first class in urban planning she said, “I wanted to have a real impact and urban design is not only a mechanism for environmental change, but something that can be beautiful and transformative and can make a person fall in love with a place.” Her work with the NWAIA dovetails perfectly with her work at Sustainable Connections, and demonstrates her solid dedication to creating a more beautiful and functional community.
After college, Lathrop got interested in architecture, given that buildings are an essential component to the built environment. “There are a couple of basic tenants in green building—it must be beautiful or it won’t be loved, and it must be built with quality or it won’t last.” Placemaking, creating a lovable environment, giving us a community we all invest in and care about—these are recurring themes with Rose. Currently, she’s working on a new initiative through her work with Sustainable Connections called KAPOW!, a placemaking design competition. KAPOW!’s goals are to enliven corners of downtown with unique touches, like the parking spaces that were converted into mini-parks a few years ago. “It is going to provide us with a portfolio of ideas both big and small that can help Bellingham stay unique and interesting and help bring more vitality to downtown.”
Lathrop feels that the biggest challenge—and opportunity—facing our community right now is the updating of the city comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is a neighborhood-by-neighborhood strategic plan done through the neighborhood planning process by boards of volunteers. A daunting task, it is also a very important part of defining how Bellingham will—or will not—grow in the future. “I am very interested in helping our community identify opportunities for infill, change the perception of development and help to make Bellingham a vibrant, healthy community.”