The EcoCentre was founded in 1994, three years later it was incorporated as the West Kootenay Community EcoSociety. And at some point it became known as the West Kootenay EcoSociety (read our first 25 year history here). Over the years, the organization has ebbed and flowed on the issues we work on, and the strategies we take to achieve our goals. But our foundations have stayed the same: we are an organization that is good at bringing local people together to protect the natural environment while building just, equitable, healthy, and livable communities.

Expanding support for environmental protection means we need to meet people where they are at, hear their concerns, and bring them into the movement. We have found that our name, West Kootenay EcoSociety, has limited who we can start conversations with and the places we can work.

As staff, board and core volunteers, we began exploring the idea of a name update process in 2019. We consulted in various ways with our current members between October 2020 to March 2022. After three years of thoughtful discussion and engagement, I’m excited to share that we have the vast majority of support from our current members for the new name, Neighbours United.

Expanding our reach will allow us to connect and gain more support for environmental protection and build a broader and more powerful movement by finding our common ground.

No programming at the organization is going away; we are not changing the organization’s current mission. We are continuing to deliver Farms to Friends to support families in need and local farmers, work on conservation to protect old growth forests and defend threatened watersheds, and build support for climate solutions, like the renewable energy transition.

We are renaming because we want to share our valuable lessons and partner on programs beyond the West Kootenay region, and open our space to even more people who can make a positive impact in the climate movement. The new name, Neighbours United, presents new and exciting opportunities to have a bigger impact with our programs.

I also want to acknowledge the handful of our current members who shared that they did not like any of the name update options or didn’t want to see a name change. I know change can be difficult, and ultimately there is no perfect name or perfect time. I appreciate all our member feedback and the hard work we are doing together. The staff and the board have done our best to hear a variety of views and make decisions to do what we all want: have the biggest impact on building sustainable communities and protecting the environment.

We are also exploring charitable status for the organization and will keep our community posted on the progress.

Our team would love your feedback on a new logo. We worked with current and past local designers to come up with new logo options, our members have already cast votes and we have narrowed it down to three options. Cast your vote by May 18, we’ll share the results shortly after.

Thank you to our members, supporters and donors for coming on this challenging and exciting journey with us.

 

By Montana Burgess, Executive Director on behalf of the staff and board team