The Cole & Weber Garden

Seattle Agency Finds a Way to Give While Growing as a Team

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One agency decided it wanted to do something to build internal relationships while helping others. With the project under way, Britt Peterson of Cole & Weber United tells how the agency's core values have taken root.

"Love Well." It started as a company rally cry at my agency, a call for every employee to respect him or herself, respect each other and respect the work we do as a team. We've since incorporated "Love Well" into our company's core values, having recognized the need both to live our values and to make them apparent to the world. As the almighty Aretha would say, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to" -- well, us.

To bring our "Love Well" values to life, we turned our employees into a green-collar work force by planting our own Cole & Weber garden. Begun on Earth Day, the garden is filled with fruits, vegetables and herbs. We wanted to get our hands dirty, work as a team, and grow some of our own food to donate to food banks and other local organizations.

Sure, we could have held a food drive. We easily could have asked that each employee bring in unused canned goods. We could even have raided the shelves of Sam's Club and Costco. But it's not about being flashy; it's about being thoughtful. In other words, doing well by doing good. Not only has the Cole & Weber garden been a great testament to what we can build together as a team, but each week we're able to see the difference we're making by delivering its produce to those in need.

We saw the garden as an actionable way to kick off "Love Well" (not in a John-and-Yoko kind of way -- we're not that kind of agency), with the garden drawing on the passions of our people and inspired by some of the client work we've done. One of the most rewarding aspects is how the experience has brought us together as a team. From accountant to account person to creative, we've all joined together for a project that's making an impact in our neighborhood and in our own corporate culture as well.

While this might have been our first philanthropic endeavor, it certainly won't be our last.

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Britt Peterson is director of business development at Cole & Weber United, Seattle.