Every year when I flip the calendar to December, I find myself asking, “Where did the year go?”

December is a good time to take a look back, celebrate successes, thank the folks who helped you along the way and plan for an even better year to come.

Here in our offices, we went back through our calendars to take inventory of our 2017 activities. I’m proud of the work of our coalition at the more than 50 events we participated in across the country over the course of the year, starting with our largest ever annual meeting and awards luncheon in February with 300 of our members, partners and friends.

Our office moved to our new location in downtown Crown Point in February, allowing us to more truly live our mission by leaving our vehicles behind to patronize local businesses and services on and around the square. Supporting the local economy while minimizing our carbon footprint is always something to celebrate.

On Valentine’s Day, we became part of the three-year, seven-state Midwest EVOLVE (Electric Vehicle Opportunities: Learning, eVents, Experience) project aimed at demonstrating the performance and environmental benefits of plug-in electric vehicles. The program allows us to provide even more ride and drive events focused on electric vehicles and to expand our outreach and education on the benefits of electric vehicles.

Midwest EVOLVE enhanced our ride and drive events across the region and around the state that allowed consumers to get behind the wheel and test drive a variety of sustainable transportation options. We are thankful for our partners in the industry who bring vehicles and equipment out to these events and to our members who host them.

We were proud to partner with NIPSCO and Nissan for a group buy program with the all-electric Nissan LEAF that slashed the price of the vehicle by half and added more than 50 of the clean-running vehicles to the Region’s roadways. The public and private sector participants in the program — including those who purchased or leased the vehicles — deserve a big hand for that.

South Shore Clean Cities traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with our elected officials on Capitol Hill about energy security and green transportation policies. We attended conferences, seminars and expos in our own backyard and across the country in an effort to learn from others and bring the latest information in the sustainable transportation industry back to the Region.

Our Green Fleet workshops and Webinars, in partnership with the metropolitan planning organizations, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the Michiana Area Council of Governments, provided information and training on a variety of sustainable transportation and energy topics.

We also wrote successful grant applications for our members totaling more than $3 million, which already are putting more sustainable vehicles and equipment to work and helping drive the local economy.

In 2017, this column addressed the issues of Smart Cities, balancing the Region’s environmental and industrial needs, environmental literacy, alternative fuel neutrality, energy security, autonomous vehicle policies, sustainable emergency response and the Volkswagen mitigation trust.

We would be remiss if we did not thank our friends at The Times of Northwest Indiana for this column space each month and you, the readers, for your interest.

Who knows what exciting advances may emerge in 2018. We’re excited about the possibilities the $41 million Volkswagen mitigation trust can bring to public and private transportation projects and fleets across the state and how that process will unfold.

We’re looking forward to again spending time with members and partners at our annual meeting Feb. 20 and other events throughout the year.

More than anything, we’re hopeful for an even cleaner, greener 2018.

Remember, it’s never too late to begin your legacy.

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Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.

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