Sherwood Smith, ISR

Sherwood Smith Talks Importance of Community

Hello, friends—Happy July!

In this month’s edition of our Corporate Sponsor Highlight, we ask Sherwood (Woody) Smith, of Avenue ISR, to share thoughts on community resilience and working for what you believe in. Be sure to read—inspiring! Stephanie Prall

What’s your Groundwork story?
Woody: I have known about and supported Groundwork for about 20 years, going back to the days of the Michigan Land Use Institute, when the primary focus was on land use. From the get go, I was impressed with the intelligence, commitment, and entrepreneurial spirit of the Groundwork folks I interacted with.

How does Groundwork align with what is important in your work?
Woody: When I earned my MBA (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, ’96), I was a committed member of Students for Responsible Business, and I did my summer internship with Patagonia so I could work with a company that was focused on “doing good” while “doing well.” As I built out my consulting practice, I have always left some room to work with nonprofits, networks and socially responsible enterprises who are trying to help our communities and economies have a better impact. Groundwork checks a lot of boxes for me!”

Learn more about Avenue ISR.

Helping to strengthen our local food systems, finding new pathways to clean energy, and helping make progress toward more resilient communities—I love the work, and I love the way Groundwork does the work!

Why do you choose to support Groundwork?
I think of Groundwork as an organization that really lives its values—innovation, community, equity, and more. The people at Groundwork think creatively, develop great ideas and solutions, scale them up and then share them out. Look at how 10 Cents a Meal was rolled out, evolved and then bloomed into a program with statewide impact. I think this willingness to invent and then scale up and out is exactly what we need to help us tackle the big issues facing us—climate change, pressures on ecosystems and communities, inequality, etc.

What is something you are currently excited about in your work and something on the horizon?
Woody: In addition to my consulting work (my day job) I am a pretty active volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby and care a lot about anything we can do to curb emissions and build resilience in the face of a changing climate. I am really excited about the opportunities that businesses, local governments and families have—through the Inflation Reduction Act and other potential investments—to make real change in the coming years. Groundwork’s Climate & Environment team is working to help all of these groups make the transition. It’s exciting! We have the potential to really transform, becoming more resilient up and down the line.

What’s something that you love about your local and sustainable community?
People across northern Michigan—regardless of who they are, where they live or what their social status is—truly love this place. They love the water, the woods, the fields and farms, the small towns and cities. Because of that deep love, I think people are willing to work together to protect and nurture what makes this place special and resilient. We may get tripped up by certain words and ideas, but I think there is a LOT of common ground.

What is your niche in the community and your market?
I have been a consultant for more than 25 years. I’ve worked with big and complex companies like 3M and Hagerty, startups and entrepreneurial ventures, nonprofits and governments, networks and systems change initiatives. My company is called Avenue ISR, and the “ISR” stands for “Insights,” “Strategy,” “Results.” I work with all of these folks to develop understanding of how to move forward, create road maps and then meet their goals.

What does community mean to you?
Woody: Everyone I see around me. People with experiences like mine and people with really different backgrounds. And the land that supports and nurtures us. As another Woody once said, “this land was made for you and me.” Groundwork logo for story end

Learn more about our Corporate & Community Partnership Program!