In March 2006, Northwest Environment Watch (NEW) changed its name to Sightline Institute.

Why? We believe that the name Sightline better reflects what we do: help you see a clear way to the future we all want.

We also believe the name has the qualities you’ve come to expect from us—credibility, pragmatism, accessibility, and optimism. And we know it will enable us to reach more Cascadian citizens than ever before.

The logo we chose symbolizes three values Sightline stands for: strong communities, fair markets, and responsible stewardship. Just like the three interlocking loops in the logo, these values are drawn with the same line and the balance among them is always shifting.

Why not NEW? Or Cascadia Sustainability Institute?

We found the name Sightline after a thorough selection process, one of a number of names we considered and tested. We found that both people close to the organization and those not familiar with us responded positively to Sightline.

They associated the word “Sightline” with a sense of purpose, clarity, and of looking toward the future. Respondents also felt that Sightline projected some of the key qualities that we try to live up to in our work, such as credibility, pragmatism, accessibility, and optimism.

Some people ask why we did not choose a more descriptive name, like “Cascadia Sustainability Institute.” Early in our process, we concluded that in the long run, the disadvantages of a descriptive name outweigh the advantages. Names that readily describe our work are cumbersome, hard to remember, prone to be turned into unattractive acronyms, and difficult to distinguish from other organizations’ names.

This is also part of the reason for the name change in the first place. Over the years we’ve found that our organization’s name limited our ability to advance a sustainable way of life in Cascadia because it didn’t accurately describe what we did.

First, there are literally thousands of organizations whose name include one or more of the three words that made up our name, making it hard to distinguish NEW from others, particularly for people who were new to our work. Additionally, each part of our name had problems.

  • Northwest: We serve the bioregion of Cascadia, including British Columbia, which is in Canada’s southwest. The western third of BC is commonly referred to as the West Coast.
  • Environment: Similarly, the word “environment” in our name is misleading because NEW is about much more than the environment; we highlight the connections between people and place and cover both human and environmental well-being.
  • Watch: Many people associate this term with negativism and a reflexive “anti” mentality that doesn’t fit NEW’s focus on optimism and practical solutions.

We are pleased to have found a name that appeals to many who have known us for a long time. We are doubly pleased to have found a name that will really enhance our ability to reach an even broader audience in the future.

The name “Sightline” won’t change the innovative research, commentary, and tools you’ve come to expect from us, but it will help us go farther, do more and reach more people than ever before. We hope that these changes will amplify your work for Cascadia.

P.S. We’d like to thank several people who were instrumental and incredibly generous with their time and expertise throughout this process: Steven Cristol, Tye Heckler of Heckler Associates, David Placek of Lexicon Branding, Marty McDonald and Chris Bearg of egg advertising, and Laurie Rechholtz. We’d also like to thank designer Pat Snavely, and our staff and board name committee, including Jeff Hallberg, John Atcheson, Gordon Price, Elisa Murray, and Christine Hanna.