It’s a Beautiful View from Atop the Summit

Wow! We just wrapped-up the 2nd Annual Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit, and as the dust settles from this landmark event, we are electrified by the range of innovative, collaborative and intersectional “solutions-making” that is happening throughout our region. We definitely have a lot of work ahead of us to scale up to match the immense challenges of building solutions that address polluted runoff as we create healthy, thriving communities for all people, but we are ready to make it happen!

Working closely with an amazing host committee from The Nature Conservancy, City of Seattle, Salmon-Safe, Washington State, University, Washington Environmental Council and MIG-SvR Design, we focused on three interconnected themes: Getting Growth Right at this unique moment in history, using green infrastructure for Climate Resilience, and making green infrastructure into a positive force for Racial and Social Equity. These themes were throughlines for the day’s presentations, discussions, rapid fire case studies and breakout sessions that focused on positive impacts, decision-making and developers going way beyond code requirements.

Among the day’s many highlights:

  • Keynote speaker, Majora Carter challenging our notion that green infrastructure isn’t sexy as she laid out the very real appeal of the path from green infrastructure to community revitalization through jobs and property development investments.
  • Demonstration that Huskies and Cougars alike are bringing innovative perspectives and cutting edge science to bear on polluted runoff. They may be rival schools, but they are collaborating on our shared future. Additional projects from Kitsap County, Tacoma, Seattle, Tukwila, Duvall and Bellingham rounded-out the regional perspective.
  • Of special interest to us at Stewardship Partners was our beta-launch of the Sound Impacts portal, a project that we have been developing for two years, designed to bring organizations, government agencies, businesses and communities together around shared data tracking for the sake of understanding our collective impacts.
  • In the closing call to action, the point was clearly made that we are living in a unique time and the bright green light that Puget Sound shines is an important beacon for the nation and the world.

 

We wrapped the discussion portion of the day with a panel that demonstrated growth, equity and resilience in current ongoing projects, followed by calls to action from Congressman Denny Heck and Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara. The Summit closed with recognition of three outstanding community leaders who are driving local movement towards equity, strategy and implementation: Jessica Knickerbocker with the City of TacomaEnvironmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS), and De’Sean Quinn, Tukwila City Council.

This collaborative effort included 16 sponsors. Thank you to our Premiere Sponsors, Boeing and the Nature Conservancy, and to our more than 30 presenters! The Summit was dedicated to building a region-wide collaborative network around the City Habitats Campaign – a virtual gathering space and resource sharing portal for all kinds of green infrastructure work across the Puget Sound guided by the principle that for nature, cities and people to thrive, we must connect all three through green infrastructure, access to nature and sustainable solutions to our biggest challenges.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been a Stewardship Partners hosted event if we didn’t have responsibly indulgent food and drink! We are immensely thankful to Whole Foods for the food, Earth Corps for the coffee, Chateau Ste. Michelle for the wine and the Mountaineers for the space!

Learn more about the Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit.  View event photos.

Garden Grows Hope for Homeless Youth

Formerly homeless youth are growing new roots while also reducing stormwater run-off.

“This is all the diseased stuff,” Keith Wolftail said.

Wolftail, 22, is learning a lot about life from gardening. A resident of LaBaTeYeh Youth Home in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Wolftail often helps around the garden.

He is learning to spot the dying parts and remove them so new life can grow.

“Otherwise they’ll end up completely dead,” he said.

The garden at LaBaTeYeh Youth Home grows food for the transitional housing facility. The home specializes in helping Native American youth, who are seven times more likely to face homelessness.

“There are many youth with a history of foster care and history of being homeless for a long time. They come from families who are homeless or in poverty or are struggling with multiple barriers,” said Director Jenna Gearhart.

It’s why the garden is more than vegetables. It’s a place of identity and independence, and an example of a growing movement toward green infrastructure in urban areas.

“Having greenery around reduces stress, provides more positive self-esteem. I love that there is real tangible evidence to show that green infrastructure can do those things on a social level, on a psychological level, on an emotional level for people,” said Majora Carter, an urban revitalization specialist.

Carter’s work in the South Bronx and elsewhere has transformed concrete into community.

“All the things growing here, they’ll end up on someone’s plate tonight or tomorrow night,” Wolftail said.

The latest to sprout are several new rain cisterns. Thanks to a grant from five local rotary clubs totaling $14,000, the cisterns trap 6,000 gallons of water from the roof. They reduce stormwater run-off that would pollute local creeks.

“All of those things, when you add them up, that’s when they have the impact. The more, the merrier,” Carter said.

Wolftail says he’d be homeless if not for LaBaTeYeh, and he’s learning a lot, even from the vegetables that can’t talk.

“I’ve always set things back. I’ve always been like, I can do it tomorrow,” he said.

It’s the garden that’s taught him to plant seeds now. And then, watch them grow.

For more information on how to get involved in similar projects, visit stewardshippartners.org

To learn more about available resources for rain gardens, cisterns and other green infrastructure tools, visit 12000raingardens.org and click on the resources tab.

Copyright 2017 KING

Intersections – Green Infrastructure Summit 2017 Keynote Majora Carter

Majora Carter, a leading urban revitalization strategist,  will be speaking on the role green infrastructure plays in creating equitable cities and towns at the second annual Green Infrastructure Summit.

What: The Green Infrastructure Summit brings together diverse leaders from Puget Sound cities and towns, governments, nonprofits and the business community to map the strategic role of urban green infrastructure in our shared clean water future.

Who: Keynote speaker Majora Carter is a MacArthur-award-winning activist who has built a career working for environmental justice, creating and implementing numerous green infrastructure projects and policies, and job training and placement systems. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter brought the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she scored $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development. Her TED talk “Greening the Ghetto has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

 

When: Keynote Speech: 9 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 16

Where:  Mountaineers Club, 7700 Sandpoint Way NE, Seattle, WA

Learn More: Green Infrastructure Summit is presented by City Habitats, co-convened by The Nature Conservancy; Stewardship Partners, City of Seattle, and Washington Environmental Council. Website: 12000Raingardens.org/summit.

 

A Tale about the Swale on Yale

Block 11, located in the Cascade Neighborhood in South Lake Union is one of the next in a series of Vulcan projects slated to be certified under Salmon-Safe Urban Standards. Designed by Runberg Architects, the proposed development at 1255 Harrison Street will add considerable punch to the fight to clean up our waterways through public private innovation.

This 384-unit, full-block development includes the installation of the second half of the Swale on Yale, a joint venture project with Seattle Public Utilities to treat stormwater before it reaches Lake Union. The newest two block-long swales will be situated on the eastern and western margins of the development, along the Pontius and Yale Avenue sides of the block. The first half of the Swale on Yale was completed in 2013, alongside Vulcan’s former property, Stack House and Supply Laundry development, one block north.

Together, the four swales will treat stormwater from 435 acres of Capitol Hill streets and sidewalks annually. The Swale on Yale project works by slowing and capturing the stormwater in a diversion vault.

A primary design goal of the project is to create pedestrian-friendly community spaces by connecting with Cascade Park to the west and aligning with the alleys of the Stackhouse apartments to the north and blocks to the south.

Green roofs will be installed on top of the new building and at the first level. All other roof drainage, not captured by one of the green roofs will be directed to one of five bioretention planters, the total size of which exceeds the optimal size for this type of best management practice according to the City of Seattle’s green stormwater infrastructure guidelines. These features provide additional stormwater management benefits beyond regulatory requirements. Other strategies of the project which contribute to meeting the Salmon-Safe standards include native drought tolerant landscape design, on-site rainwater harvesting for irrigation; high performance irrigation and water fixtures for conservation and a commitment to Integrated Pest Management in long term operations. The contractor for the project is Exxel Pacific, a Salmon-Safe Accredited Contractor.

Family, Friendship and Conservation

On December 8th, the Stewardship Partners staff and Board of Directors met for our annual ritual of sharing the accomplishments and lessons of the closing year as we looked ahead to our goals for 2017. It is a fairly unconventional approach to a year-end wrap-up that is designed to let each staff member share directly with the board. Afterwards, as we gathered together in the office, we were collectively struck by how special the Stewardship Partners model is and how it fosters not only a sense of collaboration, but also family. We are drawn to this organization because our jobs are meaningful and our coworkers are people we look forward to seeing every day.

We have come together because of shared values around caring for the environment and a commitment to ensuring that our lands and waters are healthy, not only for their own sake, but also because we want to do our part so that people can reap the benefits of a vital landscape for generations to come. Our drive is ethical, perhaps, but it is also deeply personal. Each of us can trace our commitment to a specific time in our childhood either spent outdoors or where someone in our lives encouraged us to explore in some capacity. These moments made an indelible impression. We are shaped by the rivers, lakes, streams, bays, cities and adventures that defined our earliest experiences. We learned to care, to seek and to play in both natural and urban public spaces in ways that sparked a lifelong sense of purpose. Our people and our approach to inclusive solutions-oriented resource enhancement and conservation reflect who we are.  Stewardship Partners’ programs are as fun and engaging as they are powerful.

Join in our efforts – volunteer, donate, attend a workshop, buy Salmon-Safe products, build your own rain garden, adopt a buffer on the Snoqualmie River – you may find, as we have, that you and yours will be thankful for the experience.