It seems like absence really does make the heart grow fonder. After 3 years of virtual Summits, on March 17th, we were finally able to gather about 230 leaders of the green infrastructure movement together in person (with a couple dozen more joining us online). It was great to see everyone (and the sunshine didn’t hurt either)! Faces and perspectives new and old gathered at Cascadia College in Bothell for the 8th annual Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea. The host committee’s chosen theme of “money as medicine, historic investments are a historic opportunity for healing*”, helped us all consider our work with shared goals of healing harms, environmental, social, and otherwise.
Over the course of 8 summits in 8 years, a lot has happened. But one theme has persisted throughout: How can we repair environmental damage in a way that heals our social wounds as well? Or put in the terms that Host committee member Bridget Ray spoke, the people here belong to this land, are of this land, not the other way around, and when we work to heal and care for one, we must keep that relationship in mind. This is happening. Investments in green infrastructure are taking community-identified goals and needs into account. Some of those goals relate to workforce and career pathways. Others talked about the very rich complexity of community-centered strategies. Green infrastructure is increasingly helping create accessible outdoor spaces in the form of stormwater parks.
Most of the sessions (all the ones in the auditorium) were recorded and will remain available for you to watch and share with your colleagues on the summit webpage (along with content from past summits).
“While I didn’t know it at the time, this summit was my last in my current role. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding send off than that. I am profoundly grateful for this community, your vision, your love for this land and all the people that belong to it.” -A note from Aaron Clark
*Acknowledgement to Edgar Villanueva who popularized the concept ‘money as medicine’ in his important book, Decolonizing Wealth.