On February 7th, the forecast was dire. Snow-pocolypse was imminent. Stewardship Partner’s marquee professional event of the year, the Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit, was scheduled for the next day. Food had been prepared and purchased, 250 people registered, 40 speakers confirmed, agendas printed, cars packed to the gills, but the choice was clear, we had to reschedule and let everyone know immediately to make sure none of our partners would be in harm’s way from what ended up being a multi-week winter storm across the region.
Flash forward six weeks as 260 people arrive at Cascadia College’s Salmon-Safe certified campus and begin to connect and reconnect with fellow Green Infrastructure leaders from the whole Puget Sound region and from each of the four sectors (connecting the dots: .com, .gov, .org, and .edu). It couldn’t have been a more uplifting contrast. The sun was out, and virtually every speaker was able to reschedule for the new date of March 22.
And what an amazing event we had! We grounded ourselves in a history of human relationships to land, water, fish, trees, and whales that dates back 10,000 years to the last ice age, and we consciously chose to create a learning and collaborative community. We applauded the ways that many redevelopment efforts are adding density and jobs while simultaneously reversing negative environmental impacts and we dove deep into the sticky issue of how we are going to retrofit a century’s worth of hardscaping to treat our wealth of rain like the vital resource it is.
Our attendees were challenged to make this emerging and growing field a source of good jobs and education for the passionate and increasingly diverse generation entering today’s job market who don’t see themselves reflected in our ranks nor see pathways to change that fact. We laid out 16 challenge topics to network and build coalitions around, and 6 breakout sessions to dive deeper into specific hot topics related to retrofits and voluntary green stormwater infrastructure.
There is no way to summarize just how hopeful and meaningful of a day it was, but when co-chair of the Orca Task Force, Stephanie Solien, took the stage at the end of the day to call us to action, it was so great to hear her say that it was in fact she who felt called to action by the summit and the amazing group of doers who showed up and take action every day. I think that sentiment was shared by all and is the reason that we are already looking forward to the 5th Annual Green Infrastructure Summit in 2020. And maybe we’ll stick with late March instead of February! Huge thanks to the amazing team at SP, truly all hands were on deck, plus our brilliant host committee and generous sponsors, volunteers, and all those people who adjusted their calendars to make it work.
Thank you to our 2019 Host Committee Members & Sponsors who helped make this event a huge success!