StormCon, the nation’s largest stormwater conference was recently held in Bellevue – first time that this gathering of municipal leaders on stormwater have come to the Pacific Northwest. There is little doubt that this region is a veritable Silicon Valley of green infrastructure solutions to stormwater.
Why do we invest so much in solving stormwater? Perhaps, it is because we are already famous for our rain, or perhaps it is our 100 year history of pioneering innovation from airplanes to coffee to software. We think it is because stormwater exemplifies the kind of complex, wicked problem that, once understood, begs creativity and dedication because individual solutions can cascade down into systems that can heal humanity’s broken relationship with nature. Pretty profound stuff.
In this spirit, a group of non-profit leaders have recently developed a Puget Sound-wide campaign called City Habitats. Started by Stewardship Partners, The Nature Conservancy of Washington, Washington Environmental Council and the City of Seattle, City Habitats has now engaged over 100 partners from across the region and across all sectors. With significant investments and support from The Boeing Company, this network is accelerating and amplifying the region’s cutting-edge leadership in stormwater and green infrastructure through collaborative partnership and coordination of efforts. We are “connecting the dots” by bringing .com’s, .org’s, .gov’s and .edu’s together to share ideas, identify emerging issues and opportunities and avoid reinventing the wheel.
City Habitats was represented at StormCon 2017 with 10 full exhibition booths, loosely organized as a “Village”. We presented solutions, ideas, projects and programs from 13 of our partners. StormCon had never had non-profits, universities or government-led programs participate in the exhibition hall before and the response was resounding: we need to do this every year!
Our participants included: from the .edu, Washington Stormwater Center (WSU and UW-led), UW Green Futures Lab and Evergreen College’s Center of Sustainable Infrastructure to the .gov, RainWise program (Seattle and King County-led) and the Puget Sound Caucus of Conservation Districts, to .org’s TNC, ILFI, Stewardship Partners, Salmon-Safe, ECOSS, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, City Habitats, and Earth Corps, City Habitats is demonstrating that collaboration and innovation are critical to the bold vision of actually solving stormwater.