Rain Gardens and Cisterns Make for Good Neighbors

Stone Gossard is featured along with the Orca in a new campaign about grants to property owners. 

A few months ago, Stewardship Partners was awarded a grant to spread the news about incentives  for rain gardens and cisterns in King County. The challenge? To reach those unsure about rain gardens and cisterns or who would like to help the environment but also have other pressing concerns about their property such as water damage, high water bills, or landscaping. The 12,000 Rain Gardens campaign started in 2011, so Stewardship Partners figured that most people who were already primed and ready for a rain garden or a cistern had likely installed one. But what about that next layer of folks? Those for whom it can seem like a financial stretch – but are amenable to taking steps that help their property as well as Puget Sound, provided they can afford it. 

After working with Board members Cal McAllister and Samantha Neukom to identify the opportunity, Stewardship Partners gathered the talents of Merlino Media Group and Northbound to create a media plan and creative campaign to reach property owners in the King County area. Our goal? To let them know that there are grants available that can cover  $4,000 toward installing a rain garden or cistern and that by doing so, they can create a win-win. The first win is improving property: rain gardens can improve drainage, dry out basements and decrease mold, and cisterns can significantly lower summer water bills. Rain gardens can also be a beautiful way to add landscaping to your yard. The second win is that by installing a rain garden or cistern, you’re also helping your human, orca, salmon, and other wildlife neighbors that cohabitate with us here in Puget Sound. 

The creative idea came from a mix of Pacific Northwest quirky attitude with lovable, custom animations of our fauna neighbors, featuring the Orca, the Octopus, and the Salmon. In posters, print ads, and bus side ads, you see our animal neighbors installing their own rain gardens and encouraging us, their human neighbors, to do the same. Radio ads feature Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, a rain garden and cistern owner himself, chatting with his orca, salmon, and octopus neighbors. In one radio ad he notes, “if you want to keep your basement dry and the Sound clean, cisterns and rain gardens are a beautiful way to help.”

Stone Gossard, The Neighbor

Monisa Brown, The Orca

The campaign’s goal is to reach King County residents who may be eligible for one of several grants that could cover up to 100% of the cost of installing a cistern or rain garden and to let them know the multiple benefits of doing so. With a simple click or two at www.rainchangers.org, property owners can check their eligibility and set up a visit from a local certified contractor.   

Check out RainChangers in the news at https://www.seattletimes.com/life/garden/installing-a-rain-garden-you-could-be-eligible-for-a-rebate/

View the press release at https://www.stewardshippartners.org/new-program-offers-free-rain-gardens-and-cisterns/

Summit 2021 Highlights and Call for Action

Looking back on six years of Green Infrastructure Summits, some things have changed and others have stayed the same. That first year, I had this phrase I couldn’t stop saying about how this region was poised to become the “silicon valley of green infrastructure.” I felt that we had the necessary components for an “innovation ecosystem” that could lead the world in nature-based solutions to complex, “wicked problems” like stormwater, climate change, and environmental justice if we could “connect the dots” across sectors (.com, .gov, .org, .edu)  and “bust silos.” With all those catchphrases, I’m lucky no one kicked me out of the PNW to go live in the real silicon valley! Creating a host committee that shared many of those ideas and brought so many more of their own took that initial vision and made it into something that the whole green infrastructure sector can feel proud of.  

The summit host committee is the heart of the event, and this year proved that yet again. From identifying a unifying theme to selecting speakers and sessions, right down to redefining and helping de-colonize the event name, this year’s summit host committee put on a fantastic event against the odds, in the face of multiple pandemics (e.g. COVID and Global-scale Zoom Fatigue) a societal reckoning around race and equity, a climate crisis, and a more divided society than we’ve seen in decades. Yet we all gathered. We all shared openly, even vulnerably. And we participated in difficult conversations that opened doors, and learned about collaborations that poked holes in silos and brought down barriers. We heard about agencies “failing forward” (did .govs learn that from our .com colleagues?), community needs that were put first and ultimately supported by stormwater funding. It is humbling and inspiring at the same time to see where we started and the significant progress we’ve achieved as a community and as a green infrastructure movement. There’s a long way to go before we reach our shared goals of human and natural systems in balance, the end of any one dominant culture, and an infrastructure system that grows better with age rather than deteriorating. But looking back at where we started and forward into the unknown, it’s possible to imagine all those things. And if we can imagine them, we can create them.   

If you missed this year’s summit, or if you joined us but want to revisit anything that was shared, please visit the summit webpage at: www.12000raingardens.org/summit2021. All the presentations are available to watch, and additional resources from the event can be downloaded at that webpage.  

Written by Aaron Clark, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea

Building off of the 2020 Green Infrastructure Summit and events since, it is more apparent than ever that we can’t merely fix and put back the stuff that breaks (due to a pandemic, racial inequity, economic downturn, etc.). Instead, we need better stuff. So this year, the theme of the summit is “Evolving Green Infrastructure: adapting systems for better outcomes.” 

Up-to-date info can be found on the summit webpage. There are many details still in the offing, but below is what we know:

  •  This summit will be held virtually over the mornings of March 25th and 26th, 2021 (mark your calendars).
  • After five years of calling this event the “Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit” we are pleased to announce that we are renaming it the “Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea.”  This re-naming is in recognition and honor of the original Indigenous inhabitants and stewards of this land and water, the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, since time immemorial. This re-naming also underscores our continued commitment to identify and implement solutions that protect and enhance the Salish Sea basin, through collaboration, best practices, racial equity, and community engagement. 
  • If you have a topic or story that you would like to share, please fill out this simple online abstract submission form. Your submission does not need to include details. Many of the best summit presentations started as a simple sentence. But the deadline for submissions is January 26th (extended), so don’t delay!
  • This event will give us all a chance to connect across geographies and sectors, discuss and learn about topics as far reaching as: leadership in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties; green infrastructure across the urban-rural continuum; whole watershed systems; storytelling; maintenance; stimulus spending; climate resilience; tires; silos; racial equity; the WA environmental justice task force; youth leadership; career pathways; the state of the science and what works and what doesn’t. 
  • Financial sponsors make this event possible. If your organization would like to learn more, please email Aaron Clark.