Feeling Inspired After 2024 Summit

Thank you to all who attended the Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea at Cascadia College on Friday, March 29, 2024! This year, the theme of the Summit was Shaping Infrastructure through Collective History, Learnings, and Big Ideas. We have historic work ahead of us if we want to see change. This year included discussions on long-term maintenance, monitoring, indigenous perspectives and approaches, and addressing 6PPD-quinone.

We saw so much engagement and networking between attendees, excitement for future research and partnerships, and a real commitment to increasing the green job workforce. We hope you all went back into the world feeling inspired to continue the critical work that you do!

Many thanks to our wonderful speakers, host committee, sponsors, advisory committee, Cascadia Consulting, and everyone who was able to attend. We also want to give a big shout out to host committee member, Jesse Williams from Jacobs, who provided the content for the “Charting the Waves of Time” timeline, as well as to all of you who provided additional events and reflections.

The 8th Annual Green Infrastructure Summit: An Amazing Convergence of Like Minds and Hearts

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.

The Summit is Returning in Person!

Stewardship Partners and the Summit Host Committee are excited to announce that after 3 years in virtual formats, the Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea will have be coming back in person on March 17, 2023 at Cascadia College in Bothell.

Over the last 3 years we brought attention to regions beyond the central Seattle and King County area to the South, the North, and the West, and now we are back in the middle. We hope you will save the date and watch for updates on the Summit website. Even as we shine a spotlight on the greater Seattle area and meet up in person there, this event is always about sharing stories and leadership in the field of green infrastructure from across the whole Salish Sea region. Please join us and help turn the tide of polluted runoff.

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