Celebrating Tết with stormwater outreach

By Kevin Duong, Multicultural Outreach Associate

Tết is the Vietnamese celebration of the Lunar New Year. This year, ECOSS and I celebrated Tết with the Hoi Thanh Tin Lanh Hy Vong church. Kids were up and singing and the Pastor and members provided words of wisdom. After the service celebration was Tết dinner, featuring traditional food like bitter melon soup, braised pork and Banh Trung (glutinous rice wrapped with mung beans and banana leaves). True to ECOSS’ spirit, dishes were served with compostable dinnerware, helping the church reduce garbage waste.

After dinner, we offered an education session with members and kids who came up to learn about stormwater pollution and the benefits of cisterns and rain gardens.

For this event and others, I had the pleasure of working with Cindy Nguyen, who was awesome intern with a bubbly personality. Cindy is a student at Colby College with an interest in environmental law.

ECOSS intern Cindy Nguyen speaking to a church member about rain gardens and cisterns. Photo Credit: Sam Le.

And over the last month, she helped deliver ECOSS and RainWise messages and resources to the Vietnamese community. Despite the short time frame, her hard work to perfect her Vietnamese and her commitment to community outreach was outstanding. Thank you Cindy for working with us and being part of the ECOSS family.

Check out other multicultural outreach work here

We’re hiring! Join our multicultural outreach team

Are you passionate about environmental justice? Do you want to make a difference in your community? Join our multicultural outreach team!

ECOSS empowers diverse businesses and communities to become more environmentally resilient and sustainable. In 2018, we conducted outreach in a dozen languages covering topics ranging across clean energy, stormwater pollution, waste management and more.

The key to our approach is hiring from within the communities that we serve. Our outreach staff understand the communities’ cultures and needs because they are part of those communities. We are expanding this team so that all communities can thrive and be environmentally sustainable.

Are you a bilingual/multilingual individual who would be excited to promote environmental justice with our Chinese, Latinx, Khmer and/or East African communities? Apply to join our multicultural outreach team!

Go here to read the full job description and application instructions

 

Over 10,000 businesses and community members served in 2018

“My English is very limited. Not a single cleaning product available in the market is labeled in my primary language, but after this presentation I can at least recognize products labeled with Caution, Hazard, Poison, and Danger.”

The passing of a calendar year is often a time for reflection and celebration. With the recent transition into a Gregorian New Year along with Lunar New Years celebrations starting on February 5 (Chinese New Year, Tết, Seollal, Losar, Tsagaan Sar), now is the perfect time to reflect on ECOSS’ impacts for sustainable businesses and diverse communities in 2018:

But outreach and community engagement is not just about numbers. We empower sustainable businesses and communities of color to improve the lives of people. Feedback from businesses, communities and partners is critical for improving the education and services we provide.

We served over 10,000 businesses and community members in 2018. And 2019 looks to be even more impactful. New Arrivals is expanding to more communities. Waste management outreach is shifting from simply recycling and composting conversations to education around food waste reduction. And our RainWise outreach continues to grow in ambition. Look forward to the stories in 2019!

Learn more about our projects

Want to learn more about the individual successes that contributed to these impacts? Check out the links below:

Want to help us continue this impactful outreach and education? Give a gift for sustainable businesses and diverse communities.

Partnering with fishers to promote healthy fish consumption

“My vision for the Duwamish is a clean river, not just for my family but for all Cambodians, Vietnamese, Mexicans, and other communities that use the river.” – Soun-Hour Pov, Community Health Advocate 

Many immigrants and refugees were fishers before they came to the United States. Now living in Seattle, these fishers naturally turn to the Duwamish River – Seattle’s only river – to continue fishing. But not everything in the river is natural.

Going over safe and healthy seafood to catch along the Duwamish River.

The Duwamish River is contaminated by toxicants from a history of industrial use that made the river a hazardous waste disposal site. In early 2000s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named the river a Superfund site, signifying it as one of the most toxic sites in the country. They then began leading the cleanup process of chemical pollution (such as PCBs). All fish, crab and shellfish that spend their entire lives in the river, however, still remain toxic to consume. Migratory salmon are one of the few exceptions as they do not reside in the polluted river sediment.

Not everyone has easy access to that knowledge. ECOSS has been working with Public Health of Seattle & King County (PHSKC) to train community members to become community health advocates who then disseminate information on healthy fishing to their .

Hear from two of the community health advocates in interviews with Voices for Clean Water.

Fishers outreach at Spokane Bridge in Seattle.

Learn more about EPA’s Fun to Catch, Toxic to Eat program!

Under this Public Health program for EPA, ECOSS hires from within the communities we serve to promote environmental justice. Working within Vietnamese, Cambodian and Latinx communities for many years, we complement PHSKC with expertise in community engagement and culturally-appropriate outreach.

Through this program, community members learn from each other and dialogue with PHSKC and EPA to protect their health while continuing fishing traditions.

Thank you PHSKC and EPA for partnering with us to help protect the health of diverse communities!

Multicultural outreach extends green outdoor access to diverse communities

“ECOSS’ ambassador model and community-based work is invaluable and irreplaceable. Their successful outreach is a major achievement of the Trailhead Direct program.” — Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Bhutanese community used the Trailhead Direct service to travel to Mt. Si. Photo Credit: Allan Kafley, ECOSS.

Over the summer and autumn of 2018, ECOSS led 65 hikers from diverse communities on hikes throughout Washington! For numerous hikers, these trips were only possible thanks to Trailhead Direct, a service launched by King County Parks and King County Metro.

Many immigrant and refugee communities around Puget Sound yearn for opportunities to connect with nature, but face language, cultural and lifestyle barriers to accessing the outdoors. Transportation access is one of the greatest of these barriers.

“Trailhead Direct is a great way to protect our environment by not driving personal cars.” — Bhutanese community member.

King County’s Trailhead Direct service seeks to lower the transportation barrier by providing an affordable alternative to driving to faraway hiking destinations. At the same price point as any other bus ride in the city, a Trailhead Direct bus will drop you off and pick you up at trailheads at Issaquah Alps, Mt. Si and Mailbox Peak. And by partnering with ECOSS, Trailhead Direct reached communities in 2018 that would otherwise have never heard of this transportation option.

Trailhead Direct enabled the Cambodian community to bring all family members hiking, from youth to seniors. Photo Credit: Sophorn Sim / ECOSS.

To help King County learn about the accessibility of Trailhead Direct and improve the service, ECOSS led hiking trips via Trailhead Direct with members of the Bhutanese, Cambodian, Korean and Latinx communities. In partnership with King County Parks and The Wilderness Society, we also developed surveys that gauged participants’ outdoors experience and solicited feedback on the Trailhead Direct trips.

During our outreach, 53% of hikers were new to the activity and 42% were youth or seniors. And regardless of age or experience, all hikers enjoyed Trailhead Direct and would recommend it to others. Check out our infographic summarizing the season’s outreach for other statistics and feedback from communities!

ECOSS’ New Arrivals program connects immigrants and refugees with environmental education and outdoor experiences that align with their interests. We look forward to continuing partnerships to ensure diverse communities can take advantage of Trailhead Direct service.

Check out other New Arrivals activities

Thank you to King County Parks and The Wilderness Society for your generous funding and support. And thank you to Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for connecting us to the opportunity to conduct this outreach. We’re proud to lower the transportation barrier to the outdoors and enable connections to nature for all.

Green business education achieves new milestones in 2018

Polluted stormwater runoff is the #1 pollution source around Puget Sound. Businesses are helping mitigate that pollution.

Spill kit demonstration. Photo Credit: Enviroissues.

During heavy rainfall, water picks up pollutants from impervious surfaces like roads and parking lots. This water flows directly from storm drains to our waterways, harming the health of communities and aquatic life. Industries and municipalities are major originators of the oils, fuels, metals and other pollutants that ultimately contaminate Puget Sound waters. But some businesses want to change that and ECOSS provides the tools to do so.

In 2018, we visited over 1,400 businesses, delivered nearly 650 spill kits and provided spill training and prevention plans in more than 30 Puget Sound cities and counties. Spill kits help businesses keep spilled materials from reaching storm drains in streets, alleys and parking lots.

Outreach is personalized to each business. Photo Credit: Kelvin Kong / ECOSS.

And our offerings for stormwater management workshops and trainings nearly doubled in 2018. Seven industry-focused workshops reached almost 100 individuals and over 80 companies. And 18 municipal-focused workshops trained 625 municipal staff across 37 jurisdictions, agencies and businesses. These workshops help attendees understand permitting requirements, improve stormwater management practices and protect local waters and watersheds.

Donate to empower more green businesses

Help us expand our business outreach for greener businesses, cleaner waters and healthier communities!

Kent recycling makes tons of difference

Blue bins are now practically synonymous with recycling. Many know that soda cans and old newspapers go into recycling bins, destined to become other useful products.

But what about old electronics? Emptied propane tanks? Scrap metal leftover from a home project? These and many other materials can be recycled too, though often not as easily. Since 2016, ECOSS has worked with the City of Kent to help King County residents recycle less-common items such as refrigerators, concrete, tires and mattresses.

Learn more about Kent recycling events

In 2018, we helped with three free community recycling events, which collectively welcomed over 4,000 vehicles full of recyclables. The events altogether collected over 3,000 toilets, mattresses and other individual items plus over 300 tons of material like scrap metal, bulky wood debris and concrete!

ECOSS strives to make environmentally sustainable practices accessible to all. Many people are interested in reducing their environmental impact. We empower people to act on those interests and to let others know how they can make a difference, too.

Check out our other waste reduction projects

November 27 is #GivingTuesday

Give today to promote environmental solutions in local communities and your gift will be doubled for #GivingTuesday!

Multicultural Outreach Associate digging into his work, helping build a rain garden at Sylvester Middle School. Photo Credit: Leda Costa.

Your donation will fund projects like our RainWise outreach, tackling Puget Sound’s #1 source of pollution: stormwater. 2018 marks the addition of over 200,000 gallons per year in stormwater management from RainWise demonstration site installations.

Promote environmental sustainability

Kevin Duong, Multicultural Outreach Associate, explains how this program is essential:

“This year, the RainWise outreach team completed our first collaboration with a restaurant. Young’s Restaurant joins other important demonstration sites like Co Lam Temple and Pyung An Presbyterian Church to educate diverse communities about stormwater pollution and what they can do at home, like installing rain gardens and cisterns.

At Young’s Restaurant, I had the pleasure to work with Janice, Ella and Mr. Van Young, who are all so happy about their three giant cisterns. The collected rainwater waters their mini vegetable garden while preventing flooding during the rainy season. They really appreciate the RainWise program, which helped install the three cisterns.”

Donate today

The importance of accessible environmental connections

ECOSS and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust partnered to provide environmental education, cultural history and habitat restoration opportunities for diverse communities as part of Duwamish Alive!

Allan Kafley, Multicultural Outreach Manager, brought the Bhutanese community to the Duwamish Hill Preserve to connect and give back to their environment. Check out the video to hear how the community values these volunteering events.

See the other two videos from this event:

 

 

 

The New Arrivals program promotes access to these and other experiences for immigrants and refugees.

Learn more about New Arrivals

Thank you Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for partnering with us and sharing your restoration expertise. Thank you Bhutanese Community Resource Center for helping bring volunteers from the Bhutanese community! Thank you to Rotary Club of Seattle for funding environmental equity work. And thank you Duwamish Alive Coalition for including us to make environmental education and connections accessible to all!

Habitat restoration and environmental education go hand in hand

ECOSS and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust partnered to provide environmental education, cultural history and habitat restoration opportunities for diverse communities as part of Duwamish Alive!

Mountains to Sound’s environmental educator, Lizzy Dowd, talks about what habitat restoration looks like and the native plants that make the Duwamish Hill Preserve thrive.

See the other two videos from this event:

 

 

 

The New Arrivals program promotes access to these and other experiences for immigrants and refugees.

Learn more about New Arrivals

Thank you Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for partnering with us and sharing your restoration expertise. Thank you Bhutanese Community Resource Center for helping bring volunteers from the Bhutanese community! Thank you to Rotary Club of Seattle for funding environmental equity work. And thank you Duwamish Alive Coalition for including us to make environmental education and connections accessible to all!