South Park Rain Garden

Environmental Equity—One Rain Garden at a Time

Polluted runoff (aka stormwater) is the #1 source of pollution in Puget Sound. Rain gardens and cisterns help collect, absorb and filter polluted runoff before it reaches storm drains and ultimately our waterways.

To help diverse communities access the RainWise rebate program, (which helps homeowners build rain gardens and cisterns), ECOSS recruited multicultural contractors and worked with them every step of the way in becoming RainWise certified. This program invests in our communities by creating local jobs, supports our economy and reduces pollution in our waterways.

We invited Hop Tran, a contractor recruited by ECOSS to share his experience with us.    

RainWise certified contractor, Hop waving

How did you get involved with RainWise?                                                                    We were first approached by ECOSS outreach staff and they provided me with all the information I needed to become a RainWise-certified contractor. ECOSS helped me fulfill the requirements, materials were even translated into my language and ECOSS attended the training with me to translate complex terms.

After the training, ECOSS helped me navigate and complete the RainWise process by helping me to understand and use the website and forms for the program.

What would you tell other landscaping companies about RainWise?                    RainWise has been a great benefit to me and my company. At first, I was a little intimidated, but ECOSS offered a lot of help to overcome any barriers. The city inspectors are very nice and knowledgeable. They are always willing to help and answer questions. Also, ECOSS staff worked closely with me and made me feel comfortable and confident to move forward with RainWise.

How has RainWise helped your business?
RainWise has helped my business grow by about 20-30%. Once you get the basics down, the work is pretty straight forward. It’s just a matter of working closely with the homeowner to keep them happy and closely with the inspectors to make sure all guidelines are followed. Through RainWise, I have learned better communication skills, how to fill out forms and interacted with City/County staff for the first time.

“Hop was very professional and I’m very happy with
the results of his work.”

RainWise homeowner & Hop Gardening customer

The contractor training has helped bring rain gardens and cisterns to more communities and provided economic and professional development for local garden and landscaping businesses.To date, we’ve added nine multicultural RainWise contractors and collectively they’ve completed 18 RainWise projects in five languages.

If you’re interested in our next round of training beginning in the fall, contact ruben@ecoss.org

Hop’s Gardening is available for rain gardens, cisterns and other landscaping needs. He can be reached at 425-306-1380.

 

ECOSS Staff Wins Top Prize!

Sophorn Sim was honored with Sustainable Seattle’s “Sustainability Hero Award” for her work with immigrant and refugee communities. The award recognizes an individual who has made an exceptionally significant and inspiring contribution to the sustainability movement in the Puget Sound region.

As an ECOSS Community Outreach Associate, Sophorn meets underserved communities where they are and connects them to environmental resources and education. She’s reached thousands of people on topics like clean water, stormwater pollution and healthy fishing on the Duwamish River.

2017 Sustainability Hero Sophorn Sim with her award

2017 Sustainability Hero Sophorn Sim

Sophorn is a trusted community leader because of her passion for the environment and her own experience as a refugee.

“My community comes from a war-torn country, it takes time to build this trusted relationship with my people. I like doing presentations and taking them on tours to see where their drinking water comes from and where it goes. I like showing them how their daily living could impact the environment and could impact their lives.” 

The ECOSS staff and board are incredibly proud to work side by side with Sophorn and are thrilled she is being recognized for her dedication to sustainable communities.

Check out the Sustainability Awards photo album and learn about the other winners here.

Super Hero on Staff!

Congratulations to ECOSS Community Outreach Associate, Sophorn Sim. She’s a finalist for Sustainable Seattle’s Sustainability Hero Award.

We are thrilled Sophorn’s commitment and energy to building resilient immigrant communities through environmental education and experiences are being recognized. Click to read more about her work.

This year’s award focuses on an individual who has built bridges or forged alliances with underrepresented members of our community.

The winner will be revealed on March 3rd at the Sustainability Leadership Awards Dinner and Fundraiser.

A Healthy Environment Speaks All Languages

Sophorn Sim’s living room was packed. Children sprawled out on the rug and every couch cushion and chair was filled as the group faced the projector screen. It read: “How many of you recycle more since the last presentation?” Sophorn translated in Cambodian, and more than half the room raised their hands.

Source: A Healthy Environment Speaks All Languages

ECOSS meets people where they are, in their language and sometimes in a staff member’s living room. Cecilia Garza with Social Venture Partners went inside the multicultural world of ECOSS outreach and shows how our staff is bridging knowledge and cultural gaps.

 

 

 

Your Support Bridges Gaps

Do you know the human impact your support of ECOSS has?

Allan arrived here after living in a plastic hut in a refugee camp in Nepal from the age of 2 to 18. He and his family, and thousands of others, were driven from Bhutan after the country implemented a “One Nation, One People” policy in the 1990s.

allan

Generous donations made it possible for ECOSS to hire Allan. He helped design the New Arrivals program so we could better understand the refugee community’s interest in the environment, engage them on real issues and encourage them to experience, connect with, and enjoy their new home in Washington.

Your donations fuel outreach for other immigrant communities and promote environmental awareness and responsibility.

There’s never been a more urgent time to reach out and connect with other people – to help bridge gaps in language, culture, knowledge and experience –that is what ECOSS does best.

Thank you for your generosity and joining our work to connect with people and create a healthier environment for us all.

 

As Seen on TV!

Watch ECOSS’ Frances Kuo “making it rain” on KOMO News.

Frances used our watershed model to show how easily polluted runoff enters our lakes, rivers and Puget Sound. Rain gardens and cisterns are effective solutions to this pollution (and prevents flooding) by helping to filter and slow the flow of this runoff.

ECOSS is partnered with the RainWise rebate program that helps eligible homeowners pay for a beautiful rain garden or cistern on their property.

 

Building Environmental Equity

Ever moved to a new city and experienced how disorienting it can be?  Now imagine you’re in a new country with a new language and everything is different.

ECOSS’ New Arrivals Program helps immigrants and refugees bridge the knowledge and cultural gaps they face in their new home.

Bhutanese New Arrivals participants spoke with ECOSS’ Allan Kafley about seeing the source of their drinking water on a Cedar River Watershed tour.

By hiring from the communities we serve, we meet people where they are and in their language to introduce them to healthy fishing practices, water quality issues, green cleaning and more.

This program is generously supported by the Satterberg Foundation.

Summer Socializing

ECOSS hosted a summer social back in June at Pyramid Alehouse and Brewery.

There was a lot of talent and history in the room, including business members who’ve partnered with ECOSS since the early days and all three of our executive directors.

Current ECOSS Executive Director with the two former EDs

The ECOSS Executive Directors (from left to right): Kevin Burrell, second ED, Cluny McCaffrey, current ED & Charlie Cunniff, founding ED

Get social with us by signing up for our newsletter, making a donation or learning more about us.

A BIG THANK YOU!

GiveBIG 2016 was a great success for ECOSS. Through your generosity, we are thrilled to report:

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  • We increased our 2016 GiveBIG donors     by 300%
  • Our donations tripled over last year’s GiveBIG
  • Together, we raised $4,545 dollars

 

 

The total amount will grow with the stretch donation from The Seattle Foundation and matching funds from donor employers including Anchor QEA and Boeing.

We greatly appreciate everyone who donated and helped us reach crush our goals. Together, we are helping communities and businesses make sustainable choices through needed tools and services.

We can’t do our work without you and appreciate your support. If you missed GiveBIG, it’s never too late to give.

New ECOSS Leadership

In case you missed our exciting news, we have a new executive director. Cluny McCaffrey is only the third executive director in our 23-year history and she recognizes the impact of her predecessors.

cluny-and-charllie

“Stepping into the role of ECOSS executive director, I am aware of the big shoes I have to fill,” said McCaffrey after sitting down with Charlie Cunniff, ECOSS’ first executive director and one of our founders (pictured above with Cluny).

There aren’t many people who don’t know (and love) Charlie. He built a solid foundation for this organization, which was then carried forward by Kevin Burrell. Kevin’s leadership further strengthened and expanded our services to diverse communities and businesses.

Today, as we look toward ECOSS’ future, the staff and board are committed to growing ECOSS, building and strengthening our programs, expanding our outreach into multicultural communities and engaging more people in our mission’s work.