Celebrating how water shapes our culture

The 2018 Water Festival brought communities together to celebrate their cultures and their connections to water and nature.

Thank you all for being a part of the celebration! Check out this highlights reel, put together by Chanthadeth “Lucky” Chanthalangsy:

Stay up to date with achievements in multicultural outreach and environmental sustainability by signing up for our monthly newsletterliking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter!

Thank you to our sponsors: Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Boeing, LaFarge, Port of Seattle, King County Public Health, King County Waste Treatment Division, the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and Trailhead Direct.

Congratulations to the Community Health Advocates!

For some, this was the first graduation ceremony they had ever attended. The excitement was palpable. But this was no regular graduation ceremony.

This was the graduation of some of the most creative members of Seattle’s Latino/a, Vietnamese and Khmer communities, celebrating their completion of training to become Community Health Advocates. Over the previous few months, ECOSS facilitated trainings about local environmental health risks and helped the advocates practice their outreach to communicate these risks to their communities.

Group photo of all Community Health Advocates and facilitators. Photo Credit: Hannah Letinich.

Raising awareness about environmental health requires actively engaging community members. This means doing away with word-dense information packets. Instead, community leaders instill their culture into the outreach lessons.

And the graduation ceremony would not be complete without the same level of creativity! Though there were inspirational, heartfelt graduation speeches aplenty, the Community Health Advocates and facilitators also strengthened their relationships with team building activity, such as an interactive string game.

Interactive string game. Photo Credit: Hannah Letinich.

Ultimately, this project is not just about training health advocates; it is also about helping community members become community leaders. Advocates are empowered to be the voice for their communities in engaging public agencies, and they build skills that will benefit future career paths.

After graduation, these community health advocates are raising awareness and engaging their communities about the contamination issues of the Duwamish River and about healthy seafood choices. We look forward to seeing their creativity in promoting environmental health for all!

Learn more about the Community Health Advocates program!

The Community Health Advocates program is generously supported by Seattle and King County’s Public Health department.

City Habitats features our stormwater solutions outreach!


Ruben Chi Bertoni oversees outreach efforts on RainWise cisterns and rain gardens. Photo Credit: Marcela Gara, Resource Media.

“Being true to myself and being true to the community that I serve is so important for programs to be an actual benefit to the community.” – Ruben Chi Bertoni

The Nature Conservancy’s City Habitats program recently featured Ruben Chi Bertoni! Ruben talks about doing multicultural outreach for the RainWise program, which offers up to 100 percent rebates for installing rain gardens and cisterns at home. We can all help reduce stormwater pollution and ECOSS works to make sure underserved communities such as immigrants, refugees and other diverse communities are included.

Learn more about our RainWise work

Electric Vehicles Outreach is an Energizing Endeavor!

Nearly 300 individuals representing ten communities, speaking eight different languages, of all ages from children to seniors. This was the extent of our outreach on electric vehicles in the last two months!

The City of Seattle has set the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. And changing the way we as a city get from point A to point B is central to reaching that goal. Transportation is the single greatest source of carbon emissions in Seattle, almost doubling the emissions of buildings – the next largest carbon emission sector.

Clean energy solutions such as electric cars offer significant opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. But although underserved communities such as ones of immigrants, refugees and other people of color are disproportionately impacted by issues such as air pollution, climate solutions tend to reach these communities the least. This is why Seattle’s strategy for electrifying the city’s transportation includes a lens on racial and social justice.

We teamed up with Forth Mobility to engage diverse communities around the prospect of electric vehicles. Photo credit: Sam Le.

Thus, we were excited to partner with Forth to conduct multicultural outreach on electrical vehicles in neighborhoods around South Seattle. This included focus groups, listening sessions and surveys with Somali, Latino/a, Ethiopian, Vietnamese and other communities where residents could voice their needs and concerns about electric vehicles and transportation access in general. Our outreach culminated in two Electric Car 101 public listening sessions where we answered questions and concerns for the broader community and brought electric vehicles for community members to explore.


We provided electric cars at our information sessions for hands-on exploration. Photo credit: Sam Le.

Top transportation concerns included increasing traffic, public transit access and the cost of gas while top electric vehicle concerns included their affordability as well as uncertainty around charging cars and driving range. Nevertheless, interviewees overwhelmingly wished to see more electric vehicles in their community, citing that they were good for the environment and avoided air pollution.

Associate Jose Chi engaging a community member at an information session for El Centro de la Raza. Photo Credit: Sam Le.

These communities care about the environment and support climate change solutions. But they also face additional challenges in rising costs of living, gentrification and social exclusion. The rise of electric vehicles could push underserved communities out. But by including diverse communities in the conversation and implementation around clean energy, we can all promote a cleaner, more equitable Seattle together.

Learn more about our clean energy outreach

RainWise achieves a major milestone!

Congratulations to the RainWise program for hitting the major milestone of capturing rainwater from two million square feet of rooftops via rain gardens and cisterns! That’s roughly equal to the area of Volunteer Park!

Rain gardens are a natural solution to reducing stormwater pollution. Photo Credit: Marcela Gara, Resource Media.

See if your home qualifies for a RainWise rain garden or cistern!

Stormwater is the largest source of pollution in Seattle. When it rains, water carries pollutants such as fertilizer, motor oil and metals from roads, rooftops and other hard, impermeable surfaces into local waters and Puget Sound. And large volumes of stormwater can cause sewer systems to overflow, further polluting Puget Sound waters. This has repercussions for both public health and the health of salmon migrating through Puget Sound.

“I’m excited to be part of the RainWise program. Thank you ECOSS for helping me become a RainWise contractor.” – Gary Li, RainWise contractor (left). Photo Credit: Joycelyn Chui, ECOSS.

RainWise provides up to a 100% rebate on the costs of professionally installing rain gardens and cisterns. And ECOSS provides support throughout the installation process in 15 different languages for both contractors and residents.But you can help by having rain gardens and cisterns installed at home. Also known as green stormwater infrastructure, these natural solutions control stormwater and filter out pollutants, thus reducing stormwater pollution.

“Participating in the RainWise program is just one of the many ways that we can do our part in preserving what we enjoy most about our environment and all that nature has to offer us. I strongly encourage all to do it!” – Nina V., RainWise resident (right). Photo Credit: Nina V.

By having rain gardens and cisterns, not only do you add beauty to your home, but you also help promote a healthier environment. Together, we can reduce stormwater pollution and make Seattle RainWise.

Learn more about our RainWise work!



Join us at the 2018 Water Festival!


The Water Festival is coming to Duwamish Water Park on July 28! Join us in celebrating how water shapes our culture.

  • Watch luchadores duke it out in the ring!
  • Learn new recipes for healthy seafood!
  • Watch multiple cultural performances!
  • Craft lanterns to launch into the Duwamish River!

Get more details on this free-to-attend event and stay up to date at our event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1704591099588148/

Like our Facebook page and follow our Twitter for updates, including features of our sponsors and partners!

Learn more about the 2018 Water Festival!

Sophorn Sim Named a Puget Sound Future-maker

Getting used to a new region can be daunting. Where do you shop for groceries? How do you connect with your neighbors? What customs should you be aware of? For immigrants and refugees, potential language and cultural barriers make this adjustment period extra difficult. And these difficulties can have adverse health effects, such as unknowingly consuming contaminated seafood.

But Community Outreach Associate Sophorn Sim is training community members to be advocates for healthy food and to raise awareness of the chemicals in the Duwamish River, drawing from her own experiences as a refugee. The Seattle Globalist’s recently featured her in their Puget Sound Future-maker series! Congratulations Sophorn!

By training local community members, we meet communities where they are – in their language, through their culture – to promote healthy, thriving communities.

Learn more about our New Arrivals program

Increasing Access to the Outdoors – One Trailhead at a Time

The Pacific Northwest is heralded as a hiker’s paradise. According to a recent economic analysis, the average Washington state resident spends nearly a full two months recreating outdoors every year!

Yet, some communities are still not able to enjoy these Pacific Northwest splendors. One of the greatest barriers is the lack of transportation access. To reach beyond urban centers, you need a car. At least, that was the case until recently.

Trailhead Direct Logo

Trailhead Direct is an expanding program that leverages public transit to provide affordable, accessible transportation to the outdoors. Jointly led by King County Parks and King County Metro, Trailhead Direct offers direct routes between transit centers in Capitol Hill and Mt. Baker to trailheads at Mt. Si and Issaquah Alps, respectively, with a route to Mailbox Peak opening in June 2018.

Bhutanese Community Members at Cedar River Watershed

Bhutanese Community Members at Cedar River Watershed

Sign up for our newsletter to ensure you don’t miss out on Trailhead Direct trips with us!

And thanks to the generous support of King County Parks and The Wilderness Society, ECOSS is excited to broaden the reach of Trailhead Direct to diverse communities. We specialize in multicultural outreach, using our staff’s ability to speak over a dozen languages. Through our New Arrivals Program, we connect immigrants and refugees with opportunities to engage with their environment. Trailhead Direct enables us to provide more transportation options and make outdoor recreation a more accessible and inclusive activity for all.

Over the summer months, ECOSS staff will plan and lead groups on hikes via Trailhead Direct. Be on the lookout for opportunities to get involved!

Thank you to Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for connecting us to this exciting program!

Learn More About Our Multicultural Approach

Give BIG to help us promote environmental sustainability FOR ALL

GiveBIG — a one-day online giving event to raise funds for nonprofit organizations in the Greater Seattle area — returns May 9!

The mission of ECOSS is to educate and empower businesses and diverse communities to implement environmentally sustainable practices. And a key part of our success is generous support from people like you.

Help us continue to deliver strategies and results in pollution prevention, resource conservation, environmental equity and more. Go here to donate now through May 9.

Thank you so much for your support!

On the Radio-ECOSS Superhero Sophorn Sim


Three smiling women posing for a photo.

KNKX’s Bellamy Pailthorp (left) and Jennifer Wing (right) interview ECOSS’ Sophorn Sim (center) at a popular Duwamish River fishing spot. Sophorn has done a lot of outreach here, educating angler’s that salmon is the only safe fish to eat from the river.

ECOSS Community Outreach Associate Sophorn Sim has spent much of her adult life dedicated to building healthy, resilient communities.

On the KNKX radio show Sound Effect, Sophorn shares her story and how her experience guides her work to connect refugees and immigrants to their new home.

Her story will give you a real understanding of what it’s like to be a refugee and why it’s important for everyone to have access to environmental education and resources.