Thank you to everyone that participated in last week’s Sustainable Futures Fest virtual fundraiser. We appreciate the support of everyone who tuned in and donated! In case you couldn’t catch the fundraiser live, the videos of each day are available now.
From conversations around environmental justice to innovations in environmental outreach, ECOSS is leading the region on empowering immigrants and refugees to promote community health while protecting the environment. It’s not too late to support ECOSS to go even further. Help us reach our goal of $40,000 and invest in underserved communities and small businesses.
ECOSS’ Sustainable Futures Fest premieres next Wednesday at 12 noon! We’re excited to share how ECOSS and other environmental leaders are working to advance racial equity and justice.
The first day features the Just and Sustainable Futures Panel with environmental leaders from across sectors. Read about them below:
Lylianna Allala (she/her/ella) is the Climate Justice Director at the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment. She joined the City of Seattle in 2019 after serving as lead staff on environment/climate policy and outreach for U.S Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Prior to transitioning to public service in government, Lylianna spent time as a restoration ecologist, building backcountry trails, and traveling the country facilitating leadership development workshops for environmental & social change leaders. Lylianna is a co-creator of the Growing Old Project, a podcast that explores what Seattle could look like in the next 50 years to be a place where both humans and trees grow old together.
Joycelyn Chui (she/her) is a transplant from Hong Kong. She is a graduate student at University of Washington’s School of Public Health, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences. She also works as a consultant with BEA Environmental, and recently started her own consulting business (Upstream Environmental Consulting) that aims to intervene in climate issues with an upstream approach. Previously, Joycelyn was a Multicultural Outreach Manager with ECOSS, working extensively with local small businesses on topics like solid waste, food waste, and stormwater pollution prevention & management.
We hope you will tune in on Oct 27 at 12 noon to hear their insights and discussion around environmental justice.
Your attendance also supports local BIPOC-owned restaurants. Register for the daily giveaway and tune in each day to be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to a local BIPOC-owned restaurant.
In Washington State, October 11 is recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This day honors Native American peoples and celebrates their cultures and histories.
Both ECOSS and many of the people who ECOSS serve reside on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, including the Duwamish people. The city of Seattle is named after Chief Sealth, a chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. ECOSS centers the voices of immigrants and refugees to create sustainable solutions for all. Though these are historically marginalized communities, it is important to recognize the original stewards of this land and their descendants who continue to care for this land.
ECOSS stands in solidarity with the First Peoples of this region. One way ECOSS puts this into action is by paying rent to the Duwamish Tribe. You too can show your support for the people who were and are critical for the thriving of Seattle.
We at ECOSS loved sharing community and business success stories with you at 2020’s Sustainable Futures Fest. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. ECOSS’ Sustainable Futures Fest returns with more exciting activities in October that highlight how communities and businesses are empowered to be environmentally sustainable.
2020 was a unique year that laid bare the inequities that BIPOC communities face in not only environmental disparities, but also health disparities, access to information and more. The strengths that enable ECOSS to be a leader in environmental equity played a central role in response the COVID-19 pandemic: trusted relationships with frontline communities; shared culture and language; and bridges with industry, community and government.
ECOSS has served 170 businesses and 100 community members through its COVID outreach projects that address financial, technology and information gaps. Additionally, ECOSS continued to strive for its vision of thriving healthy communities despite the new challenges to outreach work. ECOSS’ environmental outreach served over 2,500 community members and business owners in 2020.
Constant construction noise. Flooding damage. Blocked sewage pipes. And a business that is suffering due to hardships that were forced upon it with few ways to resolve them. This is the reality for Ai, the owner of Pearls Tea & Coffee. And many immigrant- and refugee-owned businesses in the greater Seattle area face similar struggles.
What does it mean for a business to be environmentally sustainable? For Multicultural Outreach Manager Daniel Doan, it’s not limited to the environment. Daniel is leading ECOSS’ Sustainable Businesses program, which aims to meet the needs of small businesses around the Puget Sound region.
Inspired by ECOSS’ previous work promoting healthy nail salons as well as his personal experiences with his mom’s hair salon, Daniel hopes the Sustainable Businesses program will address not just environmental concerns, but other business needs as well. His ideas include questionnaires to gauge needs and certification programs that promote the business to customers. Daniel envisions conversations and check-ins over time that will build close relationships while addressing needs such as overcoming language and technological barriers, access to financial resources and more. And when future concerns come up, business owners will trust in ECOSS to help.
As ECOSS saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to prioritize the environment when survival has to come first. However, ECOSS’ approach to community and business engagement is critical for bridging the disparity in access that immigrants, refugees and other people of color commonly experience. ECOSS recognizes that for business owners, environmental sustainability, financial security and community safety are all be part of the same conversation. The Sustainable Business program aims to advance that reality. Stay tuned for the
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month. May 1843 is when the first known Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii, and the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed in May 1869 thanks to a labor force mostly made up of Chinese laborers
But as May approached in the year 2021, we were reminded again that despite the essential contributions of these immigrant and refugee communities, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continued to live in the shadow of racism. Increasing anti-Asian hate crimes and the recent mass shooting of spa workers in Atlanta are weighing heavily on people’s minds.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to remote work life, ECOSS staff held virtual weekly meetings. These check-ins not only helped with communicating important business, but also served a crucial role of continuing to share support and build community.
In recognition of AAPI Heritage Month, ECOSS Multicultural Outreach Coordinator Liza Boardman led a discussion around AAPI history, personal identities and how our privileges show up in the way we interact with the world. Our supportive culture provided a safe space for staff to engage in these challenging conversations. Below are some thoughts from Liza on this experience:
What does AAPI month mean to you?
To me, AAPI month is a time to not only honor and celebrate our Asian and Pacific Islander communities’ successes, but to also educate ourselves on the struggles we continue to face. With recent events leading up to this year’s AAPI month, it feels less like a cause for celebration and more of a call to action for solidarity and support. It’s also a friendly reminder to check in on your Asian American and Pacific Islander loved ones because the AAPI community is all about family 🙂
Why did you feel it was important to have this discussion within ECOSS?
As an organization that centers BIPOC voices, I felt that having a discussion on AAPI issues would provide us with useful knowledge in the work we do with these communities. Especially with the recent attacks on the Asian community, I felt that it was necessary to interrogate the root causes and history of othering of AAPI people in America. Although conversations on these topics can get uncomfortable, it gives us the opportunity to learn each other’s stories and brings us one step closer to the DEI work we do together as well.
Any takeaways from the discussion?
Intersectionality as a tool in this conversation really helped us to connect on a more personal level when engaging this topic. By interrogating our own identities and recognizing places we hold or lack power, I feel that it began to introduce us to a new lens through which we can view our work holistically and inclusively.
These conversations are important for grounding work in anti-racist practices. This wasn’t the first time ECOSS has had similar discussions, nor will it be the last.
You can be part of the change as well. Here are some actions you can take:
Recognize the differences between Asian American and Pacific Islander communities
Learn and be aware of issues impacting the community and the history of the neighborhoods we occupy
Lift up AAPI voices and promote media representation
King County’s Green Globe Awards recognize environmental leadership in the region and is the highest honor bestowed by the county for this sector.
This year, ECOSS’ partnership with Equinox Studios to create a demonstration site of business-tailored Green Stormwater Infrastructure earned a Green Globe Award for Leadership in Industrial Strength Stormwater Solutions!
Check out the feature video prepared by King County:
You can stop by Equinox Studios (6555 5th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108) to take a self-guided tour of industrial strength stormwater solutions. Be on the lookout for informative signs next to the installations like those pictured below.
In 2019, ECOSS and Equinox Studios co-created an “industrial strength” Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) demonstration site. Prior to installing Grattix Boxes, oyster barrels and other GSI features, ECOSS sampled the stormwater to get a baseline understanding of the types of toxic heavy metals and other pollutants gathering on the roofs and pavement at Equinox Studios. Stormwater solutions filter out toxic heavy metals and other pollutants from rain water that collects on hard surfaces before entering local water bodies. These pollutants are harmful not only to aquatic wildlife, but also to the communities which border the polluted water bodies. So how have the GSI performed?
ECOSS returned to Equinox Studios in 2020 and 2021 to sample stormwater and see how the GSI impacted water quality. Although the team expected some reduction in heavy metals, the effectiveness of Grattix Boxes and oyster barrels was astounding. Here are some highlights:
In 2020, Grattix boxes on-average reduced zinc content by 70-90% compared to 2019 water sampling before they were installed
In 2021, Grattix boxes continued to perform, showing over 80% reduction in copper and zinc
At one Grattix box, stormwater was filtered from 1,700 micrograms of zinc per liter to 139 micrograms per liter – over a 90% reduction!
One downspout is connected to a Grattix Box and oyster barrel combination, reducing copper content by 88%, while zinc dropped to undetectable levels.
These types of GSI installations have helped industrial stormwater permitted businesses reduce their pollutant loads to below their permit benchmarks when maintained regularly, depending on the amount of pollutant they are managing.
ECOSS will continue to monitor these GSI installations and see how filtration power changes over time. The most recent sampling results showed that a combination of GSI systems could work synergistically to filter out heavy metals even better and is particularly useful for areas with greater metal loads. Repeated sampling will also help determine when the materials inside the GSI have to be cleaned or replaced.
Rain water that falls on and passes through the Equinox Studios site ultimately flows to the Duwamish River, which is a Superfund site and one of the most polluted water bodies in the United States. But ECOSS is showing how to mitigate some of that pollution with “industrial-strength” Green Stormwater Infrastructure.