Congratulations Green Globe Awardees!

Congratulations to Young’s Restaurant and The Wilderness Society for being two of 2019’s Green Globe Awardees!

Young’s Restaurant family with ECOSS partner.Photo Credit: ECOSS.

Presented by King County, the Green Globe Award recognizes outstanding leadership in environmental stewardship. It is the County’s highest honor for local environmental efforts.

Young’s Restaurant is the first Seattle business to utilize King County’s RainWise rebate program. ECOSS facilitated the installation process by recruiting multicultural contractors, guiding them through the RainWise certification training and helping the Vietnamese and Chinese contractors and restaurant owners through the English-dominated process.

The Wilderness Society and ECOSS partners. Photo Credit: Ned Ahrens / King County.

The Wilderness Society partnered with ECOSS to conduct outreach around the Trailhead Direct public transit service within historically underserved communities of color. This affordable alternative to driving provides greater access to the natural beauty that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. With support form The Wilderness Society and King County Parks, ECOSS extended awareness of the service into the Bhutanese, Latinx, Korean and Khmer communities of the Greater Seattle area.

Dow Constantine. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

“Throughout King County, people, businesses and nonprofits are doing extraordinary work to protect the spectacular natural environment that is central to our identity and our quality of life,” said Executive Constantine. “The Green Globe Award recipients we honor today inspire and challenge us to leave this special place even better for future generations.”

ECOSS received the Green Globe Award in 1999 for leadership in protecting water quality and in 2015 for leadership in environmental equity. Building on experience, ECOSS is proud to share its strengths and elevate others to be environmental and equity leaders.

Congratulations again to Young’s Restaurant and The Wilderness Society. Read more about their work and ECOSS’ role in promoting outdoors access and environmental equity.

Check out this year’s 13 amazing Green Globe Awardees

Equity in stormwater management must start from the Summit

Centering Equity at the Annual Green Stormwater Infrastructure Summit 

The Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map, a recently-published tool, revealed plainly what many already knew from their lived experiences: communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately subjected to environmental health risks. Yet, these same communities receive disproportionately fewer resources and their voices are disproportionately left out of the conversations around environmental solutions. ECOSS pioneers education and outreach programs with these communities to help right these environmental injustices, but we can’t do it alone.

ECOSS recently attended the 4th Annual GSI Summit, a City Habitats event led by Stewardship Partners. The summit focused on green infrastructure – emerging research, applied solutions, community stories and more. This year, ECOSS joined the hosting committee, a central role that allowed ECOSS to advocate for a larger focus on equity in the summit.

Challenge tables centered solutions-driven conversations around a plethora of green infrastructure challenges. ECOSS led a discussion around equity. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

Taking the role to heart, ECOSS led a session on community engagement and captained a discussion table to discuss equity in green stormwater infrastructure. ECOSS brought its experience working with Vietnamese and Chinese communities and businesses. Conversation blossomed around how all sectors can make green stormwater infrastructure more equitable.

Surveying the rest of the summit, numerous presentations concluded with the revelation that organizations should work with communities rather than for communities. It was encouraging to see more people adopt this approach, but it also came with a sense of disappointment that was perfectly captured by the summit’s Youth Voices Panel.

The Youth Voices Panel, from left to right: Risa Suho, Hannah Price, Shelina Lal. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

“We need you to need us.” – Shelina Lal

A simple statement, but one that spoke volumes. Lal went on to lament that youth shouldn’t even be speaking at the summit – that if green infrastructure leaders were actively working with communities to advance solutions, the summit wouldn’t need youth to make impassioned speeches about the suffering of low-income communities and communities of color. The entire Youth Voices panel echoed similar sentiments throughout their hour on stage.

ECOSS works with RainWise to provide green infrastructure rebates and career pathways within communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental injustices. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

This is the pulse that organizations must track to advance the equity of green infrastructure. ECOSS has been a trusted partner of businesses, diverse communities and government to provide co-created, practical solutions for 25 years. ECOSS works with communities; the majority of staff are from those communities. Yet, these and other connections are underutilized by environmental organizations wanting to reach historically underserved communities. The best time to work with low-income communities and communities of color on environmentally just programs was at the programs’ inceptions. The next best time is now.

An undercurrent of urgency pervaded the summit. We must mobilize. We must go beyond naming problems and act. There is still much room for progress in equitable green stormwater infrastructure. However, that the words from the youth of our most-impacted communities were met with standing ovation rather than only uncomfortable stares raises hope for the future of equitable environmental solutions.

Read other green stormwater infrastructure stories

Thank you to RainWise partners for promoting ECOSS as a leader in equitable green stormwater solutions!

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

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.