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.”

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New Arrivals program is a featured social innovation

Bhutanese hiking trip to Mt. Si. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

Many immigrants and refugees appreciate the environment and want to protect nature, but are unaware of opportunities to do so in new surroundings. The New Arrivals program connects these new Seattle residents to environmental education, outdoor opportunities and more.

Read about how and why the New Arrivals program focuses on multicultural outreach in this feature with the Social Innovations Journal!

Learn more about New Arrivals

The New Arrivals program is generously supported by the Satterberg Foundation, the Rose Foundation and the Cuyamaca Foundation.

Multicultural business outreach the focus of City Habitats story

Young’s family standing in front of their restaurant’s cisterns. Photo Credit: Sam Le.

Equitable access to environmental solutions means reaching out to underserved communities. These are often the people most impacted by water pollution, air pollution and other environmental challenges, yet commonly face language and cultural barriers that hinder their ability to protect the environment.

In partnership with King County’s RainWise program, ECOSS helped Young’s Restaurant become the first Seattle restaurant and business to be part of the stormwater pollution solution. And The Nature Conservancy’s City Habitats program recently featured this accomplishment!

ECOSS recruited multicultural contractors for this project and helped both the contractors and restaurant owners navigate the RainWise program to install and maintain cisterns at Young’s Restaurant.

Learn more about our RainWise work

Native planting for Duwamish Alive!

Habitat restoration at the April 2018 Duwamish Alive! event. Photo Credit: Sam Le.

ECOSS is again teaming up with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust to host a volunteer work party at the Duwamish Hill Preserve! Join us on October 20, 10 AM for a fun day of planting native plants and learning about your local environment.

Register here!

Young’s Restaurant featured in NW Asian Weekly

The Young family cutting the ribbon to commemorate the first restaurant-owned cisterns in Seattle. Photo credit: Sam Le.

Read the NW Asian Weekly article!

Young’s Restaurant recently commemorated their cisterns with ECOSS and King County RainWise. They are the first Seattle restaurant and business to install green stormwater infrastructure — sustainable solutions that help mitigate stormwater pollution. This success story was possible due to multicultural support from ECOSS and an effective partnership with King County. Young’s is protecting Puget Sound waters by decreasing the risk of combined sewer overflows while storing water for tending their gardens. Read more about them in this Northwest Asian Weekly article.

Check out more RainWise stories!

Doris Duke Scholars engage underserved communities around environmental sustainability

Dedication. Passion. Determination. Resilience. Pride. The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars exuded these feelings and many others during the Conservation Scholar Summit, where individuals shared connections with their communities, cultures and environment. Most significantly, they planted their banners of belonging to the environmental movement — a fitting conclusion to the scholars’ summer.

Doris Duke Scholars MaKail Crawford (2nd from left) and Pheng Lor (far right) at the Conservation Scholar Summit. Photo Credit: Joycelyn Chui / ECOSS.

ECOSS was fortunate to host two Doris Duke scholars this summer: Pheng Lor, a UC Berkeley student focusing on conservation and LGBT studies, and MaKail Crawford, hailing from Wesleyan University working on classics and Latino studies.

MaKail and Pheng dove into a variety of outreach activities, from conducting house visits for rain gardens to helping with a multicultural celebration of water.

Their work culminated in final projects that engaged the Seattle Hmong and Latino communities. Pheng designed a survey and attended Hmong community events to gather their environmental concerns. MaKail trans-created a Spanish brochure to promote Trailhead Direct, a King County project providing bus routes to nearby outdoor recreation opportunities. Each laid the foundation for strong connections and community partnerships.

After far too short a time, we had to say farewell to our scholars as they returned to their home universities to finish their undergraduate studies. In typical ECOSS tradition, we celebrated their time here over good food.

As the scholars finished up, Pheng Lor reflected on his time with ECOSS:

“My internship with ECOSS has provided me a foundation for working with environmental nonprofit organizations. As expected coming into the internship, the community services that ECOSS provides to underserved communities to encourage environmental sustainability and to bridge environmental awareness and education is both inspiring and humbling.

One of my biggest takeaways is the commitment ECOSS staff has to community, particularly to communities of color. As a Hmong scholar and community organizer, I had the honor of experiencing ECOSS staff extensively reach out to the Southeast Asian community, a community that in countless fields is often neglected. This meant the world to me. Seeing that the staff represents most of the communities they serve — that’s environmental equity in practice. ECOSS’ values are what I believe today’s environmental progress and work should embody and their staff represents nothing less than their efforts towards the most effective and inclusive future, ensuring every community has access to environmental knowledge and engagement. From this takeaway I’ve also learned that the environmental work ECOSS does isn’t anything near easy and it isn’t for everyone; I am glad to have had the privilege in challenging myself in many capacities as an ECOSS intern.” 

Thank you to Pheng Lor and MaKail Crawford for promoting environmental sustainability, equity and justice in Seattle! And thank you to the Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Program for providing us with our scholars! We look forward to seeing you and the rest of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars grow into the forces for change that underserved communities need.

Learn more about multicultural outreach!

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 training about local environmental health risks and helped the advocates practice their outreach to communicate these risks to their communities. This is in partnership with King County Public Health under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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!

The Community Health Advocates program is part of Seattle and King County’s Public Health department, which is funded through EPA as part of the Fun to Catch, Toxic to Eat Program for the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site.

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

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!

Trailhead Direct Logo

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 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, Issaquah Alps and Mailbox Peak.

Bhutanese Community Members at Cedar River Watershed

Bhutanese Community Members at Cedar River Watershed

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! 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.

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

Learn More About Our Multicultural Approach