Vicky Raya: Green career pathways

ECOSS recently held its second PINKAPALOOZA Block Party, celebrating businesses and diverse communities that are being empowered to be more environmentally sustainable. At the celebration, ECOSS invited employees, former and current, as well as community members to tell their environmental stories. Here is one of the night’s stories:

Vicky Raya is a former ECOSS employee who now works as a racial equity advisor for Seattle Public Utilities. Photo Credit: Rachel Lee.

“Hi, my name is Vicky Raya and I am a former ECOSS employee. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and both my parents are from Mexico. This means my first language is Spanish and I consider myself Chicana, or bicultural.

Prior to ECOSS, I worked as an informal science educator and then trained other educators who wanted to better engage and support girls and youth of color in STEM.

Ironically, although my work was meaningful, my work environments were rarely diverse. I was often the sole person of color among my peers, and although I was not consciously aware of it, I was working very hard to fit into a normative professional culture that did not reflect my own, and that in many ways, wasn’t fully prepared to recognize my isolation.

I always felt a little out of step with my peers and assumed I had to work harder than others to meet an imaginary standard. This dissonance and lack of connection eventually forced me to make a huge career shift which, not coincidentally, led to a lot of healing.

I could not have taken a better step toward healing than coming to ECOSS, where my role was to learn about the communities we wanted to serve and then apply strategies to make environmental education fun, relevant and purposeful.

The sense of ease and community I experienced at ECOSS was so welcome and needed, and it became the springboard to my current role as racial equity advisor at Seattle Public Utilities.

And that’s the ECOSS story I want to tell. How this organization hires from the communities it serves. It nurtures and develops confidence, language and professional skills, then prepares staff for future careers.

There’s a lot of talk about the need to diversify the environmental sector, which is true for government, private and nonprofit organizations. On the one hand, it’s expensive and difficult for ECOSS to develop and lose talent. On the other hand, ECOSS has many well-placed friends. I don’t know any other organization that has such loyal former staff.

Who here tonight is a former ECOSS employee?”

To which, dozens of hands sprang up around the venue, from recent alumni stretching all the way back to ECOSS’ first executive director 25+ years ago. Vicky went on to say:

“And while we’ve moved on to other organizations, we are ambassadors for equitable workplaces, and we demonstrate the strength of learning from differences. We are bicultural and often bilingual (and trilingual), we know the joy in embracing each other’s differences with appreciation, generosity and humor.

Thank you ECOSS for the opportunities you gave us. Although small, ECOSS punches above its weight in workforce development.”

Thank you Vicky for being part of the family and for continuing to blaze the environmental equity trail you started with ECOSS.

Support additional green career pathways with a donation

Whether it is $5 or $50, your support will help promote champions of environmental equity and justice. Check out other stories from PINKAPALOOZA here.

Joycelyn Chui: Leading by example

ECOSS recently held its second PINKAPALOOZA Block Party, celebrating businesses and diverse communities that are being empowered to be more environmentally sustainable. At the celebration, ECOSS invited employees, former and current, as well as community members to tell their environmental stories. Here is one of the night’s stories:

Joycelyn Chui is one of ECOSS’ multicultural outreach managers, working to empower businesses and communities of color to be more environmentally sustainable. Photo Credit: Rachel Lee.

“大家好! 中秋節快樂!

Hi everyone! My name is Joycelyn. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I’m trilingual in Cantonese, Mandarin and English.

My father was the one who inspired me to become an environmentalist. Although Hong Kong is known for being a financial metropolis, there were still a few clean beaches where we would go swimming in. My love for the ocean led me to become a fisheries biologist at University of Washington.

Despite having an environmental science degree, as an immigrant, I lacked a lot of knowledge on how people interact with the environment here in Pacific Northwest, such as cleaning drinking water, sorting waste or using green cleaning solutions. Clearly, there was a disconnect.

But the transformation began when I started a career at ECOSS. I learned how to live a greener life and was inspired to educate people around me. Especially those who don’t natively speak English because most of the time, they just simply don’t know what is the right thing to do.

I believe the strongest kind of leadership is to lead by example, where people around you will be influenced and empowered to lead themselves.

Photo Credit: Char Davies.

The first Chinese restaurant I served when I started working was very resistant to change. It took more than a couple visits and education until they finally agreed to set up food waste collection in their kitchen and became compliant with Seattle’s solid waste regulations. A month later, I received a call. It was the restaurant owner. He asked if I can help him set up food waste collection at home. I was really pleased to see him taking initiative to lead himself and his family to become better stewards of the environment we all share. Clients like him are my motivation to continue my environmental education work.

ECOSS is not simply providing environmental solutions. We are building trust with communities. A lot of our clients have become ambassadors of our mission.

When you support ECOSS, you support a healthier environment through behavior change like the restaurant owner. You also support building a new generation of environmentalists like me. Thank you ECOSS for helping me embark on a career I feel passionate about.

ECOSS is making changes — One step at a time, one community at a time, one person at a time. Together, we are overcoming barriers to cleaner water, equitable communities and healthy salmon populations.”

Thank you Joycelyn for being an environmental leader and bringing your passion to ECOSS.

Support the growth of environmental leaders with a donation

Whether it is $5 or $50, your support will help promote champions of environmental equity and justice. Check out other stories from PINKAPALOOZA here.

Yug Dabadi: Empowering communities

ECOSS recently held its second PINKAPALOOZA Block Party, celebrating businesses and diverse communities that are being empowered to be more environmentally sustainable. At the celebration, ECOSS invited employees, former and current, as well as community members to tell their environmental stories. Here is one of the night’s stories:

Yug Dabadi works for the Bhutanese Community Resource Center (BCRC). Partnerships with other community-based organizations ensures that ECOSS’ education and outreach is culturally-relevant. Photo Credit: Rachel Lee.

“नमस्ते, मेरो नाम युग दबाडी हो र म भूटानबाट |

Hi everyone! My name is Yug Dabadi, and I am a refugee from Bhutan.

To be born and grow up in Bhutan was fun. I spent my childhood days walking miles in bare foot, walking uphill, running downhill, and jumping with the little kite we made out of bamboo bark. My little legs did just fine, my lungs were strong.

I attended some years of school in Bhutan. Every single day I walked five miles to school.  This was normal to me. One day while returning home from school, I saw a man carrying a cow on his back by himself. His cow fell on the creek and could not move. That time I only wanted to be as strong as him. I asked my dad how people can be that strong, he replied smiling “we drink water from the mountains”.  It did not make much sense to me that time but now I think mountains and forests are our health. My dad had learnt that by experiencing good, I learn by reading and experiencing bad.

While in refugee camps in Nepal, everything was scarce. I saw locals felling trees and steal woods. Hot summers, monsoon floods, and drought were what I saw. While in Kathmandu, air pollution was extreme. Kathmandu was dusty with unmanaged garbage and sewer leaking on the roads. There was scarcity of water, and people drank bottled water. It was a new thing to me, in Bhutan water from creeks, rivers or springs and city supply were safe to drink.

Photo Credit: Rachel Lee.

As someone who once lived in a pristine environment and has studied graduate level microbiology, I can see what damage we as human race is doing to the environment. I wanted to take responsibility and help in whatever ways I can. ECOSS has helped me do that.

The Bhutanese Community Resource Center and ECOSS have been partners for four years. Together, we have taken hundreds of our young people to the mountains and forests. Like me, they spent most of their lives in refugee camps and only knew about nature from the stories of our elders. ECOSS has helped our community connect with nature through many experiences like fishing, camping, planting trees, habitat restoration. And as we speak, we have a group out in the mountains learning about foraging for seasonal edibles and wild berries.

ECOSS’ New Arrivals program improves lives and connects immigrants and refugees to their new environment. It has helped us change from observers to participants, and now stewards. We care and want to do our part for our shared environment. Thank you ECOSS for helping us find our home in Washington.

Thank you everyone for believing in this organization and the good it does in the world.”

Thank you Yug for sharing your story. Your success inspires ECOSS to continue promoting access to environmental sustainability for all.

Support culturally-centered community empowerment with a donation

Whether it is $5 or $50, your support will help promote champions of environmental equity and justice. Be on the lookout for the night’s other stories!

🎉 Thank you for celebrating with us at PINKAPALOOZA! 🐟

Our deepest gratitude to you for joining us at our PINKAPALOOZA Block Party this year!

As we reflect on the inspiring night, we constantly return to the community of amazing people who gathered together to celebrate the return of pink salmon.

Collectively, we raised over $97,000 to support sustainable businesses, equitable communities and a thriving environment! This is an amazing achievement in its own right, by which we are humbled. It is also an opportunity for an even greater achievement.

We have a chance to make ECOSS history. Will you help push ECOSS over $100,000 in annual donations for the first time ever in its 25+ year history? Every dollar counts.

Help us shatter the donation record!

Check out some of the highlights from the night:

Photos were captured by our wonderful volunteer photographers Char Davies and Rachel Lee. Find more inspiring photos here on our Facebook page.

Group photo of current and former ECOSS staff.

Thank you again for your support! We hope you came away from the night inspired and we look forward to seeing you again at the next PINKAPALOOZA Block Party in 2021!

Sincerely,
Your ECOSS Family


PINKAPALOOZA Block Party 2019

Tickets are sold out! Please call 206-767-0432 to be put on the wait list.

 

SLIDING SCALE TICKETS

Because we believe PINKAPALOOZA should be accessible for all, we are offering tickets on a sliding scale. Tickets are valued at $100. However, we invite you to pay what you can, whether that’s $250 or $25. Money is a common barrier to attending events like PINKAPALOOZA. We want to remove that barrier and encourage those who can afford to pay more than $100 to make it possible for more individuals to attend the event.

 

Volunteers

We’re looking for volunteers to help us make PINKAPALOOZA the most amazing celebration possible! Fill out this form to let us know you’re interested in volunteering.

 

Can’t make it this year?

You can still make a tax-deductible gift here to help advance environmental equity for businesses and communities.

 

Thank you to our generous lead sponsors:

  • Port of Seattle
  • Cascadia Law Group
  • Anchor QEA
  • Pacific Groundwater Group
  • Lafarge PNW
  • King County Parks
  • Landau
  • BEA Environmental
  • Restorical Research
  • Jacobs Engineering Group
  • Stewardship Partners
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Windward Environmental
  • Boeing
  • Aspect Consulting
  • Floyd Snider
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • Parametrix
  • Mr. Pressure Wash
  • Nucor Steel Seattle
  • Paint Away!
  • HDR
  • Kennedy/Jenks Consultants
  • Snohomish Conservation District
  • Washington Liftruck

Interested in being a PINKAPALOOZA sponsor? Let us know at info@ecoss.org.

#ThrowbackThursday: PINKAPALOOZA 2017

PINKAPALOOZA returns on September 14!

Named after the pink salmon that return to Washington rivers every other year, ECOSS’ biennial fundraiser celebrates the environmental sustainability of diverse communities and businesses. Check out these photos from the last event in 2017 to see just how unique the fundraiser is!

Don’t miss out on this multicultural celebration and opportunity to support environmental equity.

Buy tickets here

This celebration belongs to the entire community. To increase the event’s accessibility, we’re offering tickets on a sliding scale. Our hope is that attendees who can afford to contribute more will help sponsor those who cannot.

Can’t make it this year? You can still support ECOSS by making a tax-deductible donation.

PINKAPALOOZA Block Party 2019

Tickets are sold out! Please call 206-767-0432 to be put on the wait list.

 

SLIDING SCALE TICKETS

Because we believe PINKAPALOOZA should be accessible for all, we are offering tickets on a sliding scale. Tickets are valued at $100. However, we invite you to pay what you can, whether that’s $250 or $25. Money is a common barrier to attending events like PINKAPALOOZA. We want to remove that barrier and encourage those who can afford to pay more than $100 to make it possible for more individuals to attend the event.

 

Volunteers

We’re looking for volunteers to help us make PINKAPALOOZA the most amazing celebration possible! Fill out this form to let us know you’re interested in volunteering.

 

Can’t make it this year?

You can still make a tax-deductible gift here to help advance environmental equity for businesses and communities.

 

Thank you to our generous lead sponsors:

  • Port of Seattle
  • Cascadia Law Group
  • Anchor QEA
  • Pacific Groundwater Group
  • Lafarge PNW
  • King County Parks
  • Landau
  • BEA Environmental
  • Restorical Research
  • Jacobs Engineering Group
  • Stewardship Partners
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Windward Environmental
  • Boeing
  • Aspect Consulting
  • Floyd Snider
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • Parametrix
  • Mr. Pressure Wash
  • Nucor Steel Seattle
  • Paint Away!
  • HDR
  • Kennedy/Jenks Consultants
  • Snohomish Conservation District
  • Washington Liftruck

Interested in being a PINKAPALOOZA sponsor? Let us know at info@ecoss.org.

Oh What A Night-PINKAPALOOZA 2017!

Pinkapalooza Guests

Guests in the spirit and wearing their pinks!

Nearly 200 ECOSS supporters shared an evening of inspiration, storytelling, music and dance at our inaugural PINKAPALOOZA event. The event celebrated the return of the pink salmon to Washington rivers and raised critical funds for ECOSS.

See highlights of this special evening captured by photographers Char Davies and Sam Le.

Together, we raised over $73,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales and Raise the Paddle, making it the most successful ECOSS event EVER!

We are incredibly grateful for this support which helps ECOSS continue to deliver environmentally sustainable and equitable solutions that address the needs of businesses, people and nature.

PINKAPALOOZA will return in 2019 along with the pink salmon. Sign up for our E-News to receive PINKAPALOOZA 2019 updates.

If you weren’t able to join us this year,  you can support ECOSS through a donation or cross something off our Amazon wish list.