Regional Food Security Conference Re-Cap

This past weekend (December 4-5)  I attended the Cultivating Regional Food Security Conference at the UW Botanical Gardens. The conference spanned two days with over 30 speakers presenting various topics concerning food access within the Seattle and Northwest region.

On Saturday, the conference began by addressing the problems with the current food system, and how and why the current system is failing us (city, region, nationally, globally) in social, economical and environmental ways.  There were also some presentations about people in the Seattle region finding affordable solutions for new growers and creating better access to local healthy food for all income levels in the city.

On Sunday, the conference segued into solutions-focused discussion and next steps to take to move on from our present situation. The last half of Sunday afternoon brought together attendees into working sessions to connect and examine ideas for future actions.

Of the presentations I attended, those speakers who stood out were “Is it easy to go organic?” by Jessica Gigot, “Climate Friendly Food: Is local better?” by Chad Kruger, “Cultivating New Farmers” by Sarita Role Schaffer, “Assessing and Enhancing the Economic Impacts of Farmers Markets in Washington” by Colleen Donovan and “Transforming Agriculture in Kenya with Community‐Driven Solutions” by Travis English.

What really drew me into these presentations were the speakers’ ability to break down ideas and expand on information that I took for granted, or dismissed as common knowledge. Gigot’s presentation really opened my eyes to how difficult organic standards can be to obtain, especially with large-scale agriculture.  Not only is it an expensive transition, but also a complex problem, finding a balance in the system in order to harbor a healthy growing climate without using chemicals to combat persistent pests.

Kruger asked us all to examine and break down the idea of “local” and how of late it has become just another marketing tool.

Apart from what sounds like an amazing experience, Schaffer presented the beginnings of an exciting co-op model for local start-up small-scale farmers in Skagit County.

Donovan’s presentation for me was most useful because she was honest about how little the city or state know about the share of the grocery  market farmers markets take from our central food system as well as the difficulty in just defining a farmers market.

Finally, Travis English told us about the influence our food system is having in Kenya and efforts preventing the influx of conventional, input heavy farming on locally-appropriate methods of farming.

Elizabeth Loudon, ECOSS’ associate director, made an appearance on the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Panel.  The discussion highlighted a few projects funded by the CPPW grant. After all the talk of problems and worries, it was nice to hear proactive in-motion efforts happening here in Seattle. Overall, it was a productive and informative conference, one in which I was fortunate to attend.


Additional Resources (taken from the UW’s Urban Farming resource list):

City Farmer
City of Seattle: 2010 – Year of Urban Agriculture
Home Orchard Society
King County Extension, WSU – Food Policy Council
King County Extension, WSU – Gardening links
Michael Pollan
Organic Seed Alliance
Seattle Farm Co-op
Seattle P-Patch Community Gardens
Seattle Public Utilities gardening pages
Seattle Tree Fruit Society
Seattle Tilth
Solid Ground – Lettuce Link
Sustainable Agriculture Education
UC Santa Cruz Agroecology: For the Gardener
University of Washington Student Farm
Urban Farm Hub
Washington State University Extension
Access to Healthy Food in Washington Report

2010: The year of connecting to the community.

I am beginning to lose count of all the events we are involved with this year through a sponsorship or partnership – and let me tell you, we are so happy to keep our calendars full with all the amazing events that will be taking place over the next year. Let me share a few of them with you:

Along with many other great environmental nonprofits and businesses, ECOSS is co-sponsoring Environmental Priorities Coalition‘s 2010 Environmental Lobby Day on Tuesday, January 26th in Olympia. Every year the Coalition organizes the community to talk with their legislators about specific environmental issues and priorities. This year, we will be working together for the passage of the Working for Clean Water bill, the Safe Baby Bottle Act, and to Sustain Environmental Protections in the Budget. If you doubt the power of civic engagement, read on! In the 2008, Environmental Priorities Coalition successfully passed all four of their environmental priorities that year. Register today and help make a difference.

A Green Carpet Event in Seattle? We love it, and will definitely attend the Seattle premiere of Mission: Sustainable on Thursday, February 11th. According to the website, “each show will feature a new individual nominated by friends and family for a sustainability makeover. Depending on the nominee’s lifestyle, three consultants will be chosen from our list of green experts to perform a makeover customized to the individual’s needs, desires, and walk of life.” The pilot features a South Seattle family – we can’t wait to see it!

On Thursday, March 4th, ECOSS will be one of the sponsors of Managing Stormwater in Washington, presented by the Northwest Environmental Business Council. As you may know, ECOSS has a strong stormwater program and we work with different agencies to offer local businesses free spill kits. Additionally, stormwater has been the focus of an ECOSSolutions session, during which changes to the new Industrial Stormwater General Permit were discussed.

ECOSS also signed on as a Community Partner and Exhibitor at the 2010 GoGreen Conference in Seattle, taking place Wednesday, April 21st. We couldn’t think of a more relevant conference for our members and supporters if we tried: the core focus of the conference is to motivate, inspire, and educate business owners to “go green” and become more sustainable. According to their founder Ericka Dickey, “As an action-oriented, non-typical conference, GoGreen ‘10 teaches tactical steps on how to “green” your business and provides actionable next steps to sustainability for business owners and decision makers. Attendees will learn from live success stories and participate in panel discussions geared to provide solid takeaways to make any size of business the most sustainable that it can be. The GoGreen Conference will feature over 45 business leader speakers and 12 different sessions on how to build sustainability into your business.”

Check out our Events page for more events, and we will keep you informed about where we will be and how we’re involved. We’re looking forward to sharing information about ECOSS events in 2010, too!


Last ECOSSolutions of 2009

Yesterday we hosted our third installment of ECOSSolutions, our free series of information sessions geared toward providing straight answers to common environmental questions. The topic for this session was the new Industrial Stormwater General Permit. Nathan Graves and Ross Dunning of Kennedy-Jenks Consulting gave a presentation on many of the technical and practical changes to the permit. I got the sense that Nathan and Ross were cutting through the complexities of the permit, translating the difficult wording into more understandable concepts. Honestly, most of it was still over my head, but Alex, one of ECOSS’ stormwater guys, and all of the business owners and managers in attendance were nodding their heads during the presentation, which makes me think the translation was making plenty of sense to them. Alex says that presentations like these are usually given at conferences with expensive admission fees, so the fact that Kennedy-Jenks provided this service through our free information series was significant. Turnout wasn’t as high as we had hoped, as a number of the RSVPs we got didn’t show up, but those who attended said they were glad they came and found the presentation very helpful.

This was the last ECOSSolutions session for this year, but based on the success of these first three meetings we plan to keep it going for next year. Thanks again to the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development for providing funding to make these sessions possible and free for attendees. Stay tuned for upcoming session announcements, and if you have a topic you’d like us to cover, send me an email any time at We’ll add your idea to our running list of topics for future meetings.


Mayor-elect McGinn to host 3 town halls

Below is information on three town halls Mayor-elect McGinn is hosting in neighborhoods to get feedback and thoughts from community members. Please use your networks and contacts to help connect the newly elected administration to the community.
Mayor-elect McGinn will be hosting three town halls during the transition. The town halls will continue the mayor-elects work to hear from community members and will be an opportunity for members of the public to share ideas with the mayor-elect.

WHEN: 7pm, Monday, November 30th
WHERE: 10510 5th AVE. NE

WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, December 1st
WHERE: 104 17th AVE S

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WHEN: 7pm, Wednesday, December 2nd
WHERE: : 8815 Seward Park Ave. S.

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For more information, contact Tania Maria at

Taken from the South Park listserv.

Brownfields Redevelopment Conference – October 14th

October 14, Tacoma, WA (with a pre-conference Project Funding Workshop on Oct. 13)
Brownfields Redevelopment Conference. Presented by Northwest Environmental Business Council, U.S. EPA Region 10 Brownfields Team, and Washington Department of Ecology, this conference brings together the diverse parties that need to work in concert to transform contaminated properties into economic success stories – with an agenda that emphasizes the manner in which multiple disciplines need to be integrated into a project from start to finish. The theme of “Building Sustainable Communities” responds to the growing interest by communities to rethink development models in ways that reflect sustainability principles and reduce their carbon footprints. This creates a new context for developers and increases the importance of public/private partnerships. At the same time, the conference explores how these goals must align with the economic realities of the property development marketplace. For more information visit Sponsor and Exhibit opportunities are also available.

Free Self Defense Class in South Park

From the bulletin board at the South Park Neighborhood Center:

My name is Elizabeth and I am offering a free self defense class for the South Park community (all ages, men and women) on August 16th from 12-4pm at the Neighborhood Center (8201 10th Ave S).

The class will be very informal. Basically, I have a self defense book with excellent photos. I plan on demonstrating each move and then have everyone pair up and practice. After 20 minutes, I will demo the next move. It will take us two hours to go through the following moves:

1. Knee kick front/side

2. Stomp kick shin/instep

3. Elbow Strike forward/upward/side/back

4. Palm heel strike (with face scrape)

5. Hug defense

6. Rear defense

If there is interest and time we can also do ground defense, choke hold and wrist grab.

Will is one of our neighbors who has experience with self defense and he has offered to come and help demonstrate the moves, answer questions, and be an ‘attack dummy.’ He Describes himself as a 5’9” tall mean who is close to 400lbs and can be very intimidating when he wants to.

I will spend the first half hour of the class talking about using common sense to stay safe (trusting instincts, watching body language, yelling “NO!” etc), then 2 hours to practice moves, with potential additional half hour for those extra moves. The last hour of class will be open for people to practice whatever they want to, ask questions, and continue to discuss other personal empowerment techniques.

Please RSVP so we can get enough drinks – 940-6145