Nov 19, 2014

Where are the Green Spaces?


By Erin Fox

     The question has been brought up whether millennials (those born from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s), who have typically flocked to urban living, will stay in their urban dwellings to raise a family or move outward into more suburban/rural areas. As a millennial myself living in downtown Seattle for 10 years, after growing up in the country, I think the cityscape is missing one thing which will be a deciding factor in how long people will stay and if they have families in this environment, and that is green spaces.


     Nearly 58,000 people call downtown Seattle home. The area has a density of over 20,000 people per square mile (downtownseattle.com). Downtown also has the fastest growing population of the city.  Conversely, there are only 220 p-patch plots in the downtown area - one plot per 264 people. Along with this rapid growth, and construction,  large, mature trees are being cut down and replaced with much younger, weaker ones. This takes a toll on the “feel” of downtown. The mature trees provide shelter from the ever persistent drizzle, shade in the increasingly sunny summers, natural beauty, and a very real reminder of our roots.

     As we grow older and contemplate having a family, community, connection, and quality of life becoming increasingly important. We need to ask ourselves: is there community in downtown Seattle, is there connection? The downtown is becoming rapidly gentrified, the rich isolated in clusters of luxury condos, our front and back yards sterilized with pavement. There is no community, no connection. The quality of life is not sustainable for the long term and is poor on many fronts.

     First, I would like to address the need for more p-patches in the downtown area. P-patches are small areas of refuge against the bustle of the city. Even if you don’t have a plot in the garden you can wander through the small trails and enjoy the flowers. Growing your own food has become significant for living a more sustainable, healthy life, but also for connection with the land, pride, and an indispensable educational experience for children. Because p-patches are but small patches on a larger piece of land, you are working alongside neighbors, breaking down the solitude and isolation often associated with apartment living and connecting within a community.

     Second, because there is such limited space for ground gardens, many will need to “grow up” with our expansion. Build up, not out as the saying goes in development and this rings true for green spaces. There should be a law requiring all new residential buildings to have a certain amount of garden space dedicated to the residents, be it on the roof or on large common patios. Tops of stand-alone parking garages should become p-patches and green spaces. Ultimately, a mid/high rise building should be dedicated to growing food, a new-style urban park, and a year round farmers market at street level. This may seem radical at first glance, but only because it has yet to be done. If future generations are going to be living in urban environments, our city needs to be sustainable, and foster strong community and connection. We can address these needs by replicating the development of the city itself.  

     To create a greener downtown we also need to address the issue of transportation. Downtown car traffic is a commuter headache, incredibly expensive, time consuming, loud, and one of the largest contributors to pollution in the city. A unified train system should run through downtown to the outlying neighborhoods and popular destinations. Public transit should be the main mode of city transportation. This would free up other streets for safer bike and pedestrian commuting and more green spaces. The lesser-used streets could be turned into one way roads providing more potential green and gardening space, as has been done on Terry Ave and Bell Street. Again, to push this further in the interest of urban families, sustainability, community, and a higher quality of life: portions of downtown should be car free, bike/pedestrian only.

     Finally, vertical gardens and ivy should be considered for covering up the newer "lego" buildings which have recently exploded at the expense of neighborhood aesthetic. These and other flora solutions can be used to roll back the sterile look and feel of our neighborhoods, especially downtown. For example, large hanging baskets have been used to beautify dingy alleyways in Pioneer Square, enticing people to meander the neighborhood and admire its history.

     Nature brings people out and it brings people together. To get people to stay in urban environments and start a family we need these things. Not everyone can own a property out in the country, in fact, most of us can't. So we need to incorporate the country into our cities. We need quieter, safer streets. We need options to grow our own food, easy access to public transportation and prevalent green spaces. We need our cities to be sustainable. 

Nov 7, 2014

SplashBoxx wins KCD Award

SplashBoxx  


Sustainable Seattle has partnered with SplashBoxx, LLC and GeAlogica, LLC to carry out an innovative "above ground" rain garden project at the Port of Seattle.
SplashBoxx makes it possible to use Nature's stormwater cleaning magic even when the soil in a particular area does not test well for in-ground rain gardens.  The project is going well. Regular soil and volcanic soil mixes are being compared as dirty runoff falls from the roof of an old building at the Port then filters through the SplashBoxx. If successful, the Port and other highly paved industrial sites are likely to use this approach to clean the runoff from their operations before it heads into the Sound. Learn more about the project in the fun video below!

Treating Stormwater Runoff

Oct 23, 2014

Sustainability Leadership Awards 2015

It is the season.. for the Sustainability Leadership Awards!

 Send us your nominations, we know you have some great organizations in mind.

Nominations due by November 14th.
 
Mark your calendars for January 23rd!

We will be heading to MOHAI again this year, celebrating the most inspiring accomplishments in the region that are moving sustainability forward.  Check out
photos from last year! 

Individual Award
Sustainability Hero  
A specific individual who has made a significant and inspiring contribution to the sustainability movement in the Greater Seattle area in their role as a community member or as part of an organization.

Business/Government Awards
Significant Newcomer (The First Step is the Hardest) 
A business that is new to incorporating sustainability into their business practies.  The changes are making a significant impact on the business' resource use and social impacts.
Creative Solution to a Big Problem: Innovator
  A business that has engaged in an innovative approach to a sustainability challenge, reducing resource use and negative social impacts.
Setting An Example: Doing it Right 
( A business that has become a model for their sustainability practices.  The business emphasizes transparency and education in implementing the sustainability practices, providing a demonstration for other businesses to duplicate their efforts.

Community Awards
Transforming Spaces:Landscape or Building
  Project that revived, transformed, or changed the purpose of an urban community space - including parks, streets, and other public spaces.
Resource Impact: Energy, Water, Materials, Waste
Project or campaign that significantly impacted water and/or energy use, air and/or water quality, and/or local food networks at a community-wide level.
Transportation Changer
Transformed and/or impacted how one or more community utilizes or engages with transportation relating to bike and pedestrian safety, transit-oriented communities, and/or public transit.



Depave Seattle Launches

We are ready to kick some asphalt! 


Last week our team launched Depave the Duwamish, a King County and King Conservation District funded project that will entail pulling up unnecessary asphalt at industrial sites in the Duwamish Valley and replacing it with rain gardens, trees, and other plants. This has a powerful positive impact on our waterways, cleaning dirty stormwater as it filters through the ground, preventing polluted runoff from entering the Sound and other waterways.  Tune in to the project on Facebook!
 
To be a feasible Depave site for this project, properties need to fit certain criteria.  For one, we are focusing on sites that are not connected to the Combined Sewer System, and are not known toxic cleanup sites. Two, we are seeking sites with property owners who are excited to partner with us on this project to remove asphalt and improve the site with greenery and other amenities to improve customer and employee experiences. 


Know of a good site? Have questions about the site criteria?  Let us know!

Sep 24, 2014

The Age of Sustainable Development




Is it really the Age of Sustainable Development?
Jeffery Sacks, a Columbia University professor, is teaching a free course over the next few weeks on Coursera. The title, "The Age of Sustainable Development," evokes a sense of large scale transition in our society and, indeed, he points out many elements coming together that indicate this change is happening.

Looking around the city it's obvious we are experiencing another growth spurt. One of our urban farming partners just had two of their city block farm properties be put on the market to sell for further real estate development. Our office at the Seattle Impact Hub is surrounded by a newly vibrant Pioneer Square community of businesses. Urbanization is upon us and is expected to continue toward greater densification. The Urban Land institute has recognized this and developed helpful frameworks for communities to use to address their resilience as they densify. Disasters like Hurricane Sandy illustrate our vulnerability in densely populated regions.

All sorts of good things happen in cities. People use less energy because they can walk, bike, or ride transit. There is more innovation in cities due to cross-pollination of ideas. Land outside of the city can be preserved for farms and recreation, giving city dwellers easy access to locally grown food and nature.

Running with the trend we can use this growth as an opportunity to build the cities we want. More green spaces, bike paths, resilient buildings and roadways. The Age of Sustainable Development is bringing with it great opportunities to make our cities better, cleaner, safer, more resilient, and overall more vibrant for all.

Join us on October 2nd at the PNW Resilience Challenge Summit where an impressive line-up of regional leaders will launch us into a multi-year initiative aimed at reinventing our cities for the challenges of the future.

Aug 21, 2014

PNW Resilience Challenge Launches Oct 2nd

Sustainable Seattle invites you to join the Pacific Northwest Resilience Challenge, a three-year initiative aimed at accelerating the ability of our urban areas in the Puget Sound Region to respond to disruptive events. 

Our team of over 20 regional leaders have been working months to put together a program full of various ways to act together on key issues. Including:
  • Rapid Urban Growth 
  • Low Income Communities 
  • Climate Impacts 
  • Earthquakes 
  • Public Health Risks
Join the conversation at a full-day summit on October 2, 2014 at the University of Washington's HUB. Registration is now open! Mobilize with regional citizens and design solutions that will address the vulnerabilities of our growing urban communities, our infrastructure and our businesses. Learn more

A primary focus of the proposed initiative is fostering cross-sector information exchange and collaborative action toward high priority goals. We are drawing together different communities across silos, including representation from a wide range of sectors: 
  • Land use and development construction, green building
  • Regulatory, legal, political 
  • Data communications and security 
  • Finance, insurance, business 
  • Scientific, academic, engineering 
Join us and mobilize for resiliency!

Meet the Speakers
From reinsurance specialists, to scientists, urban planners and an official Executive Connector. Our speakers are all committed to working across sectors to change and adapt to the times that lie ahead.  More
Register Before Sept 12 for Early Bird Prices
Registration for the summit is $99 when purchased by Friday, September 12 (11:59pm). (Sustainable Seattle members receive an additional discount). Register

Look Back at Sustainable Seattle's 2013 Conference
The challenge is an extension of last Fall's conference, Climate Change and The Bottom Line. At this year's summit, similar topics on regional economic risks will be discussed but will include a broader set of issues such as community and infrastructure risks. Read a blog recap, watch videos, or find photos of that event here.
Head to pnwresilience.org to find the agenda and read more on:
 

Partners
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Sponsors
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Help spark a regional resiliency movement. Sponsors of the summit can expect visibility with a large number of business, non-profit, government and education leaders in the Pacific Northwest. View sponsorship opportunities

Aug 6, 2014

The Big Green 2014


With summertime in full swing, we invite you to celebrate with us
at The Big Green 2014 - our third annual community picnic and festival sponsored by BECU.  This year, Sustainable Seattle and Seattle Greendrinks are partnering up with Sustainable NE Seattle to bring you an event packed full with food, music, activities, and more!


When you arrive, you could visit Sustainable Seattle's tent to create your button, head over to the DIY table to make your own laundry soap, jump into a game of giant Twister, take a spin on an electric bike, or even get a quick fix on your own bike!  Plus bring your dull knives to be sharpened at the NE Seattle Tool Library table and pack a bag of unwanted goodies to exchange or find items at the Buy Nothing NE table. 

With vendors like Seattle Tilth, Outdoor Research, ZipCar, and more - it is definitely a don't miss evening!  Check out all the vendors here.  
    
Enjoy your picnic - whether you bring it along or pick up a slice from Wicked Pies (Cash only) - while listening to live music.  Fill out your meal with snacks from Chaco Canyon Cafe and Snoqualmie Ice Cream!  In the Beer Garden, enjoy pours from Fremont Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Wilridge Winery.

As it is a Greendrinks event - bring your own fabulous cup, jar, or water bottle and a suggested donation of $5 to enjoy the beer garden!   

Find the event on Facebook and invite your friends!  Learn all the details here.  

Thank you to BECU for sponsoring the event and to our in-kind sponsors, Silicon Energy and Recology Cleanscapes for bringing services to make the event possible! 


Jul 3, 2014

Summer Bash 2014



July Greendrinks Summer Bash
Tuesday, July 8, 5:30-8:30pm


Happy 4th of July weekend!  Don't forget that we're meeting next Tuesday for a Tools for Tomorrow X Greendrinks summer get together to celebrate local businesses going green! 
Guest speakers include: 
Stan Gent, President and CEO of Seattle Steam, to share about energy efficient heat production that they send to 200 downtown Seattle buildings.
Charlie Cunniff, Deputy Director of Seattle 2030 District, to give us the scoop on their collaborative work in creating a groundbreaking high-performance building district in downtown Seattle.
Come meet others who attend Tools for Tomorrow events, the Greendrinks crowd and the marina views. Here's what else will be going on for the night:

Learn more about the event, including the featured businesses here. Or find the event and tell a friend on Facebook 
Will this be your first Seattle Greendrinks event?  Welcome to the community!  Seattle Greendrinks was started 11 years ago to help grow and convene Seattle's environmental community.  A long standing tradition is reduce event waste---even compostable waste--so bring your own mug, chalice, champagne flute, and the like to sip out of for the night.
  
  
  
THANK YOU TO OUR SUMMER BASH SPONSORS

   
    

  sustainable biz c