WE NEED YOUR HELP!
(Photo by Stewardship Partners; Rain garden in Puyallup.)
Read the article below written by Amy Waterman, the project lead for our Sustainable Rain Project. You can learn more about not only our projects, but also about rain gardens themselves. Do you know what they are for? How they help the environment and the surrounding communities? Saturday is a great day to learn the answers to these questions and many others. You can help protect Puget Sound and sustainable businesses. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Sustainable Rain: We’re Not All Wet Behind the Ears Anymore
By Amy Waterman, Project Lead
This is an update from the field on Sustainable Rain, Sustainable Seattle’s project to create rain garden demonstration projects at small businesses and organizations in Seattle funded by the Russell Family Foundation. The goal of this project is to energize the business/organization leaders and their communities around creating positive change for their own property that also benefits the community. Rain gardens are one tangible piece of a “sustainable neighborhood.”
Rain gardens, in case you haven’t heard, are basically very attractive stormwater treatment areas that can be used in relatively small spaces to treat the runoff from roofs, driveways, and sidewalks through a carefully designed basin with extra rich soil and plants adapted to different water levels. We will be working in some of our denser neighborhoods to install rain gardens, do education and outreach on their benefits, and also teach business/organization leaders about sustainable practices that go beyond “green.”
We have five forward-thinking leaders who have agreed to work with us to learn more about sustainable practices and allow us to install a rain garden on their property. Our leaders are the Laura Dewell from Green Plate Special organization in the Central District, Doug Jans from the Pioneer Human Services’ Helen B. Ratcliff House in Beacon Hill, Alexandria Melchior, property owner in West Seattle, Estela Ortega, director of El Centro de la Raza, and Noelle Brown from Big Al Brewery in White Center. We are pleased and proud to be working with these organizations and individuals.
We are proud to be working with our partners on this project: Creatives for Community, Homegrown Organics, Alleycat Acres, and Stewardship Partners. Sustainable West Seattle is also an important ally on this project.
Stewardship Partners have been very helpful in getting us started, due to their experience with many community rain garden projects. We have been getting the word out in the neighborhoods and talking to potential participants with the help of Creatives for Community youth (C4C) as well as lots of ideas that came from Sustainable West Seattle. One of our potential sites (which unfortunately did not have enough space for a rain garden) was The Station Café in Beacon Hill and they came to us directly from the canvassing work of C4C. I have been working closely with Homegrown Organics, a local landscaping company that was involved with Sustainable Seattle’s first rain garden last year, to evaluate sites and do technical review to determine if a rain garden will work on an interested parties’ property. Rain gardens are one of many innovative ways to clean up stormwater and they do NOT work everywhere, as has been demonstrated in Seattle already.
This project is ambitious with a short time frame, with all five rain gardens, sustainability training, and community education happening this calendar year. Although El Centro de la Raza and Big Al Brewery are still undergoing some feasibility review, we are moving forward in July with design work and sustainability interviews, beginning at the other three sites. Over the rest of the summer, we will begin construction and develop agreements with landowners on maintenance of the rain gardens. Some sites will be excavated in July and planted in September, in time for the fall rains and some may be completed in July. We are going to be volunteers soon help build the rain gardens and welcome questions, and feedback on the projects, as they take shape. As the rain gardens are completed, we will be holding community meetings to share the project’s lessons and results and provide some training for those interested in pursuing a rain garden on their property.
There will another upcoming volunteer opportunity in mid-August to plant in all five of the rain gardens around the city. Look out for announcement of this on our website and facebook page.