Oct 6, 2011

An Update from the Sustainable Rain Gardens Project

Sustainable Seattle completed installing and planting five rain gardens as part of our Sustainable Rain project. This important milestone means we have demonstration gardens at businesses and organizations in the Central District, White Center, West Seattle, and two different locations in Beacon Hill. We are now planning community workshops in each of the neighborhoods to spread the word about this neighborhood project and how residents can install their own rain garden. We will also be announcing a rain garden scholarship project to help fund more rain gardens in the Seattle area.

Rain gardens are attractive landscape features that remove pollutants from storm water runoff before it reaches Puget Sound. These shallow depressions are designed to absorb and treat rainwater from paved surfaces such as roofs, parking areas, and sidewalks. A rain garden has rich soil and usually native plants adapted to changing water levels. The soil and plants remove pollutants from storm water and reduce flooding and overflow in the sewer system.

We have designed our rain gardens to be more than this, however. They will be a demonstration, an inspiration for businesses and community members to take the next step towards sustainability. All of our neighborhoods were selected because rain gardens were not present yet and so that neighbors could have access to them and learn from them. Rain gardens are one of the tangible things that property owners can do to reduce storm water pollution. Participating business owners are getting some other sustainable business ideas on topics as diverse as reducing solid waste to encouraging community engagement for employees.

We would again like to thank our great partners that have been working with us on this: Home Grown Organics, Rain Dog Designs, Stewardship Partners, Alleycat Acres, and Creatives4Community. Youth from Creatives4Community reached out to businesses in the neighborhoods to find participants. A big thank you to all the volunteers who came out to excavate and plant the rain gardens! Our rain gardens will be a part of the 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound map. We are producing signs for each of the sites, showing how a rain garden works and what they do. They will match signs at other sites installed by Stewardship Partners as part of the 12,000 Rain Gardens.

We also want to thank our participating organizations, most of whom came to us and asked to participate and worked patiently with us on this new project. Our participants include Big Al Brewery in White Center, whose rain garden required jack-hammering asphalt and now sits next to their outside beer garden area. In Beacon Hill, we installed rain gardens at El Centro de la Raza, Latino cultural center, and Helen B. Ratcliff, a woman's transitional prison facility. Green Plate Special, a educational garden and cooking project in a vacant lot in the Central District, now has a rain garden to treat the run-off from their kitchen facilities thanks to Sustainable Rain. And in West Seattle, Alexandria Melchior warmly embraced her rain garden for her newly renovated yard at her residence and business property.

Sustainable Rain garden workshops where you can learn about how to install a rain garden and about rain garden scholarships:

November 14, 6:30 -8:30 at 2100 Building in the Central District
November 16, 6:30-8:30 at Big Al Brewery in White Center

More workshop announcements coming.

Check out our Facebook page for updates and news on when and where these workshops will be occurring!

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