A gathering of dignitaries and community activists this morning at the Duwamish Longhouse in West Seattle was a precursor to a gathering next week at which your help is vital – with the hope of a healthier future in eastern West Seattle and other Duwamish River-area communities including South Park and Georgetown.
It was a celebration as much as anything – the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition has received a $100,000 federal grant for a program called Duwamish Valley Healthy Communities. DRCC staff including James Rasmussen – who emceed the event (and is shown above with EPA’s Dennis McLerran) – B.J. Cummings, and Alberto Rodriguez were there.
Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen spoke first (after you hit “play” on our clip above, that’s who you’ll see). King County Executive Dow Constantine and City Council President Richard Conlin – both fervent environmental advocates – spoke too, as did the EPA’s regional director.
But the people most involved in making “healthy communities” happen, collaborating (as described in a news release) “to understand and reduce risks due to toxic pollutants and environmental concerns from all sources,” weren’t there – because they’ll just be finding out about it now: Local residents, and businesspeople. “We must work through this together,” Rasmussen said.
“We are evolving a new vision of what the Duwamish can be,” observed Conlin, saying that for all the talk about the Seattle waterfront’s future, that cannot merely address the Elliott Bay waterfront post-viaduct, it must include the Duwamish River waterfront too.
Constantine noted that communities’ concerns will be prioritized, and that equity and fairness will be sought, with the end result a “healthy physical and natural environment.” He also mentioned the county’s Combined Sewer Overflows-reduction program (which has made news on West Seattle’s Puget Sound shoreline too), and the hundreds of millions of dollars going into cleaner water through that program.
McLerran, EPA’s Region 10 Administrator, called it a “very exciting day” for his agency, which doesn’t make grants this size so much any more, he said. This is one of 100 communities to get the grant so far, though, and he said they “really do result in great things for communities.”
He declared the program “the right money going to the right places for the right things.”
So what exactly will those “things” be? That’ll be determined in the convening of a “sustainable partnership” – starting with a meeting on November 10th, 6-9 pm, at South Seattle Community College‘s Georgetown campus (6737 Corson Avenue South). Food, music, kids’ activities, and Spanish/Vietnamese interpretation are all planned. Cummings (right), who recently returned to DRCC after a sabbatical, is point person on the Healthy Communities Project, and excited about it. You can contact her for information – firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-458-0284..