On Earth Day (April 22, 2016) Mayor Ed Murray released the Seattle Equity & Environment Action Agenda, a blueprint for advancing racial justice in Seattle’s environmental work. Operating on the premise that those most affected by environmental inequities must be at the table to create the solutions, the Mayor convened the Community Partners Steering Committee (CPSC) to lead this work exactly one year ago.
“Seattle’s environmental progress and benefits must be shared by all residents no matter their race, immigration status, or income level,” said Mayor Murray. “Addressing environmental injustice challenges in a bold manner is the only way Seattle will continue to lead in sustainability. I call on the leaders in government, environmental community, and philanthropy to see this as a framework for all of us to work together. I am deeply appreciative of the work and dedication of the community members for their work to create this Agenda.”
The Equity & Environment Initiative was launched by Mayor Murray on Earth Day in 2015 in order to deepen Seattle’s commitment to race and social justice in environmental work. Recognizing this work requires multiple strategies, the Mayor charged the CPSC to create an action agenda that calls out opportunities for the City to address racial inequities, but also creates opportunities for priority communities to be leaders in Seattle’s environmental movement.
The CPSC engaged a wide range of communities over the past year including communities of color, youth, low-income, immigrant, refugee, small businesses, faith-based, limited English proficiency, and mainstream environmental communities. The Agenda was developed and informed by community conversations involving over 800 community members
The Seattle Equity & Environment Agenda is organized around four key community priority areas:
- Healthy environments for all
- Jobs, local economies and & youth pathways
- Equity in City environmental programs
- Environmental narrative & community leadership
“The four goal areas in the Agenda are long-standing priorities for communities of color in Seattle,” said Jill Mangaliman, Co-Chair of the Community Partners Steering Committee and Executive Director of Got Green. “We are excited about the City’s recognition of these goals and the commitment to creating opportunities for people of color to be leading on environmental solutions.”
“Community leadership in developing the goals and strategies in this Agenda created a successful and truly inclusive process,” said Dionne Foster, Co-Chair of the Community Partners Steering Committee and policy analyst at Puget Sound Sage. “While setting this Agenda is a huge accomplishment, the real work starts now.”
“I want to thank the hundreds of community members who were part of shaping this agenda and congratulate them for their work,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “This partnership between city government and community advocates will be critical moving forward as we implement the agenda and work to advance environmental equity in our city.”
“I am proud to work with Mayor Murray on advancing racial justice in environmental efforts in Seattle,” said Becky Kelley, President of Washington Environmental Council. “Fostering diversity and ensuring equitable outcomes continues to be a challenge for the environmental movement, but it is an area where both WEC and Seattle are committed to doing more and doing better. By embracing this Agenda, Seattle is modeling an innovative and inclusive approach for other cities and environmental organizations throughout the US.”
“This work is tremendously important for the future environmental and economic health of Seattle,” said Aaron Robertson, Senior Officer, Community Programs, of Seattle Foundation. “We see this Agenda as a collective call to action that provides a roadmap for community, government and philanthropy to align our efforts to ensure environmental justice and make sure that those most-affected have the resources to lead on creating solutions.”
Mayor Murray also announced the following near-term actions as part of Seattle’s overall Equity & Environment Initiative:
- A resolution to City Council adopting the four goal areas of the Agenda as priorities for all departments and core beliefs of Seattle’s approach to sustainability and the environment.
- Creation of a new Duwamish Valley program, to be coordinated by the Office of Sustainability & Environment and the Office of Community Planning & Development to specifically improve environmental, health and socio-economic conditions in partnership with the community and other government agencies.
- Extending opportunities to purchase low-cost fresh fruit and vegetable bags to all families enrolled in the Seattle Preschool Program who are below 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Adding an environmental cohort to the Youth Employment Initiative so that young people are given the opportunity to work for environmental employers through the program.
- Establishing an Environmental Justice Steering Committee, in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) to build on DON leadership programs and support communities of color owning and shaping environmental issues.
In addition to City funding, six local funders provided critical support of the Initiative over the past year, including the Bullitt Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Russell Family Foundation, Loom Foundation and Social Venture Partners. Their funding was matched by Partners for Places – a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
More information on the Equity & Environment initiative can be found at www.seattle.gov/equityenviro.