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Field Trips

Tuesday Afternoon, August 18, 2009

Boat Trip of the Lower Duwamish Superfund Site (1:15—5:30 p.m.)

Photo of Houses on the waterway in Lower Duwamish, WA (Photo credit: EPA, May 2002)

Participants enjoyed a guided bus and boat tour of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site with managers from EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology, who are jointly overseeing the cleanup; members of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (the Citizens Advisory Group for the Superfund site); and a representative of the parties paying for the remedial investigation and feasibility study.

This fieldtrip taught the natural and cultural history of the Duwamish River, the last 100 years of industrialization, environmental health and justice concerns, the Superfund cleanup process, habitat restoration, and neighborhood participation activities. Participants also visited upland areas by bus to view early action sites and neighborhood activities. They then boarded a boat to view the river's dynamic mix of industry, residential areas, and habitat restoration. The tour guides explored the complexities of designing a cleanup that met the needs and expectations of industry, residents, and tribal treaty obligations. Participants heard about efforts to address highly contaminated areas as well as the innovative early involvement process through which residents, tribes, and industry representatives are reviewing and providing feedback on early drafts of the remedial investigation and feasibility study as well as removal actions at highly contaminated portions of the site. Wildlife was often visible, including eagles, osprey, seals, and more.

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International District Walking Tour (1:15—5:00 p.m.)

Photo of a Chinese Dragon, ball and Snow Lion, International District, Seattle, WA (Photo by Wonderlane)

Just south of downtown Seattle, tucked between freeways, highways, two professional sports stadiums and the Port of Seattle, is the culturally rich and environmentally challenged Chinatown International District. Environmental challenges include air quality, old buildings, very little green space, and the carelessness of people who come to the District to attend games and litter the streets. However, the District is also a vital and diverse community of residents and businesses, and a well-known destination for its fine and abundant restaurants. The District has strong, committed leaders and organizations who work with the residents, businesses, and agencies to improve the conditions. On this walking tour participants met some of the community organizational leaders who are members of the CARE grant steering committee and youth from the Wilderness Interurban Leadership Development program (WILD) who worked all summer on community projects. The tour ended at the historic Panama Hotel and Tea House, where tea and traditional pastries were sampled.

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Wednesday Afternoon, August 19, 2009

Islandwood Environmental Learning Center (12:15—5:30 p.m.)

Photo  IslandWood, a non-traditional environmental education center located on 255 acres on Bainbridge Island just across the water from Seattle, WA

The Islandwood Environmental Learning Center is a "school in the woods" on Bainbridge Island, six miles by ferry from Seattle. It is 255 acres of Northwest forests, sensitive wetlands, steep ravines, and salmon spawning streams. The mission of Islandwood is to provide exceptional learning experiences and to inspire lifelong environmental and community stewardship. Islandwood wants learning to come alive, using the environment as a classroom and giving experiential "hands-on" education. People with an interest in adventure, lifelong learning, and in building and enhancing stewardship for the environment and communities did not want to miss this tour! The tour was hosted by Caryl Grosch, the Volunteer Coordinator of Islandwood. On the tour, participants saw the green design elements throughout Islandwood, such as salvaged wood, solar heating, and photovoltaic-powered fans. Recycled materials were used for countertops and bathroom partitions, and classrooms had sustainable floors made of materials such as cork or bamboo. Islandwood features a ?living machine? which is an on-site treatment system for wastewater. Reclaimed water is used for low-flush toilets and possibly landscape irrigation.

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Northgate Urban Center: Uniting A Divided Community Through A Facilitated Stakeholder Process (1:00—5:00 p.m.)

Draft Sketch of Northgate Urban Center Rezone, Northgate, WA

This field trip took participants to Northgate, a designated urban center seven miles (15 minutes) north of downtown Seattle, which is in the process of being transformed. It focused on a facilitated stakeholder process that was critical to the successful resolution of issues that had prevented the area's revitalization for a decade. These issues were transportation/traffic congestion, changing the area from auto-centric to transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly, and day lighting Thornton Creek. The creek had been buried in the 1970s under a large vacant parking lot (South Lot) and channeled into a storm pipe that carried untreated runoff from some 680 upland acres to Lake Washington.

A panel including the facilitator, the City of Seattle's project manager, and a cross section of Stakeholders explained how the stakeholder process united a divided community and produced advice to the City that paved the way for progress.

Participants saw photos of South Lot in 2004 and visited South Lot as it is today. A highlight of the site visit was the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel, which is an above-ground natural drainage system that removes 91% of total suspended solids from runoff and also serves as public open space meandering through the mixed-use Thornton Place development.

Returning to downtown, participants drove by other improvements underway at Northgate made possible by the City's investment of nearly $35 million and private investments of $300 million that are achieving the community's vision of a pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented neighborhood.

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