She Took Action

Interviews by Forterra
Illustrations by Kaitlyn Kurisu

Necessity is the mother of invention. It calls for vision, courage and tenacity. That’s a good thing because it has never been more imperative to find ways to protect Mother Earth and save our little corner of the planet. So we asked activists across our region—women making a big difference—what inspires them to stand up and take action for the places they love.

Georgina Thomas

Community Activist

… because some places are sacred.

The 10-acre Duwamish Hill Preserve in Tukwila is a 35 million year-old site, sacred to the Duwamish and Muckleshoot tribes. I couldn’t witness its destruction without a fight. I loved leading our neighborhood group during its five-year journey involving tribes, politicians, playwrights, archaeologists, students, historians, preservationists, Lushootseed culture, local leaders, Forterra and more. There’s one major certainty with the Preserve: only our limited collective vision obscures its offerings.


Andrea Delgadillo Ostrovsky

Forest Steward, Green Seattle Partnership

… because her neighbors rallied.

In 2006, my husband and I lived adjacent to Cheasty Greenspace, a 10-acre parcel of big leaf maples and thick salal in Seattle’s Rainier Valley that was engulfed by invasive plants and littered with trash. The Green Seattle Partnership and my neighbors shared my concern for Cheasty. We volunteered—cutting down blackberry, hauling out garbage and building trails. Over the years, I’ve been inspired by those who come out month after month, year after year, to do restoration work and also by my daughters who, after helping pull weeds, run off to climb the ivy-free trees.

Illustration by Kaitlyn Kurisu

Maiko Winkler-Chin

Executive Director, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation & Development Authority

… because it was her “heart home.”

The concept of ‘place’ is very important to me. I did not make a conscious effort to save Seattle’s Chinatown International District, but I found my community—my heart home—here, and this place is important to my family. Three generations of my husband’s family were sustained by this neighborhood, and it’s an important place for my child. Through my work at Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, I fight for a balance between development and preservation in order to address my neighborhood’s priorities.

Illustration by Kaitlyn Kurisu

Sharon Nelson

Senator, 34th Congressional District

… because it was her calling.

Our ecosystems need special attention; restoring and protecting Puget Sound should be a top priority. That’s why for more than a decade I worked to protect Maury Island from the expansion of a gravel mine on the island’s shore. The mining was a threat to our madrone forests, herring stock and water resources—I still believe the expansion would have damaged the aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for island residents. And defeating the mining interests allowed King County to purchase what is now the 235-acre Maury Island Marine Preserve.


Njambi Gishuru

Outreach Specialist, Food Innovation Network

… because that’s how she grew up.

I grew up in Kenya’s beautiful Rift Valley province where my family had dairy cows, organically grown chickens, fruits and all kinds of vegetables. Everything we ate was from the land. After I came to America, I missed the tasty food and clean environment. In the last 15 years, working as an outreach specialist with immigrant communities in King County, I have met many people who are looking for land where they can relive their traditions, and share farm culture with their American-born children. Many are interested in an economic opportunity to grow their traditional ethnic products, and to spend time with their families in a farm environment. My conversations with African refugees and immigrants inspired me to support groups of African Wakulima (farmers in the Kiswahili language) in pursuing this conservation dream.


Cyndy Holtz

Program Manager, Seattle Public Utilities Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan

… because her father inspired her.

I grew up in suburban Los Angeles in the ‘60s and ‘70s where there were few opportunities for kids to be exposed to nature. My father also grew up in L.A. without an appreciation for the outdoors until he discovered the Sierra Nevada Mountains when he became scoutmaster of my brothers’ Boy Scout troop. It didn’t take long for him to get the hiking bug; he’d take me hiking—just the two of us. The contrast between my city world and the Sierras impressed me profoundly, so I studied natural resources planning in college. My true inspiration: my dad. Protecting the Cedar River became my Sierras.

Illustration by Kaitlyn Kurisu

Lori Sechrist

President, Save Weyerhaeuser Campus

… because it was second nature.

In 2016, Weyerhaeuser moved its headquarters to downtown Seattle and the threat of industrial development of the Weyerhaeuser Campus in Federal Way, including the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, escalated. Jumping in to advocate for the right kind of development and preserving as much of the green environment as possible was as natural to me as breathing. I never expected to become the face of the Save Weyerhaeuser Campus movement, but I’m proud to be working with so many people who are passionate about preserving, protecting and maintaining this special place.