Perspectives — Blog
At Forterra, our work spans from securing wild places and farms, to land in the city for parks and affordable housing and creating innovative policy.
Read the latest about the work we’re doing and the people and places who shape it.
This year, over two dozen companies participated in ECC. Thanks to them, we planted a whopping 3,330 trees, which, over the next 100 years, will absorb at least 16,650 tons of CO2! The native northwestern conifers we plant absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, effectively offsetting the emissions of program participants. Because we plant locally, the trees also bring the region a host of additional benefits, including stormwater retention, animal habitat and making this place more beautiful.
Washington State is poised to be a national leader in mass timber construction with the passage of SB 5450, which will support the expanded use of Cross Laminated Timber and other mass timber products. The legislation requires the State Building Code Council to adopt rules for the use of mass timber products for residential and commercial building construction.
We teamed up with King County Parks to secure a one-time private wedding venue that will serve as a critical gateway to the recreational trails in the 80,000-acre White River Forest. The land features healthy forests, large meadows and a small lake, and is home to black bear, cougar, bobcat, plus numerous bird species and other wildlife.
We held our 4th Ampersand LIVE last fall at the Moore Theater, with 1200 totally engaged guests. I mean totally engaged. Those on stage told stories, showed pictures, played music and danced. Some of the performances embraced us and some starkly challenged us. It summed to a cross-section of the many voices of our Pacific Northwest. The 90 minutes covered the worries of this place, the hopes of this place and the changes we need to make in this place to be all it can—a sustaining community for everyone here already, and for those yet to come.
In 2015, Forterra spearheaded a conversation with about eighty stakeholders to discuss leveraging CLT and mass timber products to improve forest health, stimulate employment in rural communities, and house a growing urban population. Just over three years and an established CLT Coalition later, engagement has grown substantially.
Across the Puget Sound this fall, more than 2,200 volunteers converged at area parks and green spaces to celebrate Green City Days. Now boasting nine cities in the Green City Partnerships, these annual event connects community members across all age, ethnic and economic backgrounds for a common goal: helping to keep our forested parks and green spaces environmentally healthy.
It’s no coincidence that as Puget Sound grows (and continues to grow), the amount of green space, salmon, and orcas have been in decline. In the intricate, messy web of life that connects locals and transplants, salmon and orcas, and all the other creatures to this place we call home, every decision we make reverberates across seen and unseen threads, making an impact that is as large as it is lasting.
Ampersand LIVE was an incredible evening. From Jehan’s incredulous retelling of the time she ran from lightning towards the jaws of a Grizzly bear, to Paul’s intimate war portraits of iconic creatures threatened by climate change, to Jade’s heartrending dance, to Okanomode’s high notes, to Bill’s recipe for “goo,” there were so many unforgettable and thought-provoking moments—all punctuated by gorgeous harmonies from The Westerlies. It was a night filled with gratitude, amazement, love and hope for our Pacific Northwest.
A section of the beloved Lake Serene trail was scheduled to be logged in the Fall of 2017. We kicked off a fundraising effort in mid-August to protect the trail. It mobilized quickly thanks to support from an amazing community of people who love the special place.
It’s a challenging moment in our country. In today’s harsh political calculus, diversity equals division, not addition, not multiplication. The way we see it, that’s wrong. We’re an organization of land advocates. Many of us were educated in biology and ecology. What you learn in those disciplines is that the healthiest, most resilient places are those with complexity.
I wrote this post as a Sunday interlude 6 days and 5 hours since after our clocks struck 10:20 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday August 21, the exact moment that the moon passed precisely in front of the sun to create a shadow across the northwest, to a greater or lesser extent. By the time we post this, the media mania of the moment will be onto something else, which assuredly will not be anywhere near as benign as a solar eclipse.
By playing to our strengths—land acquisitions—we’re teaming up with local organizations to invigorate the local food economy in South King County. Earlier this year Forterra partnered with International Rescue Community and Global to Local to build a new community garden in Kent’s West Hill neighborhood to serve local refugee, immigrant, and low-incomes families. What started as a thicket of blackberry is now a 10,500 square foot garden for thirty-five families next to a new fruit tree orchard.
Two days of conversation with leaders across Kittitas County and one day of hiking. For the last few months and particularly over two concentrated days, we met with business leaders, advocates, planners, developers, farmers, elected officials and tribal leaders; to name some. The conversations only barely scratched the surface of course—of the richness of the place and the challenges it faces.
Green Everett Partnership volunteer and UW Bothell student, Candice Magbag, set to find out in her class on restoration ecology. In her final project, Candice covers the history of Forterra and her perspectives on conservation. Read her guest post and watch her video below.
Our first visit was in July 1985, short as it was. We were on our tandem and passing through, checking out places to get married. Our first stay was late April 1994, delightful as it was. By then, we had our two kids in tow, and Sina took her first steps on the cabin’s porch. We’ve been returning for a week most every year since.
Hugelkultur, have you heard of it? It’s like active composting while growing plants. This approach is believed to have originated in Europe as a technique for growing plants in places with harsh climates and short growing seasons. Directly translating to “hill culture,” it’s not fully known whether the name came from the hill-like garden it creates, or because it originated in the hill-towns of Europe.
Innovative land deal for “most controversial block in Seattle” makes a mark for inclusion and affordability in Seattle’s rapidly-changing Central District. Forterra teams with Africatown, Lake Union Partners, and Yesler Community Collaborative to make it possible.
What are the most impactful personal and business choices you can make to fight climate change? We recently posed this question to over 50 people at Empower Happy Hour—an event we co-hosted with Green Canopy Homes designed to bring people together and spark conversation about topics that matter in our community.
Acres of proverbial ink have been spilled parsing the nuances of my generation. Depending on who you ask, we’re either lazy, entitled, and waiting, palms up, for our participation trophies, or we’re going to save the planet with our empathy and generosity. We’re saddled with debt, we’re under-employed, and yes, some of us moved back to our parent’s houses.