Perspectives — Urban
Sustainable cities are great places to live, with space for all of us. Forterra secures land in our cities for social good—parks, green space, affordable housing, access to transit, the arts, and other essentials for equity and livability.
The orca mother Tahlequah carried her dead calf for 17 days. People around the world were transfixed. Together, we ached with empathy. My sadness blends into frustration and guilt because the loss of this orca calf has a broader meaning. We are failing a crucial litmus test for the health of our Pacific Northwest.
Booming Seattle is the antithesis of progress for those trying to navigate it while blind. Crammed within a single half-block of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, scores of orange diamonds and white rectangles splay themselves out along curbs, sidewalks and streets, forming a confusing kaleidoscope of a city under construction.
Like many entrepreneurs, they worked multiple jobs, took out loans and saved for years before they could finally realize the dream of being their own boss, presiding over their own shops outfitted in the exact way they imagined. Scarves on this shelf; dresses over there; perfumes over here; or maybe just walls and walls of books. Refugees from Somalia and other East African nations, the women held strong to a desire to run their own businesses. One by one, they eventually succeeded.
It seems like there is no end to the problems humans must solve. There are global challenges: human-driven climate shift, ocean acidification, war, the plights of refugees. The Seattle area also struggles with its own growing list of issues, from a lack of affordable housing, to growing inequality and major traffic woes.
Chris Jordan is a 27-year-old award-winning Tacoma visual artist known for infusing activism into his work. Seeing little recreational space within Bay Terrace, an affordable housing community in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, Jordan partnered with the Tacoma Housing Authority to create Home Court, an illuminated ultra-futuristic basketball court that is one of the most unique art installations and community gathering places in Washington state.
One evening, back when he was in high school, Derek Stinson returned to his Massachusetts home with his parents to encounter his younger brother, Jay, waiting for them at the door. “There’s something in the cupboard,” Jay told them, “and it’s not a rat.” When Derek peered into a cupboard containing the family’s breakfast cereal, a pair of big eyes stared back. They belonged to a southern flying squirrel.
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.
Pollution and climate change are threatening Washington’s health, communities, economy and landscapes, and without action the challenges we face will only get more grim. Initiative 1631, which is on the statewide ballot this November, could help us make crucial moves to fight back. It’s time we stand up for our land and our future, and secure a better Washington for our generation and generations to come.
Here in Seattle, we love to hike. But hiking comes at a cost—to our environment. A round-trip drive between Seattle and Mt. Si emits roughly 80 lbs. of greenhouse gas. For a longer trip—say, a weekend at Mt. Rainier National Park—you could emit about 200 lbs. The numbers add up when considered over the course of a year. Driving 100 miles every weekend will spew approximately 5,000 lbs, or 2.5 tons of carbon, into the atmosphere over the course of a year.
The vision is for the Knight’s Inn property is to build a new community-owned affordable housing and mixed-use commercial space. The ground floor of the building will serve as an international market for a variety of refugee- and immigrant-owned micro-enterprises that are facing displacement in this fast-changing community.
A vote by the Snohomish County Council last week amended zoning along the Highway 99 corridor between Lynnwood and Everett to encourage more compact development near transit, expanding options for farmland conservation by adding areas where new construction can take advantage of a program called transfer of development rights.
Trees provide many benefits for human communities, including a positive effect on health, local economy, safety, child development, and stormwater infrastructure. They’re also vital to another constituency of Seattle residents and visitors—our birds. Each layer of the tree canopy provides habitat to specific birds. Learn which birds live where in your neighborhood trees!
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.
High-flying companies are fueling a red-hot economy around Puget Sound bringing more than a thousand new people each week, intensifying trends of gentrification and displacement. That’s why Forterra is bringing our nearly 30 years of expertise negotiating land transactions in wilderness and farms to our cities. Whether it’s open spaces for nature and play, or affordable homes and vibrant, diverse communities, it all begins with land.
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.
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.
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.