One Roof Foundation and Seattle Kraken kick off Earth month with South Park clean up. — by Rob Johnson
One Roof Foundation is committed to advancing environmental justice because everyone should have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean and safe places to live and play. When we started our journey to better understand the goals and objectives of environmental justice advocates we were introduced to Paulina Lopez. As the Executive Director of the Duwamish River Community Coalition (DRCC), Paulina advocates for communities like South Park who are the first to feel the causes and effects of climate change and generally the last to receive public funding for mitigation or adaptation strategies to combat those effects. We started small, working with DRCC on projects like ball hockey clinics at the South Park community center and volunteering our staff time for organized neighborhood cleanups and festivals. Last year One Roof purchased air filters for every learning space at Concord Elementary School to improve air quality and learning conditions. And this month we showed up to learn how we could help the community start to recover from the damage created by serious flooding from recent King Tides.
Over the course of several days in December the neighborhood was inundated with water that flowed over the banks of the Duwamish and in many instances went as far back as 6 blocks. This water, contaminated from decades of industrial waste and runoff, flooded the homes of a number families all of whom have been displaced until and if their homes are deemed safe for them to return. In early March, Seattle Kraken and One Roof Foundation staffers organized a walk with local government officials and community members to talk about short, medium, and long term solutions to help displaced families secure housing and rebuild community, and ensure that flooding mitigation strategies are better coordinated during the next King Tide event. We will continue to work with these public sector partners in the coming months to help implement these solutions.
“I am always very grateful with our partners from One Roof Foundation, the Kraken team, and Tegria who are always there for us to support community in intentional ways” said Paulina. “They have supported our community with health equity actions by bringing HEPA filters to our local elementary school to bringing us partners to organize cleanups and funding to reduce the inequities in the community of the Duwamish Valley as well as access and opportunities to our local youth to understand climate resilience actions. We feel good not be alone in the fight for justice and wellbeing.”
“Progress toward environmental justice and community health requires commitment to action and steadfast partnerships. At Tegria, we’re grateful for the opportunity to come alongside the Seattle Kraken and One Roof Foundation to support the people of South Park – who, to put it mildly, inspire us with their dedication, resourcefulness and warmth,” said Kevin Kutz, vice president, external relations, Tegria.
This past weekend, Seattle Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena, and One Roof Foundation staff joined forces with corporate partner Tegria and the South Park community to clean up some of the debris left by the floods, as well as paint homes, cover up graffiti, and move sandbags. The team made significant progress, but there is much work left to be done to help the community and the families recover.
“It was great to be back in South Park this past weekend with our partners from Tegria and the South Park community.” said Jacob Hall, Community Programs Specialist for the Seattle Kraken. “Our theme for Green Month this year is ‘small acts lead to big change’ and our volunteers got a taste of that on Saturday. Each time we participate in a cleanup, it is often many volunteers’ first visit to the area. They hear the history of the Duwamish River, stand on the banks and understand that we have a duty to help our neighbors and take care of each other. Small acts lead to big change, and we intend to keep showing up to help make sure the South Park community is heard.”
“Today is a great example of starting baby steps, doing one step at a time.” Said Maggie Angel Cano, DRCC’s Community Engagement and Communications Specialist. “Litter pickup doesn’t seem like a big deal, but we are really concerned about source control. Avoiding that litter, avoiding that garbage to end up in our stormwater drains and ending up in our river is a first step for us and the community to do.”
The Kraken and One Roof Foundation are proud to support the South Park community and we invite you to join us. A portion of One Roof Foundation’s Anchor Auction proceeds on Green Night April 6th will benefit those families displaced by the King Tide flooding (click here to learn more). To donate to emergency relief services for families displaced by the flooding or if you’d like to learn more about DRCC’s work; please visit their website here.