May 14, 2019
by Cathy Swift
On October 27th, nearly 200 guests joined the Port for its first-ever multilingual boat tour of Elliott Bay and the Duwamish River. Each year, the Port offers its public education series, “Port U” Tours to raise awareness about Port operations, impact, and involvement in the community; in past years, narration was only offered in English.
“It has long been a vision for the Port to offer a boat tour that is accessible to everyone in the community, especially those that live nearest to our operations. We’ve gotten feedback that if we offered a multilingual opportunity, we’d be able to reach new audiences and build stronger partnerships with our near-port neighbors. This year, we are proud to make that happen,” said Sally del Fierro, Director of Community Engagement.
The Port offered Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Spanish language interpretation on board. The program was designed to be accessible for limited English proficient guests, who often cannot participate in these types of events due to a language barrier. "We have so many near-port neighbors that are paying taxes and voting, but are not familiar with how the Port impacts their lives or how they can engage with our programs. This event was an excellent opportunity to make that information available," said del Fierro.
The Port tour presented information about the Port’s economic development mission, environmental projects, and community engagement programs. For example, the tour highlighted the Port’s support for small businesses — a delicious lunch was provided by a South Park family-owned business — Saigon Sandwich and Pho. In addition, a college intern shared her experience about working with the Port and encouraged other students to apply. Cruising along, guests learned about the Port’s wildlife habitat restoration sites at Terminal 107 Park and Jack Block Park at Terminal 5. Joined by Seattle-King County Public Health, a cohort of Community Health Advocates spoke to guests in their own languages about the legacy of historical pollution still present in the river and how to stay safe when fishing and consuming seafood caught from the river.
Port staff were available on the boat to answer guests’ questions with the help of language interpreters, making sure that everyone had the chance to get more information about the Port. This event is one of the outcomes of the Port’s involvement with the Duwamish Valley Environmental Justice Capacity Building Project.
“There was overwhelming support for this event in the community and we are already getting requests to do it again next year. Through this project, we are building community capacity to work with the Port, and we are building our own organization’s capacity to better reach and engage with all of our constituents. It’s definitely a win-win for all of us,” said Elizabeth Leavitt, Executive Sponsor for the project and Senior Director of Environment and Sustainability at the Port.
May 14, 2019
by Cathy Swift
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