The Port of Seattle Commission approved $175,000 for near-Port environmental justice communities of South Park and Georgetown to partner with the Port as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Stakeholder Engagement and Capacity Building technical assistance grant awarded in 2017.
“The Port of Seattle is committed to our involvement in supporting near-Port communities that have taken the brunt of environmental impacts from many sources for decades. We understand that for our region to be vibrant and prosperous, we have to consider historic inequities that continue to bar some communities from sharing our economic opportunities,” said Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “This project has been a great opportunity for us to think differently and take action to be part of the solution.”
The Near-port Community Capacity Building/Stakeholder Engagement Project focuses on community empowerment in Seattle’s South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods while improving environmental performance and community engagement practices at the Port of Seattle. The project’s activities over the past year have enabled the Port to integrate new engagement best practices, expand the Port’s cultural competencies, build stronger relationships with Duwamish Valley community members, and take action on solutions. The partnership is exploring a Community Benefits Agreement and Good Neighbor Strategic Plan to address the project’s long-term sustainability.
“We look forward to work with the Port to address important, mutually beneficial needs, such as better community engagement strategies and improved environmental health,” said Andrew Schiffer, a Georgetown representative on the project. “By the end of this project, the community hopes to have a Community Benefits Agreement established, a pact between the Port and Duwamish Valley residents to reduce inequities and ensure we receive our share in the benefits the Port provides for our county as a whole.
Pilot project participants have spent the past year testing and refining the EPA’s draft stakeholder engagement and capacity building tools, the Ports Primer for Communities, the Community Action Roadmap, and the Environmental Justice Primer for Ports. “We thank the EPA for their leadership and partnership in this pilot project opportunity,” said Commissioner Fred Felleman. “The Port is looking forward to continue supporting this type of healthy dialogue between ports and their neighboring communities and we are happy to be at the forefront of this important work.“