by Patheresa Wells
The Emerald blows loudly as the royal trumpet, signaling that there is indeed life abundant. It’s the sound of information, the sound of challenge, the sound of change and — maybe most importantly — the sound of hope. Join me in supporting the Emerald as a recurring donor during their 8th anniversary campaign, Ripples & Sparks at Home, April 20–28. Become a Rainmaker now by choosing the “recurring donor” option on the donation page!
—Marcus Harden, Educator, Author, & Rainmaker
The Duwamish River’s (Dxwdəw) history is as complex as the river and its watershed. Over time, it has changed, much like the land and people around it. Though it was once a vital ecosystem home to the Duwamish people, as the area’s urbanization occurred over the years, the river and its watershed became polluted. Eventually, the pollution caused the Lower Duwamish Waterway to be designated an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. These sites include “the nation’s most contaminated sites,” which are targeted for investigation and cleanup.
Continue reading Duwamish Alive! Coalition: Stewards of the River
by Tushar Khurana
But the program faces a legacy of driver exploitation…
For months, the news has been brimming with stories of the so-called “supply chain crisis” — the disruption of shipping and manufacturing that has stranded cargo carriers and logjammed containers at ports around the world, resulting in PPE shortages, empty grocery shelves, and a general scarcity of consumer goods. But for many communities, the global distribution system’s routine operations present regular supply chain crises of a different sort.
Continue reading A Duwamish Valley Truck Electrification Program Looks to Reduce Air Pollution
by Tushar Khurana
Every year, salmon journey from the open waters of the North Pacific, pass through estuaries along the coast, and swim upriver to spawn in the freshwater streams and creeks in which they were born. Yet across the western coast of North America, coho salmon are dying in large numbers as they return to urban watersheds. In West Seattle, a team of citizen scientists are surveying salmon to understand how many are affected.
Since 2015, small teams of volunteers have gone out every day in the fall to document returning salmon along a quarter mile stretch of Longfellow Creek.
Continue reading In the Duwamish Watershed, Communities Respond as Coho Salmon Face a New Threat
by Ben Adlin
Shape Our Water is a community-centered project from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and KVRU 105.7 FM, a hyperlocal low power FM station in South Seattle, to plan the next 50 years of Seattle’s drainage and wastewater systems. Funded by SPU, the project spotlights members of local community-based organizations and asks them to share how water shapes their lives. Our latest conversation is with Maggie Angel-Cano, community engagement and communications specialist for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
Growing up in South Park, Maggie Angel-Cano spent years without realizing Seattle’s only river ran through her neighborhood.
“We had no idea there was a river in the community,” she said. “We just, you know, lived our daily life: work, school, back home.”
Continue reading Shape Our Water: Magdalena ‘Maggie’ Angel-Cano
by Guy Oron
On a small sliver of land in South Park along the Duwamish River, there once sat eight affordable houses. Now only five remain. Over the past few months, the new owners of these properties, National Products Inc. (commonly known as Ram Mounts or NPI), have begun demolishing these cottage-style houses.
Ram Mounts purchased the lots — known as the South Park triangle — through a shell company in 2019 for $2.5 million. The company is a plastics manufacturer that owns multiple warehouses and facilities on the block across the street to the south of the triangle. It hopes to replace the houses with a “park-like setting, with a noise abatement wall” to serve as a buffer between its facilities and the rest of the neighborhood. The company also plans on using the adjacent right-of-way for more parking.
However, some residents fear that Ram Mounts is simply using this new purchase to continue to expand their footprint in the area. Jennifer Scarlett, a neighbor who lives one block away from the triangle, sees the recent purchase and demolitions as part of a larger pattern of industrial expansion. “Yeah, they’ve already expanded twice … they’re an industrial company, they’re not on industrial zoning, and they keep expanding,” said Scarlett.
Continue reading South Park Residents Fear Industrial Expansion as Houses Are Demolished
by Paulina López and Troy D. Abel
Recently, legislative debates turned from carbon pricing to the Healthy Environment for All Act (HEAL) uplifting environmental justice (EJ). This is important legislation, but what we really need are bold solutions and different laws addressing a persistent form of unjust and ongoing pollution. Air toxic exposure disparities and their impacts on communities like the Duwamish Valley are still being ignored by politicians and industry. This inattention continues even as new research suggests that higher air pollution may increase COVID-19 vulnerability and deaths.
Many environmentalists in our region not only overlook decades of toxic air pollution injustice, some even gloss over the problem. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Seattle office announced that industrial toxic releases declined in the Northwest. Pollution dropped 12% in 2019 for 752 facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. They further asserted “that U.S. companies that use and manage chemicals and metals continue to make progress in preventing pollution.”
But we knew that regional averages likely obscured trends in our heavily polluted Duwamish River Valley neighborhoods of Georgetown and South Park — often first documented by our community. EPA analysts lumped air, water, and land pollution together. When viewed separately, air and water pollution went up in the Northwest. Surface-water discharges increased by 1.17 million pounds and air pollution by 610 thousand pounds between 2018 and 2019.
Continue reading OPINION: Clean Air Everywhere, for Everyone in Washington
by Chetanya Robinson
A new transit measure on the ballot before voters this year could have significant impacts for communities in the South End, including new bus service connecting Seattle to south King County, free Orca cards for high school students, and traffic and pollution in the Duwamish Valley.
Continue reading Tax Measure to Fund Buses and Transit Could Have Significant Impacts in the South End
by Bunthay Cheam
On Tuesday July 7, the Port of Seattle broke ground on Terminal 117 Park located in South Park along the west bank of the Duwamish River.
With the South Park bridge, moored sailboats, and dozens of Boeing commercial jets as a backdrop, Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins opened the event and stressed the importance of the Port’s relationship with its neighbors, saying, “throughout the cleanup, the Port and the community maintained an open dialogue on design ideas, and we know we have a better outcome as a result of that strong partnership.”
Continue reading Groundbreaking of Port’s Terminal 117 Park Increases Access for Duwamish Valley Communities
by Bunthay Cheam
On March 23, the City of Seattle closed the West Seattle Bridge due to rapidly expanding cracks that rendered it unsafe for vehicle traffic.
The bridge will be closed until at least 2021 and may not be repairable according to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) director Sam Zimbabwe. SDOT is still working to assess the full cost and timeline of needed repairs.
The city-owned bridge is vital to people living on the West Seattle peninsula, serving as the main route of access to the rest of the city, serving about 100,000 vehicles per day.
The main detour routes offered by the city take drivers through the Duwamish Valley, and through the communities of Georgetown, South Park and along West Marginal Way.
Continue reading West Seattle Bridge Closure Exposes Inequities in Duwamish Valley Communities