Work in Seattle? Six months of paid family leave may soon be an option

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez
Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez rolled out a new paid family leave policy.

Attention new parents: By 2020, Seattle could require all businesses in its city limits to offer you six months of paid time off. The proposal would more than double what New York offers, which is 12 weeks, currently the longest paid parental leave policy in the country.

Nearly half of Seattle’s more than 400,000 workers don’t have access to any amount of paid parental leave. And for low-wage workers, that number jumps to two-thirds.

It’s currently up to private businesses to determine how much paid time off they offer to new parents. Among those private employers that have such policies in place, most plans are less than 8 weeks long, according to a survey of 400 Seattle workers commissioned by the Seattle City Council.

That means workers like Jeanette Randall, a checker at Safeway, must often choose between work and attending the medical appointments of her child who is autistic. “I should be taking off work to spend time with my son,” she said at a city council committee meeting Wednesday. “I should make it to every appointment. I shouldn’t have to think about what missing work means for my family.”



Continue reading at Crosscut

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WCMER and Metro Center Evaluation Internship


To establish a robust evaluation plan for the WSU Metro Center, based on qualitative and
quantitative data, which can also incorporate evaluating the WCMER and each member
metropolitan Extension program. Both the WSU Metro Center and WCMER’s ultimate impact is to
elevate the stature of Extension and LGU’s to metropolitan decision makers.

About the Center’s

WSU Metro Center: The WSU Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension
was established in Jan, 2016. It is one of 3 subject-matter centers housed within WSU Extension’s Community and Economic Development Unit. It is located in on the campus of WSU Everett with offices also in WSU Seattle, but has a statewide mandate. The Metro Center puts ‘the people’s university’ to work for Washington’s cities, bringing world class expertise to help inform data driven decisions and implement change that works. Utilizing applied research, the Metro Center’s work is outcome driven and solution oriented, geared toward developing practical knowledge and place-based solutions to alleviate modern world problems. It operates on a project basis; developing unique teams to address specific issues requested by funding partners.

WCMER: The Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research
was established in 2015 and is a membership organization comprised of 7 Land-Grant University Extension programs and hosted by the WSU Metro Center. This regional Center will a) increase the internal capacity of Western Extension programs to address metropolitan issues and b) elevate the stature and value of Cooperative Extension to external metropolitan audiences. Its primary activities are conduction applied research and professional development for member institutions. The Center has an advisory board comprised of platinum member institutions.


The plan is to establish an evaluation framework that, through quantitative and qualitative approaches, will create a robust evaluation of the WSU Metro Center, WCMER, and its member states’ metropolitan Extension programs. The cornerstone elements of the evaluation will be:

  • Quantitative data: Extension programs currently collect numerous quantitative data across
    all their programs, whether they occur in metropolitan areas or not. The goal of this element
    is to determine what metrics would be unique to Extension activities in metropolitan areas
    that can be or are already being collected.
  • Qualitative Data: Qualitative data will be collected on two levels for separate purposes:
    • State-level: Through Key Informant Interviews, data will be collected related to the target goal of understanding the impact of Extension within member states. Key informants would be identified by WCMER Advisory Board members for their metropolitan communities.
    • WCMER level: Through surveys and / or interviews, WCMER member institutions will evaluate the effectiveness and benefit of the WCMER and its activities.

WCMER Intern Opportunity

Under the direction and supervision of WSU Extension Evaluation Specialist, Rebecca Sero, the
intern will:

  • Conduct a comprehensive literature review to determine what, if any, quantitative metrics are being used to evaluate activities similar to those performed by WCMER Extension programs in metropolitan communities. WCMER has compiled a literature database that may be used as a starting point with any new records being added to. This database is in EndNote and the intern would be provided with a copy of the program to use during the duration of the internship.
  • Assist in the development of both sets of qualitative data assessments
  • Execute the qualitative assessments
  • Assist in qualitative data analysis and report development.


The plan is to fully design and implement the evaluation plan during FY2017, specifically:

  • Conduct the comprehensive literature review and formulate draft qualitative metrics for presentation at the National Urban Extension Conference, May 9-11, 2017.
    • May include presenting and receiving draft feedback from the WCMER Advisory Board members prior to the conference.
  • Design and collect the Key Informant Data (summer 2017):
    • May: Assist with tool design
    • June: Conduct phone interviews
    • July & Aug: Analyze data
    • Sept: Write summary reports for WSU Metro Center, WCMER, and member states.


The WCMER Evaluation Intern will receive a stipend of $5,000 for their work along with the opportunity to co-author scholarly publications from this work. At this time we do not have funding to support travel to the National Urban Extension Conference.

To Apply

To apply, submit the following materials with the subject line “Evaluation Internship Application” to

  • Cover Letter that describes your interest in this position and any relevant experience
  • Resume, including three professional references and their contact information
  • Statement of Intent/Goals (i.e. what do you want out of this internship, and how will this experience advance your career goals?)
  • Writing sample

For more information, contact Evaluation Specialist, Rebecca Sero at

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It’s not your imagination: bike sharing systems are popping up all over the place

Man riding bike in city with a lot of other bikers
A bow-tied gentleman making use of Chicago’s Divvy bike-share system. (NACTO)

When I was in grad school at the University of Montana back in the late 1990s, they launched a small bike sharing system as an experiment. I forget if it was Missoula-wide or just the university (Google is no help), but there were these funky green bikes with wire baskets, kept, unlocked, in wooden sheds. Anyone could take one — you were just supposed to put it back in one of the sheds. It all ran on the honor system.

And as I recall, it was a disaster. The bikes were cheap and broke down all over the place. They got abandoned, stolen, beat up. No one ever put them back in the sheds. The experiment was quickly abandoned. (If someone has a better memory and/or documentation of this peculiar historical episode, contact me!)

Ever since then, I’ve wondered when the technology of bike sharing systems would catch up to the good intentions. In theory, bike sharing offers all sorts of benefits. It makes cycling a service, available to casual commuters, people who do not wear spandex or own road bikes. It can work as a complement to a multimodal urban transit system, covering the “last mile” between transit stops and home/work. Bike trips often replace motorized vehicle trips, improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions. Plus, it’s a nice way to encourage exercise.

But it’s got to work; all the pieces have to come together to make it convenient, useful, and pleasant.

 So when will that happen? The answer is: It’s happening now.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has just released the first comprehensive snapshot of bike-share growth in the US. What it shows is that, from 2010 to 2016, bike sharing has gone from virtually nothing to … well, something. It is still a marginal means of transportation in the grand scheme of things, but if current growth rates hold, that won’t be true for long.

Continue reading at Vox

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Early Exposure to Public Transportation Can Lead to More Sustainable Travel Later in Life

small girl looking outside the window on public transportationImagine a thirty-something born and bred New Yorker who packs up and move to Los Angeles. As a stereotypical New Yorker, she used transit or walked most places. Now that she lives in L.A., does her experience of using public transit in New York continue to influence her daily travel? Is she more likely to use transit than her Angeleno peers who have lived their whole lives in auto-dependent neighborhoods? Or does she adapt to the new reality, abandoning her transit habits in the context of a new built environment? In a recent publication in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER), we test whether past experience living in areas with high-quality public transit influences travel behavior later in life.

We find that past experiences do shape future travel behavior. Our findings suggest that the quality of transit service in our neighborhoods constantly shapes future travel patterns, though there are eras when exposure to transit is most consequential. In particular, exposure to high-quality transit in our 20s or 30s increases the chances of using transit and decreases car ownership later in life, even if we move to a relatively transit-poor location. Where a person grows up also has a strong effect, suggesting that habits and preferences for transit may be formed at an early age. Most surprisingly, we find that when it comes to transit use today, the quality of transit experienced earlier in life can be just as important as the quality of transit in the current neighborhood.

In our study, we draw on a panel survey that has been following the same families and their offspring since 1968. This survey, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, enables us to construct residential histories for everyone in the survey. Using three different data sets on transit service (Census journey-to-work data, the University of Minnesota Accessibility Observatory, and the Brookings transit access to jobs database), we can construct a history of each individual’s exposure to transit throughout their life. We then examine how “exposure” to different levels of transit service at different points in one’s life is associated with more or less transit use and car ownership later in life.

Continue reading at Planetizen

Community Development and Child Development

Community development and child development have a tight-knit relationship. Community development can have a positive impact on children by making investments that support healthy social and cognitive development. In turn, when children grow up in supportive environments, they are more likely to succeed in school and boost human capital, a key ingredient for building strong communities.

The work of community developers can influence the quality of environments in which children grow and develop. For example, safe and affordable housing, high-quality childcare, and community health centers, parks, and healthy food outlets help provide a consistent and nurturing environment for children. In addition, these sites can offer safe places to socialize with peers and participate in after-school activities. These “bricks and mortar” community assets provide spaces that can foster supportive relationships between children and caring adults, a key ingredient for child development.
Community development and the quality of children’s relationships can have particular influence during early childhood and adolescence, which are sensitive periods for brain development. During early childhood, neural connections occur at a fast pace—as many as 700 to 1,000 per second in the infant brain.[i] After the first few years of life, the pace of neural connection growth slows as the brain prunes some connections and reinforces others based on a child’s experiences. Neuroscience and psychology describe the types of experiences that help develop strong brain architecture, including stable and nurturing relationships with caregivers, language-rich environments, and encouragement to explore through movement and senses.

Continue reading at Meeting of the Minds

Originally written by Rob Guunewald