Streaming Solutions

Washington State magazine fall 2017 cover with a river and treesHigh in the Cascade and Olympic Mountain snowfields, pristine rivulets trickle into brooks that descend through forest, farmland, and town. Streams merge into rivers and sweep through cities until finally breaking into Puget Sound and the marine waters of the Pacific.

There, in the southern arm of the Salish Sea, the waters mingle in a fertile estuary teeming with biodiversity.

“Looking out at the waters of Puget Sound, you see the sunset, the beautiful mountains, and people think, ‘Everything is good, we’ve got the orca.’ But we have invisible problems,” says Chrys Bertolotto, natural resource programs manager at the Washington State University Snohomish County Extension office in Everett.

Indeed, the region’s rich natural resources have attracted a booming population complete with homes, schools, industry, and the inevitable waste products they generate. Much of it, unfortunately, ends up in the Sound. At least 63,000 pounds of toxic chemicals each day.

Before the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act, unfiltered wastewater from smelters, pulp mills, and sewage treatment plants was freely discharged into the Duwamish River and other Sound waterways. Regulations and permits have successfully decreased industrial pollution but a dozen or so Superfund sites remain in remediation.

Today, it is estimated that 75 percent of Sound contamination is unwittingly produced by citizens. Hidden residues from everyday activities are carried by stormwater runoff over miles of paved highways, paths, and parking lots that have essentially become an extensive new system of “rivers.”

With every rainfall, a toxic slew of animal manure, roofing materials, vehicle debris, home and garden chemicals, and sewage from failing septic tanks is washed down those conduits into the Sound.

The estuary also suffers from a slow rate of water exchange, allowing chemicals and bacteria to linger in bays and inlets. It all adds up to an ailing ecosystem, with negative effects on plants, wildlife, and humans alike. Rivers and streams once thick with Coho and Chinook salmon now see a fraction returning to spawn. Bacterial contamination of shellfish beds and swimming beaches is common. Water supplies are vulnerable.

In 2007, an alliance of concerned citizens and organizations formed a state agency called the Puget Sound Partnership whose goal is to restore the Sound to health by 2020 and safeguard it for future generations.

Their progress can be tracked by a “Vital Signs” wheel that colorfully highlights six major areas of concern, each with specific indicators of the Sound’s Sunny sky over puget soundhealth such as eelgrass habitat and economic vitality.

It’s an enormous undertaking that relies heavily on regional and local efforts. Hundreds of state, federal, municipal, tribal, and nonprofit organizations work together to keep recovery on track. Among those participating is WSU Extension.

From Puyallup to Bremerton, Port Townsend to Everett, WSU Extension and research centers are immersed in Puget Sound revitalization through a combination of investigation, stewardship, and educational outreach programs.

Bertolotto, who directs the Snohomish County Beach Watchers program, is just one of many Extension agents who use the latest scientific discoveries to design locally relevant community projects and train volunteers to become citizen scientists.

It may be surprising that WSU, whose original campus is 300 miles away in dryland farming country, can be a partner in marine and freshwater recovery efforts.

But as Bertolotto says, “We’re a well-kept secret.”

On a sunny day at the Puyallup Research and Extension Center, tulips and even the grass seem jubilant as John Stark walks out of the tidy brick admin building en route to his outdoor laboratory.

The New York native and WSU professor of ecotoxicology is one of the original members of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and helped design the Vital Signs wheel.

“Every slot on the wheel is very important,” he says. “We try to cover all major issues affecting quality of life in the Sound, from scientific to social impacts.”

The panel advises Partnership directors on the best ways to protect the Sound while improving ecosystem health. The panel was key in pinpointing stormwater as today’s biggest source of contamination.

Continue reading in Washington State Magazine (pg. 22 print // pg. 13 PDF)

Originally written by Rebecca Phillips

Why Seattle Is Poised to Be a Leader in ‘Smart City’ Technology and Regulations

Bike gears near tireNew technology is helping local government create “smarter” cities in a variety of ways, from adaptive traffic lights to open data platforms to advanced utility meters. But with innovation comes complication. Privacy, security, and equality challenges are inevitable when the public sector tries to implement technology with the help of private companies.

This was the subject of a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) at the University of Washington on Wednesday in Seattle.

The hour-long meeting brought together key regional leaders from a variety of sectors: City of Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller; Seattle Public Utilities CEO Mami Hara; Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt; Microsoft Government Solutions Manager Mike Geertsen and others — to talk about the role of government in establishing policies and processes that enable the modernization of cities.

DelBene co-chairs the Congressional Internet of Things Caucus and is working on a comprehensive smart communities legislation. She told the group that government is “trying to play catch up” in regard to adopting new technology for its constituents.

“It seems like we are catching up to yesterday,” she said. “This idea of being forward looking in these areas is very important — the question is, how do we get there?”

DelBene said that many existing policies were put in place decades ago and did not anticipate rapid technological changes. Her hope is to learn from local leaders and help craft laws that can support the implementation of technology that improves quality of life for citizens and make government processes for doing so more efficient. She’s supportive of rolling out more pilot programs and testing technology to figure out what works and what doesn’t; in addition, it can help inform larger federal policies.Seattle street

DelBene also told GeekWire after the discussion that the Seattle area is equipped to become a leader in becoming a “smart city” with its robust tech ecosystem.

“I do think we have all the different pieces,” said DelBene, previously an executive at companies including Microsoft and

Bill Howe, associate director of the eScience Institute at the UW, said the region can lead with policies that ensure “responsible algorithmic decision making,” or data-driven models that take into account human observation. He called it a “huge opportunity.”

“We have the right folks at the University of Washington studying research issues; we have the right mindset in the city to treat this as a priority; we have the political will and climate; and obviously the right companies to buy into this stuff … data is in the water here,” Howe said.

It’s a particularly notable time for Seattle leaders to be discussing “smart cities” given the tech boom and how quickly new residents are moving into the city — a 31 percent population increase is expected by 2035.

Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in UW’s Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, was at the meeting and noted that there are many smart city-related threads coming together in Seattle — from the UW’s eScience Institute program “Data Science for Social Good,” to data-driven companies like Microsoft, Socrata, INRIX, Zillow, and others whose work is relevant to smart city initiatives. He also talked about Seattle coming together with nearby Bellevue, Wash., which has a robust tech ecosystem of its own.

“There’s a real potential for the region to be a leader in smart cities,” Lazowska told GeekWire.


Continue reading for a quick rundown of the discussion topics at Wednesday’s meeting in GeekWire.

Originally written by Taylor Soper

Airbnb Extends Hurricane Harvey ‘Free Housing’ Program

AirBnB LogoAirbnb is continuing its effort to help those displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey.

The short-term rental service said Tuesday it is expanding its disaster response program.

Before the hurricane struck Texas as a Category 4 hurricane late last week, the company announced it would give Airbnb hosts in surrounding areas the opportunity to offer free housing to those who may need it. The program, originally planned to run until September 1, will now continue through September 25.

Airbnb is also rolling out the effort to more neighborhoods in Houston, which has been significantly impacted by flooding. It has also extended the effort to more zones in Austin and Dallas.

Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to displace about 30,000 residents, but 450,000 people are projected to seek some form of relief as a result of the natural disaster.

Airbnb’s disaster response program, which launched in 2012 in response to Hurricane Sandy, relies on the graciousness of local hosts opening up their homes to strangers. The company emails hosts in areas close to disaster zones about the program, giving them the option to add their listing to its program database. So far, there are roughly 340 listings posted for Harvey evacuees.

Continue reading article in CNN

Originally written by Sara Ashley O’Brien

A Quarter of Seattle Drivers Are Searching for Parking

City TrafficA study conducted by University of Washington students (with funding from Microsoft and institutional support from UW and the University of British Columbia) found that 35 percent of cars moving around Seattle “are either searching for parking or are ridesharing drivers waiting for ride assignments.” The latter account for 10 percent of “cruising” behaviors, as the students call it. “It translates to a lot of fuel wasted per year, lots of wasted time,” said a member of the team.

But wasting time is indeed the point. And here we must do something interesting, and recognize that wasted time is not all the same. There is wasted time that costs very little or even nothing, and wasted time that is expensive. If wasted time is dear, then it is in harmony with the kind of economy we live in. A society that wanted to make life cheaper for all would have almost nothing to do with cars, which cost lots of money to make, distribute, and maintain.

But why does our society want things to be so expensive? This is almost explained by Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran in Monopoly Capital. They note that the three big “epoch-making inventions” in the history of capitalism are the steam engine, the railroad, and the automobile. The last, however, was different from the first two in one significant way that Sweezy and Baran did not point out: Its rise corresponded with rising wages in the the post-World War II period. And so, though American workers had more money than ever before, much of it was going straight to “expensive shit,” if I may use the words of Feli Kuti. The relationship between high wages and high cost of living is essential to the truce between American labor and the captains of business that became official with the Treaty of Detroit.

Continue reading in The Stranger

Originally written by Charles Mudede

Don’t Throw Away Those Eclipse Glasses

young girl looking at the solar eclipse with protective eye wearYou have somehow managed to win the Black Friday-like scramble for eclipse glasses. You weren’t clawing out anyone’s eyes to get the last ones at your local library, and you weren’t one of the unfortunate people who got bunk glasses online. Your vision isn’t ruined. You’ve emerged from the Great American Eclipse victorious and enlightened. Maybe you even shed a tear at its beauty.

Congratulations. You won the eclipse. But don’t throw those eclipse glasses away.
If you aren’t hoarding them for the 2024 eclipse, there is a very good use for them. Astronomers Without Borders will take them off your hands and put them in the hands of children. The glasses will be redistributed across South America and Asia for the 2019 total solar eclipse. They will be used to aid STEM education in schools that can’t afford to provide glasses for their students.
Continue reading in Thrillist
Originally written by: 

Seattle Rental Applicants’ Criminal Histories Virtually Off-Limits Under New Law

Close-up picture of someone's hand with apartment keys in itLandlords will be forbidden from screening tenants based on criminal records, under an ordinance the Seattle City Council approved Monday.

The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance Monday that will mostly prohibit landlords from screening tenants based on their criminal records.

Landlords will be barred from excluding people with records in advertisements. When taking applications, they will be barred from asking about records. And in choosing tenants, they will be barred from rejecting people due to their records.

The only people who may be denied rental housing will be those listed on sex-offender registries because of adult convictions, and landlords denying housing to such people will still need to demonstrate a legitimate business reason for doing so.

The intent, according to proponents, is to lower barriers to housing for people with criminal histories, who now are often rejected by landlords. Council members last week voted 6-0 to advance the ordinance from their civil-rights committee to the full council.

They voted 8-0 Monday. Councilmember Kshama Sawant was absent.

“Regardless of my criminal history, I deserve housing,” Ballard resident Zachary Tutwiler, a vendor with the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project, told the council during a public-comment period before the vote. “We all deserve housing.”

Some landlords say being allowed to make decisions based on the criminal histories of prospective tenants helps them better safeguard their property and existing tenants.

Landlords renting part of their own homes and sharing a kitchen or bathroom with a tenant will be exempt, as will primary leaseholders given the authority by landlords to choose roommates.

People renting mother-in-law apartments or backyard cottages on properties where they live also will be exempt, but micro-housing units will be covered by the ordinance.

Proponents of the ordinance say people who already have served their time shouldn’t be penalized again by landlords. And they say people who have been arrested but not convicted also should be treated the same as everyone else.

The proponents say people leaving jail and prison need housing to build stable lives and are less likely to commit crimes again when they have somewhere to sleep.

On Monday, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who sponsored the ordinance with Council President Bruce Harrell, described housing discrimination against people with records as “a recipe for recidivism.”

Continue reading in The Seattle Times

Originally written by 

Leadership: It’s What You Make of It

maze with street above going straight instead of following maze like a 'follower'Leadership is the ability to not only understand and utilize your innate talents, but to also effectively leverage the natural strengths of your team to accomplish the mission. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, answer key or formula to leadership. Leadership should be the humble, authentic expression of your unique personality in pursuit of bettering whatever environment you are in. – Katie Christy, founder, Activate Your Talent

A parable is told about a pencil-maker who was preparing to put an important pencil in a box. Before doing so, though, he took the pencil aside. “There are five things you need to know,” he said. “If you can remember these five things, you will become the best pencil you can be.”

You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to in someone else’s hand.

  1. Sharpening is painful, but it is critical if you want to write sharply.
  2. Since you have an eraser, you can correct most mistakes you make, though some may be harder to erase than others.
  3. Remember, it’s what’s inside that’s most important.
  4. Whatever surface you on, make sure you leave your mark. No matter how hard, rough, or easy, you must continue to write.

This parable shares powerful lessons for every leader:

  1. Be humble. You can achieve greatness, but not when you go it alone. Allow yourself to be taught and coached by others and identify the strengths of those around you to help advance the cause.
  2. Stay sharp. Strong leaders find ways to keep learning and sharpening their skills. Feedback can be painful at times, but without it, you will become dull.
  3. Accept mistakes. We all err. Though mistakes may make for challenging moments, they are ultimately part of a process of becoming a better leader. Embrace your mistakes as opportunities to learn, erase, and become better! As John Maxwell once said, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”
  4. Your best is what’s inside you. You may be good-looking, dress well, and have a great personality. But what makes you who you are and the person with whom others want to connect is your character. Seek to continually grow and refine your character so that you can lead and serve with utmost integrity.
  5. Stick with it. There will be times when you think that you’re making no imprint and that your actions are not having an effect. But people will still depend on you, so you need to keep on going. Hold to your vision and your dreams, even when it seems they have dimmed.

I have attempted to offer guidance to you, the new leader, as you assume your leadership position. By now, one thing should be clear: Leadership is not easy. It takes much effort to position yourself to achieve a leadership post, and perhaps, even more, work to build a sustainable leadership platform.

But it is doable. And the world needs you.

Continue reading in Smart Brief

Originally written by Naphtali Hoff

This post is adapted from “Becoming the New Boss,” a new leadership book by Naphtali Hoff, PsyD,(@impactfulcoach). He became an executive coach and organizational consultant following a career as an educator and school administrator. Read his blog at

Age-Friendly Housing Assessment

Apartments with blue trim
In 2009, King County's Aging and Disability Services (ADS), released the report Quiet Crisis: Age Wave Maxes Out Affordable Housing, King County 2008-2025 (pdf). The report indicated that the need for age-friendly housing has outpaced the available stock of affordable housing in King County and is likely to rise over time. In order to address this… » More ...

WSU’s Everett Campus Hosting August 15 Ribbon Cutting and Open House

WSU Everett building

EVERETT, Wash. – WSU North Puget Sound at Everett announced an August 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the campus’s new building at 915 N. Broadway in Everett.

“This is a landmark occasion for our entire region. Washington State University is thrilled to be opening the doors of our new, state-of-the-art building to the public on August 15,” Paul Pitre, chancellor of WSU’s newest campus, said. “This building represents decades of work by this community to create local access to four-year degree programs. WSU is incredibly proud to be an important part of that and to continue our growth into the future.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. and will include WSU president Kirk Schulz, Pitre, city of Everett mayor Ray Stephanson and Everett Community College president David Beyer.

“The programs offered in this building will help address some of our region’s most pressing economic challenges,” Stephanson said. “We are competitors in the worldwide marketplace and our businesses need a talented, well-trained workforce in order to thrive and expand. This is where that workforce will come from.”

RSVP linkThe open house will include opportunities for tours and photos, chances to learn about the nearly 30 programs offered in the new building from WSU and the Everett University Center partners, information from the construction team, and more. Each WSU North Puget Sound at Everett and Everett University Center program/partner will be assigned a space to engage with community members, who will be guided by an event passport. Those interested can learn more on the Facebook event page.

Continue reading in WSU News

Yakima Equity Study Analysis

Yakima Washigton view
In 2016, the City of Yakima began a process to address the equitable distribution of city resources. To initiate this process, the city compiled data from a variety of sources and visualized it into an interactive GIS (Graphic Information System) program. The result, called the Equity Study allows users to review that data across the City of Yakima’s seven council districts. » More ...