A regional model
The Green Cities Program began in 2004, when the City of Seattle and Forterra came together to restore and maintain 2,500 acres of Seattle’s forested parkland in 20 years. The City of Seattle and Forterra worked together to craft a 20-Year Strategic Plan, and we have been implementing that plan ever since. Building off of the success of the Green Seattle Partnership, Forterra has replicated and modified this model to build similar community-based stewardship programs to restore and care for forested parks and natural areas in cities across the region.
The mission of the Green City Partnership Network is to advance healthy natural open space in urban areas, and to empower people to be agents of change in their communities. We do restoration and maintenance on public natural spaces both for the benefits of “green services” like stormwater retention, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat, and also in order to provide cities with spaces where nature can be appreciated close at hand. We rely on a growing network of amazing volunteers to do much of the work. Currently, there are 14 Green Cities and one Green County across the Puget Sound, including: Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland, Redmond, Kent, Issaquah, Puyallup, Everett, Tukwila, Snoqualmie, Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien, and Shoreline.
We are all connected, but we don’t always feel that way. One way that the Green City Partnerships help to build community is by bringing people together, physically, around the stewardship of natural open space. Another way is to facilitate more dialogue within and between our programs. We have so much knowledge now among all of our partners, we wanted to share it with each other. This blog was created for all of the Green City Partnerships to share information; keep each other informed about topics related to urban natural space locally, regionally, nationally, and globally; and create a more multi-directional dialogue about the great work that we are doing together. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that while we are pulling ivy on one acre of neighborhood park, we are working towards something much bigger: a healthier urban environment in our region and a stewardship community to sustain it into the future.
How it all began…
The Green Cities Program began in 2004, when someone at Forterra and someone at the City of Seattle recognized we’d drive some serious change and community good will if together we committed to restore and maintain Seattle’s 2,500 acres of forested parkland over the next 20 years. The idea took off, starting with the development of a 20-Year Strategic Plan designed to get the job done. The Green Seattle Partnership has been so successful that Forterra partnered with eight more cities in the Puget Sound region, expanding the Green Cities Network to include Kirkland, Tacoma, Redmond, Kent, Everett, Puyallup, Snoqualmie, and Tukwila. And we hope it keeps growing. Along the way, we’ve been lucky to work with many local non-profits, community groups, city agencies, neighborhood leaders and local businesses, all working to support healthy urban natural areas for the future of our region.
Forterra works in partnership with local municipalities to develop achievable goals, shared visions, long-term plans and community-based stewardship programs to care for the valuable forests and natural areas in our urban environments. The Green City Partnerships share three core goals:
- Improve the quality of life, connections to nature, and enhance forest benefits in cities by restoring our forested parks and natural areas
- Galvanize an informed and active community
- Ensure long-term sustainable funding and community support
These unique public/private partnerships bring together the City, Forterra, thousands of community volunteers, other nonprofits and businesses to create a sustainable network of healthy forested parks and natural areas throughout the region.
A growing problem
Many of our region’s parks and natural areas are heavily infested with English ivy, Himalayan blackberry and other invasive plants. Additionally, many of the trees in our urban parks are at the end of their lifespan. As these trees die, invasive plants are preventing the next generation of trees from growing, leaving us at risk of losing the many benefits our forests provide in just 20 years!
A community-based solution
Restoring our urban parks requires a partnership and coordinated effort. Green City Partnerships are harnessing the power of our communities and creating a culture of volunteerism and stewardship to save our local forested parks and natural areas. The Green City Partnerships combined log over 115,000 volunteer hours at more than 1000 stewardship events each year.