The Green Globe Award is King County’s highest honor for environmental stewardship. On June 7, 2023, Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks celebrated the 11 individuals and organizations that received the 2023 honors. Presented every two years, these awards recognize organizations, businesses, and individuals who have gone the extra mile in protecting our environment, managing natural resources, and benefiting community resilience and ensuring environmental justice for all.
Environmental Catalyst: Terry Lavender
Terry Lavender has been an environmental leader in King County for more than three decades.
She joined the Bear Creek Basin Plan Citizen Advisory Committee in 1987 and helped to successfully protect a fragile upper Bear Creek wetland from development. Since then, Terry has been an advocate for open space and land conservation.
Following her effort to preserve natural habitat at Bear Creek, Terry began working on the 1989 Open Space Bond implementation committee in 1992, worked on Waterways 2000 and the 1993 Conservation Futures Tax bond in the mid-1990s. She’s been an active member of Water Tenders and served on the WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council.
Starting in the early 2000s, Terry served on the Conservation Futures Advisory Committee for nearly two decades. Under her guidance and leadership, Conservation Futures has contributed to the conservation of more than 120,000 acres of land in over 350 projects, allocating more than $300 million.
Her dedication to conservation and preservation will ensure future generations will have to access protected green space and wildlife will continue to thrive in natural habitat across in King County. Her lifetime of environmental stewardship and volunteerism is a shining example of how one person can have such an impact and make positive changes in their community.
Environmental Legacy: Warren King George, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Warren King George is an oral historian for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Preservation Department. His perspective on protecting and integrating Tribal cultural legacy, traditional knowledge, and utilizing cultural resources in contemporary project decision-making is invaluable.
His primary responsibilities are to collect and record oral history from Tribal and community members. Oral history projects can range from hunting, fishing and clamming stories on the Puget Sound, to berry picking trips in the Cascade Mountains. He applies his knowledge by coordinating with various government agencies to ensure that Tribal members have access to their treaty-protected resources and that management plans provide for the preservation and enhancement of the Tribe’s valuable cultural resources. Warren also works with museums, colleges, and private collectors on repatriation of ancestral remains and artifacts.
Warren, and the Preservation Department through Warren, offers King County a unique perspective from the Tribe’s deep history in this place and the related traditional ecological knowledge derived from it. This shared knowledge helps the county integrate the Tribe’s traditional cultural practices with contemporary science and technology toward restoring impacted natural resources effectively and appropriately for all King County residents.
Leader in Green Building: Sledge Seattle LLC
Sledge Seattle, LLC is a team of harvesters. They rescue wood and other materials from homes destined to be demolished and thrown away. Jim Barger, John Benavente, and their team specialize in the careful deconstruction of homes, buildings, and commercial structures across King County in the most environmentally responsible way possible.
Normally, when buildings are demolished, the materials end up in a huge, tangled mess much of which ends up in landfills or is burned as fuel. In deconstruction, the structures are carefully taken apart, reorganized, and separated for reuse. This removes waste from the landfills, reduces carbon emissions, and rescues the embodied carbon stored in the wood. Deconstruction also provides more jobs and more neighborhood engagement, as the team spends more time getting to know the neighbors.
Through its work, Sledge Seattle has repeatedly demonstrated the viability of a short-loop circular economy for salvaged lumber. The lumber harvested from deconstruction projects is then used as lumber for new, more affordable housing units including backyard homes known as DADUs and tiny houses.
Sledge Seattle’s work has resulted in follow-on benefits for public, private, and community-based organizations in the form of jobs for BIPOC and underserved individuals, with a focus on formerly incarcerated people, as well as providing harvested and up-cycled materials for builders and artisans.
Leader in Affordable Green Housing: Sound Foundations NW
The goal of Sound Foundations NW is to be a part of the solution to end homelessness in King County by building transitional tiny homes. The organization’s plan is to make sure every man, woman, and child experiencing homelessness has a roof over their head and a lock on their door, all to keep them warm, safe, and dry.
To bring their mission to life, Sound Foundations NW builds its tiny homes inside a warehouse in South Seattle called “The Hope Factory.” The Hope Factory is a 100% recyclable facility. Many of the “scraps” are repurposed for other uses in the home, so very little material goes to waste.
Sound Foundations NW has a unique building system using jigs and templates for the construction of the tiny home floor, walls, and ceiling. With this efficient process, staff and volunteers can build the initial structures of two homes every three days. Twelve homes are always on the assembly line, and four homes are completely finished from inside to out every week.
The organization then collaborates with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), which sets up villages for the tiny homes and their new occupants. The median length of stay of a resident in a tiny home is 114 days. That means three people per year transition into a tiny home and then out to a better life. Nationwide, the transition rate from homelessness to some form of permanent housing is 10-12%. Sound Foundations NW and LIHI’s model of tiny home villages achieved a 56% transition rate, one of the highest rates in the nation.
And because their homes are built to last for 20 years, one Sound Foundations NW tiny home has the potential to help up to 60 people.
Leader in Waste Reduction: Refugee Artisan Initiative
Refugee and immigrant women have a high unemployment rate in the U.S. and are often forced to support themselves and their families by working in exploitative industries. Sewing is a universal language many of these women already possess when coming to America.
Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman founded Refugee Artisan Initiative in 2017 and recognized this important trait. RAI's mission is to partner with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the U.S. through artisan skills training and micro business development. They do this by upcycling textiles and other materials including excess fabrics, coffee bean burlap bags, and used fire hoses from the U.S. Forest Service.
This work provides refugee women with meaningful income and work, while simultaneously preventing waste. RAI and Ming-Ming have been a fantastic example of how it is possible to integrate equity and climate action into a working circular economy model. RAI uses creativity and entrepreneurship to create amazing products like totes, scrubs, pet toys, napkins, towels, etc. from materials that would otherwise become waste. During the pandemic they reacted fast and produced cotton face masks from Amazon's returned unused bedsheets.
To date, RAI has diverted more than 40,000 pounds of materials out of landfill by upcycling them into 120,000 items while creating jobs for more than 40 refugee and immigrant women. RAI is operated and guided by these four pillars to ensure the women they serve can thrive: equity, training, sustainability, and community.
Leader in Local Food Economy: Black Farmers Collective
The Black Farmers Collective is a group of urban food system activists working to improve the health of Black communities through food justice and sovereignty. Their mission is to build a Black-led network of food system actors to acquire and steward land, facilitate food education, and create space for Black liberation in healing and joy.
The Black Farmers Collective runs two urban farms, Yes Farm on Yesler Way in Seattle and Small Axe Farm along the Sammamish River between Redmond and Woodinville, on land leased from the King County Farmland Preservation Program. These farms not only grow food for local communities but are incubators for BIPOC farmers who are interested in training and learning about farming and creating sustainable farm businesses.
Black Farmers Collective also serves as a community conduit. For example, its "Leveling the Fields" project aims to improve the viability and success of socially disadvantaged farmers across the region by facilitating access to production and business support services.
BFC is also an important partner and member of the project advisory committee for the South Seattle Community Food Hub. This County-supported project involves converting a 40,000 square foot warehouse in South Park into a shared use facility that will provide cold storage, aggregation, packing and office space to farmers and hunger relief organizations across the region.
Leader in Green Jobs Pathways: Emerald Cities Collaborative
The Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) pursues a “high-road” approach to greening cities and building resilient regional economies. As their website explains, “high-road development involves a family of strategies for human development under competitive market conditions that treat shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and efficient democracy as necessary complements, not tragic tradeoffs.”
By creating cross-sector collaborations, acutely focused on those historically left out of the economic and community development process, they help communities increase their capacity to build high-road economies that are more sustainable and economically just.
In King County, Emerald Cities Collaborative offers a variety of support services to minority and women-owned contractors seeking to grow their business and interested in clean energy projects. Services include their flagship program, E-Contractor Academy, as well as customized business consulting, matchmaking, and workshops on contracting and sustainable building topics.
Their work includes policy and project development to save money and energy, while improving the health of the planet and people, particularly in low- and moderate-income communities.
Leader in Community Resiliency: Snoqualmie Valley Fish Farm Flood Implementation Oversight Committee
Pending Approval: Among the top priorities for King County are protecting and enhancing farmland; restoring threatened salmon and associated habitat; and reducing flood risks to residents and infrastructure. However, balancing these critical priorities can be challenging in a shared landscape.
The 2012 King County Comprehensive Plan directed the Department of Natural Resources and Parks to create a collaborative, grass-roots effort to determine how to move forward toward achieving the goals of these sometimes-competing priorities. In 2017, The Fish, Farm and Flood (FFF) Advisory Committee transmitted a set of recommended actions to the County Executive and Council and the FFF Implementation Oversight Committee (IOC) was created to ensure balanced implementation of those actions.
Over five years, the committee of farmers, fishers, tribes, and agencies has helped to sustain implementation efforts of more than 42 recommendations from the original FFF committee. Co-chaired by Cindy Spiry (Snoqualmie Tribe), Bobbi Lindemulder (West Valley Beef), and Angela Donaldson (Hauglie Insurance), the committee uses a consensus model to make progress where fish, farm, and flood interests collide in the valley, ensuring progress in each of the “F” categories.
The committee has accomplished things like completing an innovative drainage pilot project along Griffin Creek, providing science-based guidance for variable rather than fixed riparian buffers for salmon restoration, working to implement a community-led Agricultural Strategic Plan, providing grant funding for a Snoqualmie Valley computer model to explore climate futures, and developing the largest county habitat restoration project to date – the Snoqualmie at Fall City Reach Project— which restores 130 acres of habitat.
Leader in Orca Recovery: Jason Wood, SMRU Consulting
SMRU Consulting conducts marine mammal research worldwide. In Puget Sound, it is measuring underwater noise from commercial and recreational vessels that pose multiple risks to southern resident orcas.
The pro-bono study is helping to increase the frequency and quality of reports of orca sightings provided to pilots of large vessels so they can voluntarily slow down or change course, reducing the amount of underway noise and preventing collisions. Orcas rely on their use of sound to hunt, communicate, navigate, and avoid danger which can be limited by noise generated from maritime activities.
King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks helped to deploy the buoy being used in this study. The buoy consists of several underwater microphones that passively listen for calling orcas and measure noise levels. A computer onboard processes the audio data in real time, stores results, and sends key orca detections via a cell connection on the surface.
Data on the presence of vessels and orcas is transmitted to scientists in real time as well as recorded for future analysis.
The research supports the goals of the Quiet Sound Program, which was created by the Southern Resident Orca Task Force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2018. One of the task force recommendations is to reduce the noise from ships and ferries near southern resident orcas.
Leader in Forest Stewardship: Kevin Zobrist and Washington State University Forestry Extension
Kevin Zobrist, Professor and Extension Forester with Washington State University, coordinates the WSU Extension Forestry program in King County and other parts of the Puget Sound area.
Professor Zobrist and his program staff provide objective, research-based education and resources for landowners with a wide range of property types from small “backyard forests” to larger forested properties and tree farms. Despite its urban reputation, King County has one of the highest numbers of small forest landowners in the state.
The WSU Extension Forestry program partners with King County, King Conservation District, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to provide the most important education and training platform for private forest landowners in the County. The program directly leads to protection and improved management of thousands of acres across the landscape.
WSU Extension Forestry’s flagship offering is the comprehensive, multi-week Forest Stewardship Coached Planning course. This highly attended course helps landowners develop stewardship plans to improve forest health and climate resiliency, support wildlife and biodiversity, protect soils and water quality, reduce wildfire risk, and generate income. Follow-up surveys indicate that participants gain significant knowledge and skills from the program. Almost 90% of participants implement improved practices as a result, with sustained impacts documented even years later.
WSU Extension Forestry also offers field days, a winter school, and a variety of topical workshops, seminars, and field tours. Programs are offered both in person and online to reach a broad audience. Additional offerings include publications, a resource-rich website, and a popular e-newsletter, all of which have won national awards.
Whether forest landowners are interested in a healthy forest, climate resilience, wildlife, income generation, aesthetics, or other forest benefits, WSU Extension Forestry provides science-based answers to help landowners get the most out of their property.
Leader in Environmental Excellence: Sno-King Watershed Council
Sno-King Watershed Council is an all-volunteer organization working together to protect streams, watersheds, and natural areas for the health and quality of life for people in our region. They focus on water quality and community engagement through water quality monitoring and related activities.
SKWC promotes stewardship of local streams, awareness of water quality issues, and provides outreach and education. SKWC partners with and provides training to local environmental, education, and youth organizations, community groups, and schools.
Monitors collect data on water chemistry, bacteria, and stream biota, including BIBI (Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity). Water monitors use their data to advocate for protection and restoration of streams, lakes, wetlands, and natural areas; provide environmental education; increase public awareness of water quality issues; and inspire positive behavior change to prevent pollution.
In addition to their WaterWorks-funded water quality programming, Sno-King Watershed Council operates the Swamp Creek Habitat Restoration Project in partnership with the City of Kenmore. SKWC has work parties twice a month to engage volunteers from around the region in stewardship activities, to removing invasive plants and planting native plants at two locations in the Swamp Creek watershed.
Sno-King also has a long history of advocacy, working to protect and preserve natural areas threatened by land development. They have achieved some notable successes including preservation of a multi-acre pristine peat bog in the Bear Creek watershed. This property, Hooven Bog, is now stewarded by Snohomish County.