Leading Change in Seattle: How Green Stormwater Infrastructure Can Help Urban Neighborhoods Thrive

panorama view of Seattle's Belltown

panorama view of Seattle’s Belltown

City as Platform: More than a Tour (Seattle, May 2017)

City as Platform is more than a tour, and more than just a conference session—it is a hands-on, collaborative learning experience in the field. 

First debuted at CNU 24 in Detroit, City as Platform made an encore appearance at CNU 25.Seattle on Saturday, May 6, 2017. (note: CNU is the acronym for Congress of New Urbanism).

Congress attendees joined 30 local organizations and community leaders for a day of in-the-field learning and hands-on place-making in seven neighborhoods across Seattle.

In each three-hour session, Congress attendees travelled by bus or on foot to a Seattle neighborhood where they met local leaders and residents to learn about local initiatives from the leaders themselves, then engage in a dialogue or hands-on exercise to help resolve a pressing, place-based challenge.

This year’s sessions ranged from neighborhood green stormwater infrastructure to community housing to “lidding” highways to reconnect urban neighborhoods.

Neighbourhood Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Belltown area of Seattle is the United States 6th fastest growing neighborhood. The community is taking the opportunity to promote sustainable economic development while retaining the neighborhood’s cultural richness and promoting an urban ecology vision.

One of the ways to meet these multiple goals is with green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) tools, such as bioretention, green walls, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting. Seattle’s Belltown is described  as an ideal laboratory for expanding GSI to meet multiple community outcomes.

Seattle 2030 District, a non-profit sustainable building organization, together with Growing Vine Street and Project Belltown, led a tour of existing community projects, future visions, and intersections with the waterfront redevelopment projects.

Afterward, participants engaged in a discussion that explored how to scale these efforts so neighborhoods can use GSI to extend enhance their community while also meeting city and regional stormwater management goals.

To Learn More:

Isabelle Giasson_montreal urban designer_120pAfter taking the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tour, Isabelle Giasson compiled her photos into a booklet to provide a record of her Seattle experience.

She is an action professional from Montreal who is recognized for her dynamic approach. Isabelle is president of the Association des architectes paysagistes du Québec (AAPQ), where she participates in numerous committees and roundtables to promote her profession and contribute to the influence of Quebec landscape architects.

Download a copy of Isabelle’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Seattle.

“It is a  nice illustrated write-up from CNU 25 in Seattle,” stated Paul Crabtree, founder of the US-based Rainwater-in-Context initiative.

“With climate change and global warming, in Montreal we get more rain in January when the bioswales are full of snow. This makes it difficult for the system to be efficient in the winter. So we need to find innovative solutions, and more pilot projects in Nordic countries,” observed Isabelle Giasson when she reflected on what she had learned in Seattle.

Isabelle-Giasson_Seatle visit_title page