On June 20th, 2018, Northwest Green Chemistry and its collaborators launched the Emerald Corridor Green Chemistry & Engineering Roadmap 2018-2023: Goals & Recommendations for Collective Impact at Raven & Rose in the historic LEED gold certified Ladd Carriage House in Portland, OR. Thank you to event sponsors Nike and the Washington State Department of Ecology and to the Bullitt Foundation for funding the creation of the regional roadmap. The USC Price capstone team (photo to left) laid the groundwork for the project through excellent research, stakeholder analysis, and an environmental scan. We appreciate all the time and energy every contributor to the Roadmap has made over the past year to create a shared vision for a better tomorrow. The launch event brought together this intersectoral workgroup to learn, strategize, and identify barriers to and resources for implementation.
With introductions from NGC’s co-Executive Directors, Dr. Lauren Heine & Anna Montgomery, Ken Zarker from the Washington Department of Ecology kicked the evening off, reminding us of the work that started over five years ago on the original roadmap. He was followed by Holly Davies from King County who elucidated some of their programs implementing green chemistry solutions. King County has been working with local dry cleaners to help them switch from PERC to safer alternatives. Benjamin Duncan from Multnomah County helped everyone focus conversations to incorporate issues of equity and environmental and social justice. Multnomah County has an environmental justice toolkit that emphasizes connections to people, place, process, and power to incorporate equity and empowerment into our work. Kate Horspool from Nike provided a business perspective of why green chemistry and engineering are vital. Finally, NGC’s Dr. Amelia Nestler opened the room for discussion, encouraging everyone to gather around the six focus areas:
- Business & economic development
- Communication & outreach
- Environmental & social justice
We’re still processing all of the responses and feedback, and we’ll have more to share in the coming months, but a few examples stand out.
The communicative value of case studies and storytelling were brought up in multiple groups. Stories engage listeners in the narrative of safety and sustainability, providing a call to action. Without clear communication, a common theme throughout all of the roadmap discussions, it will be difficult to achieve our collective goals. A powerful example of the power of communication and storytelling came out of the Education focus group. Nike organized a company visit for an entire school to see science in action. Organizers found a way to connect students to their learning emphasized how COOL science can be! By involving the entire school and making the experience highly interactive, Nike was able to better engage and inspire the students.
At the intersection of education and research the conversation revolved around equity, diversity, and environmental justice. Multiple barriers were sited, including a lack of representation in researchers, the university pipeline, and recruiting and retaining people of color and women in green chemistry and engineering. Ways to improve these barriers include outreach for STEM fields at younger ages, improving the work environment and psychologic safety in research labs and universities, and connecting science research to social and environmental justice values. Together, we can prioritize disproportionately impacted communities and engage stakeholders directly in research and recommendations for solutions. NGC is working on an education goal at the intersection of social justice by piloting a higher education capstone program that provides real-world problem solving in the green chemistry and engineering field for diverse STEM students. We are excited to see the many ways collaborators and contributors will continue to achieve social and environmental justice goals.
And that is exactly the power of bringing together such a diverse group of professionals. Federal, state, and county government professionals co-mingled with industry researchers, academics, and with people from non-profit organizations and trade associations. Let’s keep the momentum going by continuing to communicate, convene, and collaborate!
Please contact us to get more involved with the roadmap project:
- Are you interested in being connected with other professionals and organizations working in the same focus area? Please let us know your interest area.
- Are you leading, or are you involved in, an existing project that is driving one of the Roadmap recommendations forward? Please let us know about your project so that we can highlight it, and let us know if you are looking for additional partners.
- Are you looking for partners to seek funding to pursue the implementation of one of the Roadmap recommendations? Please let us know, and we can try to connect you with others with the same interests.