The Tox-Ick Program Wins 2012 Sustainable Hero Award

Yesterday Sustainable West Seattle announced their 2012 Sustainable Hero Award at their Annual Picnic.  I was very honored to be selected as the hero for our work educating our community about how to reduce polluted runoff with our Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster campaign.

In winning the award, I reflected on all the amazing volunteers who have helped advance our outreach efforts.  Among them, Steve Richmond, Kimberly Leeper, Laura James, Norma Tompkins, Liz Dunigan, James Day, Bryan Fiedorczyk, and Katie Humphries all helped craft our message and get the word out before hundreds of audience members.  To date, we’ve given our presentation at 8 venues before more than 300 audience members.  In addition to that, we’ve had 6,700 page views on our website, more than a third of which have been unique visitors.  Furthermore, the generous press coverage we’ve had through local news sources like the West Seattle Blog, the West Seattle Herald , and CBS Radio has amplified our message to thousands more.

If you know of a venue at a church, synagogue, school, Rotary Club, or other place of gathering and would like to schedule a presentation, send us a note at  We’ve got a Spanish version of the presentation too.  Working together we can transform the region’s awareness so that all citizens of Puget Sound are empowered to make choices that protect our valued waters, and the amazing wildlife that call her home.

Thanks for caring!
Cate White

Wed. Aug. 15: Tox-Ick Visits Umpqua Bank in Magnolia

Learn how you can help reduce polluted runoff and help restore Puget Sound.  A free education event will take place tonight, August 15 from 6 – 7:30 PM at Umpqua Bank located in central Magnolia at 2236 32nd Ave. W.   The presentation will be given by speaker Liz Dunigan who has experience in soil microbiology, mycology, Whole Systems Design, and is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional.  The even is co-hosted by Sustainable Magnolia and Queen Anne.

To Learn More, Visit: Supports King County’s Barton CSO Control Project

The program recently submitted the following letter to King County Executive, Dow Constantine.

Dear Mr. Executive,

The undersigned Board Members of Sustainable West Seattle, a local 501(c)(3) with over 1,000 participants, write to you today in support of King County’s Barton CSO Control Project.

Sustainable West Seattle has made it a priority to educate community members about solutions to polluted runoff with its program. We have been very excited to see King County take progressive action to reduce the roadside runoff that overwhelms our sewage infrastructure and causes combined sewer overflows. As you are well aware, these overflows threaten Puget Sound and the health of the people and wildlife that depend on clean water.

We believe that the proposed green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) project is the right approach to resolve the complex problem of CSO pollution in the region. In addition to slowing the flow and reducing the volume of water entering our storm drains, bioretention swales have the added benefits of attenuating pollution through microbial action, calming traffic, and beautifying our communities. As urban density continues to increase, the benefit of well-designed green spaces will become evermore important. Furthermore, studies suggest that green spaces in urban settings increase the likelihood of people walking and biking in their neighborhoods. In sum, we believe GSI is the best solution for our community because of the multiple benefits it offers to the health of our waterways and our communities.

We are concerned by some information coming out of the West Seattle Community, specifically through the West Seattle Raingardens website.  A very thoughtful rebuttal to the concerns raised on this website can be found here:

We understand that change can be scary and that unfortunate mistakes were made recently in Ballard that have caused some of the alarm to the GSI project in the Barton Basin. But we sincerely hope that these issues won’t derail plans for GSI in our community. Bioretention swales are a well tested and proven technology that have the potential for long-term cost-savings. They’ve been successful reducing runoff in neighborhoods across Puget Sound, including the SEA Streets project in North Seattle and the High Point Neighborhood here in West Seattle. GSI is so effective that it is becoming a solution of choice in cities across the nation, including Portland, New York, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. In light of the vast success of this technology regionally and nationally, we believe GSI is the right choice for our neighborhood to improve the health of Puget Sound and our local communities.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,
Cate White, Director and Former SWS Board Member
Chas Redmond, SWS Board Member
Patrick Dunn, SWS Board Member
Melissa Metcalfe, SWS Board Member
Wolf Lichtenstein, Former SWS Board Member
Gene Homicki, Former SWS Board Member

Thank You KIRO 7 Cox Conserves Heroes! $10,000 Awarded to Fight the Tox-Ick Monster

A big THANK YOU to the KIRO 7 Cox Conserves Hero Program, which awarded $10,000 to Sustainable West Seattle for its Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster Campaign Wednesday night.  The Hero Program is coordinated by Cox Enterprises, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News, and the Trust for Public Land.

Laura James wins Cox Conserves Hero Award

Diver and volunteer extraordinaire, Laura James, was nominated by the Cox Conserves Heroes program for her amazing work scuba diving to get batteries out of Puget Sound (see short video of the Great Battery Round-up).  The grand prize for the award was a generous gift of $10,000 to Laura’s nonprofit of choice.  We are very grateful that Laura selected SWS to help us continue our fight against the Tox-Ick Monster.  Funds will be used to create resources to help other groups around the region adopt the Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster campaign in their communities.

Together, many of us taking small steps like picking up dog poop, and larger steps like organizing education events in our local communities, we really can help restore Puget Sound.  Collectively, communities around Puget Sound can be the biggest force shaping the health of our waterways, and the fate of our cherished salmon and killer whales.  We hope you too will choose to be a hero.  If you want to get involved, contact


Tox-Ick visits the Rotary Club of West Seattle

The Tox-Ick Monster and diver extraordinaire, Laura James, made an appearance at the Rotary Club of West Seattle on July 17th.  More than 60 new audience members learned about polluted runoff, and the simple steps they can engage in to stop it.

If you know of an organization that would like to hear the Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster presentation, drop a note.  We may be able to schedule a presentation in your community.


Help Sustainable West Seattle Win $10,000 by Voting Today!

By taking 60 seconds today to vote for Laura James as a conservation hero, you can help SWS win $10,000 towards its Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster campaign.

Please visit and vote for Laura James

Votes will be accepted June 18 – July 16, 2012.  So, please, encourage all your friends to vote too!

The Cox Conservation Hero Award, organized by KIRO 7 Eyewitness News and The Trust for Public Land, has nominated Laura as a conservation hero for her efforts to restore Puget Sound.

This past year, Laura organized a diving team that removed over 1,000 lbs of discarded marine and automotive batteries from a West Seattle scuba diving site. It is for this effort that she was honored with the hero nomination.

Laura was drawn to diving by Puget Sound’s incredible abundance of life and profound diversity of habitat. However, what she has found below the beautiful surface of Puget Sound is a battle for survival going on just beyond the shoreline. It is a battle between the creatures that call it home and a massive influx of debris and pollutants that come from our roadsides, our storm drains, and our beaches.

The exciting part is that if Laura wins the award as much as $10,000 will be donated to the nonprofit of her choice. Laura has selected Sustainable West Seattle for their Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster program. It’s a program that educates community members about how harmful things like batteries and other debris can be to our marine ecosystems. Even more importantly, it also empowers people to make choices that protect the waters that give us recreation, inspiration, and livelihood.

For this to happen, we need your vote! Select Laura James on the KIRO Cox Conserves Hero website:

Remember, voting can occur June 18 – July 16th, so please get your friends to vote during this window too!

Thank you, for being part of the solution! Together, many people taking small steps over time can develop into a formidable force that can conquer seemingly overwhelming problems, like Tox-Ick Monsters.

Thank you!

Watch Sage Taber Talk About High School Rain Garden

Sage Taber and the Earth Service Corps at West Seattle High School led a ground-breaking effort to install a rain garden at their school.

(View on vimeo: Watch Sage tell the story)

Sage was originally inspired to do something about stormwater pollution after learning about the importance of the issue at an event held by Seattle’s Restore Our Waters.  She became a woman on a mission and determined to install a rain garden at her school f
or the twofold purposes of 1) mitigating pollution and 2) creating an educational feature at the school that could help future students learn how to reduce stormwater pollution.

Many people rallied to help Sage achieve her vision.  Members of the school’s Earth Service Corps, the Seattle School District, Sustainable West Seattle, Sustainable Seattle, Stewardship Partners, and Friends of the Cedar River Watershed (FCRW) all worked together to bring the idea to fruition.

Kudos to all – and to Laura James for creating the video documenting the hard work.



Tox-Ick Moves To Ballard, June 7th

The Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster campaign has a new Ambassador in Ballard, Liz Dunigan, who will be hosting a presentation about stormwater pollution on Thursday, June 7th, from 6-7:45 PM at the Ballard Library, 5614 22nd Avenue NW.  Pizza dinner will be provided. Contact Liz Dunigan at: or (206) 458-4794 for reservations & more information.
After the presentation Liz will facilitate a community discussion exploring the question: What are you inspired to do to support the health of our waterway & community?
The Tox-Ick campaign feels very grateful to have Liz join to spread the word about solutions to stormwater pollution.  Liz has experience in soil microbiology, mycology, Whole Systems Design, and is a LEED accredited professional.  So, she’s uniquely qualified to host an interesting discussion about solutions like rain gardens, natural yard care, and using mushrooms to mitigate pollution.

Sat. May 12: Help WSH Students Build Rain Garden

Come dig and plant a unique, student-inspired rain garden at West Seattle High School on Saturday May 12th from 10-2.   Come whenever you can and stay however long you can to help make this rain garden happen.  The student Earth Service corps groups proposed this and then made it a reality.   This rain garden may help pave the way for more rain gardens in Seattle schools!   Bagels, water, and tools provided.    Project partially funded by Sustainable West Seattle and supported by Friends of the Cedar River Watershed and Sustainable Seattle.

-Amy Waterman, Sustainable Seattle

Support Native Plant Education at Sanislo Elementary, Sat. April 28th

You are invited to join a wetland work party conducted by Steve Richmond of Puget Creek Watershed Alliance Saturday April 28th from 10AM – 1PM.

Back in March Sustainable West Seattle awarded $1,000 toward a native plant education project at Sanislo Elementary for their participation in the Don’t Feed the Tox-Ick Monster campaign.  Now Steve and students from Sanislo are preparing planting areas for environmental education. 

The goal is to prepare a site where students can plant and identify a number of native herbs (foamflower, trillium, inside-out flower, fringecup, piggyback plant, and swordfern) along the path that is currently infested with ivy.  Students will be pulling ivy and mulching the flat areas, but they need capable adults and caution to get ivy in the steeper portions (slopes are risky on knees, backs, and ankles).

Much progress has been made with the regular work parties held the 4th Saturday of every month.  Thank you for supporting Sanislo’s wetland makeover!

Saturday April 28th from 10AM – 1PM (Join for an hour or all day)

Where: Sanislo School Wetland: 1812 Myrtle, Seattle, WA 98106
Meet at front of school.

What to bring:   Gloves, hand tiller (we’ll have extra, but write your name on your tools), weather-appropriate gear (rain or cold), hat/eye/sun protection, food/water/bottle, sturdy shoes/boots.  Snacks and water provided. ; Steve Richmond (206) 650-9807

Steven Richmond / Garden Cycles
(206) 650-9807; FAX (206) 763-0144