For 25 years, Ecotrust has been working to build a new economy that restores nature and invests in people. As we embark on a new year, we’ve been reflecting on not just 2015, but the quarter of a century we’ve worked to turn the tide on the more than 200 years of damage and depletion of the industrial age.
In 2015, we saw our warmest year on record, with ever-increasing droughts and wildfires across the West. We saw increasing divisiveness and growing gaps in opportunity and income equality across the nation and the world. But we also reached historic levels of collaboration and commitment on the global stage to address a warming climate, and we were energized by the rising demand to create a more equitable and inclusive society from every corner of the globe.
At Ecotrust, we believe in addressing the world’s most pressing problems by starting here at home. In 2015, we had many accomplishments to be thankful for — from launching the Redd on Salmon Street, to working with the Coquille Tribe on the repatriation of the Sek-wet-se Forest, to marking 10 years of progress by the Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative. Thank you to all of you who support us every day in this work to build a restored and vibrant region!
In 2016, we will continue this work with your support by:
- Developing markets for healthy regional food, ecological forest products and services, and sustainable local seafood,
- Coordinating, investing in, and rebuilding vital, missing infrastructure for those markets, and
- Supporting “producers”—the farmers, ranchers, fishermen, landowners and business owners—who create products that generate economic, environmental, and social value.
Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the projects we’ll be focused on in the year ahead:
Hospitals, schools, and correctional facilities serve some of the most vulnerable populations of eaters. Those institutions also represent big buyers who are poised to make a significant impact on the food system by directing their purchasing power toward responsibly grown, regionally sourced foods.
This year, we’re bringing together a peer-to-peer network — the Northwest Food Buyer’s Alliance — to share ideas, meet farmers, ranchers, and other producers, and explore how institution-supported agriculture can better serve our communities.
Mid-scale storage, processing, and distribution facilities are essential to supporting our regional producers — whether in food production, fishing, or forestry.
Last year, we rolled out the Redd — our two-block campus in the Central Eastside Industrial District designed as a working hub for regional food systems. This year, we’ll be breaking ground — from the physical rebuilding of the space to developing exciting new partnerships with tenants and the surrounding neighborhood.
We are also working with community-based fishermen to invest in the essential dockside infrastructure they need to bring domestically caught fish back into a seafood supply chain currently dominated by international imports — a transition that will benefit coastal communities, fisheries, and eaters alike.
Late last year, Ecotrust and Ecotrust Forest Management joined more than 40 other entities in expressing our interest in the future of the Elliot State Forest. Our work to restore our region’s forests is an ongoing commitment to the essential infrastructure that nature provides — from clean water and air to good jobs and forest products.
In 2016, we’ll be working with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community on the Olympic Peninsula to develop a “forest bank.” The bank would fund forest management, including restoration, protection, and careful timber harvests, while generating revenue for tribal members and safeguarding a myriad of cultural and natural resources for the community.
We’ll also be focusing on ways to create economic and environmental benefit for low-income and disadvantaged urban communities, by making the case for investments in green jobs for underserved communities.
In addition, we are committing to completing a comprehensive equity assessment across our organization. Through this process, we hope to gain insight into both our strengths and weaknesses, and to inform and improve upon our commitment to building a more just and equitable region.
Learn more about all of our work by visiting us at the Natural Capital Center — call ahead and schedule a tour, or join us at one of our many events.
This spring, we’re hosting a second year of our Place Matters forums, engaging in conversations around some of the most important issues our region is facing.
We are also celebrating a major milestone — our 25th anniversary! We’ll be sharing highlights and favorite stories from over the years in future posts. And, of course, what would a birthday be without a party — stay tuned for details for our big 25th birthday bash this summer in Portland.