There is no Environmental Justice without Racial Justice

Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment logo

June 2020

There is no Environmental Justice without Racial Justice

The Office of Sustainability & Environment stands in solidary with the Black community and supports the goals of Black Lives Matter. Our mission is to create policies and programs that decrease racial disparities and propel our city toward a sustainable, equitable, and fossil fuel free future. We cannot achieve this mission without dismantling systemic racism, and specifically anti-Blackness, throughout City government.  

Like climate change, there is no panacea to solve 400 years of oppression against and exploitation of Black people. We are proud of the work we have done as an office since 2015 to advance racial equity through our environmental and sustainability work. While our goal has been to design polices that serve the needs of those who are hardest hit by climate change and environmental pollution, we know we can do more, especially as it pertains to centering the voices and needs of our Black communities. We acknowledge the role city governments have played in perpetuating systemic racism, that we have fallen short of building true racial equity. We commit to using our power and privilege as a City department to dismantle institutional racism and anti-Blackness.

We are City employees, but we are also individuals. We share the outrage and disgust many across our nation are feeling in the wake of murders of Black Americans, and acknowledge the violence specifically perpetrated against Black trans individuals. We cannot and will not remain silent.

To those who are calling for change – we hear you. We stand with you. We believe Black Lives Matter. We know there can be no environmental justice without racial justice. We commit today to develop and share publicly a series of concrete actions OSE will take to break down systemic racism and fight climate change in Seattle. Even though these actions must be guided by an inclusive process that centers Black and Brown voices to achieve greater and more sustained change, we will begin with the following – to be completed within 30 days:

  • Coordinate a fundraising effort to support organizations that are doing critical work in advancing solutions for Black communities, including a voluntary donation effort (financial or in-kind) at OSE and challenging other City departments and external partners to join us
  • Organize a series of days of action or service in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Identify strategies and actions to learn more, center, and dismantle anti-Blackness in OSE’s work

Black liberation is collective liberation, and we’re ready to get to work. 

Other City News

It's Time to Get "Smoke Ready" for Wildfire Season: The threat of wildfire smoke during the #COVID19 pandemic creates additional risk and may worsen symptoms. Public Health has information on how to get prepared and stay healthy. (more)

King County has applied for Phase 2 - what that means: On Monday, June 15, King County applied to move to Phase 2 of the Safe Start reopening plan. (more

City Engages with Capitol Hill Organized Protest to make Safety Changes: The City is committed to creating a safe space for peaceful demonstrations, and will also take steps to minimize property damage or potential injuries. (more)

Mayor Announces Bold Action to Deliver 500 Permanent Homes in Response to COVID-19: Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that the City of Seattle Office of Housing is taking bold action to create 500 new permanent supportive housing units through alternative construction, reducing significantly the costs and timeline. (more)

Governor Inslee Extends Eviction Moratorium: The governor announced by proclamation on June 2, he was extending the eviction moratorium until August 1. Rent increases and late fees remain prohibited under the moratorium. (more)

Apply for a Safe Routes to Schools Mini Grant: Apply for up to $1,000 to fund projects that educate students about walking and biking to school. Public and private schools, parent-teacher associations, and other non-profits are welcome to apply. (more)

COVID-19 Lease Amendment Toolkit Now in Eight Languages: The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development launched a toolkit to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic explore options for their commercial leases with a goal of remaining in their spaces. (more)