Take one part urban waterway with a long history of heavy industry. Add several parts diverse residential neighborhoods, business owners, commercial fishing, and community members who look to the river for recreational activities. Combine all ingredients with a river that is culturally sacred to Native American tribes and has been given a Superfund site designation. Taken together, you have the Lower Duwamish Waterway – and a significant communications and outreach challenge.
The four partners of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Group (LDWG) – the City of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle, and Boeing – asked EnviroIssues to help them develop and implement a robust, effective community outreach program. Information about the contaminants and cleanup options is often highly technical and complex; in order to ensure that community members are able to provide input on the cleanup plan, EnviroIssues developed a suite of communications tools that translated that complex information not only into layman’s terms, but also into multiple languages.
EnviroIssues also maintained an online database for those who wanted to comment on cleanup options. The database, EnviroLytical, allowed members of LDWG to see the priorities of specific communities by demonstrating trends and subjects that emerged from specific neighborhoods or stakeholder groups.
But as effective as EnviroLytical is at analyzing public input, nothing can replace face-to-face communications. EnviroIssues facilitated public meetings on behalf of LDWG and also worked with LDWG members to implement a targeted outreach strategy to reach key stakeholder groups.
The process is a long way from complete – it will be several years yet before the Duwamish cleanup is done. But with EnviroIssues’ help, the process is underway and is underscored by a healthy community conversation about the future of a very important river.