Blueprint for Regional Resiliency

The convening Navigating Sustainability in a Time of Great Change explored our experience of managing during and through the COVID-19 crisis, taking stock of what 150 regional leaders from across central Puget Sound have learned regarding the resiliency of their lives, their organizations, and the region. To grapple with our unanticipated and far-outside-the-normal new, real world, we structured the convening to address four big questions:

1. What adjustments have we made that we should continue?

2. What challenges have been exposed that we still need to address?

3. What have we learned from this experience that will help us work toward equity, undo institutional racism and advance environmental justice?

4. What are the long term implications from this experience for the way our region, its landscapes and communities continue to evolve?

Download the Blueprint for Regional Sustainability

As we probed these four big questions over the convening’s two sessions, we heard from panelists and speakers, and deliberated together in six different working groups. The conversations were at times somber while at other times optimistic, and at times contentious while at other times embodying an open-eyed comradery. Through it all they were uniformly insightful and by the end of the convening, forward leaning and resolute. Our collective response to the four big questions are embedded in the Top Ten recommendations distilled from the convening, along with the 33 companion recommendations.

Each of the findings and recommendations, merit real consideration and action in their own right. Moreover they sum to a whole far greater than their individual worth. As we confront climate change and whatever other future shocks that may come our way, the findings and recommendations will go far to advance our resilience along three critical pillars of a truly sustainable region.

Environment: The findings and recommendations direct us towards a decarbonized region. Our buildings and transportation networks need to reduce their carbon dependency drastically.

Community: We must redouble our focus on building our communities sustainably, affordably and for all people and their families. The COVID-19 crisis and social distancing call on us to find new ways to create the neighborhood commons where all voices are welcome. If we achieve these objectives for our communities and businesses, then commerce and a vibrant economy will naturally follow.

Economy: Our region will be that much more resilient as it becomes more inclusive with true and real opportunities extended to all our residents. The economy needs to serve all our people, especially including frontline and essential workers.

There is a fourth, objective that is both derivative and at the same time fundamental to achieving those above. To reach for the above objectives, we need all voices heard, valued and welcomed to make sure our steps forwards are the best and wisest possible and to undo the systemic racism that underlies many of our public and private systems.

These are not minor objectives, easy to achieve. They will take long-term concerted action. Among the top ten findings and recommendations in particular, the journey can start with a first, critical step and continue onwards with an overarching call to action:

A First Step

Draft and adopt a Washington Sustainable New Deal with guaranteed employment to create new opportunities where needed for sustainability, community and equity. The program needs to be comprehensive with special focus on including BIPOC and women. Look to successful programs not just from the USA but also in other countries as well.

And an Overarching Call to Action

There is much that is striking about these top ten recommendations.  Not the least is that they demand an ALL IN commitment and call on all of us – individuals, elected and civic leadership, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, and also businesses, financial institutions and educational institutions and the academy – to act with urgency now.  These findings reflect the fact that this is not a normal time.  Indeed, it is an ALL IN time.

Speaker Highlights

Governor Jay Inslee

Washington State Governor

Brad Smith

President, Microsoft

President Fawn Sharp

President, Quinault Indian Nation and President, National Congress of American Indians

Christine Gregoire

Challenge Seattle CEO, former Washington State Governor and Attorney General

Dan Evans

Former U.S. Senator and Washington State Governor

Gary Locke

Former Ambassador to China, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Washington State Governor

Ana Mari Cauce

President, University of Washington

Enrique Cerna

Senior Correspondent, Crosscut & KCTS 9

Isha Sangani

Founder, Earth Strategy


At key moments in our history, communities across the Pacific Northwest have come together to chart new paths forward. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a painful and past due awakening to the racial injustice across our country is another such moment. Notable is the glaringly disproportionate impact of public emergencies, like climate change, on the people of color and the least affluent among us. 

The conference explored our experience of managing during and through the COVID-19 crises, taking stock of what regional leaders have learned regarding the resiliency of their lives, their organizations and the region. We consolidated this hard won information into a Blueprint for Regional Resiliency and assessed these implications for how we continue to grow and build our communities.


Individual Contributors 

Nick Hanauer

Ron Sher

Maryanne Tagney

Maggie Walker

Thank you to our Earth Day Northwest 2020 sponsors.

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