Environmental workshop at BC

1411797_sunflowers_above_a_gateBellevue College’s Sustainability Department partnered with the Environmental Priorities Coalition to host the 2013 Legislative Workshop that took place Jan. 12 on campus. Thanks to the locational donation by the Sustainability Department, the Carlson Theater was residence for the educational legislative workshop that taught about this year’s environmental priorities through the voices of many, including legislators, environmental lobbyists, representatives and a senator.

The introduction to the conference informed workshop participants that they would soon delve into topics of environmental preservation and controversy.

The first of those addressed was our community need for Toxic-Free Kids and Families. The Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPO) believes “our children deserve to inherit a safe and healthy world.” Unfortunately, we must first review and renew our personal and business practices that threaten our children’s future with “a chemical industry that values its own profits over the health of people and the environment.” With this problem arises the need for such reformation, and that potential is made possible through the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, which strives to remove unnecessary flame retardants from children’s products and furniture, and for the prevention of dangerous chemicals from being used as replacements.

Washingtonians value their clean air, easily safe and accessible water and environmental protections. This quality of life that we adore is the driving force to the Conservation Works Priority, which will assist our state in moving forward with economic recovery by funding win-win projects. This Priority, as described by the EPO, “promotes fiscally-responsible projects that benefit the entire state by protecting Puget Sound, reducing toxic runoff, expanding recreation opportunities and improving habit and forest health.”

We currently see other countries, notably European ones, surpassing greatly our renewable energy efforts and practices. Such frustration leads to the awesome, latent energy-production methods and businesses. The Clean Energy Solution Priority would act as a climate policy for Washington that accelerates our nation’s transition to reliance on cleaner energy sources and also catalyzes job growth. Becky Kelly, who spoke representing the Washington Environmental Council described this act as a segway from forest fires to climate change. This act urges legislative leaders to analyze the situations presented in front of us through our natural environment, and to realize the deep connection all actions, choice and consequences environmental choices relate to. This priority means smaller percentages of our paychecks will feed into the pockets of oil and coal company proprietors and will help “free consumers from the economic dead weight of fossil fuel dependence.”

Much effort was put into making this workshop “speak” to its attendees, and one of the presentations that caught my interest was related to storytelling. I was reminded how important it is to convince others to take action by communicating a story of personal strife and presumably triumph. This can be done in person or through modern information-sharing sites, such as the viral dimensions of Facebook and Twitter, where promotion, strategy, production and algorithms go hand-in-hand in creating an effective message.