Public Engagement Opportunities for Sustainability in Tacoma

Budget Input Meetings

As the City of Tacoma develops its 2015-2016 Biennial Budget, members of the community are invited to participate in the following upcoming budget input meetings



Meeting Location

 July 14, 2014

 6 – 8 p.m.

 District 3 – Tacoma Nature Center, 1919 S. Tyler St., Tacoma, WA 98405

 July 17, 2014

 6 – 8 p.m.

 District 1 – Wheelock Library, 3722 N. 26th St., Tacoma, WA 98407

 July 24, 2014

 6 – 8 p.m.

 District 5 – Birney Elementary School, 1202 S. 76th St. Tacoma, WA 98408

 August 4, 2014

 6 – 8 p.m.

 District 4 – Lincoln High School, 701 S. 37th St., Tacoma, WA 98418

 August 7, 2014

 6 – 8 p.m.

 District 2 – Stadium High School, 111 N. E St., Tacoma, WA 98403


2014 Citizen Survey

The citizen survey is meant to assess the City’s performance in major service areas, and will help the City better understand residents’ perceptions of service areas. The survey findings will help define the community’s current priorities and will aid the City’s ongoing operational planning and improvement processes.

Citywide Strategic Plan

Tacoma is one of the nation’s healthiest, safest, and most playful cities. We have daily access to stunning natural surroundings and a great quality of life. We recognize just how lucky we are, but we know we can make it better. During the next five months, the City is inviting the community to help build a shared vision for Tacoma’s future and the steps needed to achieve it by 2025.

I encourage you to get involved – Tacoma 2025 will help guide our future resource allocation and budget decisions, so make sure your voice is heard!

  • Join the Engage Tacoma online community forum to comment on key topics and respond to other community members’ ideas. This is the best and easiest way to provide much-needed feedback on the proposed ideas.
  • Visit the Tacoma 2025 booth at one of the many summertime events, including:

o   June 17: Point Defiance Zoo (11am-3pm)

o   June 21: Go Skate Tacoma, Tollefson Plaza (10am-2pm)

o   June 22: South Tacoma Farmers Market, STAR Center, 3873 S. 66th Street (11am-3pm)

o   July 4: Freedom Fair, Ruston Way Waterfront (10am – 2pm)

o   July 12: Out in the Park, Pierce Transit Park (12 noon – 5pm)

o   July 13: Art on the Ave, 6th Avenue at Cedar Street (11am – 5pm)

o   July 19: Proctors Farmers Market (9am-2pm)

o   July 26-27: Ethnic Fest, Wright Park (12 noon-7pm)

  • Make plans to attend a community-wide visioning meeting on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center (more information to come!)


Transportation Master Plan

The role of the Transportation Master Plan is to help the Tacoma community consider its transportation systems, how well they’re functioning and what needs, including funding, will be necessary over the next 20 years. The first step was to work with the citizen volunteer Transportation Commission and others to understand future land use needs and how pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicle networks can support those. Now, feedback and public involvement from residents, businesses and organizations will help further shape this long-range planning effort.


Please visit with us at the following events:

Tacoma Pride Festival on July 12, 2014

Ethnic Fest on July 26, 2014

Visioning Community Workshop on July 30, 2014


Also, tell us how you feel about transit services with this survey:

Continuing Opportunities:

City Council Meetings

As the policy-making body of the City, the City Council serves as the link between the residents of Tacoma and their municipal government. They are responsible for enacting and amending City laws, adopting the Biennial Budget, appointing citizen boards, committees and commissions and providing guidance and direction for actions which affect the quality of life in the City. City Council meetings are every Tuesday at 5pm at the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St. You can also watch City Council meetings live on TV Tacoma.

City of Tacoma Updates

Receive updates on any of the following: construction projects, neighborhood and community services, social media, City Council meetings, newsletters (Tacoma Today, Past Forward, LEAP – SBE Newsletter, Special Events Newsletter, Focus on Child Care Aware, Focus on Child Care Professional, Downtown Construction, City of Destiny, MHCD Collaboration, Sustainability Semi-Annual Report), initiatives, news, environmental services, development projects, or charter review. Subscribe here.

Neighborhood Councils

In 1992, the City Council established Tacoma’s eight Neighborhood Councils to advise them on issues of local importance and to seek consensus among residents on specific plans of action. The Neighborhood Councils also undertake a wide range of neighborhood improvements in collaboration with staff from the City of Tacoma and other agencies. Any resident, business owner, employee, property owner or member of an existing neighborhood group within a Neighborhood Council area can join a Neighborhood Council.


The mission of the TacomaFIRST (Fast Information Resource Service Team)

Customer Support Center is to deliver exemplary service to Tacoma residents and visitors, and provide quick access to services through automation, 311 telephone support, online access to CityQA and face-to-face interaction.

TV Tacoma

TV Tacoma programming includes a broad range of local information about the City of Tacoma and the partnerships the City has developed that help make Tacoma a great place to live, work and play.



Sustainability Job Posting

The Office of Environmental Policy and Sustainability at the City of Tacoma is looking for an AmeriCorps member to serve as Sustainability and Active Transportation Assistant from September 2014 through July 2015.


The City of Tacoma Office of Environmental Policy and Sustainability works to connect Tacoma residents with information and resources to make their daily lives more sustainable, whether its connecting them with a nearby community garden, hosting environmental study groups, or incentivizing walking or bicycling for transportation. The office is also responsible for making sure that the City of Tacoma, as an organization, is as sustainable and resource-efficient as it can be. 


The Sustainability and Active Transportation Assistant will work directly with the Sustainability Manager and Active Transportation Coordinator to implement strategies of reducing resource consumption, engage in community outreach and staff education, and  increase environmental awareness and positive behavior change.


  • Coordinate the 2015 South Sound Sustainability Expo, where the community can connect with organizations and individuals working to promote environmental sustainability
  • Coordinate with volunteers to conduct annual bicycle and pedestrian count
  • Assist the Active Transportation Coordinator in organizing Bike Month events
  • Assist the Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator in developing and implementing walking and bicycling programming
  • Develop policies to promote sustainable practices
  • Support internal sustainable practices by tracking municipal energy/fuel use and identifying reduction strategies
  • Increase public awareness of sustainability issues and resources through outreach
  • Network with other regional and local organizations to learn best practices and collaborate on joint projects
  • Track progress and develop annual reports on specific sustainability and environmental measures
  • Manage website and social media campaigns



  • Age 18 to 25
  • College graduate
  • Ability to multitask and manage multiple priorities and deadlines
  • Excellent attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Ability to work well independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of and passion for environmental issues
  • Basic computer skills, including Microsoft Office
  • Availability for occasional evenings and weekends



  • Knowledge of Tacoma area and community
  • Experience in event planning
  • Some experience biking and walking for transportation



  • Monthly stipend of $1,155
  • Education award of $5,645 upon completion of service
  • Subsidized childcare
  • Health coverage
  • Training
  • ORCA transit pass
  • Use of City fleet vehicles (car, van, bicycle) for work purposes



Apply via the AmeriCorps website at

Registration Open for Parkland Permaculture Course

Announcing the opening of registration for the Parkland Permaculture Course, August 3rd-15th, 2014! 
Sustainability at PLU means developing a deeper understanding of the scopes of our environmental impacts and attempting to understand how to accommodate the needs of the people, the planet, and prosperity for all.  Permaculture is one lens with which to view some of these issues.Permaculture is defined as “design systems for sustainable human habitat: food, water, shelter, and energy”. The course will take an indepth look at how these systems interact and give participants a set of tools for designing and implementing sustainable practices in their lives and beyond.

Full cost registration is a sliding scale of $700-900 which includes catered lunches. Some scholarships are available for those in financial need, see the registration form for more details. Additionally, due to the broad support received for this course, Divine Earth Gardening Project is able to offer Parkland residents, PLU students, alumni, staff, faculty, and administrators subsidized admission to the course for only $50 but there are a limited number of these potions available so register soon!

This is a 72hr intensive permaculture design course, students will be in class from 9am-5pm and there will be some outside of class home study / home work required.  Upon completion of the course students will receive a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) from Divine Earth Gardening Project.

The attached poster has registration information and links to the full course syllabi. Or you can Register Here!
Please share this email far and wide and register soon as we have limited space available!
Course sponsors include: ASPLU, PLU Green Fund, and Diving Earth Gardening Project
Site sponsors include: PLU Sustainability Office, Pierce Conservation Districts Green Partnership Fund, and the Chambers-Clover Watershed Council.

Great Dialogue between Students & Facilities Management on Gas Machinery


From the Student:

Dear Facilities Management, 

I would like to bring to your attention something that could possibly be modified in the future.  I have been noticing the use of gas powered machinery, specifically leaf blowers for leaves and other sidewalk debris as spring has come into season and more petals and grass clippings find their way onto the campus walkways.  I know that leaf blowers are viewed as the standard for “fast and easy” cleanup of sidewalks and the campus, but it has come to my attention that this practice might not be the best for the campus environment as well as the global environment.  

Gas Leaf blowers and Gas weed whackers are quite loud, especially in the close proximity to multiple story campus buildings where the sound reverberates and reflects throughout campus.  “The average blower measures 70-75 dB at 50ft according to, while they are commonly used on campus at distances of less than 50 feet.  It is also a property of physics that “The decibel scale is logarithmic–each increase of 10, say 60 to 70, represents a noise 10 times louder.” there are students and community members frequently within less than 50 feet of  levels such as these, which can be damaging to hearing. The World Health Organization recommends general daytime outdoor noise levels of 55 dBA or less.  Creating a loud and potentially dangerous environment such as this seems to contradict the mission of Facilities Management, ” Facilities Management is committed to providing the Pacific Lutheran University community with an environment that is pleasant, comfortable, safe, and which meets the needs of the university.”( PLU Facilities management Mission ) .  

Also, PLU believes that care for the environment is very important, as their mission statement describes “PLU seeks to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care—for other people, for their communities, and for the earth”.  Leaf blowers only blow irritants such as pollen and debris into the air, as well as emit harmful gasses.  In a lab test by, and the use of emissions equipment, a ford truck was cleaner than a leaf blower in its emissions.   More information and a short video can be found here,

The 2011 GHG Inventory Report, found here,

outlines the emissions of the university.  The largest category is stationary combustion, or the burning of fuel on campus.  This includes the equipment such as lawn mowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers.  The document also states that PLU hopes to achieve “38% reduction in total scopes 1, 2, & 3 emissions by 2016”. Starting by amending the use of such gas-powered machinery would be a great way to work on lowering these emissions

Even though gas leaf blowers are the norm for landscape management, it doesn’t make them good for the environment or for the student and community of PLU.  I am not saying that leaf blowers should be eliminated from campus at once, or that everyone has a raging problem with them.  However, I do believe that they go against both the mission of facilities management and PLU, and that no one particularly likes their obnoxious sound or fumes.  I know that the road to environmental consciousness is a hard one, but it seems that there are plenty of cost effective and cleaner solutions to the gas blower, such as the broom, or even an electric blower.

I hope that you consider alternatives to the leaf blower on campus, and that other communities can look to PLU as an example of outstanding effort to live harmoniously with the Mother Nature.  Thank you for taking time to listen to a concerned student, 

Will Radford


And the response:

Mr. Radford, Good Day:

Thank you for well-considered email on the use of gas powered equipment on campus. Many of your points are well founded and the Grounds Staff would appreciate another method to meet University expectations of how the grounds should look. Unshackling ourselves from noisy and odiferous machines would make work much more enjoyable.

The needs & expectations of the University appear to rate neatness and safety above periodic noise levels above 80 db.  The finances of the University preclude the hiring of enough people to wield brooms or enough battery powered leaf blowers to match the productivity of one person on a gas blower.

The PLU 2011 GHG Inventory Report that you cite is an important reference for inspiring a cultural shift toward sustainability at PLU. I think you will find that on closer inspection the On-Campus Stationary sector does not include mobile combustion from lawn mowers, weed whackers & leaf blowers. Direct Transportation includes all of the above, plus other fleet use of vehicles for facilities, dining, campus safety and academic & administrative use. Direct Transportation figures include the use of the gasoline that we dispense at Facilities. That portion is 1% of 2011 Net Emissions compared to the 43% that On-Campus Stationary produces. Totally eliminating the use of gas powered grounds equipment would reduce PLU emissions by less than 1% according to the figures in the report.

I admit that ‘cleaner’ solutions to removing leaves and debris from walkways exist. I disagree that these methods are as cost effective in purely economic terms. For us it is a time consideration. With 8 full time grounds staff and occasional student help to sweep the walkways, there would not be enough time in the day to attend to all the other duties we are tasked with. If walkways are not cleared then we have issues with appearance and safety. That does not include the massive effort each fall to remove leaves before they become a slip hazard and before they shade out and impact the health of the lawns.

As we continue the cultural shift toward sustainability perhaps the economic stresses will become less important than the environmental & ethical principles that our mission statement espouses.

Again it was a pleasure to read your email. If you would like to further discuss these issues feel free to drop me a line.


Kenneth Côté
Campus Landscape & Athletic Fields Manager
Pacific Lutheran University


So Lutes, what would you add to this dialogue? 

Biking to AASHE

Join PLU Sustainability as we pedal over 150 miles to the largest sustainability conference in the country.  We will be leaving on Friday, October 24th at 7am from the PLU campus.  We will stay the night in scenic Longview, and be off again in the morning of the 25th, Portland or bust. 

After the conference, you are welcome to join us on the ride back.  We will be back by 9pm on Thusday, October 30th, although we will be making a game time decision as to how to split the distance over the days after the conference.

This is the most eco-friendly and community driven route to the AASHE conference.  We are going at a pace that everyone can enjoy, and we are going rain or shine.  


Register Here.


For more information email

UnPLUg Recap

As we head into the holiday season and the end of another semester, the Sustainability office would like to take a moment to reflect on the month of unPLUg, a month focused on reducing energy consumption and raising awareness for sustainable practices at PLU throughout October. Harstad Hall was the winner of this years unPLUg competition, with the least amount of energy consumption compared to the previous year of unPLUg out of all the res halls. Throughout the month of unPLUg the Sustainability office hosted a number of events, including film showings in res halls, Habitat restoration work parties, a Parkland Beautification day, and a culminating acoustic open mic at NPCC to announce the results of unPLUg to PLU and the Parkland community. The Sustainability office would like to give a big thanks and shout out to everyone who participated in unPLUg, namely all of the sustainability leaders in RHC and RHA, as well as LASR and other community members who were involved in the programming of unPLUg at PLU. There is no doubt that unPLUg would not be successful without the hard work and dedication of everyone involved. In addition, the Sustainability office would like to acknowledge all of the people around campus and in the community who took the time to think about their energy consumption habits and made commitments to sustainable practices in their daily lives. A huge part of the Sustainability office’s mission is education and sustainable practices, but it is the people who take the time to listen and apply the principles of unPLUg that make the biggest difference. While the month of unPLUg was a huge success, we hope that with the darkening of the days and the transition of unPLUg into the rest of the year, that these habits and the information learned will remain an important part of PLU life. Great job everyone, keep up the great work!


Some photos from the Acoustic Open Mic at NPCC:

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A Personal Statement about Initiative 522

The SPLU Sustainability Office was recently asked to post this personal statement from a community leader on their thoughts of I522.  If you would liek to know more, please email


These words already resonate with you on a soul level.   I started my own journey as an organic gardener, mentor, and activist after experiencing chemical poisoning from Home Garden products as an adult and witnessing animals die on a Wheat Farm in Eastern, WA due to overspraying, when I was young.  I became fully activated with WTC when I had my newborn son and learned that pesticides were in breast milk.  As I volunteered and trained with Seattle Tilth I realized that organic food/sustainable issues were not just about taste preference but a bottom line concern about the health and safety of our food our planet and our children, children especially are vulnerable to the effects of chemicals and pesticides. 

Like many of you I have educated myself in breadth and depth in these issues and I support  I-522 100%.

This fall, Washington voters will have the opportunity to make our state the first in the nation to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods when they vote on I-522. I-522 is about creating transparency for food shoppers and the industry responsible for the creation of these GE foods, an industry led by chemical giants such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow Agrosciences, and Bayer CropScience. Many of the seeds that these corporations sell to farmers produce crops that are resistant to herbicides and pesticides, allowing farmers to spray large amounts of these chemicals on their crops without killing them.
These chemicals, which are produced and sold by these same companies, have many unintended environmental consequences, from the creation of chemical-resistant “superweeds” to the damage to biodiversity in our ecosystems. These companies know that their profit margins depend on the public remaining in the dark when it comes to genetically modified crops, which is why they’re pouring millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat I-522.

Our advantage this election will lie in the efforts of our volunteers, which is why we need your help to make sure that Washington voters know about Yes on 522. We would love to have you join us in our phonebanking this fall!  Dates will be announced.  We may communicate via email amongst ourselves to keep campaign information protected.  Blessings to all who will help.   We need volunteers to phonebank, provide rides, and we are looking to get organic food vendors to provide snacks too.
– Sunny Earles