Sustainable in Seattle

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 06:10.

This is Seattle:


This is Seattle on S2:


Over the past several decades, Seattle has topped countless lists of “Best Cities” in the world, for many of its outstanding qualities. One area of demonstrated excellence, at the city, King County and state of Washington level, is sophistication in addressing environmental stewardship and community development challenges, and especially in confronting the impacts of sprawl, with enlightened social consciousness.

A collaboration of Seattle regional citizens and government and organizational leaders have pioneering “sustainability” as their core regional planning concept, since the early 1990s.

The processes, communities and results of their efforts are well managed and communicated through multiple web-based public information sharing portals, that are all aligned in strategic vision.

The community could not have managed all that without a strong, early commitment to measuring their performance every step of the way.

As global innovators and leaders with sustainability, Seattle-area citizens have had to invent their processes, tools, definitions, metrics, models, and understandings along the way – a huge, expensive, complex, resource-consuming and expert undertaking to say the least. What they have created is remarkable for the Seattle community and for everyone in the world.

The tools and processes demonstrated in use in King County, in some cases for decades, are excellent models for other regions, offering near plug-and play innovation in a box. And many other communities have learned from Seattle, and are “sister cities” in pursuit of excellence in management of their environment and economy.

But may other regions “do” sustainability as well, without going through the community intellectual discovery process of defining one's own priorities, which may enlighten and empower people and a community around important shared purposes, like saving the community for future generations.

Other regions may very well not even have the potential. Seattle is a unique community, on top of all those “Top City” lists because there are lots of great, smart people there who really care about their community, and the environment, and really understand global strategic measurement and management. Like the rocket scientists at Boeing, and geeks at Microsoft. They and the other great citizens of their region nailed this challenge – measuring and managing their community – and they keep improving along the way. It is unlikely you will find much more comprehensive, thought-through, tested and community-embraced tools in the world.

To learn more about how Seattle took the global center stage with sustainability and community performance measurement and management, and learn from their successes, visit the core initiatives at the heart of their community excellence, linked below.

AGR/Benchmsrk Report: In 1983, the King County Department of Planning and Community Development published the first Annual Growth Report. Since 1997, this has been enhanced by the simultaneous publication of a Benchmark Report, which has taken over and expanded the monitoring function originally envisioned for the AGR.

Sustainable Seattle: Founded in 1991, Sustainable Seattle is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the long term quality of life in the Seattle / King County area.  Sustainable Seattle provides commuities and individuals with meaningful information that reflect their priorities and helps them make sustainable choices.

COMMUNITIES COUNT: In 1993, King County Children and Family Commission’s Healthy Communities Project was established to create a process among members of the public, Commission members, elected officials and County employees to develop a vision of a healthy community for King County’s children and families and identify concrete ways of evaluating our progress toward that vision.

B-Sustainable: B-Sustainable is a regional resource of relevant, trusted and actionable information, providing an innovative framework and open platform for taking our collective sustainability efforts to the next level.  Spearheaded by Sustainable Seattle, B-Sustainable is the collaborative effort of many individuals and organizations. 

It is important to note a focus on community and citizen engagement at all levels of all processes, with B-Sustainable designed as a citizen knowledge and action social network.

Also innovative in this place and space is an approach to citizen engagement being sponsored by King County called Countywide Community Forums:

The Countywide Community Forums is an innovative partnership between the King County government and its citizens where registered Citizen Councilors agree to meet informally, in small groups a few times each year, to consider important issues, to listen to the opinions of other Citizen Councilors, and to provide their anonymous opinions on issues back to King County Councilmembers, public officials, and the general public.

When browsing these sites, consider the creators, processes, partners, funders, stakeholders, missions, methodologies, metrics, reasonings, analyses, data output, and presentation and feel free to comment on strengths and weaknesses... highlight lessons learned and best practices, at any level.

Seattle is our starting point for a fascinating adventure around the world, exploring best processes and practices for measuring and managing regional economies and social equity.

Other communities will find ways to enhance what is developed in Seattle, and there are equally exceptional approaches elsewhere around the world. A combination of the best approaches in the world, continuously improved over time, will offer comparative insight that will help all communies measure and manage their economies better.

How that is defined, and the value derived through excellence in this field, shall be discovered and shared through this public comparative analysis. Your participation in this discovery process and feedback will enhance the value of this analysis for all – feel free to comment.

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Founded in 1991

  Wow...Seattle folks are thinking about the future.  How long have we been at it?? 2007...well, as they say, better late than never :)

Conversatons on Seattle time you are in Pittsburgh, let me know, and you can hook up with my sister and brother-in-law.  They both know a lot of the folks directing Seattle's economy, but as you can see, they don't live there anymore.

can't read the yellow

Norm, I can't read the yellow parts of the diagram.

Can you translate for me, or fix the colors and contrasts?


Personal Environment

  The other words in the bubbles are strategies, 4 goals, actions and indicators.  Funny...I don't see any of these words in NEO, so how do I adjust my vision :)

Seatte sustainability

  How does Seattle's form of government compare to the proposed model of government set up by Issue 6? 

On the surface it looks similar--does the Seattle model provide more accountability than the Zanotti-Mason Issue 6 proposal?




my opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer, my spouse, my cat, my neighbors, my extended family or anyone I happen to acknowledge on the street, bus, etc.