Established in 2001, the Duwamish River Community Coalition/TAG (DRCC/TAG) , also doing business as Duwamish River Community Coalition provides resources, knowledge, and action to build more just environmental futures. We work to elevate the voice of those impacted by the Duwamish River pollution and other environmental injustices for a clean, healthy, equitable environment for people and wildlife . We promote place-keeping and prioritize community capacity and resilience.
Why is South Bronx Unite excited for WE ACT’s Justice40rward Community Tour to come to your community?
The Duwamish Valley neighbors are exposed to multiple environmental justice concerns and include a high percentage of susceptible or vulnerable populations. In addition, they have historically lacked access to, and influence on, decision-makers that shape the future of their communities as other, more affluent, communities in the region have. We are excited to learn more about how Justice40 can bring tangible benefits to our communities and look forward to learning how we can be more involved in environmental justice decisions that impact our livelihood.
What are 3 projects you are working on with our community?
- Superfund – We serve as the Community Advisory Group for the Lower Duwamish Waterway. We provide community with information about the Superfund cleanup and advocate for their interests as decisions are being made about cleanup.
- Duwamish Valley Clean Air Program – Advocate to end the drivers of climate change to eliminate community susceptibility and disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards.
- Duwamish Valley Youth Corps – The Duwamish Valley Youth Corps (DVYC) is a youth engagement program focusing on environmental justice and job skills. The circumstances in the Duwamish Valley have produced a vacuum of engagement opportunities for the youth, and DVYC is intent on filling that vacuum. By providing experiences and lessons that are unavailable to the youth at home or school, the purpose of the DVYC is to enrich and build upon their own lived experience
What should others know about environmental justice in your community?
South Seattle’s Duwamish Valley has long been referred to as a community with environmental injustices—a community with disproportionately high environmental health burdens and risks and fewer positive environmental benefits than the rest of Seattle—but limited evidence has been available to date to validate or quantify this characterization. The Duwamish River Community Coalition represents an alliance of community, tribal, environmental, and small business groups affected by ongoing pollution and cleanup plans for Seattle’s lower Duwamish River, a 5.5-mile-long Superfund Site. The Duwamish Valley’s riverfront neighborhoods of South Park and Georgetown are home to residents who are among those most impacted by the Superfund Site, with potential exposures from contact with contaminated sediments on neighborhood beaches, swimming or wading in the river, and from fishing. South Park and Georgetown are among Seattle’s lowest income neighborhoods, and South Park, in particular, is one of the city’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods.
The population is 42% foreign-born, 40% Latino, and more than 70% people of color, including Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, African American, and Native American. 71.7% of those in zip code 98108 are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, the highest percentage of any health reporting area in King County (American Community Survey, 2008-2012).
Life expectancy is eight years shorter in the Duwamish Valley than the City of Seattle and King County averages, and a full 13 years shorter when compared to more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods in Seattle (Just Health Action and DRCC/TAG, 2013). In addition, these communities are exposed to environmental health concerns and inequities, including proximity to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site (one of the most toxic hazardous waste sites in the nation), access to only 40 square feet of green space per resident versus an average 387 square feet per resident within Seattle City limits, and air pollution from a disproportionate number of polluting industries as well as surrounding major highways (State Highways 99 and 509, and Interstate 5). These factors combine to produce a community facing significant health, public safety, and economic disparities that require community advocacy and systemic investment to repair.