Giving Back to My Bioregion

But people aren’t the only ones we have to thank for our successes. Our community provides, our planet provides. To me, it makes sense for decisions about resources to be made at a bioregional scale, not just a state-wide scale. And why stop at resources – I think of my fellow Cascadians as comrades in decision-making and management, bound by geography and place.

As a homeowner, I appreciate Kirkland’s natural areas and wildlife, from the frogs chorusing in the pond across the street to the many parks that forward-thinking citizens of the past preserved. As a hiker and nature-lover, I benefit from the advocacy and hard work of hiking, outdoor, and recreation groups that fight to preserve and improve access to trails and maintain them.

Donations of cash obviously help local organizations, but there are more involved ways to give back, not just pay it back. What can I do to give back at home? There are tiers of “home” I try to consider: my house, my community, my bioregion.

How I’m Giving Back at Home

At My House


Before restoration – lots of blackberries, even in February!

Behind my house, there’s a no-man’s-land of undevelopable land around a stream. When we moved in, the space was overgrown with invasive Himalayan blackberry. While technically not our property, we’ve embarked on a guerrilla restoration project, first removing the blackberries, now gradually adding native plants and pulling weeds.

Planting plan for my lawn replacement, featuring native, pollinator-friendly, and drought-tolerant plants.

Planting plan for my lawn replacement, featuring native, pollinator-friendly, and drought-tolerant plants.

I’m transforming my front yard from a wildlife desert of lawn to a native plant and pollinator haven (with help from my fabulous sister). Combined with the restored back-backyard and some bird feeders, I’m feeling better about providing for my local wildlife – one of my favorite things about this house. My long-term goal is to get my yard “Wildlife Certified”.

I buy green energy from PSE and last year got a home energy audit to figure out the biggest energy wasters in my home (lack of insulation!). In the summer, I hang laundry to dry outside. I’m very excited to be installing solar panels at my house come October! I used to bike commute but have been lazy lately :(

In My community

To support my community, I switched jobs to work for my local city, providing education and outreach about recycling to my neighbors. I also get to spread the word about all kinds of environmental messages through partnerships with other city departments and promote waste reduction. (In the past, I attempted to make a Zero Waste Wiki, which didn’t go anywhere.)

Building a wooden base to stack weeds on so they don't re-root.

Building a wooden base to stack weeds on so they don’t re-root. Photo by Green Kirkland Partnership.

In January, I volunteered to pull blackberries at a local park for MLK Jr Day of Service (after several years not volunteering with parks). I donated to a plant fundraiser for Green Kirkland Day and hope to volunteer planting there as well.

During the summer, I shop at farmers markets (and have experimented with CSAs). I joined a couple community Facebook groups for getting to know my neighbors better and for exchanging secondhand goods, as well as a Nextdoor group.

In My Bioregion

I fly a Cascadia flag at my house (although anyone who recognizes it thinks it’s a Timbers flag, which doesn’t win me any points). In the past, I volunteered doing wildlife tracking with Conservation Northwest, and contribute comments to regional wildlife plans when they’re called for. I’m a member of the Washington Trails Association and buy a Northwest Forest Pass and Discover Pass every year, but those are hardly giving back.

What More Could I Do to Give Back to My Home?

To give back more at home, I could:

  • reduce the amount of energy I use, both through efficiency improvements and lifestyle changes
  • reduce the amount of water that I use, both through efficiency improvements and lifestyle changes
  • switch from driving to work to bike commuting – and try to run errands on my bike too
  • choose eco-friendly versions of products or buy secondhand more often

To give back more to my community, I could:

  • shop locally (especially at small, independent businesses) for a greater proportion of my purchases
  • organize a community event, like a block party for my neighbors
  • volunteer at more Green Kirkland Partnership restoration events (or even lead some)
  • install storm drain markers

To give back more to the Pacific Northwest bioregion, I could:

  • attend Hiker Lobby Day and write to my state and federal representatives in support of conservation
  • get involved with bike activism (I’m planning to volunteer at a WSDOT bike count in October)
  • volunteer at a trail event
  • design interpretive brochures for local parks and trails

What other suggestions do you have for giving back to our Cascadia bioregion?

About Tracy Durnell

Seattle-area graphic designer and SFF writer inspired by the Pacific Northwest, crafting a sustainable and intentional life.

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