SCALLOPS: A Message of Hope from Your Neighbors!

resilient |ri'zily∂nt| (adjective): able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

Wow! Sustainable West Seattle has just created their Second Annual Festival. What's behind the emergence of all these sustainability festivals suddenly ... first in Ballard, then Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Bainbridge, Wallingford, ...? In the last 5 years, the number of "sustainability events" has multiplied not just in our city but all over the world.

In Puget Sound it's easy now to find events, initiatives, speakers, private consultations, workshops, retreats, tours, networking events, and even ‘love-ins' to participate in. However, we need to take more urgent steps.

Exactly how do we deal these profound realities before us? As we find ourselves grappling with multiple storms at once (recession, climate change, peak oil, and continued degradation of our natural resources) we notice many people dedicating their lives to exploring these problems. How do we make the greatest impact as individuals and as communities? Will technology save us? What will climate change mean for our Northwest, the nation, the world? With information overloading us and competing urgencies everywhere, how can we effectively harness our concerns to catalyze and drive positive change rather than retreat in fear?


Enter SCALLOPS (Sustainable Communities ALL Over Puget Sound), a network of neighborhood organizations like Sustainable Ballard, Port Townsend's Local 20/20, Green Everett, Sustainable Capital Hill and so on. This unique organization is driving and supporting sustainability and relocalization initiatives throughout the state. What a great way to build local resiliency in these turbulent times! SCALLOPS is possibly the fastest growing non-profit in Washington state.

As a regional collaborative, SCALLOPS invites all people, networks, organizations, and movements to work together and to share information and resources. Having grown to over 70 neighborhoods (11 counties) in just 3 short years, one major strength of the network is letting people know they are not alone in facing great challenges. SCALLOPS groups learn to understand their own neighborhood's demographics, challenges and assets and work with the most present issues for their residents----SCALLOPS towns encourage active participation, one neighbor at a time, one business at a time, one organization at a time.

Often enough in a crisis, people look for the wrong kind of leadership ... they look for someone with The Answers, a savior, or a defined map or template. In contrast, what we've nurtured at SCALLOPS is a leadership core who will challenge us and who will promote creative thinking. We do not have a template on purpose: groups are self-organized and most importantly, self-defining. You know your community best.

SCALLOPS has much potential ... holding the vision, interests, ideas and skills of many people from many backgrounds. SCALLOPS towns are exciting places where people exercise positive expression rather than frustration. Of course, there is no one right way to do any of this and that it will take all of us to bring these issues down to the local level, to a tangible size we can work on. SCALLOPS are committed to openly sharing the most innovative, simplest, least expensive, and greatest carbon-reducing best practices.

Every Community is Different

Sustainable communities are made up of people who believe a positive future is possible only by caring about each other. It is our choice.

There are many paths we can travel. We can retreat to isolated fortresses. We can act only for ourselves. We can become despondent. Or we can recognize that we are all connected on one planet and decide to act cooperatively and joyfully with each other. The path of joyful cooperation is the path that SCALLOPS communities are learning to follow.

SCALLOPS member organizations are doing great things on the neighborhood level. Here is just a sampling of what groups of people in some SCALLOPS towns are doing:

Sustainable Capitol Hill has organized walks to map out their neighborhood's most beautiful trees and views. Sustainable Ballard members share houses, gardens, and meals as they grow together as an extended family. Port Townsend Local 20/20 is building lasting relationships by helping the most vulnerable residents in their town get ready for natural disasters. Sustainable Wallingford is building coalitions of the faith community, social service organizations and concerned individuals to help people who are facing difficult times because of the economic downturn. Sustainable West Seattle members are mapping fruit trees that can be harvested for the hungry. Sustainable Bainbridge has taken on Asset Mapping for their community. Every town in SCALLOPS has programs like these and more. Every person in SCALLOPS cares about other people, cares about the health of the planet, and cares about building a future that is just, civil, and full of joy.

Sample Best Practices

With each new SCALLOPS town established, we all get a chance to learn new skills and strategies for creating more resilient local economies, healthy ecosystems and fair resource distribution. SCALLOPS is about growing new leaders, too. Becoming part of a SCALLOPS group awakens people to see themselves as leaders capable of generating action in their own neighborhoods - and provides support to help them get started doing that. SCALLOPS is activating people to activate other people....waking us all up to take action in our own lives.

The key to our collective salvation is recognizing that every individual, regardless of their race, income, social status or previous environmental practices, is a gift to the community. Our collective skills, resources and experience are our greatest asset in our adaptability to and fight for survival in this ever-changing world.

SCALLOPS is developing its capacity for advocacy by strengthening the bonds between communities. A new push for regular SCALLOPS gatherings and communications tools that keep SCALLOPS communities connected with one another will allow us to develop regional ventures in addition to our neighborhood-based projects and events.

New Partnerships

As the crisis deepens, we are actively meeting and planning with officials and other community leaders for lessening the local impact of climate change and peak oil. A representative of SCALLOPS sits on the Mayors Advisory Board. Sustainable Ballard's Undriving Program works closely with King County METRO. SCALLOPS representation can be noted on local Chambers of Commerce, District Councils, Neighborhood Councils and Community Councils. Various SCALLOPS projects have been team efforts with outstanding local progressive non-profits including: BALLE Seattle, Transportation Choices Coalition, EOS Alliance, Climate Solutions, Sightline, Transition Towns, Sustainable Seattle, Green Festivals, Duwamish River Clean-Up Coalition, Cascade Harvest Coalition, Low Income Housing Institute, NW Sustainable Energy for Economic Development, Chefs Collaborative, Community Alliance for Global Justice, Washington State Action Network and on and on. Another method of broadening our capacity to help is SCALLOPS summits, where we informally gather to discuss issues, strategize best practices and welcome new SCALLOPS start-ups.

To learn more about SCALLOPS or to join your local SCALLOPS group, please check out our Web site at http://www.scallopswa.org; if you don't find your town listed there, we'd be happy to consult with you on creating your group. Come join us!

The mission of SCALLOPS is to network, support, and advance sustainability initiatives in towns and neighborhoods all over Puget Sound. Through outreach, education, and community-building opportunities, we facilitate the cross-pollination of best practices, inspire and support new groups, troubleshoot challenges, and mobilize action on behalf of regional sustainability. There are approximately 70 affiliates (e.g. Sustainable Ballard). Please visit their website at www.scallopswa.org.

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