Knapp: Sustainability and Social Justice In Seattle
When I head to Seattle later this fall, it will be my third such time visiting another city with the Economy League’s Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange. The first time I went, to Toronto in 2012, I didn’t know what to expect, but had heard that the trips were worth the time away. I came back amazed by what I learned in just a few short days, and with new connections made with dozens of Philadelphians I may not have had the chance to meet before. I loved seeing Toronto’s immigration story come to life and then seeing a concerted effort to test out some of their successes in Philadelphia when we returned.
The last trip was to Los Angeles, where the City’s sustainability assets and liabilities were put on display. I felt proud of Philadelphia’s transportation system, walkable neighborhoods, and access to and care of our water resources, but was awed by LA’s advanced clean energy sector and climate action plans, as well as a stunningly clean and beautiful port.
Looking ahead, I know that sustainability will also be key part of the Seattle story. Long known for being a green city, Seattle in recent years has become a climate action leader, committing to becoming a 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral city. Seattle also launched an effort to deepen their commitment to race and social justice in their environmental work, something the City’s Office of Sustainability, where I serve as Director, is looking to learn from. I’ll personally look forward to reconnecting with Mami Hara, Director of Seattle Public Utilities and my former boss at the Philadelphia Water Department, and developing and deepening relationships with other GPLEX attendees over lunch, drinks and perhaps some karaoke!
Christine Knapp is Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia