Parks and GSI Partners Meet at the One Water Summit in November 2023

As we embark on the New Year, I want to highlight three projects where the expertise of our fabulous member practitioners has been tapped by partner organizations to advance the GSI field.  They include one project that has been in existence for several years, a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and One Water Econ known as the GSI Co-Benefits Project.  Two newer projects include the Parks and GSI initiative, a partnership with the City Parks Alliance and the U.S. Water Alliance, and the Urban Nature-Based Solutions Accelerator Initiative, a partnership with the Center for Regenerative Solutions and The Trust for Public Land. I’ll review each, in turn.

1. The GSI Co-Benefits Project

This initiative is producing a compendium of tools/reports for understanding and quantifying GSI co-benefits associated with job creation and economic development, urban heat stress mitigation, flood risk reduction, ecosystem and habitat improvement, and transportation. Exchange members who have lent their expertise to this project include Sarah Bloom (SFPUC, San Francisco), Stephanie Chiorean (PWD, Philadelphia), Dana de Leon (City of Tacoma), Chris Hartman (NEORSD, Cleveland), Matt Johnson (DOEE, Washington, DC), Irene Ogata (City of Tucson), Beatrice Ohene-Okae (DOEE, Washington, DC),  Kerry Rubin (City of Portland), Holly Sauter (MWRD, Chicago), Elizabeth Svekla (PWD, Philadelphia), and Tracy Tackett (City of Seattle). We are hopeful that the evaluation tool and guides will be published and available to the public by early spring.


2. Parks and GSI Initiative

Working with a cohort of parks and water agency leaders over the next 2 years, this project will be identifying and addressing the barriers to closer collaboration between these two sectors on implementing and maintaining green stormwater infrastructure on park lands that can increase green space, enhance climate resilience through stormwater management, and provide a host of other community benefits, as well as highlighting successful examples.  A series of kick-off activities took place at the One Water Summit during which Exchange members from Milwaukee (Lisa Sasso), Tucson (Blue Baldwin), and Raleigh (Wayne Miles) spoke to their respective efforts in siting GSI in parks, with Tucson and Raleigh giving great presentations in tandem with their parks department counterparts.  Other Exchange members include the City of Atlanta (Amanda Hallauer), City of Boston (Kate England), Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (Beth Dutton), and the City of Seattle (Shanti Colwell). The group will meet next at the Greater & Greener conference on June 22-25, 2024 in Seattle. (Yes, some of us will be spending a lot of time in Seattle in the coming months).

3. Urban Nature-Based Solutions Accelerator Initiative


This project seeks to design an accelerator training to help more frontline communities get up to speed on GSI. An initial step is a two-day retreat slated for January 16-18 at Pocantico, the Rockefeller Brothers’ Estate in Tarreytown, NY.


The retreat will bring together a diverse group of leaders from organizations and places that are leading efforts to develop and expand green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) initiatives to frontline communities facing the greatest potential impacts from climate change. Exchange members who are involved include Blue Baldwin (City of Tucson), Kim Grove (City of Baltimore), Kristina Hausmanis (City of Toronto), Claire Mullhardt (CRW, Harrisburg), Irene Ogata (City of Tucson),  Andy Szatko (City of Omaha), and Alfred Walfall (PWD, Philadelphia).


While there will be much more to say about outcomes from each of these partnerships in coming months, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the members listed here for their efforts to support these partnerships and, in so doing, advance the field of green stormwater infrastructure and the mission of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange.


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