In recent years, World Relief Seattle (WRS) has been one of the leading non-profit organizations linking together stormwater management and food security in the Puget Sound: mitigating water pollution while providing opportunities for King County refugees and immigrants to grow culturally-relevant foods for themselves, their families, and their communities. WRS transformed over an acre of impermeable parking lot in the rapidly urbanizing city of Kent, WA into a thriving community garden—Paradise Parking Plots Community Garden—operating at the crossroads of race, environmental justice, and community development. Our diversity of green infrastructure features, which include 5 rain gardens, a 2,300 sqft bioswale and 16,000 gallons (soon to be 20,000 gallons) of rainwater catchment, are placed strategically on our stormwater-prone site. Paradise Parking Plots is an ideal place for communities to organically engage with and learn about water quality and stormwater management.
Seeing this intersection of food sovereignty and environmental justice as an ideal learning opportunity, WRS has developed a place-based environmental education and leadership development program for refugee and immigrant youth in South King County: our Equity & Sustainability Internship program. This internship provides local refugee and immigrant youth with the opportunity to learn about and engage in local water quality and environmental issues in their own backyard using Paradise Parking Plots as their learning laboratory. These youth then apply their learning by creating a 5-week, culturally-relevant curriculum to engage K-8th grade refugee and immigrant youth at WRS’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy. World Relief Seattle is requesting funding from the Rose Foundation to increase the value of internship stipends and support all three tiers of our internship program in 2022.