Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of being the keynote speakers at an event hosted by ReSources.
It truly was an honor to be able to speak to my 40th constituents about how nonprofit organizations such as ReSources are able to bring in community voices together to help build local, state, and tribal relationships.
As a legislator, I value their outreach to my community which last year alone provided 5,000 touch points through emails and phone calls, to say nothing of their outreach to the state legislature!
According to their website:
“Founded in 1982, RE Sources is a nonprofit organization working to protect the environment and communities of the central Salish Sea region and our climate. We catalyze community action to build a lasting legacy for all of us — clean water, protected shorelines, an end to dangerous fossil fuel projects, and recovery for orcas and salmon.
Based in Bellingham, Washington, we are a team of trusted and time-tested environmental advocates, educators and scientists. RE Sources gives people practical ways to make a real difference for the planet, from passing stronger laws that protect the environment and empowering youth voices, to holding corporate polluters accountable, reducing waste and our own carbon footprint. We do this through smart policy, grassroots mobilization, hands-on science and environmental education.”
Thank you to everyone who joined this incredible event, and thank you to ReSources for hosting! I feel so lucky to have an organization like yours working right here in my district, and I hope we are able to work side by side for years to come as we endeavor to build the world we want to leave for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
The Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledge and Science
Next, I am so excited to let you know that the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is set to fund their first research hub focused on Indigenous Knowledge!
The Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledge and Science (CBIKS) launched earlier this month, and will join together more than a dozen current NSF Science and Technology Centers from across the country.
CBIKS is set up to cultivate Indigenous knowledge of the environment, weaving it together with Western scientific methods in a way that respects local communities and cultures, according to Sonya Atalay, an archaeologist of Anishinaabe-Ojibwe heritage at UMass Amherst and co-leader of the centre.
Among those who will be involved with the program is Dr. Marco Hatch at Western Washington University!
Dr. Hatch is a friend colleague who respects and honors the cultural teachings of the places where our bloodlines have been placed. His ability to recognize and value science and culture across the Salish Sea and beyond, in my view, is a foundation for future relationships. His vision to braid Indigenous science with Western science together is leading the way.
Marco and I have been great friends for many years. We have shared common space in rooms and witnessed powerful voices of Indigenous elders and leaders from around the world calling for policy, science, and laws to engage in building a common path together so we may all have a future.
I recall engaging many years ago with a young Dr. Hatch and seeing him visit with ease and honor to listen and learn from elders and leaders at the Coast Salish Gathering. His work today has brought the hope of many elders and leaders around the table to life.
I believe his vision of bringing sciences together for the common mission of protecting the environment and resources is a path for the future. I am excited to explore with my fellow legislators how we can better engage together across all governments to listen and learn about the braiding of two sciences that roots our policies and laws that sustains the Salish Sea, her biome, and beyond.
Protecting Our Southern Resident Killer Whales
During my first term in Olympia, I sponsored House Bill 1578: Reducing Threats to Southern Resident Killer Whales by Improving the Oil Transportation Safety Act, which created new requirements to reduce the risk faced by our Orca population.
Part of the act directed the Washington State Department of Ecology to “develop and maintain a model to quantitatively assess current and potential future risks of oil spills from covered vessels in Washington waters,” and as a result use the model to provide two analyses by the first of this month.
The two reports were released recently – the Tug Escort Analysis, which was conducted by the Washington State Board of Pilotage Commissioners (BPC), and the Analysis of an Additional Emergency Response Towing Vessel, conducted by the Department of Ecology.
According to the Department of Ecology:
“Ecology and the BPC analyzed the potential change in oil spill risk resulting from the use of tug escorts by towed oil barges, Articulated Tug Barges (ATB), and tank ships less than 40,000 deadweight tons (DWT) but more than 5,000 DWT. The Summary of Tug Escort Analysis Results focuses on how tug escorts can prevent vessels from drifting aground after unexpectedly losing propulsion and how tug escorts can limit oil spill risk from loss of steering events.
The Analysis of an Additional Emergency Response Towing Vessel modeled seven potential emergency response towing vessel locations. For each location we evaluated their potential to respond to simulated loss of propulsion incidents for vessel traffic produced by our oil spill risk model.”
Thank you to all of the dedicated public servants who worked to make these reports a reality. Following your work, we will be better equipped to protect our Southern Resident Killer Whales, and to take strong action preventing future oil spills.
2023 Clean and Affordable Energy Conference
Next, I want to quickly highlight the Northwest Energy Coalition hosting their first in-person event since 2019!
On December 6, in Portland, the Northwest Energy Coalition will host their Clean & Affordable Energy Conference, giving those in the field a chance to “network with peers in the clean energy community and learn from keynote speakers and expert panelists who will lead conversations critical to a clean, equitable, and affordable clean energy transition in the Northwest.”
Following the event, there will be a Clean Energy Awards Reception – you can find details on how to nominate someone here.
I can’t wait to see everyone in person once again, and I hope you will be there as well! For more information, and to register, click here.
Door Belling in Whatcom!
As we look ahead to the 2024 election campaign season is already kicking into gear! As a result, the Whatcom Democrats will not have a September meeting, but instead there will be ample opportunities to get involved.
Every week day they are out door belling after 3pm, and every weekend starting at 11am! They are also in need of phone banking volunteers – if you are interested in supporting, click here!
Additionally, I want to highlight one specific door belling event – and a chance to knock on doors with me!
Here is the write-up from the Whatcom Democrats September newsletter:
“October 21st, 10:30am: Join Reps. Alex Ramel, Debra Lekanoff, Joe Timmons, Alicia Rule, and Sens. Sharon Shewmake & Liz Lovelett, and other community leaders at Boundary Bay Brewing for our first Get Out the Vote canvas!
Local elections often see lower turnout, but the Whatcom Democrats are leading an effort to turn out voters for these crucial races. Come hear from inspiring speakers, receive any helpful training, and make a difference this election by talking to voters just as ballots arrive.
We’ll be focused on the countywide races, supporting Satpal Sidhu for County Executive, Donnell Tanksley for Sheriff and Jon Scanlon for Whatcom County Council.
After knocking on doors, join us back at Boundary Bay to celebrate the impact you are having this election. Join elected leaders, candidates, and other volunteers for complimentary snacks and a round of drinks.
This event begins October 21st at 10:30 AM at Boundary Bay Brewing, 1107 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225.”
We need all the help we can get to ensure that the right candidates are elected to serve the 40th LD, and Washington! I hope to see you there next month.
Connecting With Community
Those of you who have followed along during my time in Olympia understand the impact that Billy Frank Jr. and his work have had on my life. He was an inspiration, leading by example and showing how to advocate for our communities, and our environment.
Now, I am so excited to let you know that the United States Navy is naming a Navajo-Class Ship after Billy Frank Jr!
Navajo-class ships provide towing, salvage, and rescue to support Fleet operations, and are traditionally named for prominent Native Americans or Tribes.
Billy Frank Jr. embodied the spirit of Washington State in so many ways, working his entire life for the causes of equality, justice, and protecting the environment. Through his fight to protect tribal treaty rights, he also worked to protect the natural resources that so many cultures are based upon.
Seeing his work and name honored in so many ways brings joy to my heart! Keep an eye out for any future updates on the new statue in the Capitol!
Updated COVID-19 Vaccine
Finally, last week Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Mandy Cohen endorsed the recommendation made by the agency’s committee of outside vaccine experts, approving a new COVID-19 booster shot that is recommended for everyone 12-years and older.
As we move into the Fall and Winter, it is important that we take these steps to protect ourselves and others. Updating our COVID-19 vaccines, and getting annual flu and RSV vaccines, is a strong way that we can help keep ourselves, and those around us, healthy.
Friends, by now we all understand the impact that each of us can have on preventing the spread of COVID-19 to those around us. Getting vaccinated remains the most powerful way that we can protect our communities.
For more information, click here.
Hope in Maui
Finally, to round out this Fantastic Friday, a quick update that brought a smile to my face.
Following the destruction of Maui’s fires, tremendous amounts of land and property were scorched and destroyed, needing years and years to fully recover and return to their previous splendor.
However, a 150-year-old banyan tree, standing 60 feet tall – the largest of its kind in the United States – has sprouted a fresh batch of green leaves!
This is an incredible display of resiliency and hope, remind us that no matter how far down we fall it only takes one step to begin down the path of recovery.
CBS News has also pulled together an incredible list of organizations we can support as they rebuild and uplift those whose lives have been so devastated by these wildfires. I do hope you will consider donating to help the ongoing efforts.
Find the organizations here.