It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we work together. Combined, our efforts, voices, dollars and successes are multiplied to the benefit of everyone involved. Locally, the We Are Puget Sound campaign has an ongoing goal “to help engage and inspire people around the region to join together to preserve its ecosystem and the livelihoods that depend on it.”
We Are Puget Sound is a true partnership in many formats. It is a book, multimedia and advocacy cooperative brought together by the Washington Environmental Council (WEC) and Braided River nonprofits.
Inspiration for the full-color book of gorgeous photography sparked in 2016. Author David Workman explains that “Brian Walsh, a respected colleague and extraordinary photographer, invited me to coffee and tea one morning to discuss a vision he had for a book on Puget Sound—one that would be packed with stunning photos as well as words that would reveal important stories.”
Over time, more voices were added. “As our many interviews unfolded, and more and more people shared their stories of Puget Sound, we were motivated by their commitment to the book,” says Workman. “At a key juncture, Mindy Roberts, the Puget Sound program director at the Washington Environmental Council, envisioned our project as both a compelling book and a multi-year conservation education campaign by the WEC. From that point on, our momentum became unstoppable.”
Why focus on the Puget Sound and Salish Sea? “Puget Sound is an extraordinary natural resource in our region,” says photographer Brian Walsh. “People care deeply about the well-being of Puget Sound, so it unites us. Puget Sound is culturally and socially diverse and that is one of our greatest strengths. We tried to capture some of that diversity in the book and share the stories of people’s experiences.”
Drawing from a chapter in “We Are Puget Sound: The Human Connection,” they will be hosting a virtual event on November 12 that will focus on the integral role salmon play today, both for Coast Salish people whose ancestors have been here for millennium and for newcomers with more recent roots. Facebook event details here and registration here.
A proud Geoduck, Walsh has spent his life celebrating our unique region. “In addition to my passion for nature photography, I have dedicated my career to environmental work for the past 40 years. I also studied marine ecology as a student at The Evergreen State College. So, my interest in Puget Sound is very deeply rooted.”
Like Workman, he’s excited for the campaign’s outreach. “Throughout my professional career, I have been an advocate for Collective Action, the idea that we can each make a difference individually under a common set of goals, and the synergistic impact of that can have profound impacts for change. This book is yet another example of that.”
Mindy Roberts of the WEC is another eager partner. “We Are Puget Sound is about connecting people to place and to each other. The more we strengthen these connections, the more people realize how deeply their everyday decisions impact or benefit the Salish Sea and the communities that depend on it. Whether you are drawn in by the breathtaking photography, stories of amazing people doing incredible work in their own communities, introductions to places to experience your Puget Sound, or ready to be inspired to action—this book and campaign have something for you.”
Take Olivia and Lillian, dear friends living in New York City who returned to their roots in the Puget Sound to escape the global pandemic. They produced this beautiful, self-care video to share their connection to the Salish Sea.
Roberts also feels the lure of the Pacific Northwest. “Whether your ancestors came here thousands of years ago or you’ve been here a few months, something brought you here and keeps you here,” she says. “Sense of place draws on all of our human senses—seeing the diversity of people enjoying this place, hearing the soothing sound of water, feeling a fishing line pull taut, tasting shellfish you dug yourself, and smelling salmon carcasses nourishing the next generation—anyone can immerse themselves in the wonders of the Salish Sea region without even getting wet.”
But, organizers hope, with a little inspiration shared passion can become a healthier, happier tomorrow. “We want everyone to see themselves in Puget Sound recovery,” says Roberts. “Whether you are inspired by animals or being on or near the water or you connect with the people profiled in the book—we want you to take action. Start by taking on any one of the 10 Actions in the campaign. Through collective action, we can leave a legacy for future generations to experience what we have today and what people experienced who came before us. What we see today—the good and the bad—is based on decisions made by people decades ago. It’s our turn to dig a little deeper and pull together, because we have a generational opportunity and responsibility to act now. It will never be easier or cheaper or more important.”
It’s easy to get involved. Through the campaign’s website you can find upcoming events, support project partners, purchase a copy of the book, donate to the cause or share your story of life in, on and around the Sound. And remember, throughout it all: We Are Puget Sound.