SEATTLE -- Mayor Ed Murray believes the city's green movement is often too white. He announced a new initiative Wednesday to keep communities of color from being left behind.
"I don't think there is anything more important we can do as a city than address this issue," he said.
Murray praised Seattle's environmental progress, but criticized it for often lacking racial, cultural and socioeconomic diversity.
The Equity and Environment Initiative will bring community partners together for the next year, engaging people of color in the green movement.
Paulina Lopez is a South Park resident who plans to participate. She moved her three sons to the neighborhood because she loved that a river flowed nearby.
She knew very little about the Duwamish River's history of pollution.
"It's beautiful when you look at it, but it's not really safe to bring the kids to play here," she said.
The river bed is dotted with warning signs. South Park is known for industrial jobs and productivity, but also for industrial waste.
It's hard to explain to family back home in Ecuador.
"They're like, 'You live in the United States! What are you talking about?'" she said.
South Park will be one of the neighborhoods at the center of the Equity and Environment Initiative.
"There are 20 different languages spoken in the Duwamish Valley," Alberto Rodriguez explained. "40 percent of the community is Latino."
Rodriguez works with the Duwamish River Clean-Up Coalition and will serve on the Equity and Environment Initiative.
He and others will visit neighborhoods like South Park to learn more about what's needed to improve their environments, including everything from air quality, to clean water, to food access, to public transportation and even crime -- all while working with the industries that employ them.
"Benefiting people, benefiting workers, benefiting the industries," Rodriguez said.
South Park's poor air quality is personal for Lopez. Her young son has regular respiratory infections.
"And you always wonder, as mom, if it's because," she sighed. "You hope it's not."
It's why Lopez plans to work on the new initiative as well, hooping for a Seattle where the green movement is not based on color.